While we are all adjusting to the new normal brought about by the pandemic, CAT 2020 and other B School entrance exams are fast approaching. In this situation, it’s highly likely that anxiety levels are running higher than usual.
But, worry not; for here are 10 tips & tricks that can help you on your quest and hopefully make the journey of reaching your dream college an easier one.
I have roughly tried to list the points in chronological order: from the time you are in the preparation phase, as a budding manager; to the commencement of your B School stint.
- Choose your battles wisely:
Firstly, identify your strengths and weaknesses and be cognisant of them; not just while preparing for the competitive exams but also while at work or life in general. Make informed decisions and decide which problems you want to tackle, and when.
This means that you need to formulate a strategy for answering questions even while you are preparing for the tests.
During the tests, read every question once to get an idea about its difficulty level; but also read it again to figure out if you are able to identify the path to the solution and to take a call if you want to answer it. Think wisely and allocate time to questions accordingly.
- Balance speed vs accuracy:
Most competitive MBA entrance exams, including CAT, generally pose just high school level questions which almost everyone would be able to solve if given unlimited time. But what sets apart someone who is able to ace the exam is their time management.
Given the duration constraints, the key to cracking the exams is to strike the right balance between speed & accuracy; which is only possible through extensive practice. Regularity and consistency in preparation for these exams are irreplaceable.
- Know thyself:
Be true to yourself; this helps not just before & during the exams, but also in the stages that follow it. While preparing for, and participating in group discussions derive your answers from your own knowledge and genuine experiences.
The evaluators can very well see through you and make out as to how real the answers are. In addition, basing your answers on personal learnings & experience makes them unique and helps you make a mark.
- Be open minded:
Start looking at things in general from a much broader perspective. As a B School aspirant; evaluate situations & problems from a business angle. Actively solicit feedback and learn from mistakes.
All these will help you draw parallels between life situations and the questions asked, during interviews. Further, remember to always stay comprehensible to the audience and make sure not to go overboard with references while answering questions.
- Seek breadth and depth:
Stay informed on all that happens under the sun and be much better informed on your areas of interest. Being a generalist is a must for every manager, while carving a niche in a certain area makes them a cut above the rest.
At B School, this translates into excelling in all core courses while choosing elective subjects based on your personality and inclination for a particular specialization. The idea is to be a jack of all trades and the master of one.
- Develop interpersonal skills:
Work on your communication skills from day 1. Be aware that communication isn’t simply about words or body language, but it is an exchange of energy, where even qualities like attentive listening make a big difference.
Try to understand and empathise with people around you by putting yourself in their shoes; and drive conversations accordingly.
- Leverage social media:
Connect with academics and current students of your dream college through interactive social platforms like Pagalguy, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Being active on these platforms will help you develop the right social media presence since the beginning, in addition to giving you information & insights of life at the institution in an unbiased manner.
- Capitalise on the alumni network:
People who have walked through the same corridors and faced similar situations are the ones who will be able to best help you out when you confront obstacles. The alumni network of each institution stands with a culture of its own.
Do soak in that unique culture and put it to the maximum use. Have constructive conversations with alums, as and when you get an opportunity to. After all, the value your peers & alums will bring to your life, both personally and professionally, is definitely unmatched.
- Have a ‘Plan B’:
Have a list of target colleges and get to know their vision & values. This will help you incorporate the right attributes required to help you get through the interview. Remember that it is not about you being good enough for the institute but about you being the right fit for it.
This said, also keep your options open and have backups at the beginning. Keep narrowing your focus as you go farther along the process of securing a B School admission.
- Enjoy the journey:
Lastly, make every step of the journey, starting from your hunt for a dream college to the hunt for your dream company, an enjoyable one. At the end of the day, it is the learning & experiences that matter; and how you ultimately apply them in your day-to-day work & life.
Keep evolving into a better person & manager every single day; one step at a time; while savoring even the simple pleasures and victories.
The transition from before to after a B School stint, is a very intriguing & enriching one. This is because the years spent at B School are often the most important & decisive phases in a budding manager’s career.
The peer learning and the overall exposure to the business world makes one a different person altogether. So good luck on your quest; and wishes for many successful years ahead!
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