Common admission test or CAT is the entrance examination for management aspirants at the national level and is carried out on a rotational basis by the Indian Institute of Management. The CAT 2020 examination will be tentatively conducted in the month of November in various cities across India.

The CAT examination opens the doors for candidates not only to be admitted to 20 IIMs but to more than 1000 B-Schools across India, making it one of the most crucial examinations for every management aspirant.

CAT is one of the most important exams, and its preparation should not be taken lightly. One of the first questions that strike the mind of a candidate sitting for this examination is whether to prepare independently or take the help of a coaching centre.

This article aims to put an end to this dilemma by asking certain questions to the candidates about themselves, to help them introspect and make an informed choice.

The Level of Efficiency

Before taking any important decisions regarding your preparation, you must reflect on your behaviour in previous situations. You must evaluate yourself and think of whether you are disciplined and can stick to a plan or are more prone to procrastination and over-thinking. Depending on your calibre, you may clear CAT in a short duration, or it might take two to three attempts to crack it.

Depending on your tendencies, you must make the appropriate choice. The flexibility of self-learning is best suited for those candidates who are well aware of their learning and can set goals and achieve them, while also improving the performance.

On the other hand, less disciplined candidates would do well with the structure offered by coaching classes. Test series offer the best of both worlds in a way.

Hours per Day

CAT is a difficult and challenging test. If you are an aspirant of CAT 2020, you’ve got about six months for preparation. You should realize how much time you can devote to CAT preparation per day. Also, consider how much time you can study in a day without losing concentration.

These study hours must also consider your learning efficiency and usual productivity. The number of hours you decide must be a commitment, regardless of whether you take self-study or a coaching class.

Self-study is better suited to those with uncertain and unpredictable schedules. On the other hand, the planned schedule of a coaching class will ensure you cover everything in a short time and is perfect for people with set schedules. Analyzing your dedication to this examination and keeping your schedule realistic can help you make a more rational choice.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Identifying your level of understanding of the CAT syllabus is critical. And if you want to go to a coaching centre, it is extremely important to consider your good and bad concepts before moving ahead.

This does not involve contrasting yourself with your classmates or other applicants but instead evaluating your own performance and classifying topics as strong or weak area. You can always make use of a mock test or a test series to get an objective analysis of the same.

Joining a coaching class might help you to gain a better understanding of some concepts. If you feel comfortable with most of the concepts, you can consider revising on your own or making use of test series, instead of a coaching class.

Level of Motivation

Throughout the journey of CAT preparation, you use to ensure that your mind is stable, and you can cope with the entire ordeal of studying long hours and putting in your all for an examination.

There will be many points in your journey where you will not want to continue, but you must focus on the big picture at such times. Enrolling in a coaching class might help you to cope with this by showing you that everyone goes through the same struggle. Practice, patience, and perseverance are essential qualities for every student hoping to crack the CAT.

Remember, if you are determined nothing can stop you, but if your confidence wavers, nothing can help you.

Arrangement of Preparation Resources

In case you choose to go for self-study, you must be able to arrange the study material for yourself. There are lots of great resources for CAT preparation on the internet, and on YouTube. You can always use platforms like Brainly, and other question-answer platforms to clarify your doubts on your own.

You must be willing to put into finding the best study material from all the sources you have available. Opting for a coaching class, on the other hand, will give you access to comprehensive study material at one place. You can also get individual attention from certified instructors, depending on the coaching class you choose.

Introspection and Evaluation

In every study plan, you must have a strategy for evaluating yourself at timely intervals. This will ensure that you are, in fact, progressing and getting closer to mastering all the concept required for the CAT. Timely checks on your own progress and restructuring your plans for future study sessions is an imperative part of your CAT journey.

At coaching centres, this is not an issue as they provide regular mock tests and topic-wise quizzes, as well as other assessments. For the self-studiers, it is strongly recommended to attempt all the past papers and sample papers you can access. You should also consider investing in a test series for this very reason.

There is no proven methodology in CAT for scoring a good percentile. There are plenty of students who worked alone and cleared the CAT in their first attempt. Before investing any amount of time or money in coaching, assess yourself by going through the parameters mentioned above.

At the end of the day, you must remember that it is you who must put in the efforts, regardless of the coaching classes or self-study pattern.

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