The majority of students miss out on the best opportunities because they fail to understand how to put the right amount of effort at the right time. Study burnout is one of the major reasons why students who have been consistently working hard for the first 9 months before the exam end up scoring lower than those who have managed to sprint during the last 90 days.
Smart work is an underrated attribute. It is very necessary to space out the time when you are supposed to increase the pace of your exam preparation.
When it comes to competitive exams like CET, CAT, it is very important to ensure that the candidate is strong mentally before the exam and has all the concepts freshly embedded in their mind. Considering the age dynamics of the people giving the examinations, many people have a side job working on or managing college study loads and their preparation for the exam. Everyone cannot devote complete time to exam preparation, making it even more certain that a person needs to have a proper schedule and plan the preparation well before the exams.
Because of the nature of the student dynamics giving the CAT competitive exams, the last 3 months are crucial to exam preparation. 80 per cent of the preparation takes place during this period. A candidate must maximise their output during this time and also make sure they avoid the burnout effect before the last 3 months. It would not make sense to get maxed out 3 months before the exam rather than in those previous 3 months.
During this major preparation, we have come up with a smart work plan so that a person can be accustomed to the exam in a holistic way, including the individual subjects for the CAT exams.
Smart Game Plan
Know what you are preparing for
CAT exams include multiple-choice questions, so make sure you are preparing accordingly. You do not need to mug up things, rather understand the logic behind questions and prepare accordingly. Multiple choice questions are not about knowing the prose properly but about understanding the prose in a more profound sense so that your logic can be put to the test.
Understand the exam pattern
Exam Duration-3 hours
Duration for each CAT section-1 hour
Marks allotted per question-3
Negative Marking:-1 for each wrong answer
The exam is divided into 3 sections, which are as follows-
- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
- Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
The COVID-19 epidemic caused a significant modification in the exam format for CAT 2020. Because social distance and regular sanitisation were required at public gatherings, the IIM decreased exam time and expanded exam slots to ensure that every exam centre is sterilised between slots. A large number of students may be accommodated at exam centres the same day. The CAT 2020 question paper had just 76 questions, and the test lasted 120 minutes. Previously, the CAT exam design has stayed identical for almost five years, consisting of 100 questions from three parts administered over 180 minutes.
Repeatedly working on similar questions that have been asked in the past. Practising mocks is something every person would advise you to do for any competitive exam, be it CAT or CET. Giving mocks would provide you with a lot of perspective on which sections you are repeatedly faltering upon and need some help in. It is important to mark a pattern and stick to it repeatedly for the last 3 months so that you have your game plan ready when it comes to the exam.
Divide your 90 days of preparation
First 30 days
Make sure you are heavily focusing on your concepts during this point in time. Leave the fact of whether you are able to solve the question in the stipulated time. Focus on whether you understand the logic behind the question. It is important to understand how to approach which question first, then we should work upon the timing of the paper.
Make sure you are approaching different sections differently.
Quantitative Ability (QA)
To prepare for Quant, split the subject into four sections: Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry & Mensuration, and Pure Math.
First, ensure that you are thoroughly reviewing the ideas related to the various themes. First, lay the groundwork. There are around 17 to 18 subjects in the Quant area, and it would take 2 to 3 days to complete each topic at a rate of 2 to 3 hours each day.
Take short exams at the same time to ensure that you are also testing your preparation and rationale. Check to see whether you comprehend the essence of the problem statement.
Data Interpretation-Logical Reasoning (DI-LR)
The ability to compute rapidly can make a big difference in DI.
Make sure you give yourself adequate time to increase your pace in this portion and the concept building stage.
DI is separated into graph kinds such as a table, bar, line, PI, triangle, spider, and so on. Furthermore, games and tournaments, cubes, and Venn Diagrams may serve as DI’s foundation. Solving around 8 to 10 sets of each form of DI graph can get you familiar with the process.
Deductions, Connectives, Selections, Arrangements, Distribution, Circular Arrangements, Order Sequencing, Networks and Routes, and Binary Logic are all sorts of problems in LR. Aside from this, any other puzzles might occur in the LR area. The preparation for LR would be pretty similar to that for DI. Solve about 8 to 10 sets from each sort of LR set, and you’ll be OK!
Verbal Ability-Reading Vocabulary, grammar, and verbal reasoning are the three significant aspects of verbal aptitude.
There is no way you can regularly learn a hundred words every day. Remembering 5 to 10 new words every day (every day for the following 100 days) can help you increase your vocabulary by 500 to 1000 words. You may also enhance your language by reviewing the terms that occur in the MOCK Tests. Because the terms provided in the CAT are often in vogue, you will probably come across virtually all of the words that may occur in the exam by going through the MOCK Exams and individual tests.
Grammar is a learned skill. The more you read, the more comfortable you will get with grammar. There is no other option except to answer as many questions as possible and to keep reading.
It may appear to be a basic method of preparing for a topic, but it is the only way around it.
Laying the foundation for time-based tests
Make sure now you are also accountable for the time you are taking to solve all the questions. It is important to solve all the questions to ensure you are not missing out on questions that can be scored easily. The accuracy of solving questions correctly will also come with time and practice. It would not make sense if you missed out on a question by solving it correctly, even after you know the logic behind it. Hence, now is the time to start taking those mock tests and improve your timing and accuracy, which would eventually be the major reason you would score well.
Last 20 days
Repeatedly give the mocks at the timings which are in sync with your exam timings as well. Make sure you are developing a habit of having your brain most active at that point in time.
Revisit your past mistakes and make sure they are not repeated during the exams.
Make sure you also have a formula book or a synopsis book for quick revision before the exam. Refer to that book and skim through all the chapters at least 3 to 4 times before the exam during the last 15 days.
Avoid the burnout effect
Boredom, lack of enthusiasm, feeling stressed and unable to concentrate on your studies-when a student experiences them with a high frequency-all point to the signs of study burnout. Experiencing study burnout is a fairly common issue among students. And unlike the commonly perceived notion, it is not that big a problem. Once identified, it can easily be overcome.
Taking a break is necessary because sitting and staring at your books for hours without concentrating or learning anything new is also a waste of your precious study time. It is better to take a break and come back to studies feeling fresh and recharged.
Top Mistakes to avoid during the exam
- Hold your nerves in the first 20 minutes of the exams, even if you are not able to solve all the questions in the initial time period.
- Taking more time to solve a problem than required. Do not get stuck on a single question because that might make you lose out on an opportunity to solve a potential easy question.
- Getting stuck in a question/set that you know and being unmindful of the time.
- It takes too much time to decide on an RC/Vocab question.
- Not sticking to basic time limits within a section (e.g., the division of time between VA and RC or DI and LR)
- RE-CHECKING/RE-CALCULATING an answer (especially when you have cracked it in the first minute and are not able to digest the fact)
That was our smart work plan to be followed 90 days before the exam, and, trust us, people do end up cracking the exam after just preparing for the last 90 days diligently. If one is able to give 4 to 5 hours of quality time to studying every day during this time period, there is no reason why he/she should feel underprepared. But focus on the fact that it is about quality preparation and not about 8 hours of you sitting at the table, which includes 6 hours of daydreaming.
Follow these tips, and you will be more than prepared!
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