Approximately 40% of the total test takers for CAT are from a non-engineering background. IIMs and other prestigious management and business schools in India are in no way biased toward any particular branch, which can be easily understood through disclosures and batch profiles of these schools.
This misconception that CAT engineers are more likely to crack CAT seems to be rooted in the generally high number of engineers applying to the exam as well as their perceived mathematical background; that is, having a mathematics background may make some parts of the preparation tad easier.
Although this assumption cannot be backed by evidence, we do understand the apprehension of non-engineer aspirants, and so do the test makers, who have been working to enhance the test so that it primarily evaluates the conceptual clarity of candidates.
As you might have guessed, the preparation strategies and areas of focus for engineers and non-engineers are not particularly different in any sense.
An increasing number of non-engineers, even those not having a statistics, mathematics, or mathematical science background, are applying and excelling in CAT. In this article, we discuss how a non-engineer can schedule and plan their CAT preparation to ensure optimal performance.
Now, evidently, the first step to preparing for a non-engineer would be to eliminate this misconception that CAT is difficult for you because of your lack of engineering background. With proper strategies and dedication, anyone can excel and get admitted to the business school of their dreams. Below we break down the preparation for different sections of CAT:
This section of CAT evaluates the skills of candidates related to mathematical concepts learned till class 10, with a particular focus on the application of these concepts, which include Basic Arithmetic and Proportionality Tools, Elementary Combinatorics, Time Speed Distance, Numbers, and Algebra and Geometry.
This is one of the first indicators that you do not have to be an engineer to crack this section. One must focus on and enhance their basic mathematical skills, observation skills, decision-making skills, adaptability/flexibility, comprehension skills, and the ability to perform in a high-pressure situation.
Comprehension of the Question, Appropriate Interpretation, and Effective Problem-Solving must be the basic approach to solving any question. As a general rule, before moving to problem-solving, one can eliminate answers through observation or guesstimates.
Evidently, to acquire this approach, candidates require extensive and strategic practice based on the weightage of the topic, and they must also understand which topics they are comfortable with and which of them require special attention.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning:
DILR section has a special focus on the skills of candidates rather than their knowledge. Although this section does not include extensive concepts, candidates require regular practice to get used to the techniques used for problem-solving in this section.
More importantly, practice will help candidates acquire the speed and clarity that is essential during the exam. With DILR, comprehension of the given information is the most crucial step. The question itself sets a direction for the solution.
In addition, the trial and error method can often be sufficiently useful in this section. Thus, aspirants must practice in order to get familiar with the essential techniques and know-how.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension:
Many candidates, engineers and non-engineers equally, struggle with time management in reading comprehension.
For this, it is imperative that aspirants increase their reading and comprehension speed by making a habit of reading research papers, critical and analytics essays in philosophy, as well as opinion pieces from renowned magazines, such as The Economist. Other references for reading include newsletters by aeon and Open magazine.
- Devise a strategy to attempt particular types of questions for each section.
- Answering the questions that you are sure about first can help with efficient time management.
- Do not spend excessive time on a single question.
- Set a time limit for each set in the DILR section.
- Enhance reading skills by reading up on different subjects for at least 1 hour a day.
- Plenty and good mock series will provide insights into your strengths and weaknesses.
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