How to Approach CAT ?
It’s that time of the year again when the CAT fever is
at its highest and everyone is rushing to practise as many mock exams as they
can and read as many books as they can! Let’s take a step back and think about
what it really takes to master this exam. There are certain managerial skills
that most business schools today look for and I believe that it is these that
CAT is really testing.
The first is that of time management. How do
you achieve the cut offs of each section to prove that you know how to deliver
results in a restricted time span. This is critical for professional success –
can you imagine going up to your CEO and saying sorry there was too little time
to prepare for the board meeting and I have not been able to prepare the report?!
The way to perfect this art is to revise each mock exam that you take after you
finished it. Go through it carefully and see what you could have left out, what
you should have attempted and how you could have improved your accuracy. Additionally,
during the exam, remember that the trick to beat time is to stop fighting your
ego. Accept that it’s ok to not know some questions – the idea is to be able
find the questions that you do know and max those.
This also tests your skill in quick decision making
– which is what you will be doing for most of your time as managers anyway.
Quick decision making based on limited knowledge and available facts. The
ability to read through quickly and find those questions that you know you can
do accurately; then discover the ones that will take you the least time to
attempt with the highest possible chance of getting them right; also having the
good sense to leave out the ones that you may get wrong: All this is a test of
the finest skill in management – quick decision making for best results.
So they are looking hard for people who already have
what it takes to be a successful manager. And one of the biggest factors there
is Hard Work. Those of you who have read Outliers will remember the
theory that successful people have done that activity repeatedly for many more
hours than those who come 2nd. Be it Bill Gates at a computer,
Sachin Tendulkar with a bat or Vishwanathan Anand at a chess board – they have
been at it with a rigour and passion that’s second to none! So needless to say,
start practising as many tests as you can.
You would observe all around you however, that slowly
business schools are also opening up to the reality of going beyond these
managerial skills to skills that make one a leader. The empathy to really
understand people – be it your team or your clients, the willingness to embrace
diversity and work for inclusiveness, the integrity to stand by what you
believe in and help others move towards it, the ability to work for the greater
good in the long run. All this is tough to measure by this exam alone and
business schools need to consider other alternatives to ensure that they are
giving the world leaders who have a balance between their head and their heart
and can go out there and make a difference.
An exam such as the Caliper would tell you about the
student’s potential as a manager (time management, decision making, people
skills) and it would also tell you more about their ability to influence
people. A balanced viewpoint through a combination of these tests, could enable
schools to select the right candidates, rather than using exams only as an
So even as you approach the CAT with the right
combination of skills and attitude, look around you at how the world is
changing in its expectations from leaders and adapt yourself to the need of the
Alumnus, IIM Bangalore
School of Inspired
Note: This is a sponsored article and has NOT been written by the PaGaLGuY Editorial Team. It is intended from an informational perspective only and it is up to the readers to research and verify the claims and judgements in the article before reaching a conclusion.