How to bell the CAT Drawing a Road Map

This is 2 of a 5 part article that I intend to write, to share with you what actually went into scoring a 99.49 percentile in CAT after securing average marks throughout my academic career.

Now that you have set a goal for yourself, how do you go along achieving it? You have dreamt big and rightly so, but now what? Now begins that hard part. Just imagine for a minute you have a destination, but to reach there you need to know the path leading to it, or a map to guide you. If you don’t have a road map you would wander around aimlessly and eventually get lost, still believing maybe that you are on the right track.

So this is the part from where your preparation begins. Start planning. By now you would be thinking when do I stop my gyan and actually get to the business end of things.

To begin with whichever exam you are aiming for, buy a book containing its previous years papers. Though this will come in handy later, but at this time it solves a very important purpose. You get to know whether you are really interested in this.

I bought a ‘Face to Face with CAT’ by Arihant Publications, and went through a few questions. For me it was love at first site. It didn’t matter if I could hardly solve any, but what matters is, that was something I fell in love doing. I could imagine myself spending hours after hours doing that. Similarly, I also borrowed a book containing previous year GATE question papers. After first few questions I thought, if devil himself had designed the course material, it couldn’t have been any more scarier. Such was the dislike for that course (even though I was studying engineering), that it wasn’t even my stand-by option.

Now what I wrote above will vary from person to person, but before you set upon starting a monumental task just stop for a minute and think whether you will really enjoy the pain.

Okay, so you have fallen in love with a particular line of study, but where is the road map. Well since each of you will have separate destinations, hence the roads leading to them would be separate too. I can just give an example of how to build the road map.

First we need to make small goals, and set about achieving them. You have to micro-plan everything for months in advance. How much time do you have left? How many hours can you devote per day? How many days you need to allot for social obligations? How many days you need for leisure to prevent burn out? Factor all these things in and then set daily, weekly and monthly target. Don’t begin by setting a target so big, that like your new year’s resolution you run out of steam in the first week. Think about your present situation, how much preparation do you actually need? It will differ from individual to individual the person next to you may do it in half the time, don’t get influenced, listen to your heart and start working.

I started out by aiming for MAT (Management Aptitude Test). In order to attempt the MAT in the month of may, I went through the course material and figured out that I needed 40 days of 4 hours each that is 160 Hours to complete a certain book I had bought for MAT. I knew that I have to study for semester as well, I had to be a part of the farewell organized for seniors, I had to party, I had to fulfill social obligations, I may fall sick for a few days, keeping all these variables in mind I decided that I needed to start preparing for from mid – January because our semester exams were in may. My college ended at 5 PM, but I was back by 3:30 – 4:00 everyday and studied till dinner time which was 8:00, I wasn’t much of a mid-night oil burner and also movies, parties and sleep were as important to me.

By April 5, I had completed my book and the 160 hours that I had set for it. In between I had taken a week off during Holi and another fortnight for fest and farewell. My exam was on 6th May. In my first attempt with 40 hours of preparation I had scored 99.93 percentile (800/800) in MAT. Going by the figures released, some 32000 had appeared for MAT that year, which means my rank was around 21, to be honest with you that was roughly equal to the rank I held in my class of 66.

Here lies the difference I was forced into engineering and never fell in love with it, whereas aptitude is something I really took a liking to. The contrast in the results was visible. Engineering was arranged marriage, whereas, CAT was love at first sight.

I hope by now you know, what you need to do in order to construct your own road-map for success.

The next article would be ‘Fighting Demons (Maths, English, GK)’.