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Preparation strategy for Competitive Exams leading to Admission into Management Courses in India

The students aspiring to clear different competitive exams to get admission into MBA / PGP / PGDM, are often at cross roads when it comes to knowing how to prepare for the same. This article aims to provide general guidance to help the students succeed in the competitive exams leading to admission in reputed business schools in India while providing valuable strategies to prepare for these exams. The exams that have been considered include CAT, MAT,XAT,ATMA, CMAT, NMAT, SNAP, and state CET.

Preparing for any of the above examinations essentially involves two things. One, collecting the syllabus and the study material, and two, preparing for the exam. The strategies to prepare for the exams can be divided into two phases.

Phase one: Before you start preparation:

Phase two: After you have started preparation:

Phase one essentially involves planning as briefly described below:

Plan well to prepare: Planning for anything involves three essential things: Setting your goals, Allocation of resources, and Deciding the time lines.

Setting the goals involves deciding score that you are aiming for. Resources here include the complete information about the exam including the mode of exam, pattern and type of questions, difficulty level, total time allowed for the exam, negative marking if any etc, syllabus, study material, and other resources. Its like collecting all the ingredients to prepare a delicious dish. Depending upon the total available time, you need to judiciously allocate time to each section / topic depending upon the importance of topic in terms of likely number of questions expected from that topic.

Analyse beforehand: A prior analysis of section-wise questions helps a lot. Break the entire syllabus into the number of months, weeks and days making enough provision for revision and practice. An analysis of your strengths and weaknesses about the subjects is helpful to allocate topic-wise time.

Network with successful candidates: Networking with at least two to three candidates who scored good marks in last 2 to 3 years will save your time and energy. Following paragraphs deal with section-wise guidelines to prepare for the exam.

Verbal ability: All the three parts constituting any language: Reading, writing, and grammar need enough preparation. Reading skills plays a very important role in the entire section. The level of grammar varies with the examination; Cat requires a high level of preparation compared to other exams.

Quantitative aptitude: Success in quant solely depends upon your conceptual clarity which means solving and practicing questions without knowing the concepts will not suffice here. You may progressively increase the difficulty level of questions during practice.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: Data interpretation requires a close inspection of data to identify the traps, good calculation skills, and sufficient practice of a large variety of questions. For logical reasoning, you may start with solving puzzles to be familiar with the types of problems and learn different tricks and approaches to attempt the questions.

some exams have sections on general awareness etc which needs special preparation

Phase two includes the guidelines that should be followed during preparation:

Have a strict discipline regime. Strictly follow your plan of study. A consensus is that morning hours should be reserved for theory subject like language comprehension, afternoon time is good for subjects like data interpretation, logical reasoning etc. Take 5 minutes short breaks after every hour or so depending upon how much time you can concentrate on studies. A half an hour break after every four hours of study to get indulged in a different activity proves to be good. Reward yourself after completing each targeted task to keep yourself motivated.

Mock tests are Important: Most of the successful candidates opine that getting good scores in these exams is more of hard work rather than a test of intelligence. So, do practice enough mock tests. It will boost your confidence and clarity about your level of preparation and the areas where you need to improve.

The final 3 words rule: PRACTICE, PRACTICE , PRACTICE.

Day of Examination: Have enough sleep before the night of examination to feel fresh on the exam day. Prioritize attempting questions as per plan and do write the exam in a relaxed mood. After all you cannot prepare any more once you are in the exam hall.


By Dr R G Ratnawat, Director – ITM SIA Business School

Author affiliation: ITM group of Institutions. Views expressed are personal.

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