Come December, almost half of the country will be busy giving CAT 2016. Aptitude tests like CAT are designed to assess the cognitive ability of examinees on a multitude of areas and help them gauge their strengths and weaknesses. They are usually given a scorecard some days after the test which determines their relative ranking with respect to other candidates. This gives an aspirant a rough idea about his standing on a national basis and what can be done to cover up the chinks in his armour as well as improve his odds of doing well in the future when he retakes the test. Scores of MBA aspirants take the CAT test annually to get into their dream institutes. IIMs, XLRI, XIMB, SIBM and other leading B- Schools in the country use the marks obtained in them to admit the brightest and the best minds in their world class management programs. These aptitude tests are considered to be one of the toughest in the world and cracking them is no mere cakewalk. Though they vary from each other in certain sections but their core format is almost the same. For example, consider CAT and XAT. Both CAT and XAT have certain sections in common such as Quantitative Aptitude and Logical Reasoning. Both have multiple choice questions out of which the candidate has to mark the most suitable option. But CAT is an online based exam of 2 hours 20 minutes duration while XAT is a pen and paper based exam of 3 hours duration. CAT has modules like Data Interpretation whereas XAT has Decision Making.
The most striking feature of these MBA entrance exams is that there is no upper age limit which means candidates can appear for them as many times as they want. In other words, there is always room for improvement in CAT or XAT giving aspirants a chance to maximize their scores with each attempt. Though there is no fixed formula to get guaranteed success in these tests, one can definitely learn a trick or two from those who have been there and done that. Here goes a list of some useful tips and suggestions from renowned professors, professional coaching institutes and top rankers.
1. Always keep your motivation high
Motivation is what gets you fired up for your daily activities. It gives you the drive to push forward leading to high efficiency and productivity. A high level of motivation makes it easy for you to tackle even the biggest of obstacles. You will never be compelled to work hard if you are not motivated. Half the battle is won if you have determination in your mind which again is impossible without enough motivation. But motivation is a very tricky thing. It wanes as the day progresses owing to a number of extraneous factors. Reading success stories of past achievers, constantly reevaluating your purpose in life and keeping yourself surrounded with positive minded people are some ways to nurture your motivation.
2. Patience is the main key to success
“No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”- Epictetus, Greek philosopher
One who shows great patience in difficult times is rewarded later when the right moment arrives. Patience means acceptance of your resilience to difficulties and having reasonable confidence on your abilities. If you are expecting instant gratification for your short term efforts, you are almost certainly falling for a trap. After all, anything worth having is definitely something worth waiting. And good things happen to those who wait.
3. There is no substitute for hard work
Eminent American visionary and statesman Benjamin Franklin once remarked- “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
To succeed in these aptitude exams where competition is exceedingly high, any sincere aspirant must practice a lot (a big stress on it!). Only when you triple your investment on personal development through professional learning, can you double your chances of a miraculous percentile in these competitive exams. Concentrate on getting your fundamentals right even if that means devoting an insane number of hours of your regular schedule to your studies. You should also start preparing for these exams well in advance so that you are left with enough time in your hand to revise all the important concepts once again. That is what will really give you an edge over other candidates and will also boost your self-confidence.
4. Come up with a smart plan
Slogging day and night without any concrete plan is similar to sailing on a vast ocean without a compass. No matter how resolute and industrious you are, last minute goof ups can ruin your chances of making a mark in these aptitude tests. So it’s best to identify your shortcomings and work on them while also developing and implementing your strengths simultaneously. However, you won’t go far even with the best plans in mind if you are lazy. Your own actions will prolong the life or death of your plans.
5. Avail of learning resources and coaching
A vast collection of learning resources can be found both online and offline for belling the CAT and other aptitude tests. These learning resources are most often solved previous years question papers so that an aspirant can get a rough idea about the weightage of marks allotted to each section in each year and prepare accordingly. Grab some of the best reference books and journals available for MBA preparation and start assimilating all relevant information in your mind. You can also compare your solutions with the printed answers to check for their consistency. In this way, one can have a firm grip of all the underlying theories and overcome the fear of the CAT demon.
Additionally, joining a good MBA coaching institute is a very wise decision as it will help you approach the exam in a structured way. Even if you decide not to join any coaching centre, try to collect the study materials. Their study materials are made by experienced professionals and tailored in an exam oriented fashion. The preparation strategies and short cut tricks taught in the classrooms come in handy in such exams where you are racing against time. They also conduct mock GD and PI sessions which will make you ready for the D- Day, given that you are also putting in your best efforts.
6. Avoid negative marking at all costs
In CAT, a difference of even one or two marks between you and your rivals can make or break your dreams. It is best not to attempt questions about which you are not confident enough to arrive at an answer. Negative marking can significantly impact your percentile scores and pull you down the ranks. Candidates often have the misconception that the one who attempts the most number of questions ends up scoring the highest, which is absolutely wrong. In such aptitude tests, accuracy matters. If you have answered whatever you know properly, then you are raising your prospects of getting a good percentile and hence a chance to get a call from the IIMs or other premier B- Schools.
7. Stay fit and healthy
A sound mind dwells in a healthy body is a very commonplace proverb yet we fail to put this saying into practice. Exercising for even a modest 30 minutes will refresh your mind, and increase your stamina and energy levels. It makes you more mentally agile and alert which in turn helps you perform reasonably well in your studies. It elevates your mood and helps you ward off stress, anxiety and feelings of depression. Staying fit and healthy gives you the kick that you need to keep going through the day.
Nothing is impossible if you have made up your mind and work progressively towards your goal. Always remember, the only thing that stands in between what you are and what you can become is YOU. If you are one such aspirant, its best to stop lying idle and prepare for your dream career early in your life. Make hay while the sun shines. Good luck!