CAT Preparation Tricks for Non-Engineers
Oct 22, 2022 | IMT Ghaziabad
IMT Ghaziabad PGDM
Dear non-engineer. Please don’t be frightened. The CAT is not nearly as intimidating as you think it is. And you most certainly are not as disadvantaged as the world would have you believe. I know what the title promises, and I will deliver, but before we get to actionable tips and tricks to ace the exam, I’d like to discuss this category of non-engineer to which you and I belong.
We are a persecuted class, my friend. When we announce our intention to give the CAT exam, we are told the road ahead is narrow, confusing, and laid with thorns. In contrast, an engineer is expected to have a ride in a gilded carriage along a vast promenade, with fountains and singing angels who proclaim in sweet, clear tones that he doesn’t even have to study, that the exam will be a walk in the park for him. I want to declare this distinction between engineer and non-engineer ultimately and entirely false (at least in the context of CAT prep). Here is my justification.
I have given the exam. I know the fear and the sick feeling in the stomach. I’ve been there. How can you not turn green when you either don’t have a job or are making just a pittance with no real prospects for growth? When the competition is as fierce as it is (1.92 Lakh people gave the test in 2021), and even if you make it, the cost of an MBA might break the bank. And how above all, when you are a poor, poor non-engineer? You’ve never had a head for math, and you don’t remember what little you knew. Engineers, on the other hand, live and breathe math. How on earth can you be expected to compete?
But no, it is not that difficult. The math level required is at most 10th grade. Then let us not forget the other two sections, DILR and VARC. They account for 2/3 of the test and present no obvious advantage to engineers. And finally, let us not misrepresent facts. The reason most MBA students are engineers is not that they are better equipped to clear the test. It is simply because they constitute most of the applicant pool and diligently study for long hours.
As we advance, I’d like to share some tips for CAT preparation that I used to follow. The first would be to build a concise study plan ensuring adequate time for each section. Depending on your strength, you should give more weight to the areas that need more focus. Next should be to brush up on the basics. Candidates from a non-engineering background should brush up on their mathematics from the syllabus of classes 6 to 10. After revising the formulas from algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and number systems, you should switch to solving problems.
After making a schedule and repeating the mantra daily, I was excited to begin, and the day held such promise. I sat down and started a question. My friend, it took me 3 hours, and I still couldn’t solve it. You probably won’t persevere for as long as I did, which is good. But this tip is for people like me. I realized late and hard that you do not gain any brownie points for solving a question alone. Time management is more critical than ingenious thinking. This lesson helped me set the bricks and pave my path toward clearing the CAT exam. Don’t allow yourself to feel some false pride at struggling with a question alone. Instead, look at the solution first, and make it your goal to familiarise yourself with the steps to solve the question to such an extent that you can solve it in your sleep.
PRACTISE MAKES A MAN PERFECT
The next tip would be to practice as many questions as possible, but as the test date approaches, you should prioritize reviewing the questions you have already done. All through your preparation, you should lay an equal emphasis on reviewing your answers and solving questions. You should set aside some time for studying every day. This would help build a habit, and consistent practice is key to cracking the exam. I would also recommend using some variant of the Pomodoro technique to maximize your productivity during your study sessions. I used to follow the 55-5 method, where I studied for 55 minutes and then relaxed for 5 minutes, but this depends on your attention span. During the CAT exam, speed of calculation is critical. You have an on-screen calculator, but it is very time-consuming to use. It would help if you memorized the multiplication tables, squares, and cubes up to 20. Spend 20 minutes daily doing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The point is that yAou should be able to do 349+217 as quickly as 4+5.
Coming to the most crucial tip, taking CAT exam mocks. You should take CAT exam mocks seriously and strive to improve your scores from one CAT Exam mock to the next. Analyze a CAT mock test for at least 6 to 9 hours. Think of mock exams as the real thing, and always be prepared! Endeavor to live a warrior’s life. You will then find the CAT exam to be a breeze. There is no reason to dread tests. Mock exams will help you identify your weak areas. Depending on the analysis results, you may then concentrate on solving additional questions from your weaker section to ensure that you fully understand each idea before taking the test. Tests with time constraints also aid in increasing problem-solving speed.
And last but not the least, applicants need to concentrate on accuracy. Since the CAT uses negative marking, it is imperative that you should avoid making any guesswork and focus on answering the questions accurately. Candidates should take time to comprehend each question to prevent incorrect responses.
With this, I wish you all the best for your exam and hope this article helped you clear your thoughts and motivated you to perform better. And remember, “Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.”
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