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CAT exam is often a game changer for thousands of aspiring management professionals. However, what should also be remembered is that it is just another exam with candidates getting multiple attempts at it. Candidates should remember this and treat it accordingly!

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Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma,

Sudhir Singh, an IIM aspirant has been preparing for the CAT for close to a year. As his D-day approaches, he is unsure of his course of action. Should he go full throttle in the last few days or take it a little easy?

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most important examinations in an aspiring management professional's life as it provides access to the hallowed portals of an IIM. Given the high stakes and the immense competition involved, candidates spend a lot of time (sometimes in years) preparing for this exam. More often that not, the last few weeks before the big day are supremely critical. During this phase, it is important to strike the right blend between excessive rigour and adequate rest. This article, as part of a three part series, explores this theme.
Avoid learning anything new!

Unlike routine school and college exams, in which bulk of the preparation is done a few hours before the exam, the CAT works in a very different way. The CAT is a specialised exam which needs months of practice. In such a case, it is highly recommended that nothing new is learnt a few days before. Mastering any new concept takes weeks of practice and is best recommended to be kept out of the candidate's gambit during the last few days. Moreover, newer concepts and themes can prove to be overwhelming and demoralising at the last minute.

As an extension, during the last few days, crash courses and concentrated group studies can create more harm than good. It is always best to spread out a preparation rather than cram it a week before.

Be choosy while reading online forums!

There are numerous forums (e.g. Pagalguy, chat rooms offered by coaching institutes) in which candidates discuss aspects about the exam and its associated elements. Needless to say, these forums are extremely useful as candidates discuss exam patterns, questions, tips from faculty and past students. While it is a very good idea to be an active part of these groups, participating in these discussion groups a few weeks before the exam can be tricky. There are numerous characters who deliberately spread panic on these forums days before the exam by overwhelming participants with rumours and possible formats about the exam!
Always advisable to re-do past question papers!

It is best to re-do mock question papers, set by coaching centres, during this phase. Each mock question paper is unique and enables candidates to learn new concepts. Re-doing these papers can help in refreshing key concepts. In addition, re-doing past years' CAT papers are always helpful. The IIMs also release a mock exam paper; it is advisable to go through this thoroughly.

By now, the candidate should also be clear about his / her areas of strength and weakness. For instance, in quantitative aptitude, a candidate can be clear about his / her area of strength (e.g. geometry) and area of possible weakness (e.g. probability). On the D-day, solving questions starting from the area of strength is always advisable.  

Lead a monk like life during the last two days!

The last day or two before the D-day is extremely critical. It is best to sleep well during the last few days. Needless to say, there should be little or no entertainment. Late nights and heavy cramming are also not recommended. Unnecessary physical activity during the last two days should also be avoided. It is best to stay at home, eat regular food, read a little (unrelated to the exam) and sleep well before the D-day.

In conclusion, the CAT exam is often a game changer for thousands of aspiring management professionals. However, what should also be remembered is that it is just another exam with candidates getting multiple attempts at it. Candidates should remember this and treat it accordingly!

The next few articles will look at the next two stages of the CAT process and the best way to prepare for them.

Sudhir decides to go easy over the last few days relying on a few cursory glances at the mock CAT papers he attempted earlier.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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