CAT preparation plan for Working Professionals

Recently I have received a lot of queries from working professionals with regards to how they should prepare for CAT. Sorry to disappoint you but there is no standard answer for this question, but what I can do for sure is outline some basics that most working professionals can use for their preparation.

I also recommend college students to go through this article, for a couple of reasons:

1. It would give you a reality check with respect to what is going to happened when we join a job, and how much better it is to prepare right now.
2. To understand and re-affirm what you should be doing (as I would be comparing what needs to be done by the two groups of students, that is working professionals and college students).

Before I begin with the answers,  a couple of quick observations (in the form of Q & A) about the whole process:

Observation 1: How many of you have given CAT previously?
Majority of working professionals should have taken CAT at least once (either last year itself or as a student). If you have done this, then one amazing thing happens for you: you know the working mechanisms of the exam first hand, and understand its intrinsic needs. Effectively, giving the actual exam is the best reality check that there can be, and it does make you understand what you need to do.

Observation 2: How hectic is your job and do you need a sabbatical from it?
Well, this is another common question that I get. Some of you feel that taking a break from work (either a break or leaving it altogether) is a solution for creating time. But I have a contrarian view here: leave your job only if it is killing you (and if it is killing you, you should have left before reading this). In all other cases, find a way around it. Why do I say so? Well, very simple: in the last seven years, I have seen more of those students clear the exam who decided to stick with their job and do the hard miles rather than the ones who quite their job altogether. Why does such a scenario exist? I think it might be because people are more focused when they are under some pressure and face some constraints; as they say it, the easy way out never works.

On a serious note, those of you have a tough job which gives you absolutely no time, I would advise you to take a break and see how well are you going. In case you establish a clear flow in your studies, then you can quit your job.

Observation 3: When to take a break for CAT?
In most cases, it is advisable that you take a break from your job in the final lap of your preparation. In case you are particularly weak in one area, then take a small break right away and ensure you work on the basics of this area. You can schedule a second break close to the exam.

Now let’s get to the business end of this post: how to prepare for different sections of the exam?

Let’s have a quick area-wise review and establish what can be done in the different areas.

Verbal Ability:
First and foremost, you need to sort out your Reading Comprehension preparation. Do the following:

1. Since you may not have time to read books, it is advisable that you read a variety of blogs. This is where office internet can come in handy, use is productively for a change.
2. Make sure you practice 2 RCs a day, again you can do this at work.
3. Ensure that cover areas such as Para-jumbles and Para-completion that do not require a lot of conceptual work, and can be done through practice.
4. Overall, keep a practice based approach for Vocabulary. Use sites such as ‘Testpandit’ and ‘Word dynamo’ , and give a lot of vocabulary tests online. This way, you can productively use your phones.

In brief: practice VERBAL ABILITY online (I think we offer substantial help here, and this in fact makes Wordpandit your perfect took to prepare for CAT).

Quantitative Aptitude:
How good are you in Maths? In case you are pretty good with respect to conceptual understanding, then do one simple thing: give a lot of tests, revise the basics and that should be enough.

In case you are really weak in maths, I would advise you to take a break and work on your concepts full-time till you generate some confidence. Once you cross this barrier, you can take a next step of practicing with online tests.

The tough case is the in-between one: neither weak nor strong, what should you do? I think I would still suggest a small break, clear up the topics that you need to do and get it done with.

What should be done about CAT coaching?
An important question here that should pop into your mind at this juncture: what should you do about CAT COACHING? Should you join it? Realistically, with your packed schedule, you might struggle to find sufficient time to attend a full-blown coaching program, and honestly, I believe you should save the weekends for yourself. So if you can find tuitions for particular areas for specific time periods that help you work with the basics, those are more advisable than full-blown coaching courses. In case you have time, you can go in for coaching.

Coming back to Mathematics, you have given you the basic insight about what needs to be done with respect to finding time. With respect to topics, you should make sure that you cover the basics of the four major areas: Number Systems, Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry. You do not want to be in a situation where you are not able to solve a basic level question from these areas. Once you are done with the basics, and you establish your strengths, make sure that you work on those and maximize your performance rewards in these areas. CAT is not about your weaknesses, it is about making sure that you get your strengths right and maximize gain from them.

As far as daily practice goes, solve about 10 to 15 questions a day, cover all topics and ensure you solve all previous year CAT questions from a particular topic. In the final lap, you can increase your practice levels.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning:
For this part, just a single word advice: PRACTICE.
Cover basic calculations and basic reasoning concepts, and start practicing TWO to THREE sets every day. That is it, short and simple.

Again, solve all previous year questions and ensure that your practice is not impacted.

Mock CATs:
Well, should I say anything about their importance? I hope not. You have to give a mock CAT every 10 days at least, and make sure you analyze. Also, try different approaches in Mocks, and try to see what you can do.

How about online coaching?
The last question: how about online tutorials for CAT? Well, if you have the time and some money (won’t need a lot in any case), you should definitely go for these. After all, it is all about time, isn’t it?

Well, that does it for now. Hope you have some answers. Have some more questions? Post them as comments here, and would compose another blog based on them.