How to Start Preparing for CAT : Tips From CAT Topper
| August 04,2010 05:07 pm IST
Rahul Singh (CAT 2009 100 Percentiler) has written this article for Testfunda.com, a leading MBA entrance exam preparation site.
A lot of you would be probably starting out now on your preparation for CAT. Five to six months is a lot of time if utilized properly and should be spent on building the basic skills required to crack an exam of the form of CAT. I believe that a lot of us commit the mistake of prematurely concentrating on the so called “tips, tricks and strategies” for cracking CAT without paying enough attention to the fundamentals. So if you want to go about preparing in a more sensible and steady manner, now is a good time to start. I have given below my section-wise approach to preparation in the first three or four months.
Start by revising your basic Tenth grade mathematics. Make sure you have a fair idea of how the so called ‘shortcut formulas’ mentioned in the umpteen CAT guidebooks, are actually derived. Initially concentrate on the accuracy part. You should aim to solve almost every problem you come across, albeit in an inefficient and time-taking manner occasionally. This is probably easier for students with engineering background as they stay in touch with maths throughout their coursework, but three /four months of sincere and steady preparation ought to bring all students up to this level.
It is highly inadvisable to start memorizing the ‘tips’ and ‘tricks’ at this stage as they are no substitute for good concepts. Almost all CAT problems can be solved quickly enough from basic principles themselves, irrespective of the fact whether you know the relevant tricks and shortcuts or not.
Once you become fairly confident about solving problems you can start working on the speed factor. Even after you have successfully solved a problem critically analyze your solution and see if you can make it any shorter by removing redundant steps or if a totally different approach is possible. This is quite often possible in time and work, speed, probability, permutations and combinations based problems.
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation
This is one section where almost every candidate starts preparing from scratch unless he has taken CAT before. At the same time I believe that this is the section where consistent hard work pays off the most. The best way to begin is to set aside a fixed number of hours each day (or every week if you don’t want to be so rigid in your schedule) for attempting DI problems. There are a few things you can pay special attention to while working on this section:
1. Spend ample time on analyzing the solutions. In fact I often spent more time reviewing solutions than I did while solving problems. Pay special attention to how the information is represented in a more readable and analyzable form through tables etc. This is particularly crucial in solving problems where all the information is just written in the form of a simple, continuous piece of text.
2. Learn to identify the problems in a set which could have been solved by using just a couple of lines of information from the whole paragraph. This ability proves very critical in tackling a tough DI set or when you are running out of time