Thursday, November 09, 2006

Reproductions from my columns in the Education Times - 4

Q. I started my prepration for the CAT only a month back, whereas everyone else seems to have started way back. Do I stand any chance?
( Sanghamitra Mishra, Dibrugarh )

A. While 6 months is the ideal time needed for preparation for the CAT, it's not a given because of the nature and components of the test. The CAT tests you on concepts you acquired at school, from Classes 6th to 11th. So there are hardly any new knowledge areas that you need to cover. What changes is the way you are tested, so the questions are different from what you would have answered at school. Another important aspect is the inter-linkage of concepts - you sometimes have to use more than one concepts to arrive at the solution. The CAT is a elimination test for the country's top management schools, and as such it tries to find out whether you are fit enough to be a manager. Maths & English are only tools, and therefore the difficulty level of the questions, while constantly increasing over the years, isn't really the highest and that's why you still have a chance.

Whether you start early or late, you should give ample time to the basics. Quite a bit of dust settles in in the intervening years - maths formulae need to be re-memorised,
your grammar might need some brushing-up and you of course then need to do some old-fashioned practising on the questions. I am assuming you have spent your time so far on your fundamentals. If you are still on it, don't panic and rush into testing yourself on full-length tests. The wiser strategy would be to be thorough on the basics and only then attempting the tests, even if that means you have time for only a fewer tests. Remember that it's more important to get the best out of a few tests than writing tests endlessly. You may refer to previous week's CAT Countdown for more on post test-analysis. ( In case you can't locate the newspaper, you can check it out at

The CAT is the most important of them all, but you have quite a few other options available as well. XAT, FMS, SNAP & JMET will take place later and you will have more time for preparation for these important tests. If you have 2+ years of work-experience you can also consider writing the GMAT. Besides b-schools abroad, some Indian B-schools viz. ISB, MDI, MICA etc. also accept GMAT scores.