Things I wish someone told me about CAT sooner.

This is going to be a listicle. Continue ahead if you will be attempting CAT for the first time as well.

I am an average student, gave my first CAT attempt in 2020, fortunately made it to IIMB but there are still a lot of things I wish I had known before this journey ended for me.

  1. Do not give into the FOMO that you’re getting less time to prepare. Remember, Quality > Quantity
  2. Practicing questions from a book won’t help. CAT is about decision making within time constraints.
  3. Most colleges allocate a significant weightage to your 10th/12th/ grads scores and work-ex, not to extra-curriculars. If you’re reading this in college, choose your priorities right. Go to the website of the college you’re targeting, calculate your composite score and find the percentile you need for a call. This is mathematical process and every part involved in getting a call is immutable except your CAT score. Do not fall for scams on YouTube.
  4. Having good and accessible mentors to reach out to and a competitive peer group is a golden key. Discuss doubts, approaches and strategies with them to optimize and improve.
  5. Do not choose a coaching by it’s popularity or publicity. Ask aspirants who have been through this journey.
  6. Do NOT call CAT a D-day for 2 simple reasons. (a) It is not (b) You do not need the added pressure.
  7. Colleges you can apply through CAT — NITIE, FMS, SPJIMR, MDI, IMT
  8. MBA entrance exams other than CAT — XAT, IIFT, SNAP, NMAT
  9. Most of these forms close before CAT so plan for 2 spare days to fill these forms.
  10. Give NMAT before CAT to simulate the test environment.
  11. To ace the QA section, you need to drop your pen.
  12. Having a strength topic does not mean it is your responsibility to attempt every question from it. Learn when to drop a question.
  13. There is no short-cut to mastering DILR. You need to practice and optimize your calculations for every category of question you attempt. You need to practice a wide variety of questions.
  14. Treat VA like logical puzzles. Choose options that precisely answer the question. Be wary of word play.
  15. Bookmark all tricky questions you come across and revise them frequently. Revision will subconsciously broaden your thinking along a concept.
  16. Give mocks religiously. It is difficult to sit through a 2–3 hour paper, it is necessary to build that stamina.
  17. CAT is not your goal, the final conversion into your dream college is.
  18. After CAT, you’ll have several rounds — group discussion/ WAT or AWT followed by a personal interview. These are all as important as CAT itself.
  19. Practice writing AWT/ WAT with peer groups religiously. These are not diary entries. There is a fixed word limit and time limit and you will be judged on the structure and logical consistency of your write-up.
  20. Different cohort of colleges have different lines of questioning. Target and prepare.

XAT — Will test your visual memory

IIMC — Presence of mind/ puzzles/ graphs and functions

IIMB — Depth of understanding from work-ex/things off your SOP

Other IIMs, FMS — Rapid fire questions on current affairs, static GK and profile based acads & general awareness

SPJIMR — Personal qualities, ethical standards, curiosity to learn

21. Write your SOP with considerate deliberation and get it reviewed by multiple people.

22. Most colleges assign a buddy to help you with interview preparation. They are extremely helpful. Reach out to them, understand what should you prepare for your profile, if possible ask them to take a mock interview for you.

23. For the GDPI phase, take general awareness seriously. Read and frame opinions of current hot topics, don’t mug the facts.

24. Develop an understanding of the acads and work/ internships you have done. Chances are, 80% of your interview would be centered around them.

25. Be honest about tricky personal questions. Why MBA, why not XYZ? Why a gap year/ fluctuating grades?

26. Prepare well but do not give scripted answers. Make sure you can respond to all possible follow-ups from your answer.

27. The GDPI phase is particularly simple. There will be loads of information all around. Select what is relevant. Speaking with experience, you will not be rejected for not knowing the capital of Brazil but you might be for screwing up a basic concept from your undergrads.

28. Do not overthink. Have faith. Keep learning. Don’t give up.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have doubts but remember, this is not difficult. Do not give in to external forces that make it look like a mountain. Work on your concepts and improve every day.

P.S. : I will keep appending this list whenever something important strikes to me. Hope this answers some common queries.