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Preparing For The MBA Entrance Tests
The Common Admission Test (CAT) is conducted annually to select the top 1,100 from over 120,000 students. Candidates appear in CAT from various backgrounds including Chartered Accountants, Engineers, Doctors, Working Professionals and even fresh graduates. Most of the students attend CAT coaching classes to get a general idea of the test pattern and also brush up on the fundamentals.
“We are in the final phase of CAT, there is no time to start studying now. This is the time to consolidate what the student has learned. Now the onus is to solve the previous questions and CAT mock tests. Not only it’s testing, but also analyzing answer scripts and finding errors that’s important right now.”
says Sreekar Purandare, Regional Manager, Bangalore-based Career Forum Pvt. Ltd.
MBA – Master in Business Administration
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is one of the most sought-after degrees in an increasingly business-driven world. An MBA offers career-enhancing opportunities, an interesting job profile, and fantastic pay and benefits. Although India has 958 B-Schools, the six IIMs (Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode) remain the most sought after. Admission to B-schools is basically done through a series of elimination rounds starting with a written test followed by a group discussion (GD) and a personal interview.
Common Admission Test (CAT)
CAT is a test of aptitude, language, reading and basic quantitative skills along with logical reasoning, decision making and clear career goals. The test is divided into three sections of 150 questions to be answered in 120 minutes. In the two hours you have to tackle ten strange questions about parajuntas, where each question consists of four big sentences and that too not in order, but convoluted; read six passages of 800 to 1300 words each and solve about forty questions from them; understand six-seven sets of data in tabular or graphical form and calculate growth percentages, etc.
The entire format of the CAT question paper changes every two to three years, while there are section changes every year. The work is currently divided into three parts: verbal ability, quantitative ability and reasoning. “It is not easy, almost impossible, to solve all 150 questions in the given time, one should be good at skipping difficult questions. Our research has revealed that students who score between 68 and 72 are shortlisted in IIMs. So it’s not about answering all 150 but getting the maximum number of correct answers,” adds Purandare.
When to start preparing?
According to several successful candidates, you should start preparing for CAT exams at least one year in advance. A common dilemma among students is whether they should take CAT along with their final year or after graduation. All the coaching classes and faculty are unanimous in their opinion that CAT should be done along with the final year.
Analyze weak areas
Start by identifying weak areas and develop a strategy to overcome them. For example:
o To improve math skills, start with high school textbooks to review arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.
o Improve the verbal ability to read widely: editorials, articles, etc. Create your own vocabulary by writing down unknown words.
Mathematics/ Quantitative Aptitude:
According to the teaching staff of the CAT training institutes, the expected mathematical competence is not of a very high level. “CAT is a test that takes you back to the basics. A thorough revision of high school mathematics, hard work and logical thinking is a sure shot for success. CAT aspirants should nail the fundamentals and then familiarize yourself with as many shortcuts as possible to solve problems,” says Rohit K, a computer science graduate and currently a professor at Career Plan, Bangalore.
A list of things to master in maths to succeed in CAT
1. Tables up to 30 X 30
2. Squares up to 30
3. Cubes up to 15
4. Reciprocal up to 30
5. Reciprocal percentage equivalents are essential.
6. Fractions in percentage terms such as 37.5% = 3/8; 62.5%=5/8ths, etc
English: Verbal ability
Most of us think we are proficient in English because we speak, read and write the language in most aspects of our daily lives. But this is not enough to succeed in CAT. It is vital to have a solid foundation in English grammar, vocabulary, phrases and idioms, etc. There are no direct questions in CAT, so a clear understanding of words by their roots, usage, adverbs and nouns is essential.
English: Reading Comprehension
Reading Comprehension (RC) is the most unpredictable section of the TOO. A candidate with a good reading habit cultivated over a long period has a definite advantage here. The following tips can help you clear the section even if you don’t have a reading habit:
o Involvement and concentration
o Avoid regression/revision
o Extend the recognition period; Reduces fixation time
o Active reading.
Orientation to personality.
Candidates’ attitudes play an important role in their success in CAT. Original thinking, determination and determination, management approach, ability to handle pressure, time management, decision making and change management are vital skills required to attempt CAT.
Relaxation is key
Most of the students are under the impression that to succeed in CAT they should only concentrate on studying. Wrong, CAT preparation is important, but more so is being comfortable and relaxed. Take a break, walk, swim, etc. do whatever it takes to relax.
Advice and warnings
o CAT pattern is constantly changing so don’t go with the presumption that you have solved last 10 years papers and you are well prepared
o Qualifying the CAT is not about knowing everything, but about being able to identify the correct questions and solve them
o You can practice calculations anywhere. For example: calculate running speed while watching cricket
o Every year there are new questions of a different type
o Stay calm and focused: don’t panic
o Work on previous question papers to get a feel for the questions
o A minimum qualifying score must be achieved in each section to be selected
o Do not attempt questions you are not sure about – there is negative marking
Practice makes perfect
Almost all CAT coaching institutes conduct long duration CAT mocks at regular intervals between May and October. You should start taking mock tests at least four to five months before the test and try to do as many tests as possible before the exams. The last month before the exam should be devoted exclusively to solving CAT mock tests.
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