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CAT 2009: Preparing on your own

April 28, 2009 11:17 IST

Some students, for various reasons, may decide that preparing for the CAT and the other management school entrance exams on their own is better than joining a coaching institute. This article examines how students can go about their preparation should they choose not to join a coaching institute. However, it must be pointed out that coaching institutes do offer some benefits that may not be possible to replicate if you prepare on your own.

Self discipline

Should students decide to prepare on their own, they need to be extremely disciplined. Normally coaching institutes ensure that you stick to a schedule, holding regular classes of a fixed duration. Left to themselves, some students tend to be lazy and not work/ give less time to their preparation on some days. Or they tend to get distracted by factors such as cricket matches, telephone calls etc. Plus coaching institutes will ensure that all the topics that could appear in the CAT exam are covered.

So, if you are preparing on your own, make sure of the following:

Study material

If you are preparing on your own, it is needless to say that you would need appropriate study material. Try and ensure that:

Interacting with others

Interacting with others is a crucial aspect of classroom coaching. Very often, students learn more from their peers, through informal interactions. At coaching centres, you generally meet other students of different backgrounds and interests. You can share knowledge with them; plus you can benchmark your preparation with others and see how you are progressing.

If you can't join a coaching centre, then:

Mock tests

Make sure that you practice some mock tests. This stage of preparation is important, for the following reasons:

Should you not be able to join a classroom-based coaching centre to prepare for the CAT and other management-school entrance exams, make sure you still are able to prepare properly. You must set out a schedule for yourself and cover all the topics that could appear in the exam. Try to form a group with other students and learn from each other. Make sure that you have good study material; and think about practicing mock-tests so that you are well-versed with the test pattern.

The author is an MBA from IIM Calcutta and is employed with a management consultancy. He is also a visiting faculty with MBA coaching centres in New Delhi and a freelance writer on travel and management related issues. He can be contacted at

Sidharth Balakrishna