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CAT 2010: For the first-time CAT taker

Last updated on: September 07, 2010 13:04 IST

One must change one's tactics according to the opponent if one wishes to maintain one's superiority.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

What's applicable in a war scenario is equally applicable to your preparation for the MBA entrance tests in India. Considering the fact that CAT has gone online since last year and many other national tests are expected to follow the trend, each serious MBA aspirant needs to prepare according to the changing needs.

Almost all of us in the Indian education system are used to learning and assimilating information and knowledge in the paper pen-pencil format. This is what we have been accustomed to doing and it is a part of our system of learning since childhood. This has been the norm for the last 15 to 19 years -- from kindergarten to graduation.

Now suddenly, for a high-stakes all-India test like CAT, you are expected to perform in front of the computer screen.  This entails not only looking at the computer screen for those 135 minutes but also ensuring that you are able to concentrate and perform under pressure.

You will need to have transitioned from the comfort of taking a test on paper to scoring well in an online format. And this transition is not merely of being comfortable with a computer screen, a mouse and a keyboard. You need to be comfortable reading passages on the screen, solving data interpretation caselets, pie-charts, bar graphs, diagrams etc on the screen.

This means you can no longer do calculations on the paper beside the question, mark all the keywords in the passage, and a whole host of other question-solving techniques that you were so very comfortable doing earlier on paper. The new medium calls for a new approach.

Last year, a lot of students believed that they could master the online CAT by taking merely a few mocks in the online format. This belief led them to continue practicing the basics, concept and chapters -- the very foundation of their preparation -- from a book. They took chapter-level concept tests, section-level module tests and other mini tests also in the paper-pencil format. And 8 to 10 weeks before the actual CAT, they began taking online mocks. A majority of those realized that:

All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.
-
Buddha

Essentially, the habits they had developed during their basic preparation of concepts worked beautifully for a paper-pencil test. But it started irritating them, slowing them down and eventually reducing their overall scores and percentiles in the mock tests. Some of them were able to overcome the issue but a lot of them couldn't really make a transition in the last few weeks to the online CAT.

As a serious IIM aspirant, do ensure that you change your preparation strategy not only according to the contents of last few years' test patterns but also according to the new medium. The online CAT requires preparation online.

It is crucial to practice your theory, chapter tests and section tests on the computer screen. Develop a habit of concentrating and practicing with a keyboard and mouse. You will slowly and steadily see a difference in your comfort and thereby scores and percentiles by the time you seriously get into the mock test taking mode.

For those of you who have already started practicing on paper and pencil and finished a substantial amount of concepts, do remember:

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
- Maria Robinson

TestFunda.com is a site for personalised online preparation for competitive entrance exams like CAT, FMS, XAT, etc.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

TestFunda.com
Tags: CAT, IIM, FMS, XAT, MBA