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CAT 2010: Study plan for the last month

Last updated on: October 5, 2010 10:56 IST

Photographs: Rediff Archives

Like everything else in life, CAT preparation also requires systematic planning, implementation, constant evaluation and calibration of your efforts post the evaluation.

The importance and time given to each step of the preparation and the activities involved in each step change at every stage of the preparation lifecycle.

With only a month or so left for CAT (depending on the date booked for the test, a student may get 2 to 3 weeks more), it is imperative that you plan your preparation strategy carefully.

What this means is that you work smart rather than hard in this last month such that you achieve the right blend of concepts, practice and strategy through this period.

To do so, you can follow the plan as elucidated in the next five slides. is the leader in online MBA test prep. With a core management team of 4 IIT-IIM alumni & 185,000+ registered users, TestFunda is a one-stop solution for all important MBA entrance tests. Get FREE downloadable tests of CAT, XAT, FMS, IIFT, JMET, NMAT, SNAP, Strategies by CAT 100%tilers and a whole host of learning resources.

CAT 2010: Study plan for the last month

Of course, no plan can ever fit the 'One size fits all' policy. It has to be customised by you to suit your preparedness, strengths and weaknesses as well as the strategy that suits you the best.

Step 1: Starting from today, divide the available time into sets of six days each.

Step 2: On the first day of this set, attempt a full-length iCAT. When you take this test, take it using the final strategy that you are planning to use in the actual CAT examination.

Please take the test simulating the actual test conditions as far as possible. Thus, if you are taking the test from home, complete the test at one sitting and do not take any breaks.

Once you have taken the test, see your sectional and total scores and analyse the test for at least double the time that you took to appear for the test. This analysis is to be done at two levels.

CAT 2010: Study plan for the last month

Level I: Strategy level

Based on the detailed analysis reports available, check whether you clear the overall cutoff as well as sectional cutoff.

In case, you do not clear either, go to each section and see the time, number of attempts and the accuracy level per section.

Note down the order in which you attempted the three sections vis-a-vis the scores and percentiles obtained in each as well as the time and accuracy in each.

Also note down whether you attempted the complete section at one go or in parts.

Depending on the answers to these questions, you can plan your approach for the next iCAT.

Level II: Content level

Depending on the scores obtained in each section, identify chapters that fall in one of these four areas: High speed and accuracy, low speed and accuracy, low speed but high accuracy and high speed but low accuracy.

At this stage, chapters falling in the last two categories are the most crucial as far as preparation is concerned.

CAT 2010: Study plan for the last month

Concepts or question types where you are quick but inaccurate are the ones where you either do not understand the question/concept properly or understand it but go wrong in one of the intermediate steps. For questions/concepts falling in this category the four points on which students need to focus are:

a) Understand the data correctly

b) Identify the concept(s) to be used and the linkage between them

c) Understand what the question actually requires you to do

d) Avoid calculation errors/silly mistakes.

On the other hand, questions/concepts where you are slow but accurate are the ones where you are good at the fundamentals of the chapter/question type but either you approach the question using a linear and conventional approach or take a lot of time in understanding such questions. For questions/concepts falling in this category, students need to focus on the following:

a) Analyse the solution and see where time could have been saved or the solution could have been made more efficient

b) Use elimination either at the beginning or even at intermediate stages of the solution to arrive at the appropriate answer

c) For questions in geometry or data interpretation, working backwards from the final requirement may also help save time.

At this stage, note that there are 40 concepts (or chapters) that are critical when you want to prepare in the last month or so. Once you classify these 40 chapters into the four groups mentioned above and identify the ones in the two categories discussed above, you are now ready for step 3.

CAT 2010: Study plan for the last month

Step 3: This stage consists of day two to day six of the period that we have initially made.

You can divide these five days in the ratio 2:2:1 such that you spend two days each for the high accuracy-low speed and low accuracy-high speed concepts.

The remaining day should be spent on refreshing the concepts and question types where you are originally strong, that is, the high speed and high accuracy concepts.

Alternatively, if your strategy analysis yields a result, which is not really favourable, this day can also be spent on attempting another iCAT with a change in strategy.

Please keep in mind that you should always have a strategy B as well as strategy C in place, which can be modified depending on the actual circumstances of the paper.

For the concepts in the two important categories discussed so far, spend the two days each in brushing up concepts, formulae, understanding question types, etc and practice questions from these concepts.

Considering that there are 40 chapters in all and keeping in mind that you may want to cover all 40 in the given period, you may have to look at 2 chapters a day through the next 4 weeks.

CAT 2010: Study plan for the last month

Step 4: This is where you check the extent to which the hard work put in earlier has paid off.

Use the strategy that worked better for you in the iCAT(s) that you would have attempted in the last week and attempt a fresh iCAT. This will give you a fair indication of the progress that you have made in the preceding week.

This is also Step 1 of the next week.

This step is the link between your preparations for two consecutive weeks.

Follow this sequence through the next month and you should start seeing improvements in results.

However, it should be noted that as time flies, you might have to modify the strategy to focus more on practice and solving questions more efficiently rather than on concepts and theory. Also, keep in mind that this strategy has to be applied by each student keeping his/her style of studying and preparedness in mind.

Wish you all the very best in your preparations.