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CAT prep mantras from IIM-L student

By Ranjeet Mohapatra, IIM Lucknow - Batch 2010
September 15, 2009 15:57 IST
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As CAT 2009 approaches, the pressure on B-school aspirants is mounting. Strategising, mock CATs, time management -- each have their own importance and value when it comes to making your CAT attempt meaningful.

To help test-takers, we asked students who have taken the CAT to share their tips and tricks. Here, Ranjeet Mohapatra, a student at IIM Lucknow, shares his experiences.

he CAT is the epitome of management examinations in the country. Any student serious about management education appears for it at some time or the other. So the big question here is: How should you approach this monster?

The simple solution: Customise. Plan. Relax. Implement.

As far as the required preparation strategy goes, what you need to keep in mind is that there is no single strategy for success in CAT. No doubt hard work and meticulous planning do form the core of any preparation; but with no fixed pattern and practically no bound syllabus, there is no "one strategy fits all".

However the uncertainty associated should in no way demoralise you. Rather it is an aid to putting you on an equal footing with "the genius" next door. Hence, the planning of your entire CAT preparation should depend on your own strengths and weaknesses and not on any mass strategy.

With just a few months to go, don't try to learn every new theory you hear. True the CAT incorporates a lot of alien concepts; however the fact of the matter is that the basic concepts that apply to a vast majority of problems are already known to you.

The vital thing to do now is mock tests. Use them as a ladder to improve your examination effectiveness. Missing out on easy questions, wrongly interpreting sentences and faulty time divisions are three most crucial mistakes that can be avoided by careful evaluation of these mock tests. Also try and get a feel of the diverse flavour of tests by various coaching institutes. Develop your strengths and use them to push your overall score while making provisions for your weaknesses by allotting more time and practice.

Remind yourself that the CAT is just an examination. Don't give in to the pressure of it being anything more. It's just a path, like many others before you. On the day before the exam avoid studying. Try to keep your cool and have faith on your competence.

One last crucial thing to remember is to be flexible with your plans to tackle the exam. One personal example is in CAT 2007 when I saw myself unable to crack the verbal section. Though I had initially planed to devote only about 35 minutes for verbal, I ended up spending around 55 minutes on it. The significant factor here is to motivate yourself to adapt and memorise the simple fact that if it's difficult for you, it must be difficult for everyone else too.

Simple and effective planning, a flexible approach and a dash of confidence is all that you need to tame the CAT. And of course it always helps to have a truckload of luck on your side! 

Have you aced the CAT? Do you have tips that could help students improve their scores or stress-busting strategies to beat pre-CAT nerves? Send in your advice to and we'll publish your strategies right here on

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Ranjeet Mohapatra, IIM Lucknow - Batch 2010