The countdown to CAT 2008 has begun, just 2 weeks to go. This being my 3 rd attempt at CAT, have been some of the things that I have learnt along the way. There is no silver bullet or a magic potion that works for all. It's a journey of self discovery. Some things that follow may work for you, some may not and some may not work but still help you find what works for you. The important thing is to realise what ticks for ourselves and what doesn't.
So, here's my take on CAT preparation during the final 2 weeks
1) Solve CAT level papers regularly. Previous years CAT papers make a good choice for practising but anything that matches the level of CAT can be considered worthy.
2) Review the paper that you solve. This is a very important step that people seem to miss out. It's important to solve papers but it's even more important to review it after solving the paper. It helps you not only to solve questions better but also to gain overview on how to prepare strategy to solve the paper, understand your strengths and weaknesses and also time yourself.
3) Understand your strengths and weaknesses. By this point in time you should be familiar with what you are good at and what you are not. It is more important to spend time understanding your strength and weaknesses then trying to learn new things at this stage. Learning new things may not help much if you are not familiar with your strength and weaknesses as you may not be able to formulate the right strategy.
4) Study in moderation. People tend to step up their study schedule to cram in as much as possible during the last one month. But, what has worked better for me is gradually stepping it down a couple of gears in the final 2 weeks.
5) Relax on the day before the exam. For last 2 years have never studied for more than 2 hours on the final day. I prefer to relax and refresh my mind to be all prepared for the exam pressure next day. I plan on doing the same this year too. But, be careful. Don't over exert yourself to get to the point of tiring yourself mentally or physically. That may keep your from having peak concentration levels. Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol or any substance that gives sends you into a low after small period of high, as the high may not sustain throughout till you finish the CAT paper.
6) Practise relaxation techniques. Practise whatever relaxation technique you like – meditation, imagery, breathing, etc. I tend to prefer imagery personally but other things may work for you. It's not about which technique you use but the result you achieve. It's important to come fully relaxed for CAT and channel your nervous energy in a positive direction.
7) Eat properly. Yeah most of us find it difficult to maintain a good diet and avoid unhealthy food. But, it is important to eat right food. It helps you keep in proper frame of mind and feel active to last through the paper. And eating right reduces your chances of falling sick. That would be a disaster, won't it?
Get ready. I prefer to start preparing all your material to carry for the paper, atleast a 3 before CAT so as to avoid any last minute running around. Also, I pay a visit to the exam center atleast a week before examination to get myself familiar with the place and it's surrounding and note down any special/unusual things that I may have to go through.
9) Study with friends I like to prepare while sitting with friends for the last couple of weeks since it creates healthy competition among us and try to achieve higher. Also, sitting together helps us analyse each other to find points which we would have otherwise missed. Also, some nice fun together during breaks gets you ready to take on further preparations.
10) Believe in yourself. Rest of the things all amount to nothing if you fail to believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, rest should surely be much easier and should fall into place.
If you have your own ideas, points of views, suggestions please share it with us. I'd be happy with valid criticisms in my methods too.