Before I even begin to answer this question, let me point out two mistakes that popup straight away in my mind when students look for the time table/schedule/routine they should follow to obtain a 99 percentile in CAT.
- You know yourself better than the world. You know where you stand in terms of preparation, in terms of time in hand, in terms of money and other resources and in terms of your strengths and weaknesses, so how can you allow others to give you a standard template when there are just so many factors. Some students are good at math, maybe as a result of their preparation for IIT JEE, or maybe they are innately talented. Some students only give mocks for 2 months and crack the exam whereas some take 2 to 3 attempts with continuous efforts in every attempt. You need to figure out where you stand and what works best for you.
- Why only 99 percentile? For some students, it represents the maximum score and they are just looking for a schedule to max out their score but many students get into the nitty-gritty of score vs percentile. They ask questions like: ‘How much percentile should I aim for or what score do I need for 99 percentile?’. CAT is a competitive exam based on the relative performance of the students. So, aim for 100 and stop giving a fuck about marks vs score.
With this being thrown out of the way, we can now proceed to the schedule part. I will lay the framework for you but personalization, of course, needs to be done by you only and nobody else.
We will start with the assumption that you have around 6 to 8 months for your preparation. This much time is more than sufficient. You can modify the plan as per the time you have in hand. Also, I am assuming that you have 9 hours of college or job every day and if you do not have any of these then you can change the number of hours in the schedule mentioned below to suit yourself. Also, you will have to justify the gap year during the interview and you will be losing the work-ex advantage you could have had in many MBA colleges.
So, these are the steps that you should follow to make a proper personalized schedule for yourself:
- Identify yourself on the level of prior QA knowledge. For eg: you could be average or good at QA (Category 1) or you could be totally out of touch after class 10 and need to work on Quant (Category 2). The easiest way to judge this is by taking a few Daily Free Quiz at Gofodu or you can have a look at the CAT 2019 paper from here. Category 1 would be students being able to solve a few questions and understand the solutions to the rest of the questions. Category 2 would be of students feeling that it looks familiar but they don’t understand much. There can be a Category 3 of students who are able to solve most of the previous year’s questions. This might not be their first attempt. Well, if you are in category 3 then most of your concepts are already clear and you should be focusing on reading, practicing questions and taking mocks most of the time.
- In Category 1, you will need around 500 hours of preparation whereas, in Category 2, you will need around 700 hours of preparation for CAT.
- Divide these hours with the number of days you have in hand to get the number of hours you should put in every day. For eg: if you are starting 8 months before the exam then you have 8×30 = 240 days in hand and around 500/240 = 2 hours each day if you are okay in QA (Category 1) and around 700/240 = 3 hours each day if you are weak in QA (Category 2).
- Suppose, you start your preparation 4 months before CAT, then you seriously need to dedicate 4 to 6 hours every day.
- These numbers are inclusive of the 2 hours/day of coaching (online or offline) that you can join. Online coaching will help you utilize the full 2 hours (no commute) at your own pace.
- There will be days (assuming an average of one such day every week) when you have exams in college or you come late from the office, that could be compensated by studying for 6 to 8 hours on Sundays.
- If even this much time feels less to you then you need to increase your focus and productivity.
- A minimum of 1 hour of reading every day is mandatory for all students. This is apart from the 500 and 700 hrs discussed above. Look at point number 17 on how to get 1 hour for reading out of your busy schedule. Whenever you don’t feel like doing QA or DILR, you should be reading.
- You will never get time to read the complete book at once, and in that attempt, you will never even start the book. If you set small targets, such as reading 30 – 40 pages each day or reading for 1 hour, you will slowly and gradually finish it. If a task seems boring or difficult, try doing it for half an hour instead of procrastinating it and you will actually end up doing it for more time or might even finish it to your surprise. Most of the things seem difficult because we haven’t tried them yet.
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- If you are totally new to reading, then you can start with authors such as Chetan Bhagat and Durjoy Datta. After a month or so, you can switch to authors such as Paulo Coelho, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, and Amish Tripathi. And when you have gained sufficient confidence, you can move on to authors like Dan Brown, Salman Rushdie, and Khaled Hosseini.
- For reading articles, you refer to sources such as The Hindu, Aldaily, NYtimes, Aeon.co, theGuardian.com, Economist.com, etc. We provide a curated list of articles to read every day on our WhatsApp broadcast list.
- Reading will take care of
- Grammar: After a few books, you will develop a sense of how grammar works and how a proper sentence should ‘sound’ to your ear. You may not be able to specify the rule of grammar, but you sure can identify an improperly written sentence. You can take out some time to learn the rules properly from the book ‘High School English Grammar and Composition’ by Wren and Martin. Grammar is not very useful for CAT but it is important for all other MBA entrance exams. Also, it will be a basic requirement in making your WAT essay not look bad.
- Vocabulary: Mark or note the difficult words you come across. Try to guess the meaning contextually and move ahead so that it does not spoil the reading experience. Once you are done with the day’s reading, look up their meanings in a mobile dictionary and bookmark them for later revision. Vocabulary comes directly in exams other than CAT and a certain level of vocabulary will improve your passage comprehension as well. If you want to work on it further than you can start with the book ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis.
- RC: RC passages that come in the exam basically test your reading skills only. The best way to prepare for the RC section for CAT is by staying away from the RC section and giving all the time to reading.
- Every day, half of your total study time should go to the weaker section. That means around 1.5 hr each day will go to QA for Category 2. This is the average time you need to put in, it doesn’t have to be on a daily basis. On some days, you can study QA only and on some days DILR only.
*As you get better in the subjects, you can change the ratio of time allotted accordingly.
- You should start giving mocks as soon as you have finished more than 50% of the syllabus.
- Start with one mock/week when you have 3 months for CAT and increase it to 2 mocks/week when there are 2 months remaining for CAT.
- Make sure to take these mocks either in the morning slot of 9 am to 12 pm or in the afternoon slot of 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
- At Least 3 hrs of mock test analysis should be done on the same day or the very next day. For more information on how to take mock tests, you can read here.
- There should not be any zero preparation days. Zero preparation days, as the name suggests, are the days when you don’t study at all. You cannot afford to have any such days in your schedule.
- I never recommend cutting on sleep to study more as it will only reduce your productivity. Around 7 hours is the ideal sleep required by any student. Also, there is no point in changing your sleep cycle to wake up early for studies (if you don’t already do that). You will end up wasting a lot of time.
- The schedule discussed above might appear to be a little hectic and if you fall short then try to utilize the time between the breaks. Look out for 10 – 15 minutes of gaps which you might be getting while waiting for the bus or while commuting. Use them to read or to watch tutorial videos on mobile. This is a huge advantage of choosing online coaching.
- Your subject-wise preparation should be as follows:
- Start with reading 1 book per week, then increase it to 2 books a week and then 2 to 3 months before the exam, start giving more time to long articles than books.
- Also, 2 to 3 months before the exam, start solving 2 to 3 RC each day from previous year papers. This will take care of the Critical Reasoning part as well.
- Exams other than CAT focus equally on VA and RC, so 2 to 3 months before CAT, start practicing Para jumbles, Para-completion, Sentence Completion, etc from previous year papers. Any other format that comes in any other exam could be practiced through mocks only.
- Past CAT papers are must solve for this section. This should be your major source of preparation. Book ‘Face to Face with CAT’ by Arihant Publication has all the previous year CAT questions with detailed solutions. The same could be found in the CAT course by Gofodu as well.
- You can also get into a habit of solving sudoku and crossword puzzles daily. They appear regularly in newspapers or you can install free apps on android as well as iOS. Website sudoku.com is a good source for the same.
- There are other puzzle books as well which you can refer to eg: ‘The Great Book of Puzzles and Teasers‘ by George J Summers, ‘Puzzles to Puzzle you‘ by Shakuntala Devi, ‘The Lady or the Tiger‘ by Raymond Smullyan, etc. You can also search for different puzzle apps on mobile for logic building.
- For DI, you should learn about different varieties of graphs and how to read them. Also, learn about different ways to compare ratios and how to calculate the growth rate using the given data or by looking at the graphs. You can watch such a video based on Line graphs by signing up here.
- For both DI as well as QA, you need to thoroughly learn and remember
- Multiplication tables from 1 to 20
- squares from 1 to 30
- cubes from 1 to 15
- square roots from 1 to 10
- unit conversions and
- percentage fraction equivalence
- Different approximation techniques
- Different ratio comparison techniques
- Direct basic formulas fro topics such as algebraic identities
- The QA syllabus comprises mostly school level maths so your focus should be on basics and concept building and not shortcuts.
- Sarvesh Verma by Arihant Publication is a good book for QA. You can learn the concepts from it. Also, there are a huge number of questions to practice.
- You can also purchase second-hand coaching material (easily available in bookstores or OLX) of any premier institute to get good questions of QA.
- Make notes about the formulas, derivations and interesting problem-solving methods you come across in your preparation. Also, bookmark interesting questions for revision before the exam.
- These sources and methods can give a push start to your preparation, but for complete preparation, you will need a structured course such as this one. It has more than 350 detailed concept videos, more than 2000 solved examples and more than 35 mock tests along with a maintained doubt forum. You need to practice a lot after going through each and every concept. ‘Learn – Practice – Test’ should be your strategy. CAT course at Gofodu is structured around this strategy only.
- Try to study with complete focus. Avoid distractions and daydreaming. You need concrete preparation and not the illusion of preparation. To get energetic and focused throughout the day so that you make maximum out of this schedule, you can practice Pranayam from the following two links. It hardly takes 20 minutes*.
- Avoid social media (use only for doubt solving and exam updates) and stop looking for random advice and shortcuts. There is no substitute for studies.
- Many students fail because they are unable to stay motivated till CAT. You need daily self-motivation and more than that you need self-discipline (read here).
- In your schedule, do take some time for physical activity such as walk/jog/or a sport such as Table Tennis or Badminton.
- Don’t waste time. Limit your time with friends, movies, and parties till CAT. I said, limit it and not stop it altogether. Have a life outside CAT preparation.
So, these were a few points which when taken into consideration can help you make a personalized schedule to target 100 percentile marks in CAT. Sticking to the schedule is difficult. You will have to overcome procrastination and bring discipline to life. All the best.
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