How to prepare for CAT-2016-Basics

So I’m done with most of my interviews and the ones that remain are in late March, so I thought now would be a good time to write this post. Ofcourse there is no fixed way to prepare for the exam, no magic elixir so to say. Your current knowledge and level of preparation play a big role in the whole process, but I will try to cover the things I had worked on and good resources for subjects in as much depth as possible.

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A bit about me:

I have been an avid reader since school, so I had a reasonably good command over the English language. Quant and DiLr were areas Ineeded to work on. Surprisingly my CAT score painted a completely different picture!

CAT 2015 (Overall: 99.89; Verbal:99.1,DiLr 99.29; Quant 99.71)

I will try to cover the basics in this post, and cover each section separately in other posts. So let’s get to the meat of the matter! The prep!

Should I join a class?

TLDR: If it’s your first attempt YES, else self-study.

Since this was my first attempt, I had joined TIME’s weekend batch in December 2014. I would recommend joining a full-time class from either TIME, CL or IMS based on which center has better teachers around your area.  Joining a class the first time around becomes extremely important as there are a lot of important shortcuts and tricks that would not be that easy to grasp from a book. For me, the class also helped maintain a certain amount of discipline and momentum, which sometimes becomes difficult with self-study. That being said I believe if you have taken a class once and have covered the entire syllabus, self-study will be a lot more effective, both in terms of time saved and channelizing your effort into strengthening your areas of weakness.

 

How should I start prep?

TLDR: Start with the coaching material if you have it and try to complete that(concepts+questions) by June end.

You would need around 8-9 months of quality preparation if you are a serious aspirant. I would recommend starting off early(Jan/Feb), and trying to complete the syllabus or atleast a sizeable chunk of it by June so that you can then focus on your mock analysis and direct your efforts to sections that are a bit weak.

 

Which mocks should I take?

TLDR: One amongst the three biggies (TIME,CL,IMS) and 1 among the online free ones (HitBullsEye,Cracku) would be a good combination.

A test series serves 2 main purposes:
  1. To let you analyze your individual performance
  2. To help you see where you stand amongst your peers.
I would suggest taking either TIME, IMS or CL for the second part. I had taken TIME but based on the reviews that I got from my friends all three are extremely good and provide a fairly good picture of where you stand.
For point 1, you can use many of the free mocks available online.  I had done Cracku and HitBullsEye.
A very important point here is to dedicate a good amount of time to analyze all the mocks that you have given so that you can find areas where you are either spending too much time or areas which you are finding hard to get right, and work on them.
Any other secret ingredient?
This a long and ardous journey, and like the one to Mordor, having good people by your side will always help. 
I would recommend creating a Whatsapp group of your friends from Pagalguy/coaching/FB group. This not only helps with quick doubt solving, secret shortcut sharing and a general knowledge transfer but also help you to keep going when you are feeling a bit low!(And believe me, no matter how good you are there will be mocks you screw up, and you will need your friends to get you up on your feet, upward and onward!)
For me other than my parent’s constant support, my PG group was the biggest pillar of strength and one of the most major contributors to my success.
Which facebook groups should I join?
CAT prep by Indrajeet is one of the largest around. MBA math by Amiya is also a good group to follow if you are looking for some challenging math problems. Links below.
Any other resources to practise questions online?
Cracku and oliveboard are by far the best for this. Both have daily online tests as well as a good repository of questions sorted by topic
 Links:
Cracku subject wise tests: https://cracku.in/cat/quotient
Cracku previous year CATs: https://cracku.in/cat/previous-cat
Cracku is completely free where as oliveboard gives you the daily test for free(which is a bit easier than the CAT but is great for speed and confidence building) and charges you for the subjectwise tests. I would still recommend buying the OB tests. They have them neatly segmented by difficulty level and across topics(Around 40 of them), so will prove to be a very helpful resource.
As promised, I will write posts on preparing for each section in the course of this week! So stay tuned!
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