CAT 2020 notification was released about 2 weeks ago. I didn't post anything around CAT preparation at that time because I know how overwhelming it can become when everyone around is talking about the same thing.
Now that the dust is set to a large extent, I'd like to share a broad preparation plan with all the CAT 2020 aspirants. This post is going to talk about the mindset with which you should approach the exam, the strategy you should use based on whether you're done with the basics or not and finally, a month-wise tracker.
111 Days to CAT 2020
Let us first address the elephant in the room. Yes, CAT 2020 is all set to be conducted on 29th November, 2020. Many of you might have scribbled or affixed this date on the wall or on your study desk just so that it keeps reminding you of the time left.
There might be countless thoughts running in your head regarding the pattern of the exam, the difficulty level, some of you might have even started searching for the predictions of the exam.
Let me tell you something - a date should not change your mindset on how to prepare for an exam. All it should do is to give you more direction on how to finish your preparation within a stipulated time frame.
Having a deadline is better than preparing in the hope that the exam will be conducted sometime in the future. So, now that you have a deadline in place i.e. 29th Nov, it's an excellent opportunity for you to reverse-engineer your preparation plan.
To those of you, who have these thoughts of, "what will happen on the D-day", I'd just say - pause that thought for a while. The time to get into that will come soon. Meanwhile, just focus on your preparation. We'll worry about the D-day once the bridge called 'preparation' has been crossed.
CAT 2020 Preparation Plan
The plan shared ahead has been divided into two broad kinds depending on how comfortable you are with the basics of CAT 2020 syllabus. To understand your standing, let me first define what basics mean:
Basics - Each chapter/topic you study as a part of CAT preparation constitutes types and questions which can be solved via longer methods or shorter tricks. So, the three components of the syllabus from generic to specific can be listed as:
Topics e.g. arrangement
Types e.g. circular arrangement
Tricks e.g. placing around a circle
Consider yourself fairly comfortable with the basics if you are able to identify the topic as well as the type of a question you read in a mock. Upon one reading, if you're able to pin-point which topic and type the question is from, then you're good with the basics already.
Based on your current standing, we'll discuss the preparation plan as if:
I. You're Good With Basics
In this case, you would probably have three resources in place already:
Material gone through
Material not gone through
Mocks & sectional tests
Let's start with the mocks.
By now, you should have started taking mocks and if you haven't then this is the time to enroll yourself with at least 2 mock series from different institutes. You can use this timeline of mocks as a reference and aim to take at least 30-40 mocks in the time left.
Now, let's see what you're supposed to do before and after a mock:
Before - Revision
Before any mock, you're supposed to use the material you've gone through in order to create a revision repository. You can check this formula book to get a reference of how the revision log is to be created.
Once you've made this repository, you need to revise it before each mock. This will ensure that the tricks and shortcuts remain on your tips during the mock. Here are some tactics of revision for the CAT exam.
After - Practice
After taking a mock and before taking the next one, you should have a gap of about 3-6 days. Now, during that time, what you need to carry out is an analysis of the mock to arrive at three answers:
Which section needs work?
Which topic needs work?
From where to improve?
Pick just one section after each mock - the weakest section - this will help you focus on the sections turn by turn and also help you monitor your progress. Once you've decided which section to work upon, revisit your mock analysis and see if there are some topics that you particularly faltered in.
From where to improve: You can use three set of resources:
Material not used - If you feel that you're not comfortable with the topic at all, it's time to practice questions from the material that has not been used yet. If you lack such resources, feel free to use this repository of questions available online.
Revision material - This would act like a summary of all the formulas that you've already noted down for that topic. This needs to be used when you feel that you're sufficiently comfortable with the topic yet made silly mistakes during the mock.
Sectional tests - If you feel that you know the basics and the formulas but you're not comfortable with using the formulas yet or you lack speed, then use sectional tests. If you don't have this resource, you can use this set of free sectional tests.
Before taking the next mock you should again revisit the formulas and redefine your strategy. Please never attempt a mock without a strategy in mind. Strategy refers to your plan of attempting the questions - are you going to attempt the RCs first or VA? Within RCs, what order are you planning to attempt in?
After taking the next mock you should check if your strategy worked. If not, how to make it work the next time or change it altogether. Along with this, you should also see if your score improved for the section you worked for and the topic you focused on.
II. You're Not Good With Basics
In this case, as discussed earlier, you're not comfortable with recognizing the topics or the types. You plan of action is going to be very similar to the one of a person who is comfortable with the basics, the only difference being, you will also have to simultaneously finish your basics.
What this means is that you also need to take mocks as per the same plan shared above, you also need to analyze the mocks the same way. But, when you're not taking a mock, apart from preparing for the next mock, you also need to finish the basics.
Your basics need to be completed irrespective of how you're doing in the mocks. Treat it as if you're not even taking the mocks. Just set a timeline by when you'd want to be done with your syllabus and keep going.
Your mock improvements should primarily come from the topics that you've already covered and have created a revision log for. That is what your mock analysis should focus on.
Month-Wise CAT 2020 Planner
We're in the middle of August right now and the plan forward should broadly look like this:
Aim to take at least 3 more mocks (a total of 5 if you haven't taken any this month yet). If you're not done with your basics, set a target to finish it by August end or September mid at max.
If you've not created a formula book yet or you feel your revision lacks structure, this is the time to practice it. Spend your weekends on revisiting the formulas.
By the end of August, set a target to hit at least 90 percentile. No matter where you are in terms of scoring in the mocks right now, focus on improving your mock score and crossing the 90 mark.
You should definitely be done with your basics by now. Aim to take 10 mocks in this month which means a mock every 3 days. If you're not comfortable with this pace, go for 6 mocks this month i.e. one in every 5 days.
The target for this month should be to get familiar with the mock taking setting and get used to strategizing and analyzing the mocks. Another target for you should be to have all the formulas on your tips.
In terms of percentile, crossing 95 should be a good enough benchmark. It will give you the much needed boost at that time to prepare further.
This month, you should definitely take 10 mocks. You can choose to take fewer mocks in November but make sure October is your peak month because this is the time when you would not have any baggage of finishing the basics.
Focus entirely on the mocks and solving extra questions from any topic if needed. If you're left with any sectional tests, topic tests, extra mocks - use this time.
The target for this month should be to score consistently between 97 to 99 percentile.
Finally, in November, you should plan to take 10 more mocks. I remember that on some days I used to take two mocks. It entirely depends on you - how many mocks you feel comfortable taking and with how much gap.
Just focus on crossing the 99 mark as many times as possible. This would not be the time to look at where you're not doing good but instead focusing on the topics that are getting you marks.
You need to polish your attempt strategy here and ensure that during this month, you finally arrive at one complete strategy for the entire mock i.e. all the three sections.
So, this was the preparation plan for the next few months left for CAT 2020. In the coming months, I will try to focus on writing posts on the niche questions you come across during your preparation. For example, in the latest comments on the blog, someone mentioned that they want to know in which order to attempt the RCs.
I will try to write elaborate posts answering such questions. So, if you have any, please put it down in the comments. Stay tuned for more on CAT 2020.
Some useful posts: