Updated: Jul 8
If you’re going to appear for CAT while still being in college, managing studies with CAT preparation can become a challenge. There are a couple of hacks you should know:
First of all, a collegiate appears for the exam in the final year. This is important to know because when you will fill the application form of CAT, you’ll be required to fill the marks of your undergrad as completed till that point. This means that the marks of some semesters will hold more importance than others.
When I appeared for CAT, I was in the final year of a 3-year bachelor’s degree. My exam took place in the 5th semester, so I had to fill in the marks of my degree till the 4th semester. So, semesters 1–4 weighed more than semester 5,6. I diverted my energy to academics till semester 4 but in semester 5, I focused only on CAT.
I’m not saying that you should ignore academics totally. The marks of your undergrad account not only for admission to a B-school but go a long way. Moreover, if you happen to appear for CAT the next time, the marks of all semesters will be weighed equally. This information is helpful for the ones who are in college and wish to crack it in the first go. There is a provision to give more focus to CAT in that one semester (for me it was the 5th semester). Here is the screenshot of IIM-A’s guidelines mentioning how the marks of collegiate in the final year are accounted for:
So, the first thing you should know is that the balance between academics and CAT can be altered depending on the semester you’re in.
Secondly, most colleges are off or close early on weekends. This requires you to devote more energy to academics during the weekdays than on the weekends (provided there are not many assignments or submissions on the weekends). I used to prepare for CAT after coming back from my college during the weekdays but never gave a mock or revised too much during that time. This is because I kept my weekends for the revision of everything that got done during the week. I also took coaching, so by the end of the week, there was a lot to go through.
And finally, it is about the exam season. I studied at Delhi University, so it might have been different for me but in our university, we were able to manage the academics by focusing more during the exams and by devoting less time to day-to-day classes or academic requirements. You can see if that’s the case with your institute as well and prepare accordingly.
All-in-all, don’t forget that academics, especially undergrad scores, hold a lot of importance for not only getting into a B-school but also during the placements at a B-school. It often stands out as a differentiating factor more so than the marks of X and XII standard.
You may be interested in the routine I followed to get into IIM Ahmedabad.