Common Admission Test or CAT is considered one of the toughest examinations in the world. Should you be worried about it? Absolutely, not. With new six IIMs taking admission from this year and number of CAT aspirants decreasing over last couple of years, you actually stand a better chance to get into prestigious b school in India. Of course competition is huge to get into top notch colleges like IIMs and XLRI but with a disciplined approach and dedication, one should be able to fulfill his/her MBA dream from IIMs or XLRI. Studying from top rated CAT/XAT preparation books and from a reputed coaching institute can help, but a lot depends on your own approach towards Entrance Exams.
Following tips can help you in a greater way to achieve your MBA dream:-
In case you want to pursue MBA, first question you should ask yourself is “Why do you want to pursue MBA?” Answer can be many- Earning Potential, Excellent Career, Fame, Interest in Business, Entrepreneurship and many others. But you should be convinced with your own unique answer and motivate yourself towards preparation.
Which Colleges you want to Target?
There are over 3000 MBA Colleges in India. You need to decide what your capability is and which college you wish to join. You should start dreaming of studying at those institutes in order to make your preparation, more realistic and fulfilling.
Majority of students target only IIMs, other group targets XLRI Jamshedpur and XIM Bhubaneswar while other target Top Private MBA Colleges like MDI Gurgaon, IMT Ghaziabad, etc.
You should be very clear of your target colleges as it determines your own preparation process and timeline.
Entrance Tests you will be taking?
Once Target College is decided, you can figure out which MBA entrance tests you will be appearing for. Options are many: CAT, XAT, MAT, CMAT, NMAT, IIFT, GMAT, SNAP etc.
Prefer not appearing for more than three examinations as each entrance exam is unique, has different paper pattern and requires focused preparation.
Syllabus and Paper Pattern
Find out the detailed syllabus of the test you have decided to take and get yourself familiar with paper pattern including subjects they ask in entrance exam. More research you do on syllabus and paper pattern and as a result understanding you gain can make the chances of getting into right colleges high.
Prepare a detailed list of chapters the entrance test asks for, subject wise and paste it in front of your studying table. It should not worry you, but give you a realistic picture of your preparation and progress. As you study the subjects and topic, you will discover your strengths and weakness, both subject wise and topic wise.
Prepare a milestone schedule of how you are going to complete the syllabus, revision, appear in mock tests and eventually becoming ready in Exam. You should take note that CAT is held every year in October-November and XAT in January first week. Other exams are schedule around January-February only. You should start your studies at least a year before the actual exam with full preparation.
Consider Joining a MBA Preparation Institute
Joining an Institute for MBA preparation can have several advantages. It will make your preparation more disciplined and timely. Apart from study material and regular practice, you will get a competitive environment where all MBA aspirants will fight for performance. This environment will help you in nurturing and improving your performance, in academics, in soft skills like public speaking, GD, interview etc and mock tests.
In this phase you should study regularly and with dedication to cover the whole MBA Entrance Exam Syllabus in maximum six months. You should note on your strengths and further strengthen it. Weakness also should be noted and worked upon to improve. Get yourself fully familiarize with MBA Syllabus in these six months. Check your progress regularly and stick to milestone schedule you prepared initially.
Once you are done with full MBA syllabus, it’s now time to practice and check your performance including accuracy rate and time taken. You should arrange for previous three-five years of entrance test papers, which you wish to appear and do a self mock test. Check your performance and compare it with your friends. Do the needful to improve your performance like revise topics you find you are weak at or take feedback from your trainers at institute and friends to perform better.
Your coaching institute should provide you with at least 10 mock tests. These Mock Tests are replica of actual Test like CAT/XAT and is intended to check your performance on real time basis.
Aim is not only to check your accuracy, but make you familiar with taking test on computer platform. It simulates actual CAT/XAT like environment with all students taking test at same time, time constraint and similar set ups. You should use this opportunity to the fullest by sensing your process of appearing for test and work on difficulties.
Mock Tests should help you in the following manner:-
Test-taking speed and track on time taken for each type of question.
Overcome panic and nervousness.
Conditions in Computer based tests and difficulty you may face.
Clear picture of your overall preparation and topics you need to work upon.
You should not only take tests regularly, but follow up every test with in depth analysis so that you can understand your weakness and work upon them for improvement. At every next mock test, check if you have improved on those topics or still performance remains same.
Get yourself familiarized with Computer based Testing
Mock Tests will give you firsthand experience of computer based testing, but you own your own should take mock tests available online for free, to be excellent with handling of computer and various options available in test screen like going back, changing answers etc. How to handle technical glitches like error on screen, sudden stopping of computer system, power failure etc. should be learnt in advance to avoid panic during examination.
You alone can’t be sure how good you have prepared for entrance test. You should form a group of your friends who are appearing for same exam in the same year and sit together regularly to discuss and brain storm over preparation and topics you face difficulty. It will give you confidence about your preparation and revise your concepts on regular basis as you will discuss the topics over again and again.
Apply for Entrance Tests and B Schools
While preparing in full swing, do not forget to keep track of dates and deadlines for application issue and submission of entrance tests you intend to appear and b schools you intend to join. Keep regular track of your institute’s notice board and official websites of Entrance Tests and B Schools you have selected, to keep yourself informed about the deadlines and application process in details. Don’t wait for last moment, but do everything necessary ensure that you apply to Entrance tests (CAT/XAT and others) and B Schools at the earliest they issue applications. Because everything can be done online now, this shouldn’t take much of your time and energy.
Fine Tune your Preparation
Now, when the exams are just two months away, you should consolidate on topics you have studied and ignore some topics which you found really difficult. Work on your strengths rather than weakness. Also undergo Group Discussion and Interview practice at your institute or among friends. Ensure yourself that your preparation is full and motivate yourself with good things. Bring positive energy and believe that you would do well.
Because you would be appearing for difference entrance tests based on your choice like CAT, XAT, etc. you should mentally prepare yourself for exams. You should not worry, but have confidence on you and your preparation. Make a schedule of different exams you are appearing with dates, exam details and venue details. Priortise your preparation on basis of nearness and importance of exam. See the previous papers of that examination for last 3-5 years again, to have an understanding of pattern and type of questions you can expect. In many case you will get similar questions. You should sleep nicely before the examination day and most importantly have faith in yourself to perform best in examination.
But, after taking one or two exam you should not relax and leave study or revision, but keep revising and be in examination mode for the next upcoming exam and perform well in every exam you are appearing for.
Prepare for Group Discussion/Personal Interview
Once all exams are done, it’s now time to prepare you for next round entrance process i.e. Group Discussion and Personal Interview.
This can be done with help of your institute and study group, you might have formed. Take feedback from trainers and your acquaintances who study at that B School to understand the GD-PI process and how to tackle them.
In case you follow the above tips for preparation, rest assured you will get into good B School.