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Many working professionals choose to go for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) course after gaining some years of experience and rightly so. Having some work experience before taking up an MBA course provides students with a different perspective, which helps them attribute their learnings in the course to practical scenarios better than a fresh candidate might be able to.
However, it is just not possible to talk about MBA admissions in India without talking about CAT. The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most taken MBA entrance exams in the world. Over 2 lakh aspirants sit for the exam each year and try their hand at getting into the MBA courses of the top management colleges in India.
Many aspirants start preparing for CAT while working a full-time or part-time job. However, simply because of the level of difficulty and the sheer amount of competition for the exam, it can get difficult to juggle between a full-time job and giving enough time to study for CAT. In this article, we provide the best tips for working professionals preparing for CAT. However, let's first take a look at the question that you may be asking yourself during your preparation.
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Is it Possible to Crack CAT while Working?
This is one question that many CAT aspirants holding full-time jobs often ask themselves. It is also what prevents many from taking the first step towards CAT preparation. If you are one of those aspirants, you should probably take a look at the IIM Batch Profile data given below.
- 64% of the 2020 PGP batch of IIM Ahmedabad comprises students with work experience.
- 87% of the 2019-21 PGP batch of IIM Nagpur had at least 2 years of work experience.
- 78% of IIM Calcutta's 2018 MBA batch had prior work experience.
- Around 75% of the 2019-21 PGP batches at IIM Lucknow had some amount of work experience.
This is not just true for the recent data but for the previous year IIM admissions as well. Majority of the students joining the PGP batches of IIMs have been students with prior work experience.
It just goes to show that yes, it is not only possible to crack CAT while working but a significant number of MBA candidates are already doing it. So, there is no reason that you cannot. Preparing for CAT while working mostly includes:
- a solid preparation strategy for CAT.
- a lot more practice of CAT Mock Tests and previous year question papers of CAT than you probably think.
CAT Preparation Basics
Before you dive head-on into the vast world of CAT preparation, let's take a look at some of the basics.
When it the best time to start CAT preparation?
As per the CAT preparation experts, 6 months is the ideal preparation time for CAT. Since CAT 2020 is scheduled to be conducted in November, the preparation for CAT should ideally begin in May or June 2020.
How much study time per day is required for CAT?
Ideally, a 4-5 hour study schedule per day is enough for CAT preparation if you are following a 6-month preparation strategy. However, if you have a busy schedule, at least 3 hours of study per day is mandatory to crack CAT in 6 months. In this case, you can spare extra time to study on the weekends.
Whatever time and schedule you choose, the most important part would be to stick to it. Ensuring that you are not compromising with your CAT preparation daily is essential.
How much importance does practising have in CAT preparation?
Regular practice is the key to cracking CAT. Some experts say that up to 80% of CAT preparation must be reserved for practice. Even if you want a more conservative split, you should divide your CAT practice as follows.
|2/3rds Practice||1/3rd Theoretical Study|
CAT Preparation Tips for Working Professionals
As a working professional, you will have some limitations when preparing for CAT. You will not be able to spare as much time and effort as an aspirant with no other responsibilities. Therefore, it becomes very important to play to your strengths and work smartly. Given below are some very important tips you should keep in mind when preparing for CAT while working.
Practice Practice Practice
It is very difficult to overstate the importance of practice when preparing for CAT. Solving questions on a daily basis should be an important part of your preparation strategy.
When selecting the best books for CAT preparation, you should look for books that provide sample question papers, previous year question papers with solutions and mock tets.
Use Your Time Wisely
Finding time to study with an already busy work-schedule can get tough. However, it can be done if you are wise about how to spend your time. Many professionals use their travelling time to prepare for CAT.
Professionals can often be seen spending 2-3 hours per day in travel and making short notes and studying during the metro ride helps you use this time to your advantage. It is important to develop the mindset to crack CAT and follow your schedule with due diligence.
Another important point is to not take too much on your plate. If you are preparing for CAT while working, you might have to pause some other activities where your time is spent. You must be ready to cut out the clutter and make time for preparation.
Make Social Media Your Friend in CAT Preparation
Many groups and student communities exist on social media platforms such as Facebook, Quora etc. where you can find information and support during your CAT preparation.
Using online platforms, you can not only interact with a more diverse community of aspirants but it can also help you get in touch with other students and experts instantly from the comfort of your home.
You can also find good study materials and mock tests using these forums to aid in your study preparation.
Coaching and Targeted Study
Weekend classes online or in-person can give an excellent boost to your CAT preparation. You can learn question-solving techniques, tricks and find other aspirants to interact with. You can also use coaching to brush up concepts in which you are weak.
The most important aspect that coaching brings is that it takes the mental pressure off to some extent. You basically outsource the task of theory learning to another individual who can do it professionally and, in most cases, quicker than you can at home.
Keep Your Confidence Up
CAT preparation while working can take a toll on your mind. It can get overbearing in the starting days and you may want to give up. However, it is important to keep your confidence up and keep going.
You may get demotivated by thinking that your preparation will not be enough and you will not get a good score. However, with the right attitude, correct preparation strategy and discipline, you will be able to crack the exam.
Having an idol or a target IIM in mind while preparing can also help a lot to guide your efforts during CAT preparation.
Taming the CAT while working is not easy but it is quite common to see working candidates shift out of their workplace and into an IIM Campus. You can also check these other related articles that will help you become a better aspirant for CAT.
If you have any doubts or queries, please ask them on the CollegeDekho QnA Zone. For admissions-related inquiries, fill our Common Application Form (CAF) or call 18005729877 to talk to our counsellor.