There is never enough time, let me tell you that straight up!
You could begin studying for any exam, a week, a month, a year, or even three years in advance and trust me you will say this one day before your exam, “OMG!!! I couldn’t complete Module 4 of Math, and 3 Chapters in Language.”
I used to be a ‘doubting Thomas’ in matters related to MBA till one day my mother broke the news to me. She knocked on my door and said, “Darling, times are tough! Recession has hit the job markets; so I don’t see you getting a job after B.Com. You have a year; join a part time coaching class for the MBA entrance exam and start studying for it right away.”
Honestly I wasn’t sure I even wanted to do my MBA just after my graduation. What I really wanted to do was work for a couple of years and then pursue my higher studies abroad. Call it fate, but at home my mom always had the last word. So I sheepishly enrolled myself into one of top 2 institutes in my city for an MBA coaching and hoped for the best.
I was pretty confident that I would sail through the coaching classes with flying colours, since I was a topper in my college. But on day-1 when the coaching classes put me through a Pre-Assessment test, my confidence was shattered. I was ranked in the bottom 30 percentile and my instructor looked at me with same look a doctor gives when he has to deliver bad news to the family of his patient.
The instructor told me that I was one of the worst performers he had ever come across in his entire career. He then asked me to go back home and come back the next day for a more detailed analysis.
I arrived back the next day, with a heavy heart and was prepared to hear the worst. But I was quite surprised at what he had to say. He explained to me that I really hadn’t given a bad performance, but I had completely messed up the way I had answered my assessment.
The greatest insight that I got from my pre-assessment was:
- There are 3 main sections for any competitive exam (some have more i.e. General Knowledge, etc.) like: Quantitative Studies, English Language and Logical Reasoning and one needs study the pattern of exam before even attempting that exam.
- Once the pre-assessment was broken down and each section was individually scored, my instructor had shown me that my weakness was Quantitative subjects. I had individually scored very well in Language and Logic.
- Each type of entrance exam has its own scoring pattern; some of them allow students a certain amount of time for each section. While some others allow students to randomly scan through the entire paper and answer whichever section convenient in the entire time, some exams are online, whereas others have to be answered on hard paper. Some exams even have scores for the steps in calculation. So one must be aware of the type of exam one is attempting.
- Work on your weak subjects and build on your strengths.
With all this knowledge I began my journey towards enlightenment. My goal now had shifted from studying a bunch of subjects to actually strategising on how to tackle different exams that I had made up my mind to try.
Since Quant was my weakness I went through the entire list of modules and tried to figure out what I was actually good at. I marked out those chapters and quickly began to work on them. The next step in Quant was to actually work on the modules I could not tackle, and some of them were: formula based calculations, trigonometry, and Quadrilateral equations. No matter how hard I tried I could not get a hang of them. Maybe it was because I had begun preparing for my exams just a few months in advance to the actual entrance, and I was still in my final year of college. Maybe I could have worked harder, but like I said before, there is never enough time for everything, and what one needs to undertake is a strategy to tackle one’s weakness. So I simply tried and skimmed through what I didn’t understand and decided to skip it altogether.
At this point I would like to put forth a disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article are simply on the basis of my personal experience and every individual is unique. If you could take a lesson from my experience I would be highly honoured, but I warn you that you need to understand your own strengths and build your own strategy.
The other 2 sections, Language and Logic were more like stress-busters to me. I loved to solve puzzles during my spare time, and in the year that I was preparing for my entrance exams, I would carry my logic book while I travelled and used it to substitute my puzzle book to pass my time. When I was stressed out studying Quant, I would use my language book as a refresher in between and have a little fun with it.
Months flew by and my strategy seemed to work like a charm, till the time came for the actual exam. About a month in advance I booked my tickets and got my stay arranged as my city did not have an entrance exam centre. I kept solving the papers from previous year’s exams and my instructor encouraged me to complete more assessments. Even though my score was slightly above average he encouraged me to never give up.
You see at the end of the day one can never predict the circumstances one would encounter during the day of the exam. All you can do is pray to Pythagoras, Hermes and Apollo and hope that you have prepared enough to tackle your demons. Rest assured that in the end everything will work out just the way it is supposed to and CAT is not the only exam that one can attempt. There are plenty of others, just like the number of Gods we have in India. You could really try and attempt the international exams, if you have the opportunity.
No matter what, there is never a need to be disappointed or dejected because, “There is always a next time!”
Contributed by Sujir Pavithra Nayak, (Class of 2011, IBS Hyderabad)