How to bell the CAT – Drawing a roadmap

This is 2 of a 5 part article that I intend to write, to share with you what actually went into scoring a 99.49 percentile in CAT after securing average marks throughout my academic career.

Now that you have set a goal for yourself, how do you go along achieving it? You have dreamt big and rightly so, but now what? Now begins that hard part. Just imagine for a minute you have a destination, but to reach there you need to know the path leading to it, or a map to guide you. If you don’t have a road map you would wander around aimlessly and eventually get lost, still believing maybe that you are on the right track.

So this is the part from where your preparation begins. Start planning. By now you would be thinking when do I stop my gyan and actually get to the business end of things.

To begin with whichever exam you are aiming for, buy a book containing its previous years papers. Though this will come in handy later, but at this time it solves a very important purpose. You get to know whether you are really interested in this. 

I bought a ‘Face to Face with CAT’ by Arihant Publications, and went through a few questions. For me it was love at first site. It didn’t matter if I could hardly solve any, but what matters is, that was something I fell in love doing. I could imagine myself spending hours after hours doing that. Similarly, I also borrowed a book containing previous year GATE question papers. After first few questions I thought, if devil himself had designed the course material, it couldn’t have been any more scarier. Such was the dislike for that course (even though I was studying engineering), that it wasn’t even my stand-by option.

Now what I wrote above will vary from person to person, but before you set upon starting a monumental task just stop for a minute and think whether you will really enjoy the pain.

Okay, so you have fallen in love with a particular line of study, but where is the road map. Well since each of you will have separate destinations, hence the roads leading to them would be separate too. I can just give an example of how to build the road map.

First we need to make small goals, and set about achieving them. You have to micro-plan everything for months in advance. How much time do you have left? How many hours can you devote per day? How many days you need to allot for social obligations? How many days you need for leisure to prevent burn out? Factor all these things in and then set daily, weekly and monthly target. Don’t begin by setting a target so big, that like your new year’s resolution you run out of steam in the first week. Think about your present situation, how much preparation do you actually need? It will differ from individual to individual the person next to you may do it in half the time, don’t get influenced, listen to your heart and start working. 

I started out by aiming for MAT (Management Aptitude Test). In order to attempt the MAT in the month of may, I went through the course material and figured out that I needed 40 days of 4 hours each that is 160 Hours to complete a certain book I had bought for MAT. I knew that I have to study for semester as well, I had to be a part of the farewell organized for seniors, I had to party, I had to fulfill social obligations, I may fall sick for a few days, keeping all these  variables in mind I decided that I needed to start preparing for from mid – January because our semester exams were in may. My college ended at 5 PM, but I was back by 3:30 – 4:00 everyday and studied till dinner time which was 8:00, I wasn’t much of a mid-night oil burner and also movies, parties and sleep were as important to me.

By April 5, I had completed my book and the 160 hours that I had set for it. In between I had taken a week off during Holi and another fortnight for fest and farewell. My exam was on 6th May. In my first attempt with 40 hours of preparation I had scored 99.93 percentile (800/800) in MAT. Going by the figures released, some 32000 had appeared for MAT that year, which means my rank was around 21, to be honest with you that was roughly equal to the rank I held in my class of 66.

Here lies the difference I was forced into engineering and never fell in love with it, whereas aptitude is something I really took a liking to. The contrast in the results was visible. Engineering was arranged marriage, whereas, CAT was love at first sight.

I hope by now you know, what you need to do in order to construct your own road-map for success.

The next article would be ‘Fighting Demons (Maths, English, GK)’.



How to bell the CAT – Goal Setting

This is 1 of a 5 part article that I intend to write, to share with you what actually went into scoring a 99.49 percentile in CAT after scoring average marks throughout my academic career.

This is for all of you, who don’t have a 90 in boards, haven’t gone to an IIT, BITS, or SRCC etc, and lastly those who doubt their own caliber and potential to eventually become world beaters.

Through these five articles I will give you an overview of what actually goes into the preparation for CAT right from Goal setting, road map building to developing the winning attitude.

(Just to inspire you further, my 10th, 12th, and Graduation marks are 86, 76, 64.5 respectively and my graduation was from a private college in north India, which is 6 years old.)

Goal setting is a self explanatory term, but why emphasize on it so much to write few hundred words on it.

On the outset I would like to attend to those of you who haven’t yet dared to dream big. Well there are many apprehensions, the first one is I don’t have 90 in tenth and twelfth boards, hence, I am not good enough. My command over English is as good as my command over french. Or the most common one, we are not from IIT, NIT or BITS, hence, how do we compete with guys from those planets.

Well to begin with, yes, there will always be people who are “better than you”, who have better opportunities, better infrastructure, better “brains”. But accepting defeat that we can’t beat them, is an excuse that we give ourselves just to run away from struggle and hard work. This is the biggest illusion you create for yourself.

So goal setting, many of you reading this would be either in your college or just out of it working somewhere which you are not satisfied with. What is your dream at this point? Yes, I understand you ultimately want to crack the CAT hence you are here, but your realistic dreams are just getting a placement from college. Hoping that you won’t have to sit idle after you pass out. But then what, assuming you get that job which pays you 15 K a month, then what. Would you be happy? A job where you realize that a domestic cook earns more per hour than you. A job where you will realize that buying that dream motorcycle will have to wait, even when you are spending a better part of your day there.

Ask yourself, is this dream worth it? Is this what you want to end up with few years later? and to those of you stuck here, isn’t it time to dream big. To give your dream life that one final shot.

Hence, dream. Dream big. Dream of becoming something that will give you enough money to fulfill those unreal materialistic and social aspirations you have.

It could be anything becoming an actor, a bureaucrat, a naval commander, an entrepreneur, a CEO, a designer, a technocrat. Anything.

You introspect and find out your dream, and believe in it. Day dream, think about how life will be when you achieve your dream. Create those images in your mind. Don’t let that fear of failure creep in and spoil those images. These images need to be powerful because these are what will drive you when you are burnt, fatigued, disappointed and down.


My dream was to earn a lot of money and at the same time enjoy what I was doing. Making that sound more specific I wanted to be in marketing, but in a designation that gives me a lot of money, and also experience to start a venture of my own at some point. I also dream of becoming a writer and a corporate trainer. So barring writing, doing MBA was the stepping stone into these careers.

So my goal was CAT, not MAT, CMAT or MHCET etc. I don’t have anything against them, it’s just that when you have to aim, aim for the best, the simple reason is when you dream, you dream of the best. Do you ever dream of a 100 CC bike? or of 800 CC car, so when it comes to education why not dream for the best.

Well I hope after reading this you have got a fair idea about how and what to dream.


Next article would be on drawing the road map on how to reach there.