The upcoming Common Admission Test (CAT) exam on November 28, 2021 has got its suitors all wired up and engrossed in study. Quite a few of the aspirants who are taking the exam this year had aimed for 2020 but the pandemic derailed their plans and the pressure has only built up over the last two years.
Covid-19 brought with it a few alterations in the format last year - primary being that exam had fewer questions across Sections compared to the one held in 2019. The modification has been retained for this year and expected to be beneficial to candidates. They agree too.
Shreyas Patekar, 22, taking the exam for the first time, said that Covid-19 hampered his overall plans and preparations.” If it weren't for Covid, I'd have probably given CAT last year and would be in my first year of MBA this year.”
Subash Krishna, 24, has a similar grouse. “My education plans went haywire because of the pandemic. In my third attempt (CAT 2020), I got selected for the IIM Ranchi's HRM program. But I decided not to take admission because the classes would be online for the most part. I'm somebody who loves direct face-to-face interaction rather than an online setup. Campus life is the 'holy grail' of your MBA life!"
Covid-19 has taken a toll on the studying patterns and habits of the candidates as well. Most have made use of the lockdown to study a little extra from home while others have preferred to take some classroom coaching.
"’Not dwelling on a question with each question carries equal marks is a chant. I pick up the straightforward questions first, and if time allows, I go back to the remaining ones. I remind myself that even though I might be good at a topic, it does not mean that the question will be easy. Lastly, I keep an eye on the number of unread questions to not miss any,” Suhas Phalke, 24 to FPJ.
Ali Rushdi Kharbe says, 20, says his concept of studying is different from others and he thinks it will do him good on the exam day. “My strategy is to solve questions that aren't stand-alone. I prefer to study more than two or three concepts at a time. I take mock tests at regular intervals, which helps me compare my progress and know my weak points."
There are some candidates which are looking at wholesome preparations. Ali Rushdi Kharbe, for one state: "Other than studying for these concepts, my other strategy is to focus on confidence and language skills. I know CAT is important but the dream MBA college will have to wait if language skills are not up to the mark and basic confidence is lacking in an aspirant."
Most candidates see the CAT exam as an opportunity to attaining life’s goals. MBA still rules the roost among most exams and preparation for the same start months ahead, often even a year or two earlier.
"MBA is a path that opens up doors to a lot of career opportunities which you might not receive otherwise. For example, I am interested in product management. If I have to create a path without an MBA, it will take a long time. MBA acts as a quick option that will provide me with better chances of getting into what I want. Moreover, the network and people I get to meet in a B-School will be a wonderful experience. If one has decided that management is the goal, then pursuing an MBA makes more sense than carving a path without it,” stated Balachander P, 23, quite emphatically.
CAT serves as an entrance exam not only to the Indian Institutes of Management but also to various private management institutes. While a statement from IIM Ahmedabad estimates that some 2.31 lakh candidates have already registered successfully for the exam, this number traditionally drops on the day of the exam. But that hardly matters, the annual fervour around the exam more than makes up any downfall in numbers.
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