Countdown to CAT 2015: How to manage time

Countdown to CAT 2015: How to manage time

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With a little less than 4 months to go for CAT 2015, this is perhaps the most decisive phase of your preparations.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that just like any game, sport or race, the result gets decided in the final stages and a lot can change during the last quarter of the time.Whether you are ahead or behind so far, making the best use of this remaining period will finally decide how well you perform.

With this perspective firmly planted in your mind, you should try and make a consistent daily/weekly effort across various sections as per the following indicative plan. It is important to realize and accept that there is no single plan that will work equally well for every individual. Hence, it is crucial that your preparation adapts to your individual needs. The following is just a roadmap, with an inbuilt flexibility at each step to allow you to adapt it to your own specific needs.

With an average of 3 hours of effort per day, apart from your college classes/job/CAT classes etc, you have around 350 hours of preparation ahead of you. How you invest these 350 hours will have a decisive impact on your chances of success. Investing them just like everyone else is unlikely to increase your chances of success.

Out of these 350 hours, roughly 100 hours should be spent in practicing Mocks.
While 15 mocks (1 per week) will mean only 45 hours, atleastan equal amount of time has to be invested in analyzing these full-length tests and then working upon the areas that need improvement. (It will probably require a separate article on The Approach to and Analysis of a Mock-CAT!)

This leaves you with around 250 hours out of which you will invest a certain amount in every section (QA, VRC, DILR). The first thing to do would be to divide this in a manner such that your weakest section gets the maximum time, and the strongest gets the least time.Why?Simply because it will ensure a better return on invested time.Putting in more where the scope of improvement is more is just analogous to investing more in a stock that is likely to appreciate more. The fundamentals of investment remain fairly similar to that in any other asset class.
However, top ensure balance, even your strongest section should not get less than 70 hours (roughly 30%) out of the 250 hours we talked about. The weakest one should not get more than 100 hours (roughly 40%). This ensures that your investment is sufficiently diversified and hence, relatively balanced and safe.

If you are already feeling this time is too less overall, you will need to put in more hours daily. So, 4-hours daily for instance, would mean your total investment will moveupto roughly 450 hours, and subtracting the 100 hours for Mock-CATs and their analyses, it would leave you with 350 hours for the practice at the sectional/topic-wise levels. In such a case you could look at somewhere between 100 to 140 hours for each section, depending upon how strong/weak you are in that currently.

Within each section too, more time should go into a topic that you are weaker in and less into a topic that you are already strong in. Why? Simply because in a topic that you are weak in, you should be practicing all questions starting from the simplest ones and moving on to tougher ones; whereas in a topic that you are relatively stronger in, you need to practice only tougher questions.

For any given level of ability and preparation, how well you adapt your preparations and invest your time according to your own specific needs will get you far superior returns.

This is the 1st in a series of articles on how to make best use of your time till CAT-2015. Beginning with an overall break-up of time across sections, the series will move to more micro-levels such as how to approach the preparation for each specific section.

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