What is the right time to start preparing for CAT?
I had to write an essay on the above topic as part of my Media Cell volunteering task. Pasting it here because its a question many people have.
Preparing for CAT is an activity that is being taken up seriously by an ever larger number of students and young working professionals in India. Presumably, the motivation is to get into the premier management institutes in India, but several other factors, like peer pressure, post-MBA financial returns or dissatisfaction with current field of work or study also play a role in influencing the decision to give CAT.
Like most questions dealing with specifics of a preparation strategy, the time duration required to prepare for CAT depends heavily on an individual’s aptitude, training, background and availability. So while an Engineer might view CAT as an exam that requires him to apply only a small portion of his analytical skills developed over time, a Science or Commerce student might view the quantitative aspects of the exam as relatively new and difficult skills to master. Similarly, a working professional might find it challenging to hit the books and solve problems, while a student would find it a simple extension of his regular course work. Clearly, a one-size-fits-all approach would not work in such an individual specific scenario.
Even if we were to group all aspirants into different categories based on their background and experience, the intrinsic aptitude of an individual remains a key differentiating variable. All engineers can hardly be expected to have the same numerical proficiency and the scale varies even more in the case of verbal skills.
When we are trying to allocate a resource as scarce as time to an activity, it is essential to ascertain how much of that resource we have to begin with. A busy working professional might be able to give only a couple of hours a week, while one with a relaxed schedule might give several hours a day. The time duration for which each of them will have to sustain their preparations will obviously be different, all other factors remaining the same.
We can conclude that the ideal time to start preparing for CAT is entirely person specific, and making any generalized statements would be without merit. After all, we all know people who have devoted years to it but not succeeded (yet) as well as those who have cleared it without any effort whatsoever.
After all that gyan, you are probably wondering where have I answered the question. So just to give a very vague (perhaps inaccurate) guideline, I prepared the following graph. Use it with caution and make adjustments for your own unique situation.