How to stay motivated during CAT Preparation?
An oft-repeated refrain we hear runs thus, ‘practice makes one perfect,’ and as an aspirant seeking entry to a B-school , you, gentle reader, along with most of your peers, hold on steadfastly to that dictum, hoping, against all hope even, that someday this deprivation you subject yourselves to, this daily grind of solving question papers, at the cost of depriving yourselves of your fleetingly glorious youth, will help your passage from mediocrity to excellence; to a future both bright and cushy.
However, reality has a way of poking one in the eye and lay bare on the already rocky path you have chosen for yourselves those unforeseen challenges you are psychologically unprepared for. One such hurdle that has bumped many an aspirant into oblivion is a creeping lack of motivation that sets in even as we strive to practice harder and every day in order to improve our scores. The best we can hope for, once we surrender to this terrible lack of motivation, is another chance the next year. The worst end dreams and shattered hopes. And because we, as educators with over twenty years to collective teaching experience, understand that, here’s an 8-step, proven and time-tested orientation plan that could help you stay motivated and stay focused until you nail the CAT.
1. REMEMBER YOUR GOAL: No, we do NOT refer to the obvious one, to score the maximum you can on the CAT or even your Ultimate Goal, which is to start off a great career. We refer here to the goals you set for yourselves when you are committed to taking on the examination. Divide each part of your preparation first into months. Set targets for yourself or , if you want a more realistic perspective, ask your friends and teachers for help in determining what those targets will be. Once you have those goals established, organize further. Ask yourselves how much effort it will take you each day to complete the monthly targets that you have set. Map it out on an excel file or choose to write it out on paper( In our opinion that’s not very environment-friendly)and keep this schedule handy.
Place it on your bedside table, stick it on the wall above your bed, turn it into your desktop wallpaper, set reminders on your phones, set a ‘CAT threat’ as your voice note; whatever works for you! But make no mistake; if you do NOT internalize your schedules; if you do NOT stick to it; if you waver, whatever be the reasons, you WILL lose your way. Your targets should be sacrosanct, inviolable because only then can you work on those every single day. You’ll need that because the CAT isn’t an easy catch. It is said, and wisely so, that ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ What is NOT always apparent is the unspoken truth; the first step, while perhaps the most significant, must be followed thereafter by step after step before one completes the journey; and that is why one must —-
2. TALK TO YOUR TEACHERS: MORE IMPORTANTLY GET YOURSELF TEACHERS- This is especially for the first-timers. If there is anybody who is going to relate to your misery and reduce it better than any of your peers, it’s a teacher. Someone who has already seen the intensity of the exam and most likely has multiple tricks up his/her sleeve to make your targets seem simpler to achieve. Even if you don’t know, they will and most teachers will go out of their way to help you. You have to merely ask. They will help you because your success is monetarily and morally theirs.
3. STICK TO THE GAME-PLAN: We are all lords at creating meticulous and fool-proof game-plans, and wouldn’t life be so much simpler if we could, just for once, stick to our game plans, for once, remember that it takes a year to find another CAT. Time is precious, both during the exam itself and during your preparation. Every moment you spend not following your established schedule, remember, someone else, somewhere else is working on his/her plan, sticking to his/her own schedule and when the time comes that person is likely to be better organized than you and better prepared than you. That person will score better and quite possibly have a shot at a future better than yours. You have put your future at stake here. I believe that’s something worth fighting for and, hence, you must ———-.
4. DEVELOP A WARRIOR MINDSET: Let’s first define what a warrior is. In general, a conventional definition for a warrior is “someone who is engaged in or experienced in battle.” But this definition goes only so far, as it relates to those fighting in a war. A more encompassing definition of a warrior in our opinion and one that is promoted by http://www.policemag.com, a well known magazine for police officers, people who take on some of life’s harshest challenges on a regular basis, would be “one who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.” We believe this is a better working definition since it broadens the scope of the term and therefore who can be involved with it. Make no mistake, the endeavour you have chosen to undertake is all of the above, an activity, a cause and most certainly a conflict. Let’s elaborate on the subject further; one must perform all goals set for himself/herself, each day, every day until it’s time to finally take the test. That’s activity. Given our population, our relatively uninspired education system and the resulting overproduction of undergraduates in all disciplines, it is essential to keep sight of what one stands to lose. It’s not just the possession of material luxuries that are bound to our MBAs, there’s also a validation of self at stake here, That’s cause! In a country where largely your degrees still define you, it’d be a mistake to not make a mark, to give up without trying. Those who struggle to get to boss around those who give up. That’s conflict and that’s the truth! A mindset is developed when you employ a fixed mental attitude that predetermines your response to a given situation. For example, your attitudes toward something help develop your response or approach. Your mindset becomes your approach. If you determine you won’t give in and follow through with your prep-plan for each day, that’s who you become. However, ———.
5. DON’T RELY ONLY ON THE INTERNET: While the relatively recent glut of free data being dispensed rather freely by every other telecom company has freed us in many ways and while it does seem that everything about the CAT is on the internet, all dimensions, A to Z; don’t depend too much on the internet. If this is your first rodeo, contact a good preparatory institution, enroll in their classroom programs and get trained. Learn the basics and hold on to them fast. If you are a veteran and taking the CAT for the second or the third time, do revise the basics. Mock tests, sample questions, real-time test papers, video lessons, all are helpful but only as long as they are representative of the actual format you are training for.
A case in point; let’s say, you want to prepare for the CAT and buy a test series that does NOT accurately reflect the current pattern of the examination, ask yourselves, can it really prepare you for that particularly examination? In our opinion, while such source material does serve some purpose, they are ultimately unreflective of the existing realities. So, identify the pattern for each examination that you plan to write. Do your research, talk to instructors, friends, siblings; they each have their favorites. Ask them why they believe that their recommendations are the best. Does the material suggested conform to the exam pattern you wish to undertake? Does it specifically address the challenges which are specific to you? If the answer is nothing more than ‘because everyone else says it’s good,’ give it a pass. If the answers make sense to you, you’ve found the right people. Listen to those people and collect the best material that’s out there. But don’t forget to ——–
6. MAKE TIME FOR THE THINGS THAT YOU LOVE DOING: A lot of us fail to understand the importance of recreation; it is a stabilizer, a rejuvenator; it helps us decompress but more importantly it serves to gives us hope and even more importantly, it reminds us why this particular journey is important not just for ourselves but for those too who depend on us to succeed, who count on us to provide ourselves with a future far brighter than what we would perhaps imagine for ourselves were it not for their presence or happiness.
Spend quality time with the people who matter to you. Ask for their help to help you better organize. For instance, if a colleague or a family member whom you trust and work well with is aware that you’re undertaking preparations for a examination, he or she is more likely to help you. You can maybe change your shifts or delegate chores which affect your schedule. In nine cases out of ten, if you ask for help , they will. If you are more inwardly oriented, catch a bus to a place you’ve always wanted to visit and practice your vocabulary while you’re on the bus, read articles that appear on reputable sites such as https://aeon.co/ to get a better grasp of organizational and linguistic complexities that are employed in writing. Familiarize yourself with news, updates and discussions on different topics. That might help build the confidence you need to confront any RC passage. Or switch tabs and find solace in Netflix when you can see nothing but Quant on the screen, but retain the ability to always accomplish the targets that you have set yourselves!
7. STAY HEALTHY: It’s needless to say that healthy people do everything better than those who are emotionally or physically troubled. Follow the axiom: A healthy body harbors a healthy mind. That’s not to say that you abstain from all the little joys that youth offers, but do everything in moderation. Do party when you must, do eat out once in a while, do meet friends but ensure your study timetable comes first. If possible, eat healthy, exercise and meditate a little every day. If not possible, make an effort; make it possible. Sweat today so you may shine tomorrow. Remember always, giving up is easy. Millions do it every day. Don’t be one of them. Persevere!
8. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE: This article doesn’t mean to question your uniqueness by any means, this is only to remind you, you’re neither the first person nor the only person to appear for the exam, and that in itself should be enough to motivate you, because from experience, we can say that the opportunities we take are not the ones we regret, but we surely regret those we pass by. So, awaken, light your hopes and march forward with a resolute step!