Over the years, we have seen a lot of good aspirants not doing well in the written test. Is it lack of preparation? Not really. Is it because they are not smart? Nah! The answer lies in what happens during and a few hours before CAT. Those several hours decide whether you will surpass your own expectations or not. Though there is no secret ingredient, in this post, I am going to explore what you should do and what you should not do before and during CAT 2016. After discussing the attitude part, I will also put a checklist of some of the basic hygiene factors.

Don’t give up at this point of time

I don’t care if you got 150 in your last mock or 100. If you think that you’re not going to make it and thinking of giving up at this point of time, you’re doing yourself the biggest disservice ever. Thinking whether you’ve done enough or not, or how your colleague or friend has prepared more than you, and thinking of his or her mock scores, or how differently you could have prepared, etc. is not going to help. This is not the time to think of these things.

Whatever you’ve done so far, it is enough. What didn’t happen in six months or years of preparation won’t happen now. If you can’t solve advanced P&C, don’t sit and start fretting over it. Leave it. It won’t make much of a difference. Go in the test and do justice to questions that belong to areas that you know well. If you give up now and things go south, it is all because of you and you can’t blame anybody for that.

In the 2011 film, Warrior, there is a scene where Frank Campana says:

Look at me! Look at me! Why are we here, Brendan? Why are we here? Are we here to win this fight? You tell me, ’cause if we’re not, I’ll throw in the towel right now. We’ll get Tess and we will go home. You don’t knock him out, you lose the fight. Understand me? You don’t knock him out, you don’t have a home.

Don’t give up!

Keep your calm

Before the test and during the test, don’t lose your composure no matter what the situation is. You have to avoid or control stress and play your natural game. Don’t get distracted by what somebody else is doing. Try visualizing how victorious you are going to leave that test venue. Stay away from anything that pushes your composure down. Don’t panic or choke. Don’t take unnecessary pressure and falter during the test.

At the 1993 Wimbledon Championship, Jana Novotná was up against Steffi Graf in the final. After losing a tight first set, Novotná took a 6–7, 6–1, 4–1 lead and had a game-point serving at 40-30. With victory seemingly in her grasp, she lost her nerve, double-faulted, and allowed Graf to climb back into the match. Graf took the next five games and the title. During the prize presentation ceremony, a distraught Novotná burst into tears and cried on Katharine, Duchess of Kent’s shoulder.

Don’t lose a match that you are about to win!

Don’t make it larger than life

You’ve probably heard this a lot. We tell our students so many times to not make it an ordeal.

If you’ve watched the film ‘Dhoni,’ you will remember a scene where Dhoni says that his team lost the match not on the cricket field but on the Basketball court where other players were in awe of Yuvraj. Don’t make the test bigger than what it is. CAT is just a 3-hour test. You are much more. Your life is much more. Everyone who makes it knows this well that though this is a culmination of your efforts, it is just the beginning. And as doing well here doesn’t guarantee anything, not doing well doesn’t mean the end of the world. You need to crack at least one test in the season and if it is CAT, great! If it is not, it’s okay!

Essentially, relax. However clichéd it may sound, just relax. Follow the checklist and you should be sorted:

1. Don’t take mocks now. If you haven’t taken a single mock so far, which I’m sure a lot of people do (but they won’t be reading this blog anyway) it may be a good idea to take one on Friday. Don’t take a full-length mock on Saturday or Sunday morning.

2. Eat well (avoid outside food, if possible), stay hydrated (2-3 litres of water), sleep well (6-7 hours, at least).

3. On Saturday, depending on which slot you have on Sunday, replicate that sitting at one place for 4 hours. If you have a morning slot, get up early on Saturday, and sit the way you would for the test. You can solve some light questions, refer notes, anything. But sit at one place for stipulated time.

4. Do something that takes the pressure off. It can be listening to music or watching an episode of a series you like. Only if you are feeling pressured.

5. Just go through your formula books, notes, solve a few light questions to build confidence. If you’ve kept your mock analysis organized, refer for strategies and to get a feel of your areas of strengths.

6. Read something that inspires and motivates you. Be in the company of people you like.

7. Play by the rules. Whatever the authority has mentioned, stick to that. Carry your writing material, hall ticket, identity proof, etc.

8. Reach the venue in time. Don’t go so early that you get bored. Not so late that you enter the panic mode.

9. If you are in the second slot, shut your ears before the test. Don’t check your phone. Don’t ask people from the first slot how the test went. It adds to the pressure unnecessarily and walking with some assumptions about the level of difficulty doesn’t help. During the test, in every section, you will find easy and moderate questions. Don’t waste time on the difficult ones. Don’t take your ego to the test with you. Assess the level of difficulty, be fast in skipping the questions, be faster in solving sitters. Have a strategy but be flexible.

10. It’s you against yourself. If you be the best possible version of you in those few hours, you will get a good result. Grantland Rice once said: “For when the One Great Scorer comes, to mark against your name, He writes – not that you won or lost – But how you played the Game.”

If there is one thing that I want to leave you with, it is this:

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it–but all that had gone before.” – Jacob A. Riis

From all of us at Learningroots, all the best! May the odds be ever in your favor! Do check our post CAT analysis and head over to our Facebook CAT preparation group for epic discussions.

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