How is CAT different from the other examinations?

What is CAT all about?’ is a question that is often put before me. ‘Do I have it in me to clear CAT?’. ‘I am not ready for CAT yet. Should I wait and try next year?’ These are few of the many doubts that plague the mind of an aspirant.

In this article, I decided to ponder upon these doubts that have been repeatedly put before me and hence make them the object of my ruminations.

In the first place, I’d like to discuss the question ‘How is CAT different from the other examinations?’

CAT is an aptitude test and not so much of ability. Most of us have gone through examinations throughout our school and college life that test how well we have assimilated and understood what is taught over a period of time to us. Hence their preparation is different from that for CAT.

Now aptitude is something that is both natural to us and honed over time, skills that we are good at and get better with practice. The skills that CAT tests, are your verbal and quantitative skills coupled with your ability to work under pressure. Preparation is vital as it hones and develops your skills. However very significant differences have not been observed in many CAT aspirants’ verbal and quantitative skills despite preparation. What sets the winner apart is his attitude.

Attitude – that is what I intend to deal with today. Verbal and quantitative skill preparation material is abundantly available for that critical differentiator – attitude.

It is very difficult to convey what attitude a CAT aspirant must have in terms of a few objectives. Therefore I shall resort to using a metaphor since that will illustrate quite abundantly the nature of attitude required. In a certain sense CAT is like a World Cup cricket final. What most of you should have noted, if you saw the New Zealand – Australia match was that New Zealand and Australia did not differ substantially in the quality of their players or in their preparations to the extent the result of the final showed? What set Australians apart was their performance on that day and their attitude.

You may spend hours and hours upon preparation yet if you don’t come with the attitude of giving your best, then your entire preparation is in vain. What is vital is simply those two hours. That doesn’t mean that you get overwhelmed by the occasion as New Zealand did during the World Cup finals. It also doesn’t mean that you take it casually. You need to be a bit tensed up so that it enables you to give your best. The level of that tension varies from person to person and only you can judge the level of tension that brings out your best.

What many people do is that if the going gets difficult, they panic. A case in point is the South Africa – New Zealand match, in which the former had all but won the match. Yet New Zealand did not give up till the last man and eventually succeeded in, to use a cliché – snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. So, keep fighting and don’t give up until all the time you have at your disposal is over.

Now I shall deliberate over one vital difference between the World Cup cricket final and the CAT. In the world cup finals, two teams are competing against one another. The performance of one team depends substantially on the performance of the other. However, in CAT your performance does not in any way depend on the performance of another. You are competing against yourself. Your performance will depend solely upon your level of preparation, skills and your attitude. You have to give your very best that day for exactly those two hours. And if you do – the crown is yours!