on 03 November, 2016

Preparation Methodology for MBA entrance exams

Preparation Methodology for MBA entrance exams

Various entrance exams like CAT, IIFT, SNAP, JMET, FMS, XAT, etc. are conducted between November and January.
Most students start their preparation for the various exams roughly around January. Of course, starting earlier definitely gives you an edge, which is why many coaching classes start as early as July the previous year. The time you start is completely a personal preference, depending on factors like capacity, intelligence, dedication, sincerity, and most importantly, how badly you want it.
Generally, most serious candidates join an MBA coaching class to help them crack the CAT and other entrance exams. Of course, there are also those candidates who don't take classes due to financial constraints, because frankly, classes are rapidly becoming frightfully expensive. Also, its not necessary that aspirants, who join a coaching class, will surely crack the CAT, or any other exam.

Can I crack the CAT without joining a coaching institute?
Well, maybe you can, but it's certainly not easy. While it has been done before, the kind of competition you have nowadays is almost scary. It may be possible to crack the CAT without classes, but it's a long shot, and is pretty improbable.
So what options do I have?
It's quite simple. The most commonly taken route is to join one of the coaching classes, following which they'll provide you material, as well as a strategy to complete your portion on time.
Now, if you decide not to join a coaching class, you'll have to arrange for various study materials and practice sheets. Books and materials of different coaching classes are available in most book stores selling second-hand materials. One can also seek study material from peers who have joined an MBA coaching institute.

Every MBA entrance exam has three broad categories as follows;
Verbal Ability (VA)Quantitative Analysis (QA)Data Interpretation (DI)(Some entrance exams like IIFT and SNAP also have General Knowledge (GK) as an additional category.)
Let us look at the preparation required for each category.

Verbal Ability (VA)
This section involves reading comprehension, grammar and sentence correction etc. It is very important to read newspapers and editorial columns religiously for vocabulary-building. It is a proven fact that regularly reading newspapers and editorial columns will help encounter a lot of English words which are not spoken in common parlance. Also, maintaining a diary of the words encountered while reading a newspaper/magazine will benefit substantially. The Times of India is the most preferred newspaper to read as it makes use of a lot of words which can be encountered in the run-up to the MBA entrance exams.In case you happen to join a coaching class, make sure you practise the assignments and sheets distributed in the class.

Quantitative Analysis (QA)
This section involves all the basics of mathematics which we have studied from Std. IV to Std. X. Examples include Profit and Loss, Time Speed and Distance, Quadratic and Simultaneous Equations, Work, Geometry, etc. However, the sums involve a lot of thinking and analytical skills. It is very important to regularly practise problems and maintain a constant touch with ‘Quant’ (as it is commonly called among MBA aspirants) to score heavily in this section.
Many websites contain libraries of concepts and applications related to Quant. The concepts have been beautifully explained with practical applications in CAT and various other entrance exams. Also, ‘Quantitative Analysis’ by Arun Sharma is the most sought-after book to crack CAT, XAT, JMET, etc. It contains a large number of practice problems with levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium and Tough.

Data Interpretation (DI):
This section involves questions based on given charts, tables and statistics. It also includes various Logical Reasoning (LR) problems which involves a lot of analytical skills. Regular practice of sums and problems will help get a feel of how a problem must be approached and solved. Again, ‘Data Interpretation’ by Arun Sharma is a perfect guide to practise various problems of DI and LR.
Following points are a must while solving problems in QA and DI
Reciprocals : from 1 to 20Tables : from 1 to 30Squares : from 1 to 50Cubes : from 1 to 15The above four points will help solve a lot of problems rapidly. Subsequently, it will also help you attempt more problems of QA and DI sections.

Solving MBA test papers
When solving test papers, time management is the most important and crucial factor. Proper management of time is a sure-shot way to cracking CAT and other entrance exams. It is virtually impossible to solve all the questions in a test paper. Hence, one must choose and solve questions as per one’s area of expertise. The CAT is essentially a test of your nerves, patience and time-management skills rather than your intelligence.
One can begin a test paper from any of the categories as enlisted above. Some may have a stronghold in Verbal Ability. Some may have a strong base in solving Quantitative Analysis. One should always begin with the section that he/she is confident in, so that it sets a nice tone for the rest of the paper.

A word of caution
It is very important to crack all the three sections of the paper. One cannot do away with scoring brilliantly in one section and performing moderately in other sections. IIMs look for candidates who have performed the best in all the three sections.
E.g. IIMs look for a candidate having the following percentile in the above section;
QA: 99.2 % DI: 99.1 % VA: 98.8 %
Yes, it is a fact. Hence, a candidate scoring 99.8 % in QA, 67 % in VA and 80% in DI cannot expect a GD/PI call for IIMs.
Institutes like IIMs give equal importance to all the three sections. Some institutes, though, focus on the final score of the test paper (IMT, NITIE, etc).
Coming to the kind of preparation required post-June, one must solve as many test papers as possible. One can also enrol for a test-series program conducted by many coaching institutes. Solving as many test papers as possible will expose oneself to a variety of questions. Also, it will make one understand his/her strong points and weak points in a particular area which can be worked upon. Moreover, solving test papers will build confidence to appear for CAT and other entrance exams. Most importantly, it will lead to effective time management. As mentioned earlier, proper time management is the passport to Belling the CAT.
One should not spend the entire day solving papers and practising various Quant-based and Verbal-based problems. Excess of everything is bad, goes the famous saying. Take some time out for leisure and recreation, do activities which relaxes your mind.
Some people have a habit of mugging up the solution of a particular problem. Please, abstain from such behaviour. It is not going to help at all. One should understand the concepts and the methodology involved in solving a problem.
A month before the CAT exam, revisit all the concepts, formulae, applications of problems in QA and DI. Also, go through the test papers (which you have solved) and understand the way the problem is approached and solved.
Keep cool while appearing for MBA entrance exams. Nervousness will further aggravate the situation.
To conclude, it may be true that the CAT (and any other entrance exam) depends heavily on your patience, sharpness, understanding, and even luck, but it's equally important to realise that there is absolutely no substitute for hard work. If you put in efforts, no force in the world can stop you from reaping the fruits of your hard work.


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MBA / Management