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Feline Dreams: Is CAT still doable?

As CAT comes closer, one of the major problems we face is lack of motivation, writes Roy E Charles.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2008 13:40 IST

As CAT comes closer, one of the major problems we face is lack of motivation. We invent excuses to give up, to stop working. We tell ourselves, "This is too hard," or "What is the point of preparing? I am doing badly in all the mock CATs I write," or, my personal favourite, "I have realized that I am not CAT quality; IIM is just a silly dream I had."

There is no such thing as a "CAT quality" person. I have seen students from all sorts of backgrounds getting into the IIM's - urban candidates with stylish accents and twenty years of reading English, as well as candidates with difficulty in even understanding the language; people with a history of 99-100% in math, and those who started off by telling me how bad their math scores have been; graduates from the IIT's, and students from remote colleges with unpronounceable names and half-built classrooms! But they all had one quality in common: the determination to make it to the IIM's.

When you feel depressed, think of some of these stories:

I received a mail last week from one of my favourite students: Pradeep said, "I still have difficulty speaking as well as my class mates at the IIM. But I remember when I almost gave up, because I could hardly speak and barely understand English. I thank you for forcing me to try." If he can do it, so can you.

Another student on our achievers' list last year, a fresher, started off with 20 percentile in his mock CAT, with just three months to go! He reached the IIMs. Why can't you?

A very young colleague of mine, with no record of great success, had always thought of herself as 'dumb'. It was reinforced by her friends. She almost did not take CAT. But when she got calls from three IIMs, people suddenly started saying, "I always knew she had something in her!"

Very importantly, ensure that you don't put unnecessary psychological pressure on yourself. Remember: There are another 30-40 good institutes under CAT which can give you an average salary just a couple of lakhs less than the IIM's, per annum. And if you choose a profile that suits your ability, you could climb beyond some IIM alumni too. Think only in terms of maximizing your score. Your monetary and career value will certainly rise. If you keep thinking only about the IIM's, at certain levels, the pressure rises high enough to be counter-productive.

Keep working. Whatever happens, whatever distractions (God knows there are some very interesting ones) may appear, allocate your two hours a day for CAT prep, and religiously follow the preparation plan you have. If you don't have one, talk to your instructor and prepare one now. If you have more time than that, all the better. Double your preparation.

A common mistake is to think of the whole task at one time. Don't consider CAT as a whole. It will seem too difficult. A great mountaineer once said, "I have never thought about climbing Mt. Everest. I only think about the next step I have to take on the way." Think about only the next step you need to take. For example, I need to finish the problems from Geometry in this book, write down the formulae and concepts. Or, I need to read these three essays from the mock CAT, and explain to myself the reasons why this answer is correct. Keep doing this and one day, out of the blue, presto, you are on Mt. Everest!

Finally, don't lose sight of the dream that brought you here in the first place. There are great things that you can achieve, or at least a good life that you can get, if you have a solid MBA. Every week, spend fifteen minutes or so searching the net for IIM news or IIM alumni achievements. It will always, always, put new pep into your prep J

Winners don't quit, the cliche says, and quitters don't win. Remember Pradeep. He succeeded, and I am telling his story to the whole country. If he had failed, I would have still told his story. Want to know why? At least he tried!

(Roy E Charles, Chief Knowledge Expert, T.I.M.E. )