This article is part one of a three part series that is the culmination of several years of experience in teaching students for the CAT. In my experience, I have found that we can classify students along two axes – Capacity and Effort:
The outline given is self-explanatory. The y-axis is a measure of how good you are naturally at the kinds of things the CAT tests (Reading, Aptitude, etc.). The x-axis measures how much work you put into your preparation. We can become pedantic and define high/low in more specific terms, but keeping in mind that we are not looking to do a PhD on this we can skip all that.
Now, comes the interesting part. This is the part that is not for the weak of heart so if you’re temperamentally unsuited to hearing hard truths you should probably close this window right now.
Obviously, the top-right quadrant is the best one to be in. These are the kids that go to IIM ABC and are generally good eggs. My favourite quadrant is the bottom right one. These are the fighters and as a broad rule they do remarkably well in life. They learn from first principles, do not search for some quick fix, have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and generally end up being successful and happy.
The top left is best described as the Hit-or-miss quadrant. These are the kids that will score 99.3rd percentile in one mock and 75th percentile in the next. Usually they ascribe the 99th percentile to their ability and the 75th to extraneous factors. They have the maximum volatility in performance.
Students in the bottom-left quadrant have the desire but possess neither the flair nor the grit. They like the idea of preparing for CAT but are mildly intimidated by the effort required to grit through this. They flit around the boundaries of CAT preparation (Quora, Facebook, Pagalguy) but never really click into gear. Good friend Zabeer Mohammed from MBAtious calls them ‘wonderland’ candidates.
What should be the strategy for students in each quadrant?
The ones in the top-right should take plenty of mocks, and leave as little to chance as possible. They should set the bar high and look to score well across sections. The ones in the bottom-right should find good teachers – they derive enormous value from the right teachers because they have the heart to put in the right kind of effort.
Ones in the two-left quadrants should look to shift to the right, pronto. Top-left need the right motivation from somewhere and the bottom-left need a reality check.
How do I know which quadrant I am in?
If you are honest with yourself, this is not that difficult. If your effort and your scores are very volatile and inconsistent you are in the top-left. The ones in the right quadrants usually know where they stand.
The biggest problem is with bottom-left, students in this quadrant usually tend to slot themselves in one of the other three. So, we are going to list out symptoms of students in bottom-left.
- I have enrolled myself for a course. I have attended only 50% of the classes that happened in the past 2 months.
- When I start CAT preparation, I spend more than half the time on Quora, Pagalguy and Facebook reading stuff about CAT preparation and going through the forums.
- I planned to take a mock CAT every month from Jan to June and one every week from July onwards. We are in April and I have thus far taken only one mock.
- I am a member of 5 CAT prep groups on FB but have taken only one speed test so far. Or, I visit Pagalguy at least once every week but have not solved any DI sets so far. Or, I follow the best coaches on Quora but I have read only one novel in the past 6 months.
- I am seriously preparing for CAT but I just cannot bring myself to read for an hour every day.
- I want to do tougher and tougher questions in Quant (if there is an LOD 4 I want to try this), but cannot bring myself to read a lot for verbal.
If you notice two or more of these, please rush out of this quadrant at the earliest. Every other aspect of CAT preparation can come later.
Bottom-right, we love you guys
Any one of you in the bottom-right quadrant, reach out to us. We love you guys. You bring in your enthusiasm into the learning arena; we will redouble our efforts and push you hard. We will tutor you, hand-hold you, mentor you and generally be available to you throughout this journey. You are the guys who make our decisions to be in this industry worthwhile.
One of the reasons I personally love the online platform is simple – I pretend that I am taking a class for all students who are in the bottom-right quadrant. The know-it-alls of top-left and the delusional bottom-left sap the energy from any teacher. But the bottom-right keeps us going. Be it an all-night marathon or expanding the questionbank or discussing mock CAT strategies – the best sessions happen with students in the bottom-right and top-right.