Having a bad phase during CAT preparation?
Don’t worry it’s just a phase, focus on your preparation and end goal and it shall pass!
CAT preparation is not just a matter of a few months or a phase, it is a journey and there has not been a single aspirant till now who has lived this journey without any hiccups. It is full of ups and downs and there are numerous occasions when you will feel dejected and would want to quit. That very moment is the game changer and if you’re able to sustain and sail through it, nothing like it. You will surely come out of it as a winner. CAT preparation is the best example for an aspiring filmmaker wanting to make non-linear narratives. The preparation is never smooth, and it keeps going back and forth like a pendulum. This generally happens when the candidates start doubting their methods and strategies and start finding gaps in their performance in the mocks or in general preparation. Things pile up on the other side, and then there is an effort to reduce the load. This keeps happening for the period that you prepare for the CAT exam.
Definition of a bad phase in CAT preparation
A bad phase in your CAT preparation can come due to many reasons. And the reasons vary from person to person. Currently, stress is increasing due to the pandemic situation. People are talking only about it and it’s been more than a year that everyone is living a very subdued life. It has gotten to the minds of many people in different intensities. Other factors can be the exams for freshers who are yet to complete their under-graduation. Or it can also be the stress at work for those who are at their jobs and wish to crack CAT. We all are part of it, and we have been there done that. A combination of 2 or more of these factors results in a rare to often bad phase of CAT preparation.
Let us take an example of a fresher guy ‘X’ who is currently pursuing his under-graduation and studying in his last semester. He has a project to complete, and his group mates are not cooperating with him. They may or may not be preparing for CAT, but X is. He needs time for the preparation, and he has to complete the project as well. Additionally, the end semester exams are on head. He’s seeing his scores going down in mocks. Not only the scores but the number of mocks attempted has also gone down. It goes for 7-10 days and this has frustrated the guy. He has managed to give 1 mock and scored well below par due to stress.
Another example is of a guy ‘Y’ who is working in an IT firm and he is part of a critical project which needs to be delivered in a week. But your team of 3 already has a guy missing due to his personal commitments. The onus is on 2 guys to finish the job in a week. Again, the other person may or may not be preparing for CAT, but Y is. The work is piling up and the number of days is reducing, not just for the project deadline but also for CAT preparation. He decides to slog for 11 hours a day and work on the project. In fact, he has to sit till 10 pm on Saturday as well to complete the project when he thought that at least he would be able to prepare for CAT on weekend. His mind is about to burst, and he doesn’t know what to do.
Where do we stand now?
Now that you could not prepare well or should I say, didn’t find enough time to prepare for CAT, this is referred to as a bad phase of CAT preparation. This can be due to the exhaustion of mind, disinterest, or lack of motivation. What is the next step now? The dilemma arises now. The candidate is thinking that I should sit for the person at that moment itself or I should cool myself down, take some time and then think where exactly to start from.
Ways to cope up with the situation
When you are not sure what to do in such a situation, start reading. Pick up a novel or a set of blogs on a certain topic of your interest and just keep reading. It helps you to relax and give you a bit of a break from the stresses of life. More often than not, reading a novel takes you to a different world and you tend to keep your stress and problems aside. It makes you clear your mind. As a result of this, you’ll be able to concentrate more and focus on your main target.
- Solve Puzzles
This might seem to be unusual or unpleasant activity in a situation like this but that is not the case. Solving a Rubik cube, Sudoku or a chess game online might help in stimulating your neurons. This will definitely help in days to come as it’ll rejuvenate you for the upcoming days as the journey of CAT has to continue in a smooth way. You should try not to indulge in anything negative. Do anything that gives you a boost without hesitation. Play the least challenging game which you’ll probably win and go to bed with positive energy.
Some people are good at solving puzzles and like doing it. Others don’t really like it but this is something which can be attained. You can train your mind to pursue this habit.
- Physical and Mental Exercises
Oftentimes, a bad temper and the resulting slack in productivity (or vice-versa) could end up in emotions getting pent up within ourselves. You need a reservoir to let go of all that accumulated energy if you are looking to start the next phase of CAT Prep on a fresh note. Exercises are a great way to lose your energy. You could do a few minutes of yoga, a few rounds of jogging or even deep breathing for some time. Follow it up with a good round of shower and you might even be ready to go all guns blazing with your CAT preparation.
- Work on stuff that might otherwise seem mundane
In most cases, at least during this pandemic season, we get drained mentally, but our physical vibrancy is still waiting to be tapped into. You can do some work that is not mentally taxing but the one which can be done with physical labour or you can do something that doesn’t require too much mental strain. For example: In terms of preparation, you can take some sectional tests on your favourite subject and topic. But in case you’re not in the mood for CAT preparation for a certain amount of time, get other things done meanwhile. Work on the project you are pursuing currently or prepare for end semester examinations. Do that work so that in a couple of days, you feel relieved and hence, you are active enough to prepare for the CAT exam. This is something that you can call a trade-off where you are utilizing your time to prepare yourself for tomorrow.
- Prepare your strategy
If you are going through a rough phase and do not have enough motivation to prepare for the exam, try making a strategy for your preparation at least. This would keep you involved, and you will know in your mind that you are not wasting time and doing something which is going to help in the long run. Prepare your timetable or strategy to take mocks in the upcoming days. I have adopted this strategy and it works nicely. When you know that you are frustrated and you won’t be able to concentrate on solving problems, try to create a simple plan for your preparation. This not only helps in preparing a robust preparation structure but also helps you come back to the field of play. When you prepare a plan for a couple of days, you yourself will feel eager to go on and start implementing it and then your preparation will be back on track.
- Sleep well
Sleep is a crucial factor during a rough patch. The irony is that you consider this as the least significant thing when it actually is the most important one. Do not sit with books with the blind arrogance that you will still get done with your CAT preparation late at night even though you have been stressed for many days and you know that your mind won’t work. Don’t open your book just for the sake of it. Do it when you know you will extract something out of the time that you spend. Sleeping 7 or 8 hours a day is a highly underrated routine. If you know deep inside that sitting in front of a book at 1 am with a stressful mind won’t give you much, then you’re just making a fool out of yourself. The maximum you can do is to plan the next day for yourself in mind and just go off to sleep. There’s nothing you can do on that day.
- Remember: It’s just an exam
The most important rule is to think that your life is going to go on after CAT without a fantastic score. Deal with this phase like that. Don’t set too ambitious targets and set yourself up for disappointment. In fact, destress yourself by saying, “Hey! This is not the most crucial thing in my life”. If you’re keeping over-ambitious targets for yourself, think that you are doing your best. If it’s not falling in place today, it’ll fall in place tomorrow. I can not be both Batman and Superman at the same time. I can set slightly modest ambitions for myself and have a go at it.
A bad phase in CAT preparation leads to an enormous amount of stress and the bad thing about stress is that it creeps on you. Sometimes, you are vested too much emotionally in doing well in this exam. And when every day a datapoint goes against you, it feels as if something is constricting you and not letting you breathe. It happens to everybody; it happens to the topper of the exam as well. Everyone feels that bite of falling and missing their mark viz-a-viz their own expectations. It can be either communal or personal. So, keep the above-mentioned points in mind and don’t stop working. If you’re working hard, stress can be kept at bay. The greatest solution to stress in this competitive exam context is actually turning up and working. Through all these ups and downs, you should try to sail through and in the end, you should be able to look yourself in the mirror after your exam on D-day and say that I’ve tried my best and I’ve thrown a lot into this. If it falls my way, that’s fantastic but if it doesn’t, that’s also fine. You won’t feel bad that you didn’t put in efforts to your maximum capability.
At last, I would finish on a positive note by saying,
There’s no point putting so much effort in one thing and then, not desire to be the best!
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