Preparing for entrance exams like CAT, SNAP and others while working full time can be really difficult many a times yet there are ways to manage both. Definitely there are perks for having a job, work experience is a huge added advantage in the field, your industry exposure will give you an edge over others, you always have Plan B in place and you get to fill up the forms with a wider budget constraint.
I am an engineer by degree and have been working for an IT major for last two years and it was just last year that I decided to write the management exams. This post is about my journey for the admission processes of different B schools of India.
The first step: I knew it was not going to be easy. It would require a lot of perseverance, hard work, dedication and zeal to do it. And my first step was to be ready for all of it. I was ready to take the challenge.
My plans: It was in April that I decided to write CAT. I had roughly 8 months in my hand to prepare well. I was working for a 9 hour average schedule. So I made plans on how to balance my studies with my job life. First few months I decided to make my basics strong. So I went back to revise the fundamentals. After few months I started taking regular mock tests and analysed them carefully. That helped me identify my strengths and work to improve the weaker areas.
Wordlist and formulae: These two things were the most important. I made a point to learn new words every day before I left for office in the morning. I followed some books such as Word power made easy By Norman Lewis, GRE Barron’s wordlist.
Setting targets: I set small targets for myself like finishing few practice exercises in a week, covering some basic topics for Quant. As I used to spend a considerable amount of time in a day in office, I tried to utilize time as much as I can. I took help from various MBA preparation sites and reading articles online.
Make reading a habit: This is an important part of the process. And those who do not like reading adapt it for the few months during your preparation. I read various articles on different genres to get familiar with them. Ranging from psychology, physiology, literature, sports, I tried to widen my knowledge and increase my reading speed. Read online is the key. Make it a point to read newspapers daily, preferably Times of India, the Hindu or Economic times.
Fridays are a treat: Friday nights are very tempting for working people. After working from Monday through Friday, we never feel like being at home only Friday nights, studies were far off. So I decided on a routine. I studied every day for two to three hours after getting back home from office, but Fridays I decided to follow “Study hard, party harder”.
Weekends were the gem: Weekends Saturday and Sunday full time I dedicated to studies. These were the only days when i could plan my whole day on my will. I made it a point to study sincerely with full determination on weekends.
Creating a realistic schedule is priority: My brain never works early morning so I never try hard to get up early and study before going to work. There is no point in believing that one fine day I would be able to reschedule my body clock. Instead I set aside times during lunch, at night or on the weekends.
Analysis is important: A few months before CAT, I joined mock test series and every fifteen days I used to take a mock and spent half an hour on analysing my weakness and strengths. Initially I targeted 50 questions; gradually I increased the number by 5 after every two mocks. By October I set a target for 65 questions with 85-90 percent accuracy.
CAT is not the only one: I made it a point that I will take most of the other management entrance exams as well. I prepared for NMAT, SNAP, IIFT and XAT. All these required a lot of practice to increase speed and time management.
I made different exam strategies for different exams based on their patterns. Also identifying strong and weak areas helped me attempt the paper well.
Getting a co-worker always helps!
Maintaining momentum: For working people this is the most important part. It is important to recognize that how much we study hard; there might be unfamiliar variations in job life such as releases, deadlines, etc. Do not lose the momentum; always keep in touch with the subjects.
It was definitely a roller coaster ride but at the end the sense of achievement is overwhelming.
Hard work always pays off!