Dr. Palash on CAT

My understanding of CAT has evolved greatly over the last couple of years, in my role as the brand ambassador of Roots Education, whose flagship service MBAGuru has shown a great success rate over the last 3 years. Prior to that, I knew of CAT only as the ”toughest exam in the world” – where the number of students being selected as a percentage of those appearing was less than 1%. Not surprising, given the population and the talent we nurture simultaneously!

I made it a point to understand the finer points of CAT before I started interacting with students at MBAGuru. And, it has been an exciting experience for me. While I do not think of myself as best suited to give inputs on the subject knowledge of CAT, I can relate to some of things that should spell success at CAT.

Looking back, I can relate the entire experience of a CAT aspirant a lot to my own medical entrance exams almost two decades ago. During the major period of your preparation, you need to retain focus, stay motivated even when you do badly in the practice tests and in the classes, and keep experimenting with what areas you can do best at. Closer to the exam, you should be more aware of your good areas and bad ones. This knowledge helps a lot – it certainly helped me to go in to my medical exams quite confidently, knowing that I was ready to give my best.

But, I think, in the final stages it becomes more a battle of the mind than of your ability. We Indians create a lot of undue pressure on ourselves before exams, and we do so right from the time we walk in to a pre-school. Maybe even earlier, when we are tested in front of guests and asked to count or say the alphabet or sing a nursery rhyme! We are always quite bothered by what people will say if we fail and we love to be in a situation where people will talk about our success. While there is nothing wrong with wanting that, you can’t really allow yourself to get too stressed with this secondary reason. For instance, I am looking forward to my second film – we have worked very hard for it and I am even slightly nervous and want it to do really well. But, I am happy that I have given my best and I am ready to accept whatever comes my way. The point is that since I am not really worried about failure as defined by others, I am happy in the knowledge of what I have done, and I am positive that the audiences will like it. If I was afraid of failure, I would not have pursued singing after becoming a qualified doctor; and I would not have pursued acting after getting so much love and affection from the entire nation at Euphoria. And, who knows what next after acting. So, my advice to those preparing for CAT in the final stages would be, focus on what you can do and not on what will happen if you are not successful. No success or failure is an end of the road; it is just the beginning.

I would see the final exam itself as a concert. Two and a half hours is the duration of the CAT and that is typically, what our shows last. Even after having played hundreds, if not thousands of times, I still feel the butterflies in my stomach just before coming on stage. But, I think the anxiety is important because it only helps me focus more and not be complacent. I relax by praying to the almighty and joking around with the band. Infact we begin our shows with a prayer to Lord Ganesha. I believe that we humans can only try; it is finally in His hands. You should also try and do something that helps you relax just before the exam.

It gets a lot easier once things get started. Then you get immersed in what is going on and become oblivious to the surroundings. For me, the first half an hour and the final half an hour are the most crucial parts of any concert. Getting off on a good note and ending on a high are important according to me. I think it would be fair to say the same for CAT. You should try to start with something that you are good at and something that gives you a positive frame of mind for the remaining part of the show (I mean exam). I also think it is very important to time yourself. Time is a precious resource – be it a concert or an exam. You have to pace yourself really well and keeping on making adjustments as per the time remaining.

So, go ahead and ROCK the CAT and other exams. If you go in positively and give it your best, in my book, you are already a star!


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