How to Balance CAT Prep with a Full-Time Job

how to balance cat prep with a full time job -magoosh

Wondering how to balance CAT prep with a full-time job? Make sure you don’t get too stressed at either one. Image by Concord90.

If you’re currently employed and wondering how to balance CAT prep with a full-time job, congratulations! We’re blown away by your ambition. Furthermore, the Indian Institutes of Management to which you’re applying may consider your employment history a strong part of your application. But if you have a full-time job, and especially if you have a family as well, you’ll need to go about preparing for the CAT methodically and thoroughly. Cramming at the last minute won’t do you (or your job performances—much less your CAT score) any favors! Keep in mind that it is possible: One of twenty test-takers to score in the 100 percentile on the 2016 exam prepared while having a full-time job!

Create a Schedule

The most important first step you can take in balancing CAT prep with work is to make a thorough schedule. You can buy a day planner, or you can find sample pages online for free. In either case, make sure your schedule has plenty of room for notes, and an hour-by-hour breakdown. You probably don’t want to plan your entire life from now until the CAT hour by hour, but having a general sense of the time available per day will be helpful, we promise!

Be Honest About Your Time Commitments

Now, go through your business schedule and block out any chunks of time on your CAT planner when you’ll be working. Similarly, block out business trips and job functions. If you have a family or an extensive social life, you’ll want to do the same with these type of events. Factor in any regular activities you take part in and are unwilling to give up (such as going to the gym).

Finally, add up the amount of time you have left each week (not forgetting activities like sleeping and eating!) This is the maximum amount of time you’ll have to devote to your CAT studies. It’s okay if it’s only a few hours a week, as long as you…

Prepare Early

The earlier you prepare for the CAT exam, the more effective your preparation will be. You don’t necessarily need to study for six months, but you should have a reasonable schedule in mind given how much time is left before the exam date. No matter how little time you have per week, if you use that time efficiently, you can still get in a good amount of CAT preparation before taking the exam. Which leads us right into our next point!

Prepare Often

If you only have a few hours a week to prepare, make sure that you spread the time out over several days. It’s like going to the gym: Going every day for 30 minutes will ultimately be more beneficial than going once a week for three and a half hours! If you can’t find even a few hours for study, be creative. You can:

  • Study on your lunch breaks
  • Get up early to study
  • Take public transport to and from work so you can study while you travel
  • Practice CAT questions when waiting in line

Flashcards, English-language publications, and other portable materials are particularly useful for mobile study!

If you can’t find at least a few hours a week to study for the CAT, you have two options: either take the CAT with minimal prep and hope for the best, or wait for next year’s admission cycle. If you’re so busy that you really don’t have time to prepare, though, consider whether you’ll be ready for the workload at an IIM in the near future. It might be better for your situation to wait.

Final Thoughts on How to Balance CAT Prep with a Full-Time Job

So, how to balance CAT prep with a full-time job? Start early, study often, and be realistic about how much time you can devote to the exam. Find time wherever you can to work in CAT prep, but don’t let other areas of your life suffer in order to prepare for the exam. Again, having a full-time job can give you a leg up in IIM admissions, but so too will a strong CAT score. In the end, it all comes down to balance.

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