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CAT: Keep your cool!
Career Launcher research team
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November 13, 2008

As the CAT is just around the corner, prevent your tension levels shooting through the roof by keeping your cool with these stress buster tips.

Positive Visualisation
Take a moment to sit with your eyes closed and visualise yourself achieving the ideal outcome. You have to convince yourself that your hard work will pay off, and this includes convincing your subconscious. Repeated negative thoughts seep into your subconscious and eat away at your energy and confidence. This is not the time to do a postmortem of what you have studied so far. Rather, tell yourself what ever you have studied will help you in the test.

Re-strategise
Your best study coach is you. You know your weaknesses and strengths, and, if you feel the need, this is the best time to use that knowledge to rehash your strategies. Take a few mock tests, applying various strategies, so that each paper enables you to achieve better results. This might not be the best time to start with new topics. Instead, collate your thoughts and organise your approach patterns. Gravitating towards such "can do" possibilities will also generate genuine confidence.

Tune your sleeping pattern
If your sleeping pattern is topsy-turvy and you find yourself burning the midnight oil too often, your brain will get accustomed to shifting into relax mode during the day and alert mode during night. For CAT, you need to be at your sharpest at 10 in the morning. Regulate your sleeping pattern accordingly and remember that your body will take a while to get used to the new pattern. So its best to start off with it at the earliest possible time. Yes, that mean tonight.

Believe in yourself
Right before a paper, some people feel convinced that they won't do well, in spite of their hard work. But there are plenty of cases of people who 'logically' thought their efforts wouldn't amount to much, but continued in their endeavor anyways because they trusted their intuition that they did have a chance. Thanks to their faith, many of them are now in the IIMs and other top institutes. Trust your intuition. Allow yourself to imagine what it would feel like if you achieve your goal -- cracking the CAT and coming out with flying colors.

Body and mind
This is a crucial time to take care of your health -- physical and mental. No, we aren't going to suggest a gym membership. It's simple things that count, like drinking enough water in the day to relieve tension or eating light food to keep your mood and energies up. The day before the test, keep your cool by listening to songs, calling up a friend who motivates you or watching a movie. If possible, do some relaxation exercises to keep your mind calm.

Re-focus
Take a break when you find your mind losing focus. Forcing yourself to focus for too long can have a detrimental effect on your overall performance if it generated unwanted pressure, boredom or fatigue. When you find your mind wandering, take a short break. Schedule regular intervals, but in these breaks, do activities that keep you relaxed and don't engage your mind too much, since it's important to keep your mind free of distractions when you get back to studies.

Avoid distractions
It is not the time for a new video game, TV or redecoration. Anything that will keep you distracted, be it a new computer or rock band in your city, try to keep your mind clear of it. It's just a short jog till the end of the race, but it counts a lot. No matter how tempting the distractions, remember, losing your focus at this time could mean ruining the months of hard work you have put in so far!

Last minute to-dos
Avoid last minute tension by finding out the exact route to your CAT centre. Check your stationery well in advance and on CAT day, check and recheck for your admit card. Be at the centre well in advance and stay clear of negative or tension generating discussions. If you find yourself feeling anxious, sit in solitude and practise deep breathing. Keep your attention to your paper and put up a fight till the very last minute.

Connect with a mentor
When in need of guidance, you could turn to a mentor. A person, whose advice you trust, who would listen to your problem and help you work towards a constructive solution. This might be a friend, a parent, relative or even your CL mentor. There are plenty of people who have successfully steered through CAT, and their example may be of help to you. Meet such people around you or online and listen to what they have to say. Sometimes, another person's perspective adds to our own.

This article has been compiled by Career Launcher (www.careerlauncher.com), an institute that trains students in various competitive exams.

Visit rediff.com for the CAT answer key and post-CAT analyses chats on Sunday, November 16. Stay tuned for announcements on chats, analysis and cut-off details!


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