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Planning your MBA exam calendar: Take CAT early but avoid fi

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With CAT registrations open and testing window approaching nearer, it’s time for you to slot your CAT testing day in the pre-scheduled 20-day window between October 16 and November 11, 2013. An advance planning for taking other major MBA exams like XAT, NMAT, IIFT Entrance after your CAT exam can give you an edge over others and may bring you many more admission opportunities to top B-schools in India.

So, how do you select your testing days? What is the ideal testing week? What should be the criteria for choosing your testing date?

CAT Experts suggest that it is better to take the test in the first half of the window, even as they say that the testing dates should also depend on your preparation level.

Arks Srinivas, CEO, VistaMind Education, and former director, T.I.M.E says that the dates should be selected depending on your preparation level and also your personal convenience. “You should evaluate your preparation and if you feel that 15-20 days of extra preparation can make you more confident, you should definitely go for the last week for the test. But if your preparation is good, make it in the first week of the testing window and save more time for the next big exam which is XAT,” he says.

Warding off myth that the CAT paper goes tougher in the second half of the testing window, Mr Srinivas says, “The difficulty level of the CAT paper remains almost the same through out the window. Also, if there is any difference in difficulty, the normalization process of CAT scores during the evaluation of your CAT performance takes care of that.”

Mr Sandeep Manudhane, Founder Chairman, PT Education also says that you should factor your level of preparation while choosing your testing date.

“Selection of CAT testing dates should depend on the level of your preparation. If you think that you are not fully prepared, you can slot your testing date during the last week of testing window which means after November 5. But if you have prepared well and already feel confident, you should take the test as early as possible,” he said.

He added that if a candidate is well-prepared, he should not schedule the CAT test in the latter half of the window as feedback emerging from the first half of the test window may unnecessarily stress and confuse you.

“Once the CAT begins, you start getting lots of information on each testing areas and sections. You also start receiving daily feedback from your peers. It puts unnecessary stress on you which may adversely affect you performance on D-Day,” he says.

The dates for all major MBA entrance exams have already been announced. CAT 2013 Exam is scheduled in a 20-day testing window from 16 Oct -11 Nov, 2013.

NMAT 2014 Examis scheduled in a two and half month window beginning October 5 and ending 18 December. While XAT 2014 exam will be held on 5 January, 2014,IIFT 2014 Exam is scheduled on 24 November, 2013.

CMAT 2014-15 First Test window is between 26 Sept and 30 Sept, 2013. SNAP 2013 Exam will be conducted on 15 Dec, 2013.

Some experts suggest you should not puzzle yourself on selecting dates and rather focus more on your preparation.

“You should not give much thought on deciding a date. It should completely be your personal choice and hardly matter as far as your percentile in CAT is concerned,” Mr Rajesh Balasubramanian, an IIT and IIM alumnus & CAT Expert, says, adding, “The more irrelevant questions your mind ponders, the less bandwidth it has to for the relevant ones. Your focus must be on preparing yourself well for whichever date you feel comfortable and is allotted to you.”

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