In this special column CAT expert and author Mr Rajesh Balasubramanian draws analogies between CAT, the most prestigious MBA entrance in India, and Cricket, the most popular sports of the country.
We in India get cricket analogies better than anything else. So here is a list of ideas for CAT with cricketing parallels.
Plan like the Kiwis
In cricket, the New Zealand team probably maximises its limited potential the best. In the 1992 world cup, they unleashed Greatbatch at the right time, opened with an off-spinner against India, and possibly tanked their last league match in order to play the semi-final at home. More recently, a promoted Chris Harris scored a century in a world cup quarter-final at Chepauk. It is astonishing how a team with such limited resources has competed so well for so long. It is because they read the opponents well, understand their limitations and play astute cricket.
Before going into CAT, you should know which topics you hate, which ones you are likely to get carried away with, which questions get you switched on, etc. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses well can improve your performance by 20-30%.
Strut in like Ponting: “Purposeful stride to the centre”, “raring to go”, these are the phrases used to describe Ponting coming in. The only other player to convey so much with the walk was probably Viv Richards. But because it is not good to ‘swagger’ into an exam hall, let us go with Ponting. Whether it is actual CAT or a mock CAT, it is key to start with an eagerness that gives an adrenaline rush when you start the exam. In the 10-minutes before the exam, if you can work yourself up to start at your best, it can also feed into your belief. To use a Shastri-ism, you should walk in like you “mean business”
Start like Sehwag: Once the exam begins, the whole idea shifts to going one question at a time. All of the pre-exam agonizing and fretting should be left at the door. Here, Sehwag’s philosophy of see-ball hit-ball works best. It really does not matter whether it is Dale Steyn at 148km/hr or Paul Strang’s pie throwing. If it is in the zone, it goes to the boundary. As a student, the first few questions are when the mind does some wandering, when all the pre-exam strategizing comes into play. But in the 2 minutes that you spend to crack a question, all of this should fade into the background. It is amazing what a few correct answers can do to your thinking.
To give a parallel, in the world cup match quarterfinal Pakistan in 2012, Sehwag hit Pakistan’s best pace bowler Umar Gul for five boundaries in an over. The pitch was not that easy to bat on, Saeed Ajmal bowled magnificently later on. But because Sehwag had given a good start even before one could digest all these factors, India had an enormous buffer in the middle overs. Imagine a paper where the quant is very tough, where questions from 11 to 16 are impossibly tough. But say you jumped headlong into this paper, and attempted 7 out of the first 10 within 12 minutes because you had this vague adrenaline rush with you. You can crash and burn yourself in the rest of the sections, but you have already guaranteed yourself a 99th percentile.
Leave like Dravid: When batting is tough, the key to survival is leaving the maximum number of deliveries. Something Rahul Dravid was very good at. In CAT also, attempting a question that you should not have tried extracts a far higher price than leaving a question that you should have tried. So, when in doubt, leave.
Finish like Dhoni: Whenever Dhoni is managing a chase, it is obvious that he knows which bowlers to target, how many overs are remaining from the 5th bowler and how high a required run rate he can handle. As a test taker, at any point of time during an exam a student should know the following
- how many questions one has done thus far,
- how many more can be reasonably done in the remaining time
- What kind of questions are yet to come – as in Data Interpretation, or Sentence Rearrangement, or Logical Reasoning?
- This knowledge gives you a sense of what to expect, which in turn helps you retain composure.