Are the CAT aspirants who go for coaching the only representatives of the CAT takers? No. If you reach out, you will find several aspirants, who are preparing for CAT all by themselves! They are a bunch of confident and dedicated people who have enough faith in themselves to fulfill the dream of cracking CAT exam, which is dreaded by many, even by them, who go for MBA coaching.
Are you amongst them, who have not joined any MBA coaching institute and are preparing by themselves? Are you feeling a bit jittery about your approach? Do you want to know what the steps are which you need to take for moving in the right way? This article will tell you the steps which you need to move successfully towards your aim of cracking CAT.

Make a time table
Since discipline is the keyword here, you need to be honest to yourself and prepare a proper time table which you feel can be maintained by you. First identify your daily activities. If you are a student, then most of the day must be spent by you in college or graduation studies and other activities. So you have to take out a time which you feel is comfortable for your CAT exam studies. Then find out the right time to study when you can prepare with full concentration. You should give equal stress to all the sections so that no particular section is hampered. Also, you should not ignore your weak sections.

Regarding the time to utilize for studying, Kedar Baxi, a 92 percentiler in CAT 2010 suggested giving at least two to three hours a day of sincere effort. This time would then increase for the last month. And in the last week or so just revise what you have learned so far, the types of questions and the variations in them.

Get the right books and preparation material
Since you are studying on your own, you need to get the right books and materials which can help you to prepare for the tough MBA exam like the CAT Exam.
The CAT preparation books which are invariably mentioned by the experts are as follows:
�High School English Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin,
�Verbal Ability by Arun Sharma,
�How To Prepare For Quantitative Aptitude For The CAT by Arun Sharma,
�Quantitative Aptitude for MBA Entrance Examinations by Abhijit Guha,
How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT by TATA-McGraw Hill publications,
�The Pearson Guide to Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning for the CAT by Nishit K Sinha,
�Reasoning and DI for MBA Exam by Arun Sharma,
�Business English and Communication by Clark Grade C and many more.
Baxi also suggested that in the last few months solve the CAT material (books) for all sorts of questions. But there is a caveat here. You should not immerse yourself with so much of books and study materials that you feel lost and confused. In the initial stage of preparation, you can refer to many books and study materials, but when you are approaching the D Day, stick to one reliable source. As Arun Sharma, CAT guru and author of best selling CAT prep books said, Stick to one reliable source which will give you the variety of questions.

Enroll into a test series
While you study hard and prepare for CAT 2011, it is also very important to know the status of your preparation. In coaching institutes you get experts and mentors, who constantly guide you. But while you are doing self preparation for CAT 2011, it is your responsibility to check your preparation status. For that, the best idea is to join a test series of a good MBA coaching institute.
You can avail the test series by either enrolling for the test series from the top MBA coaching institutes. Or you can also take tests from the CAT coaching websites. For e.g. IMS Learning provides Test Packs for CAT Preparation and the Simulated Tests for the Correspondence students. Websites like Test Funda, etc. also provides practice tests for CAT Preparation through which you can not only judge your preparation, but can also learn the correct method to solve as they provide explanatory answers as well.

Make a study group and be at par with peers
Studying in a group always helps. There is information sharing and you can always know where you stand in comparison of your peers as far as MBA preparation is concerned. If you stand a better position than them, you can help them and hence check how good you have understood the concepts. Or if you see your peers ahead of you, don’t hesitate to take their help as well. MBA aspirants who are doing self preparation for MBA Exam can learn lots of new things among their study groups. For e.g. somebody who is good in Quantitative Ability can give some tips for solving quant problems and someone good in English can offer some advice for solving Verbal Ability questions, says Amit Tandon, an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus.