Comments 34

What do you see yourself doing on CAT Day?

One of the biggest questions that you need to ask yourself is how do you think
of yourself with respect to life?

  • Do you think of yourself as an individual who makes life happen or to whom life happens?
  • Do you see yourself at the doing end of things or at the receiving end of things?
  • Do you believe or do you hope?

The most counter-productive thing of all

The answers to the question above will also reflect what your thoughts are currently as you look forward to taking the CAT this Sunday.

If you fall into the second camp on each question, then chances are that you are worrying about

  • the paper turning out to be tough
  • questions from all the areas that you have not touched turning up on CAT
  • the kind of questions you were not able to answer in SimCATs turning up on CAT
  • what will happen if you do not crack the CAT this year
  • how you will face your parents and dear ones

While all of these fears are legitimate is there anything that worrying can accomplish?

For each of these questions ask yourself two questions

  1. Should I be thinking about it right now or rather if I don’t think about it right now or over this week will my life will be ruined?
  2. If the answer to the above question is YES, then can I do anything to address the worry and solve it?

The only worry that you CAN address is the second one — by covering the most important formulas across all the areas/topics you have not touched so far.

All the rest are NOT in your hands and if you can’t do anything about it then no point thinking about it.

Your future hinges on this test but then can you let your test performance hinge on your negative thoughts about the future?

Worrying does not result in anything, it is the most counter-productive activity of all things we can think or do.

The power of visualization

The thing about the mind is that its very nature is to attach itself to something, like a bee that is constantly buzzing about.

You CANNOT control it from buzzing (something possible for only short periods of time through meditation).

You will be better-off DIRECTING it towards a correct, single-point focus.

When faced with big days or occasions it automatically gets directed towards the enormity of the event.

This is not something that is unique to test-takers, this is something that everyone faces in life, especially sportsmen who have to face the pressure of performing at the highest-level.

The most successful sportsmen and sports teams have learned to direct their minds towards a particular goal and channelize the power of visualization. Why just sportsmen don’t we do it as fans as well?

Haven’t we visualized our favourite sportsman leading his/her team to glory in the toughest of times?

Do we visualize him/her doing it in the easiest of situations? We always want him/her to battle and win in the toughest of situations.

This is exactly what the biggest sports stars themselves do — they visualize themselves performing at the highest-level during clutch time.

Michael Jordan was known to rehearse the entire game as it would play out. He would visualize specific players in the opposition trying to tackle him a particular way and he would himself working around it. Guess who read this in a book about Jordan, visualized and executed an innings that is now rated as the second-best test innings of all time by Wisden?.

In early 1999, Brian Lara returned as captain from South Africa, from a 0-5 drubbing. Before the tour was a pay dispute, after it there was just general despondency. Lara was put on probation as captain for the first two Tests against Australia, and Webster worked closely with the team, and Lara in particular.

Webster describes what Lara was going through then as “a process of self-sabotage”. Champions can sometimes go through such phases; every conceivable pressure piles up on them and bottles up the ability. It is medically proven that the stress affects vision and makes the reflexes more sluggish.

West Indies lost the first Test of the series, in Lara’s hometown, Port-of-Spain, by 312 runs, after having been bowled out for a humiliating 51 in the second innings. Basically, West Indies cricket was crumbling around Lara – which means, also, that he was at the centre.

Around then Lara was exposed to a technique called Visualisation. Think of Visualisation as a mental rehearsal; like writing the plot – and the end – to a story that is still unfolding. At about the same time, Lara remembers, an old friend from school, Nicholas Gomez, presented him with a book on Michael Jordan. “He had an entire page on how he went about visualizing what’s going to happen in a game,” Lara recalls. In the series against Australia, an inspired 213 from Lara’s blade had won the second Test at Jamaica to square the series.

In the last innings at Barbados, the venue of the third Test, West Indies were chasing 308 for victory against McGrath, Gillespie, Warne and MacGill. Of course, it was going to be desperately hard. Lara played one of the great Test innings.

Lara had seen it all before it happened. “I remember calling Gomez at six o’clock in the morning, the last morning of the Test match, and we went about planning this innings against the best team in the world. It was amazing to see how it just came to fruition. You know, a partnership with someone – it happened to be Jimmy Adams – and the innings ultimately evolving into a match-winning one.”

— excerpted from Rahul Bhattacharya’s article

It is a great video to watch, chasing 308 after being 105/5 with the last runs being scored in the company of arguably the worst #11 in cricket – Courtney Walsh.

What should YOU visualize?

The important thing to note is that in planning the chase with his friend in the morning, Lara kept it realistic. He knew that his team was prone to collapsing and the support of one other guy would be crucial. He did not imagine for himself a path strewn with flowers, instead, he imagined a road full of potholes and hoped for a good set of shock absorbers.

So over the next few days, you should visualize yourself doing the right things and overcoming obstacles instead of hoping and praying for an easy paper that falls to your strengths.

Talk yourself into doing the right things
This is what Martin Crowe, who was highly regarded by his peers both as a player and as a captain had to say about how the power of visualization can be harnessed to maximise performance.

From my own perspective, my mind was often filled with thoughts, coupled with underdeveloped emotions. It wasn’t a great mix in which to take on the art of batting at the top level. My footwork was sure and a priority, yet I quickly realised that footwork and mind-work go hand in glove. I needed some mental crutches and so I sought out the new phenomenon of sports psychology to deal with an overflow of desultory musing.

I learnt techniques of visualisation, of playing the future out in the mind first, using pictures.

Most of all, I learnt to repeat affirmations one after the other (“Head still, head still, watch the ball, watch the ball”), slowly and deliberately, to block out any unforeseen random thought (“What if I get out?”) that might jump into my head and trip me up again.

He did not visualize himself hitting Allan Donald for a six on a fast pitch; he did not set himself visions of grandeur. He focussed on the small things he should do right and the thoughts he should avoid.

Solving questions is very similar since every ball is similar to question and solving it successfully is about doing all the small things correctly.

What should you see yourself executing?

  • Visualize yourself executing all the selection strategies you have decided upon — not jumping to solve the question but taking a call whether to solve it or not.
  • Visualise yourself executing the techniques to solve specific question types.
  • Visualise yourself reading the question carefully instead of skimming the question and misreading data
  • Visualise yourself doing the calculation part with the calmness required to not make silly mistakes.
  • Visualise yourself dealing with the unfavorable turn of events that we listed in the previous post and dealing with them.
  • Visualise yourself solving questions in the way you solve it at home — with relaxed nerves
  • Visualise yourself staying calm in the face of a tough/adverse paper.

In the same article Crowe summarises things really well.

The key, from what I have learnt, from what I now believe, is that no matter your experiences and circumstances, your reality is in the present moment – what you are living in the feeling of your thinking in the present moment. That’s your truest reality.

It is not the memory of what went before, or the concern of what may come in the future, that is real. In batting, it is the clear-minded thinking of watching and moving to the present ball being bowled that is real.

Fear of getting out is really an illusion, a negative thought with feeling added to it, about past failures and / or future ones. It needn’t be there at all. The fact is, you will get out, so there is no need to fear it; simply delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

You can succeed if you clear away everything that’s not to do with the present moment, the next ball, if you remove old baggage or concern about what might happen in time. Just think about watching the ball leave the bowler’s hand. That’s it.


Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi says it best. “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

Incase you missed it you should watch a recording of this webinar I took a couple of weeks ago, the last part might, from 1:09:27 onwards, might come in handy.

Forget the pressure to perform, it is an opportunity to perform

The crucial thing that we should never lose track of is this — you have an opportunity to perform.

Most of you have had the privilege of decent food, decent education, decent shelter. Some of you, I know, have had to struggle for these things. So now you have the opportunity to build a better career.

I have spoken before in class about real pressure and real lack of opportunity — migrant laborers waiting at various junctions during morning hours hoping that someone would bundle them into a truck and give them an opportunity to just earn their daily bread, just to exist with dignity.

Most of us are lucky to have this opportunity. It is up to us to think the right things and make the right things happen.

This is not something that applies only to CAT-day.

It will apply even more after you enter a premier b-school — summer placements, final placements and most importantly life.

The biggest battle is always won in the space between the ears and you have to visualize and talk yourself into doing the right things and succeeding.


  1. The lucid manner in which you express your thoughts makes every article of yours a sheer joy to read 🙂
    2020 is going to be my first attempt at the CAT and your guidance, both through blog posts and webinars, have made navigating this maze a much easier experience.
    Thank you for everything that you do, and I hope you continue to inspire CAT takers for many years to come!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. manan says

    Sir can you please make short video of the topic that you are saying visualize because it too heavy to understand.


    • Hi Manan,

      A video on this will be tough since there is nothing more or different that I have to say that what I have written.

      Read through patiently, thinking of it as a tough RC, it will be the best practice for VA-RC!

      All the best!


    • Hi Mishpreet,

      I have taught everything that I know of in the VA-RC Masterclasses and the LMTC session, and the video feedback of the SimCATs 9, 13, 15, and 17.

      You need to see what it is that you are executing and not executing when faced with the prospect of selecting and solving. Have all of these sessions made any difference or do you still solve it as you used to solve or your try to execute but never fully do.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  3. Chirakkal Sreehari says

    Hi sir,
    I was getting a decent percentile in my simcats(~94%) prior to SIMCAT17.
    Even though it was an easy paper, I fell to an all time low of 68% in the last simcat.
    This has hit my confidence badly. What can I do in this short time to gain my confidence back?
    I am thinking of attempting CAT 17/18 previous year paper as my last mock on wednesday. Will it be a bad idea?
    And thank you for your constant support and motivation sir!!


    • Hi Sreehari,

      There can be the odd mishap in the lead up to the test, it is no different from a batsman failing in one innings on a good pitch, it is the series that matters!

      Attempt mocks as you have planned, focus on the capabilities you have developed over the season.

      All the best!


  4. Thanks a lot sir!
    Your tips and motivation has always been extremely helpful! ❤
    Btw, i worked on a few things you pointed out, which were wrong with my varc technique, helped a lotttt!


  5. Varun Singh says

    Hello Sir,
    Well, there is an ocean of thoughts mingling in my mind right now about the whole CAT Prep Journey that I have been doing for the past 8 odd months. From being someone who scored a Raw Score of just 42 marks in CAT 2019 to being someone scoring in the range of mid-80s ( in the new pattern ), this whole preparation journey has helped me evolve emotionally and having a positive outlook towards life.

    Thank you Tony Sir for being there guiding me & motivating me through all those crests and troughs. I don’t know what the paper will be like on D-Day but as you once said,” I will be the one giving the paper and not the other way round.”


    • Hi Varun,

      Felt really good to hear that there is a substantial increase in your scores as well as mindset over the course of this year’s prep, and an unusual year at that!

      I took a decision to be more visible this year since I felt that given the uncertainty and madness and lack of in-person access to mentors and friends, it makes a lot of sense for me to try to hold up one end through the webinars, a decision that in retrospect was a really good one.

      All the very best!


  6. Sajnagokulkrishnan says

    Your posts and sessions are the definition of hitting the nail on its head. I’ve learnt a lot from you over the year and the way you articulate things have changed my perspectives on so many areas. You address almost everything that is going on in our heads so precisely. Continue to keep supporting and motivating many more test takers. Thank you for everything!


    • Thanks a lot, Sajna (is there a typo in the name, or have I understood it correctly?)

      I have always felt that this stage from the end of graduation to starting one’s post-graduation is a very tricky one with young people having very few people to talk to and get guidance from — the people they have access to have good intentions but lack relevant expertise and those who have the expertise they lack access to.

      I myself did not have anyone to talk to but sailed through purely on confidence and aptitude. It is only when I started actively teaching and meeting students on a daily basis and talking to them one-on-one that I figured out exactly what goes on in their heads and the need for someone to just give a bit of support.

      Glad to know the blog achieved what it was meant to 🙂

      All the best!


  7. Karan Ahuja says

    thankyou sir for your guidance, motivation and support throughout the cat journey! blessed to have you as our ‘guru’!


  8. I had prepared a plan to revise and go through stuff. But mind feels saturated. And can’t really get through everything that I had planned. Closer the CAT, higher the saturation. Am I taking too hard and need to chill a bit?


    • Hi A,

      You need to definitely chill if you feel saturated. CAT is not like a regular exam where last-minute cramming can help.

      I would more than recommend unwinding and doing things that would really make you happy for one day (watch your favourite shows today, eat your favourite meals and just chill).

      Tomorrow and day after focus on building up energy and gathering yourself.

      All the best!


  9. Biswajit says

    The last few lines took my heart way and inspired me. It’s true that most of us are lucky to have this opportunity.


    • Hi Biswajit,

      There are 90,00,000 people in India in the 20-24 age group only 2,25,000 people apply to the CAT on average, so yeah, you are already in the 97.75th percentile.

      Glad to hear it touched a nerve and inspired you.

      All the best for Sunday!


  10. Mukul Sharma says

    Sir I really love to read your blog and it really inspire me to well in cat exam. .Sir how to deal with the situation when parents are not near around during the exam time. How should I focused and motivated during my alone time ?


    • Hi Mukul,

      A long-term secret to a calm and happy life is to have an interest that you are really passionate about that always centres you. It can be anything — reading, painting, gardening, music, weight training, yoga, running. Anything that is deeply immersive can easily be an everyday activity and that you can do to some extent almost anytime and anywhere.

      It is not me just saying it but studies of happiness have shown that people who have a strong passion are on the whole more content since it means that when they are in the middle of that activity they do not need anything or anyone else.

      Over the next few days just do things that you like without tiring youorself out too much.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  11. Devashish Rakshit says

    Just what I needed to read on a day when mentally spent after studying all day.
    Really liked how you described this as an opportunity to perform instead of a pressure to perform.

    Thanks Tony Sir!


  12. Megha says

    Hi Sir,
    After the last mock I had planned on giving before D-Day today, I realised I was barely able to solve questions from geometry which has so far turned out to be my strongest area and some from few other areas as well. After the mock I was a little upset because i know I could have definitely solved them. It reminded me of the incident you had shared about your physics exam, where you had completely burnt yourself out. I guess that’s what happened to me today. And I have decided to not solve any more problems, will just revise the concepts and formulas until the exam. Thank you once again for sharing these little things which actually matter the most in terms of mental health and energy.


    • Hi Megha,

      Glad that all the incident I narrated helped you see things in perspective.

      For middle class kids growing up in India, nothing much has changed in terms of what is expected of them, so I can more or less expect that my experiences will not be unique, bits and pieces will have occurred with everyone.

      All the best, Megha!


  13. Savani says

    I had been practically holding my breath for this post since your last one where you mentioned you’ll be doing one on power of visualisation. I am an annoyingly optimistic person in life, and usually sail through stressful situations with relative ease but this 5 month journey has been quite the ride. I can’t stress enough just how helpful and motivating your webinars and posts have been on the lowest of days. I am a huge fan of the no nonsense approach you take towards – well, everything really, and tell it how it is. I ‘believe’ (and not just hope *nods in your direction*) that all this effort will come to fruition on D day!
    Thank you for everything Sir!


    • Hi Savani,

      Really good to hear that the blog has been of help to you over these crazy months, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of people.

      I don’t know if I can call my approach no nonsense, I would like to call it empathetic rationality 🙂

      All the very best for Sunday!


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