please find below the replies to your questions:
1) You can definitely ask them tips if your connections are strong enough, however you can also connect directly with alumni of your university who are present in the offices you would like to target – this should speed up the process. You can find some tips on how to connect below:
2) The recruiting cycle really depends on the country, some countries have specific start dates only (usually September and January), other have rolling admission for the whole year. If you manage to network as for point 1 you can ask a suggestion to the people that can refer you on the best timeline for that specific office. I would also suggest not to resign from your current job before you get an offer. Consulting companies are quite flexible in letting you start later if needed, so you don’t have to worry about it.
3) If you put 4h/day for 10 weeks on the right material that should definitely be enough. The exact timeline depends on the material/peers/coaches you base your preparation on, your current level and how quickly you can improve.
4) It should not be a concern, however just to be sure (there may be specific rules for specific offices) I would suggest to start the networking process sooner rather than later as for point 1, so that you can ask to your connections in the office confirmation on that.