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Yes you can apply the CPU (now renamed to SPU) ahead of time, then run any post install scripts in the CPU after the upgrade is completed. See this MOS Doc
Best approach for Oracle database patching sequence to latest/required patchset along with CPU/PSU/any-other-one-off patch [ID 865255.1]
Oracle recommends that you apply the latest PSU instead - PSUs includes CPUs/SPUs and are also released quarterly. Pl be aware that once you apply a PSU, you will need to continue to apply PSUs in the future (you cannot apply CPUs/SPUs).
Quick Reference To Patch Numbers For Database PSU, SPU(CPU) And Bundle Patches [ID 1454618.1]
Quick Reference to RDBMS Database Patchset Patch Numbers [ID 753736.1]