Endeavor Careers
on 28 October, 2014

A month to go to CAT – What to do?

With less than a month to go to CAT, it undoubtedly becomes the most important phase as far as preparation is concerned – the phase where we need to consolidate – ensure whatever that we have prepared with is thorough keeping aside the natural human anxiety which forces us to keep adding new stuff day after day after day. Here we present to you a systematic approach of tracking your progress, preparing a plan and executing the same.


Rules of the game vs. their interpretations

100 questions, no sectional time limits – This would mean the paper would have ample number of questions for anyone to solve. Other side of the argument could be that there is enough to distract a test taker. Say, I am good at quant (the typical engineer category) and “generally” if I love quant, I will also have a small little infatuation for Analytical Reasoning & Data Interpretation as well and that means I could potentially end up wasting more than 2 hours solving these three sections of the paper and eventually end up spoiling my sectional break up. This is what I meant when I said there is enough to distract. Similarly, there is this other audience that has a soft corner for Verbal and Analytical Reasoning and such an aspirant will overspend here. The trick here is to ensure you have a strategy, at least a tentative time break up, before you enter the paper and ensure you don’t play with the strategy until and unless an extremely easy or an extremely difficult paper comes up.

How to come up with this break up?

  • The point is, there isn’t a foolproof way of coming up with this. This more or less is like the “predetermined” shot that we take in cricket which has a great probability of backfiring or misfiring. Firstly, take a lot of tests, full length tests – both paper based and online – so that some sort of a strategy consolidation happens. A tentative paper could look like this – 33 to 35 questions each from Verbal, Quant, Analytical Reasoning & Data Interpretation combined. If such is the paper, dividing the 170 mins into 3 parts makes sense. Also, it is a 2 section paper, hence it will surely have sectional cutoffs and hence it is also important that we balance out the scores in the 2 sections – which means – we firstly divide the 2 sections into 85 mins each and then tentatively assign 55 mins to Verbal, around 30 mins to Analytical Reasoning and similarly 55 mins to Quant and 30 mins to Data Interpretation. Now, this means, we have a tentative timeline in our head, however we are mentally prepared to face an extremely easy section which means we should look at the time saved in that section to contribute to the other section. Each and every aspirant should have a strategy of their own and this could vary from a 55-30-55-30 to a 50-35-50-35 or a 60-25-60-25 and so on and so forth. One more catch is that we should not determine a strategy just by taking a paper or two, we should look at coming up with a strategy and applying the same to at least 3-4 papers before really concluding that a formula works for you. The fact is, there could be a wonderful strategy which might not work for you at the first instance because of whatever xyz reasons and that shouldn’t mean you change at the very next go. What is equally important is the post paper analysis of strengths-weaknesses so that we can arrive at “my strategy” for the paper.
  • 170 mins:
    This is the longest CAT ever ‘to be’ conducted. This subtly tends to indicate the importance for stamina. Gone are the times when it used to be a couple of rush hours, now it is a good nearly-3hr-paper and that means it is necessary we conserve our energy till the end. A common phenomena observed in this pattern is that the steam doesn’t last till the last min and that means there is unproductive unutilized time which will always go against the test taker.

How to build stamina?

  • Material Solving:
    Material solving should be done with discipline. Whenever you sit, sit for at least a couple of hours at a stretch. That will help you increase your focus and stamina. That will benefit you on the day of CAT. Everyday solving of 5-6 RCs back to back or solving 50-60 questions of Quant back to back will help you build stamina in a quantifiable manner. Keep a track of time when you do this activity so that it helps you understand yourself better.

How many tests to take and what to do pre and post the tests?

  • Each of the test takers should look at solving at least 20 papers of varied difficulty levels before entering the CAT.
  • Pre test:
    Just consolidate what you have studied till now.
  • Post test:
    Just ensure you solve every question. Once you are done with solving of every question, do a thorough analysis of the paper.
  • Quant:
    How many questions did I solve? How many mistakes did I do? How many careless mistakes? How many conceptual / logical mistakes did I commit? Are there any topics that I don’t know at all? Do I need to go back to basics of a particular topic (just because the going doesn’t seem so smooth during the paper)? Am I lacking in speed? Is my ego related to certain topics a deterrent as far as my performance is concerned?
  • Verbal:
    How did my RCs go? Did I understand the topic or did I just cursorily answer the questions? How much time did I take to solve an RC? How did I fare in topics like Critical Reasoning / Logical Continuation (both are topics based on inference and I can ill afford to get it wrong)? Am I getting a good accuracy in parajumbles? How am doing in vocabulary based questions (I need to keep adding words to my kitty because every day it seems I am facing new words only!)? How was my time distribution?
  • Data Interpretation:
    How is my calculation speed? Am I able to do equal justice to tables, bar, line, pie or do I need to go back to basics?
  • Analytical Reasoning:
    Did I solve? (The problem with AR is that there isn’t much you can do except practice, practice and practice and hope logic clicks on the D-day).

A good post paper analysis opens up enough things to keep you occupied till the next paper and also ensures we have a slightly-corrected-strategy on our hands which we are hopeful will help us fare better in the next paper.

These are some of the things that would be bothering a CAT taker. Best wishes for a wonderful 25 days ahead.

Please do not worry about the things which are not in hand like – normalization / anchor questions / some other stupidity because you can't do anything worrying about the same. Just chill and do what you can rather than wasting time over things out of your control. What you can do however is PREPARE. PRACTICE. EXECUTE. ANALYSE. RE-STRATEGISE. REPEAT.

Best wishes!!


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