Saturday, June 18th, 2016
CAT Preparation is not something that you do in a week or two. It is a long drawn process typically stretched over a period of 6 to 9 months. Over the last decade, I have seen a bunch of students repeat avoidable mistakes. More often than not, it is because of lack of information. Another common reason why it happens is because people value information that they got from successful seniors and other achievers on the web, which may not be suited for them. In this post, I will discuss about some of these issues.
CAT aspirants forget the basic fact that Quantitative Aptitude & Verbal Ability form only 50% of the paper. They do not allocate enough time during their preparation to the othƒer 50% – Logical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation. It probably happens because most CAT aspirants are scared of these areas. Also, when they start preparing for CAT, they think that the CAT exam paper depends only on your Quant and Verbal skills. Another common misconception is that you need to “prepare” for Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability, whereas the other areas you can improve just by giving mocks. Also, there are chapters and a fixed syllabus that you need to cover for Quant and Verbal – it makes it a little bit easy to study for them. All these reasons lead to the neglect of Logical Reasoning, Data Interpretation, and Reading Comprehension which eventually leads to a poor CAT percentile. You cannot expect to do well in the CAT exam if you neglect half the CAT syllabus. You can easily avoid making this mistake in CAT by dividing your preparation time wisely among all areas. You should give more time to your weak areas but do not neglect any sector during CAT preparation.
A very common question that I get asked close to the exam and even couple of months before it is – ‘How many questions should I target to achieve a 90+ %ile / 99+ ile / IIM-C call?” While I and many other people can give you an educated guess answer to those questions, it is of no use. Even if you know that you need to do 15 questions in Section 1 to get a 95%ile, what are you going to do with that information? If you are able to solve 18 questions, will you leave 3 questions just because you need a 95? – Obviously not. If you are able to solve 12 questions, are you going to guess 3 more questions just so that you can hit the magic number of 15? No. You should not take such a risk in the CAT exam, which has negative marking. Having such sort of targets is meaningless and it can only harm you. It will either put unnecessary pressure on you or would make you complacent – neither of them is good for you. To avoid making this mistake, you should never go in an exam or even a mock thinking that you should do ‘n’ number of questions to achieve ‘x’ percentile. You should have a strategy to attempt the paper but that is based on time that you want to allocate to various sectors and not based on number of questions that you should attempt. You know what should be your target – “as much as you can”. Try to push that higher. Think of the CAT exam as the first innings of a Test Match and not as the final over of an IPL match.
This idea has gained traction among the students preparing for CAT over the last 3-4 years. It has primarily happened because lot of achievers / top-scorers / 100%ilers swear by this idea. Yes – it is a good idea for them. It is a good idea for anyone who is confident enough of getting a 98+ score. It is good for someone who has prepared for CAT earlier and scored anything above 95. These type of CAT aspirants are already done with the basic fundamentals of the topics. They know what works for them and what doesn’t. All they need is some high quality practice and they will be able to do well in the final CAT exam. Having said that, the idea of giving too many mock tests or preparing only via mocks is harmful for majority of CAT aspirants. There is very little merit in that. An ideal number of mocks should be anywhere from 10 to 20. A mock is not a set of practice questions. It is not even a tool for practice. It is a tool for testing. It should be used to figure out your strengths and weakness. The learning from the mock results should be used to improve your weak areas and tweak the time that you are allocating to various sectors. To avoid making this mistake, all you need to do is quickly figure out your comfort level with CAT and adopt a strategy that suits you.
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