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Arun Sharma, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 30, 2012
As the day of your Common Admission Test (CAT) draws closer, it is natural for the tension to peak. However, it is important to have a few things in mind while mentally preparing for the test. First, reduce the pressure on yourself by creating an alternate plan of action in case the test does not go well. Review each question that you have solved to make sure that the questions and the logics are completely clear. Take a couple of mock tests in the last week. Be sure about the number of attempts you are planning in each section. During the exam continuously re-evaluate and re-set your target in case you find the going easy (increase your target) or tough (reduce your target). While preparing for the test, it is important that you do not get taken in by the myths

1 The questions are going to be really tough: This is far from the truth. A lot of questions in CAT can be solved by school students. Do not psyche yourself by harbouring this misconception.

2 Speed is the most important part of the exam: Accuracy is more important. In the online CAT, 18 questions solved correctly will lead to a better score than 25 questions solved with five errors. Hence, focus on doing questions right and avoid guessing.

3 Speed-reading is crucial for the exam: The average CAT passage is now about 600-900 words and you will comfortably have around five minutes to read it. Reading speed required is only 120-180 words per minute. Much more importantly, is your ability to understand the text perfectly.

4 Only ‘brilliant’ students make it to IIMs: Look at the profiles of past IIM graduates and you see a plethora of ‘average’ academic background students. Demonstrated academic brilliance is important - but if you do not have it - does not mean you do not stand a chance.

5 I need to do an MBA immediately after my graduation: MBA is not a getting-out-of-college course. So a three to five-year gap between your graduation and your MBA can be a part of your plan. Use this time to determine which top-level institute you would like to join and then give yourself three to five attempts to get there. Do not compromise on the reputation of the institute you join because you will do an MBA only once in your life.

The writer is the author of a series of best-selling books on CAT published by Tata McGraw Hill. He is also the CEO of Mindworkzz, which runs live online training courses for the CAT.