Appearing for the Common Admission Test 2015 (CAT) on November 29? Have you finalised a strategy to bell the CAT yet? With just 8 days to go for the exam that will help you get into any of the Indian Institutes of management and other B-schools in the country, experts suggest you should now concentrate on revising your existing skills and calm frayed nerves. Students, on the other hand, believe taking mocks aligned with their slot timing would help them bell the CAT better.
The exam will be conducted in two sessions in one day across 136 cities, 650 test sites.
While first-time CAT takers are concentrating on doing well in all the sections and are giving equal weightage to all aspects of the test, the more experienced ones – second- and third-timers – the test is about strategising better to do well in the sections they scored less in their last attempt.
For instance, Priyanka Singh, a first-timer this year, plans to take mock tests every alternate day in the afternoon, according to her CAT test slot. “This will help me stay alert and awake, and fight sluggishness during the afternoons,” she says. “I have decided not to study new topics or anything that’s unknown to me, or mug up new vocabulary words,” she adds.
Singh had prepared notes of formulae, vocabulary words and questions she couldn’t answer in different mock tests. She plans to revise those over the coming days.
Radha Krishnan, another first-timer, too, plans to revising the concepts. “By now I have identified my weak and strong areas and I am just focusing on my strong areas (practising problems of higher difficulty/learning short cut techniques) to make sure that I don’t miss out questions on strong area. I have reduced the frequency of taking mocks from three to four times per week to one per week and trying to make sure that I am judicious in selecting the questions from my strong areas. As I have been allotted morning in the actual CAT exam I am taking the mock close to the actual exam time,” says Krishnan. He is taking four to five sectional tests daily on his strong areas and is focusing on the basic concepts in his weak areas to ensure that he doesn’t miss out on easy questions from those areas. He also goes through the important formulae and properties on a daily basis and avoids frequenting discussion forums. “This is because I get demotivated at times by seeing the mock scores of other peers,” Krishnan adds.
This year, CAT will be of duration of 180 minutes, 10 minutes more than the duration last year. The paper will comprise of three sections: Quantitative Aptitude (QA); Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR); and Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC). QA and VRC sections will comprise of 34 questions each, and DILR will have 32 questions. Students will get 60 minutes for attempting the sectional and will not be allowed to switch from one section to another while answering questions in a particular section.
“The major difference this year is the virtual division of one paper into three different papers which would lead to more beginning and ending jitters offsetting the 10-minute advantage that is present vis-a-vis last year. If one stays away from overestimating the level of difficulty of the paper and the competition and does justice to the test, it should be enough,” says Shashank Prabhu, CAT 2011 topper, and director, Learning Roots, an entrance test preparation platform.
Deepti Kini, who will be taking the test for second time this year, says, “Last year’s paper was good because we had the flexibility to switch between sections. But this year that option is not there. Yet it is good in some way because you can avoid spending extra time on a single section.” Kini plans to spend more time on her verbal ability section, her weakness. “In this last week, I plan to take a few mocks and spend some time analysing them. I will also go through the previous mocks I have taken and revise them. Last year my quant scores were great, went down in verbal. So I gave more time to Verbal Ability section this year. Also, I doubled the number of mocks from last year to this year. This helped me improve a lot.”
Shashank Suman, who is also attempting the test for the second time, has identified the weak areas based on his first attempt. He plans to revise his concepts that would include class notes and mock papers and the topic tests in which he didn’t score well. “I plan to devote one hour each day for reading comprehension as I face problem in solving questions from that section and will solve data interpretation papers from mock papers.” Suman, who attempted very less number of questions last year, plans to focus on managing time and solve easy and moderate problems first.
Anurag Sharma, director, Genesis Mentors, advises students to attempt every section well. “Whatever attempts you have in the first, second and third sections, believe that you have given your best shot as you don’t know what the sectional cut-off will be. As this year, the order of sections will be English/DILR/QA, I think this pattern needs more focus and concentration, and above all stability of mind, because students will be getting into the QA section after spending exhaustive two hours in English and LRDI. I think this year LRDI section will be a game-changer and Quant will not be challenging. Stay calm stay focused.”
Experts also say that taking strategic breaks, adequate sleep and proper diet are equally important in cracking the CAT code. Says Prabhu, “CAT is probably more of a mental test than a knowledge one. Being in the best frame of mind is very important when it comes to these last few days. While new concepts won’t really feature in the muscle memory which takes over when you sit for the test, sharpening your existing skills through revision of mocks, concepts, past year CAT papers is the best thing to do. A couple of confidence booster mocks in the coming four to five days, aligned with one’s CAT slot timing, should suffice to keep one in touch with the mental aspect.”
Ho t tips to bell the CAT!
· Revise the entire theory and formulae
· Sharpen your existing skills
· Solve all the important questions from the test series
· Do not solve any mock papers 5 days before the CAT exam
· Sleep well
· Eat properly
· Don’t panic