The Common Admission Test (CAT) requires a relaxed yet active approach. The CAT tests time management, intensity and stamina as much as it tests the application of basics. Let us look at the errors to avoid during the three tests, ie verbal ability/reading comprehension, quantitative analysis and logical reasoning/data interpretation.
The test experts of CAT are very experienced when it comes to mixing up doable and out of the box questions. So, don’t attempt any section without proper scanning. Spending more than reasonable amount of time on a section is an indication that you have fallen in a trap. Repeating this for even four to five questions will force you out of the race of a good percentile.
Never approach any section with a pre-set target of questions to be attempted. That will vary based on the difficulty level of the test. Making unforced errors due to the high number of questions you have targeted in a tough exam, is a common problem.
Verbal ability/reading comprehension (VA/RC)
Most candidates tend to choose passages in the RC section based on the passage topics. The more important parameter is the presence of direct/inferential questions. Also, most people tend to misread the questions and answer them based on what they understood instead of what has been asked.
In the verbal ability section, don’t avoid reading any question. You can choose the order of reading the questions based on their length but don’t skip any questions simply because they are from your weak area. In the para-completion questions, don’t select lines that merely continue the paragraph. Look for something that logically “completes” the paragraph.
Quantitative aptitude (QA)
Read the questions carefully to avoid comprehension mistakes. Be extra-careful towards words and phrases like At least, At most, Some/All, And/Or, Not less than, Not less than, Distinct, Integer, Positive/negative, Not positive/Not Negative, From/to /In between etc. Incorrect interpretation of these words may change your answer.
Don’t attempt the questions at face value. A question might seem easy when it is not. Remember to keep emotions at bat while you scan the doable questions! Avoid silly errors and just slow down while you are finally clicking the option or inserting the answer in the box.
Logical reasoning/data interpretation (LR/DI)
LR and DI section tests your ability to comprehend the restrictions, interpretation and the case analysis in the quickest possible time. It also maps your analytical and visualisation skill.
LR and DI are the two subsections, but the distribution of doable questions is not as even as the number of questions appearing in these two sub-sections. Shortlist the sets as per your strengths and prioritise the order of attempts. Your performance depends on your ability to filter out doable ones first and then a few tougher ones to score over the rest.
The on-screen calculator is available but its judicious use saves time. It can be a distraction and it is not as quick as a phone/physical calculator. Choose alternative approaches like approximations, answer option eliminations before intensive calculations.
Many of the aspirants find reasoning-based DI a little “out of reach” because they give up due to concentration lapse. Remember that patience is the key in this section, especially when you are done with straightforward questions.
All these things are easier said than done. Prepare a list of mistakes that you usually commit and make sure these don’t bother you during the test. Last but not the least, whatever your preparation level be, a bit of caution on the test day always helps.
All the best!
The author is academic head ,Triumphant Institute of Management Education, Delhi.