Focus on your strengths

  • Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 22, 2014 12:46 IST

With just some weeks left for CAT it is time for us to move on to the next stage of preparation. While the earlier stages of preparation were about building up of fundamentals, application of concepts, increasing speed and working out strategies for various types of questions, the focus of this stage of preparation is to ensure accuracy with speed. Let us take a look at the ­perspective you need to take, to address various issues.

Focus on your strengths

Do not worry about the question types that you are never able to solve. Accept the fact that if you have not been able to understand a concept in the last six to nine months of preparation, no miracle will take place in the next four weeks. So ignore these islands of ignorance.

The plan

For the next four weeks, focus on the following three things.

Practice: Mock CATs (proctored and unproctored), topic tests, section tests and past CAT papers will prepare you for D-day. Do not worry about the fundamentals of concepts now. You should be revising questions marked from your practice exercises. Now that you know the time slot of CAT, ensure that all tests are taken in the same time slot that has been allotted to you for CAT 2014. So if your CAT is scheduled at 9.30 am, you must attempt to take all tests at the same time. While questions from all the past CAT papers (1990 - 2008) are important, make sure that you have solved/seen the following the past CAT papers definitely.

For DI: CAT 1990 to 1999: you can expect similar DI in CAT’14

For VA: CAT 1997 to 2008: Good collection of para jumbles, para completion and other verbal logic questions.

For RC CAT 2000 to 2008: Most of these have a good mix of factual and inferential questions and also are of the right length.

For LR CAT 1999 to 2008: These CAT papers had more of LR (logical reasoning) and less of DI (data interpretation)

For QA CAT 1995 to 2008: QA in this period is more logic-oriented and less formula-driven and this is what we expect in CAT’14.

Analysis: A test is useless if it is not followed by a detailed analysis. Every 170 minute paper needs at least 300 minutes for analysis. Analysis helps you in identifying what you are doing correctly or incorrectly in the paper. It helps you in fine-tuning your strategy for the sections.

Revision: Weekly revision of important questions identified in mock CATs, section tests and past CAT papers ensures that if you come across a similar question type you are able to solve it fast. It also eliminates silly mistakes, makes you more comfortable with vocabulary, grammar and difficult questions and also improves your ability to choose the right questions to attempt.

How to manage all three?
Devise a three-day cycle of practice, analysis and revision. This would ensure that not only are the mock CATs and past CAT papers taken care of (with analysis) but also revision is not neglected. Here is a schedule that exemplifies the idea.

Day 1: Practice (mock CAT) and analysis
Mock CAT and analysis of the test.
One section test of QADI or VALR or one section test of past CAT paper or questions from topic tests.

Day 2 : Practice (section test) and analysis
* One section test each of QADI and VALR or section tests from past CAT papers with detailed analysis.
* Questions from topic tests.

Day 3: Revision
Revision of important questions from all mock CATs, section test and past CAT papers taken so far.
While this can be the default plan, ideally you should work out a plan based on your specific requirements.

But what about IIFT?
If you are appearing for Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) entrance test scheduled for November 22, then you have to start your IIFT preparation now itself. The good thing is that the new pattern of CAT is similar to IIFT which has around 120 questions in four sections without any sectional time limits. While the overall level of difficulty of IIFT is lower than that of CAT, it is a more complex paper and requires you to manage time across four sections (unlike two in CAT) and ensure a minimum score in each.

Compiled by HT Education and Career Launcher

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