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Take changes in your strides

The best strategy in the world will not work for you if you panic. Stay cool and focus on your strengths when it comesto CAT Tanuja Chandra Reports

education Updated: Nov 11, 2009 09:30 IST
Tanuja Chandra

We’re just a few days away from CAT – so let’s first talk about the changing patterns of the test. In the last few years the number of questions have come down from 50 in 2001-2003 to 38 in 2004 and a mere 25 in 2006 and 2007. There have been quite a few surprises actually. A significant change from 2001 to 2006 was perhaps absence of DS (data sufficiency), which made a comeback in 2007. There was also a shift from DI (data interpretation)/DS/AR (analytical reasoning) approach to (DI +AR) approach.

However, the CAT DI section in 2006 and 2007 was more calculation based.

However, learn to take changes in your stride and focus on an overall strategy for the paper. Some common things come out from each of QA (quantitative ability)/DI/ENG.
Let’s list them down one by one
. Don’t rush to solve a question. This year CAT being online, there might be need to
re-draw the diagram/re-write the data on paper, hence scan the questions.
. You should be familiar with all types of data representation and puzzle questions.
Scan through all the mock papers you have taken before CAT.
. Avoid questions that require long/accurate calculations in the first go. Try to solve
easier questions from more sets rather than all questions from a few sets.
. Even if you don't get to solve a question in the initial 10-12 minutes don’t give up
and rush to some other section. Give a section proper amount of time.
. There is nothing called a safescore as it varies with varying difficulty level. So
don’t go with a pre-decided target score. Rather, concentrate on time spent in each
section and try get as much marks as possible .
. There is no general strategy regarding which section should be attempted first. Stick
to the strategy that has worked for you.
. Except the top 10-15 colleges, most other colleges don't ask for sectional cutoffs.
So if you are not in that league try to maximise your score. That does not mean you
should not look at your weak section as even that contains easy questions.
. There is a huge trade off between accuracy and attempts. With fewer questions,
accuracy becomes more important. Try to maintain 80 per cent accuracy rate. .
. The time to be spent on each section has to be strictly decided based on your
performance in practice papers. Please don’t give unusually low or high amount of
time to any particular section as your assumption about a safe score can be totally
out of place.
. Go with an open mind when it comes to pattern, number of questions, difficulty
level. Unpredictability is very high so finalise your strategy only after you have got
the paper in your hand.
. Time management is very vital during the test so keep a strict eye on time. Leave
extra 10 minutes for the last hour which you can utilise in your strongest section
and try to maximise scores.
. Last but not the least — no wild guesses please.

The author is the director at T.I.M.E. Gurgaon, where she has been teaching LDI and quantitative ability for the last six years.

Prior to teaching she has IT experience of 6 years in corporate strategy and counsulting. She is an alumni of IIT Chennai and IIM Calcutta.