Strategy plays a key role in CAT as the test has been a low-scoring paper that asks you to maximise the overall score while clearing the cutoffs or qualifying scores in each section.
While a student’s overall strategy should be unique for him/her, there are some general principles that s/he needs to apply. I’ll start with the oft-asked question, “How do I split my time?” Divide the time among all sections. I suggest 35 X 3 and a 30-minute buffer. This is critical for three reasons.
1 It ensures that the last section does not suffer.
2 In case of bad performance in any section, it allows you to recover some ground and hopefully cross the cutoff.
3 In case all sections are okay and you have some time left, you can allocate it to the section that lets you maximise your score. This can be done best at the end as you have seen all the sections.
Start with a section that you are good at. A bad start lowers morale and eventually even sections which you are good at will suffer, too. Experiment with various combinations before deciding what works best for you.
Some of the common errors that students make include:
1 Not even looking at some questions. By doing this, you may miss some easy questions. So, look at all questions
2 Not giving up on a question, when you can’t solve it. After a minute or so, if it appears that you are not making any progress, quit and move on.
3 Not using the answer choices. Every CAT paper I have seen had at least three questions that could be solved by intelligent substitution of the answer choices back into the question.
Substitution of carefully chosen numbers can help you solve a number of questions.
The author is the director of T.I.M.E.