The CAT being different from conventional exams, students are liable to make mistakes that end up hurting their chances. Here’s a ready reckoner of what NOT to do!
Pre-decided target: Most institutes under CAT are not looking for you to attain a pre-determined score. All they look for is a student who can score more than others. If you aim at scoring a minimum number of marks, then you can be under pressure if you fail to come close to that, in case of a tougher paper, and feel complacent in case of an easier paper. Hence, just attempt as much as you can, if you can get it right!
I-can-guess-it syndrome: Many believe they can guess the cutoff while doing the paper and, therefore, know when to stop attempting or when to keep attempting a section.
Nothing can be further from the truth. The sectional cutoffs are decided by the institutes after the exam; there is little chance you can ‘guesstimate’ that.
Attempt maximisation: Since the exam has negative marks for wrong attempts, the belief that more attempts will always fetch more marks is a dangerous one! Attempting more by using elimination techniques is okay, but wild guessing is a no-no.
Accuracy maximisation: You will aim at 100 per cent accuracy, but unnecessary re-checking of answers will reduce your attempts and will result in an overall lower score.
Don’t cross-check every answer, and if accuracy is in the region of 70-85 per cent, you are okay.
Excessive focus on one section: Focusing too much on your favourite section can mean less time for the other sections. Divide your time in proportion to the marks of the section and stick to the plan. Since every section is likely to have a mix of easy and difficult questions, focusing more on any one section hampers opportunities to score in the others.
Getting stuck on one question: Most students lose the battle of the CAT when they spend too much time on one or more questions. This typically happens when you are strong in some subjects/ chapters and you believe that you should be able solve almost every question from that subject/chapter.
Keep an exit time of 2-3 minutes for every question attempted. If you are not close to the answer by this time, just leave the question and move on.
Not scanning the paper: Scanning the paper will help you identify the easier questions. You should attempt these first, leaving the more difficult ones for later or skipping them altogether. Not scanning the paper may lead you to spend more time on difficult and time-consuming questions.
Attempting all questions from a set: When attempting sets in DI/Logic or RC passages, one tends to attempt all the questions of a particular set/passage, once one has understood the contents. This can backfire if you get stuck on the difficult questions, losing too much time. It is okay if you have to leave a question from a set.
Not keeping buffer time: Keeping some time as a buffer towards the end can help you avoid problems related to time management. It can help if you achieve the sectional cutoff in a particularly difficult section.
The writer is director, T.I.M.E. Delhi