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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014
How to crack CAT in three months
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 13, 2014
First Published: 14:58 IST(13/8/2014)
Last Updated: 15:00 IST(13/8/2014)

CAT ’14 has incorporated many changes  –  a two-day test window with four test slots, more questions, an early-November date, etc. The CAT 2014 will see some changes in the form of a new structure and a test creator. All of these have significant implications on how a student must approach the test. This means a course correction in the preparation till the D-day. It’s time to reset your pointers to the new goal.

Every competitive exam has its own unique character that has features such as the structure of the exam, the content – both width and depth and the the testing environment. We will analyse the changes in CAT within this framework while considering the implications these will have on your preparations for the next 100 days.

Structure : The structure of the exam determines the test- taking strategy. The change has three significant elements 
* Increase in the number of questions
* Increase in the time limit to 170 minutes
* No sectional time limits

Since the launch of the computer-based test format five years back, the number of questions appearing in CAT has been only about 2/3rd of the last few paper-based CATs.
This means that 40 to 45 attempts are good enough and need to be revisited.

So, the psychological barrier that you need to cross to be in the zone of the call getters is reduced. In the current format you must aim at 60 to 65 attempts.Your ability to get to this level will be aided by the fact that you will have a more questions to choose from. But to take advantage of this make sure that you’ve had practice covering a greater span of topics. You will also have to move your targets from 40 to 50 in a time frame. Then push it to over 60 as you travel further in your journey.The bottom line is: You move from a scenario where you spend 140 seconds on a question to about 100 seconds per ­question.

The new version of CAT is a 170-minute affair. Add to this the time before the exam. That makes it a gruelling three to  three-and-a-half hours of focus. Stamina can be built only through “sustained” practice in simulated situations.

So, if you wish to be at the peak of your performance all through the 170 minutes, you better work on as many mocks as possible. We suggest 20 mocks in the span of these 100 days. All of you would know by now that testing in itself is inadequate unless backed by thorough analysis and feedback.

The most challenging and probably game changing element is the “no sectional time limit” format. It changes the test from a knowledge checking  paradigm to an aptitude
checking paradigm.

The key to good ­performance is how well you play your strengths. This will include your knowledge, the questions that you have selected and your time management skills. So, adequate practice ensures that you get your strategy right. Which questions first? How much time to devote to which section? How many rounds of attempts ?

Content: Would there be a significant change in content? Unlikely. It is just that the test creator has more options for framing questions. It is most likely that the IIMs themselves would be very closely associated with the test designing process. So, it makes a lot of sense to get used to the types of questions that we have had in the previous CATs, when the CAT body used to conduct the test. The average level of the paper is likely to stay at par with the earlier CATs.  So, it’s imperative that you test yourself with all types of questions. Make sure that you know the previous CAT papers well.
 
Test environment: The tests are going to be conducted in 99 cities and in not more than four time slots. This could mean a lot to the student as well as for CAT. If done carefully, the test can bring back the credibility of the CAT scores. Many of you would have heard about the fiasco of CAT 2013 and the subsequent litigation. These changes in the test  can bring back credibility to the test and encourage more students to take the test. So be prepared for a more competitive CAT.

There is no option for students to choose time slots for this test. So when to book your slot is no longer  relevant.

For your information, CAT is just about 100 days away. It will be held on November 16.

Compiled by HT Education and Career Launcher


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