Battle strategies for D-day
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Battle strategies for D-day

Staying focussed and calm, taking special care of your state of mind by getting to the centre on time are just some softer, last-minute strategies for cracking CAT

education Updated: Oct 27, 2010 11:25 IST

The most awaited day has finally arrived. CAT examinations start today. Let’s discuss the last-minute, test-taking strategy for this exam. Keep in mind these points to give your best shot to everything while taking the test.

Avoid discussions
Ever had someone sit next to you in an exam who always asks you about the topics you did and didn’t cover, just before the exam? Suddenly all those topics you thought trivial the night before start seeming so very important. Remember that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? We definitely don’t want that happening before the CAT. Do not discuss what you left out or didn’t focus on. It’s useless and unproductive. Instead, focus on doing your best and fostering self-belief.

Steer clear of tensions
Before any paper, you find test takers huddled together gravely discussing how the test is going to be and end up feeling unprepared. Confidence is crucial for performance. Thus, make it a point to avoid these ‘tension groups’ like the plague. And if you don’t find anyone with a similar, positive approach, you are better off alone.

Be early, be calm
If you’re rushing to the CAT centre with one eye on the road and the other on your watch, don’t be surprised to find your nerves fried by the time you reach the test centre. Be there early, with plenty of time to relax and get used to your surroundings. Find out well in advance where you will be seated, and double check your admit card and stationery supplies. In case you are late, close your eyes for a few moments and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself.

Know what you can carry
Carefully sift through the guidelines in the admit card and make yourself aware of the rules and regulations for CAT. Be aware of what you can and can’t carry in. There have been innumerable cases where students thought they were allowed to carry a certain kind of equipment and had to face a lot of problems at the centre. The CAT is a serious affair and you can expect the invigilators to be strict.

Stay alert throughout
Do not relax till you are done with all the questions and have revised your answers. The war is not over till the last battle is won. Once the bell rings and you start with the paper, do not hold back. Whether you do well, or not, your focus should be to give it your best. Many people from the IIMs that we have spoken to have later confessed that they really thought they had made blunders in their paper. Many a time, it’s just paranoia.

Maintain your centre
Sometimes, we get tense just by watching anxious people. Do not pay heed to any remarks that a fellow test taker might make after seeing the questions.
When you are in the exam hall, keep your eyes on the paper and ears preferably closed.
Stay focused. Consider earplugs, maybe even cotton balls (it worked for me when I took the exam). But be sure to check with your centre in case they have any reservations against that.

Stick with the familiar
Stay focused on what you know. This is what will get you into the IIMs. Your core competence is what will get you ahead of the pack. Besides, the CAT is no time to experiment. Make sure you attempt all the questions you are confident about, disregarding or giving lower priority to even those questions that may appear simple but you are not very familiar with.

There are enough options
The CAT was designed to be too lengthy for an average student to complete. Some may feel pressured thinking about this. But it really is a blessing in disguise, since there are enough questions and variations to provide you with a considerably greater opportunity to fare well. Think what it will be like if there were just four questions, and you knew the answer to only one of them. Get the point?

Focus on your strengths
Keep your eyes peeled for questions that fall in the areas that you are most confident about. Only those questions that you’ve cracked several times before are worth a little extra time. Do not take a chance by letting your mind wander on to any other question, no matter how tempting, until you are sure that you have tackled all the questions that lie within your areas of strength first.

Stay positive
Focusing on negative thoughts during the paper, such as “what if I don’t do well”, is not going to help anyone. You will be losing out on time, energy, and confidence. Instead, keep your thoughts focused on the paper, the question you are tacking at that time, and your time management. Take care to put in your best efforts and let the rest take care of itself.


Points to keep in mind on the day of the test

. Keep all necessary documents with you. Candidates will need to bring their CAT 2009 admit card, voucher, a valid document as proof of SC/ST eligibility (if applicable) and one photo identification to
the test centre. Acceptable forms of photo identification are driver’s license, passport, PAN card, voter ID, college ID, employee identification card, or a notarised affidavit with photo, signature, date
of birth and residential address
. Report at the test centre on time. For example, if you have registered for Session 1 (morning session), check-in will commence at 8 am. Candidates are required to reach the test centre no later than 8:30
am. The test will begin at 10 am and end at 12:30 pm. If you have registered for Session 2 (afternoon session), candidate check-in will commence at 1:30 pm. Candidates are required to reach the test
centre no later than 2 pm. Testing will begin at 3:30 pm and end at 6 pm
. Follow the test tutorial very carefully, because the demo provided by the IIM on their website is indicative at best and does not really give a fair idea of how to take the actual test
. Do organised rough work so that if needed, you are able to refer to it during the course of your online test. Otherwise, you may end up wasting time either searching for the working of a particular
question or reworking the whole thing again

Don’t stress yourself out

Treat D-day as just another day, says the CAT 2009 topper

The CAT 2010 D-day is here and 2.06 lakh aspirants across the country will take the test till November 24, across 20 days in two slots. Aspirants are leaving nothing to chance and are taking many mock tests to measure their performance.

We talked to CAT 2009 topper and MDI Gurgaon student Swagat Sinha, who scored 99.92 percentile in the test. His educational background is engineering and he had seven months work experience when he took the test. Sinha shares his success mantras for cracking CAT 2010.

What is your advice for aspirants taking the test?
It is too late to learn new tricks now. It would be better if aspirants focused on what they already know, revise that and make it sharper.

What should the ideal study plan for test takers be?
One should do a test paper, analyse it and follow it up by revising some topics every day.

How should test takers plan to attempt the paper in terms of the three sections and time management?
The section that the candidates are most comfortable in are the ones he or she should start off with. This would give them confidence to tackle the rest of the paper. With respect to time, they should try to go through all three sections once with at least half-an-hour left to go back to the questions left the first time around.

What should the strategy be while taking the exam to maintain high concentration?
Aspirants should treat the test as just another mock test, which would allow them to function at their highest capability without letting the occasion intimidate them.

What is your take on the computer-based format of the CAT?
I believe it is a step in the right direction, and something that should be retained.

Any other information/suggestion you would like to share with CAT takers?
Just be confident, treat the test as just another day at your prep centre.

Sinha spoke to

I want more accuracy My major concern has been of accuracy in DI and VA where I score most of my marks. What should I do in these last days to score the best in CAT 2010?
– Deepti

To improve accuracy in sections such as DI and VA, I would suggest an analysis of your strong areas through mock tests and previous CAT papers so as to improve results in those areas and also to know the next best area to strengthen.

I want to know how I can achieve peak performance in quantitative analysis and DI-LR on the D-day. I have good grasp over concepts. I want to know which strategy to follow.
– Vikas

A common myth among students is that arithmetic constitutes the biggest chunk of the CAT paper, and students neglect algebra. It can be clearly seen that there are more questions from topics like equations, inequalities, and functions compared to percentages, ratio proportion, profit and loss etc. An added advantage of being strong in algebra is that the most unconventional of techniques like assumption and substitution can be used to crack seemingly impossible questions in no time. Apart from that revise all your concepts in the last week, but do not mug anything in the last two days. The last two days are for relaxing the mind. Read a current affairs book, play some games but do not exhaust yourself. If you are daring enough, you can even hit the cinema.

Please enlighten me on what topics should one focus on in these last few days, especially for the VA section.
– Deep

If we look at the verbal ability section we can easily identify important topics, such as sentence completion, para-jumbles and some grammar-based question sets. What you should always keep in mind is that half of your VA section is going to be RC.

What kind of scores in each section would ensure a call from IIMs and other top 20 B-schools?
– Nisanth

We can’t pinpoint exact scores but normally a score in the range of 35-50 per cent in each section will get you calls from the IIMs.

I would like to know your mantra of keeping oneself calm and free of anxiety while appearing for the exam. What is the key to give one’s best performance? Your true suggestions and viewpoint would be much appreciated.
– Vishal

Go through the last two-three years’ question papers to gauge the trend and the type of questions that feature in the CAT. This way, you will familiarise yourself with the actual scenario. Keep one thing in mind – compared to most mock papers that you have taken, the CAT paper is usually easier. But even a moderate paper will come across as a difficult one to the majority of students because of the element of performance pressure. And the most important point – (you might have heard this a million times, but it actually helps to be reminded of this) keep cool and be confident. So, do anything that works for you to feel more confident about yourself on the day of the test. Past performance, uncompleted syllabus, the fear of a section should all be replaced by one encompassing belief – today is my day!

First Published: Oct 26, 2010 11:31 IST