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Focus: CAT 2008

Arkss Srinivas, director of T.I.M.E, offers last-minute tips to crack CAT this year.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2008 11:38 IST

CAT 2008 notification is out. And the countdown has begun. There are a lot of questions that will come up now. To start with, should I write this year or the next? If you have decided to appear for CAT this year, are you prepared for the exam in November? Is the time sufficient to brush up for CAT?

CAT is not another degree exam where you slog for the last few days or even few weeks and hope to get through to the best of the B- schools. You probably will be up against more than 2 lakh students vying for the coveted seats in the IIMs and other top B-schools. For the last 9 years, the CAT has been a three-section paper. The three sections are Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation&Logic and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension. However, the pattern of the exam has undergone a sea change in the last 9 years even with the same number of sections.

75 Days To Go…
Improve your ability of solving in each and every area. Analyse and improve your test taking technique in AIMCATs

The period from now to the end of August is probably the most crucial. Your preparation during August will be a launch pad for the next 75 days in the run-up to CAT.

Objective: To know every area thoroughly as well as know all types of questions that appears in each area. In DI, you should be thorough with every type of representation. There are about 6 to 7 types of DI sets possible. Also, there are standard types of questions like percentage increase, percentage share, counting etc., as well as questions, which are specific to a data representation. In Quantitative Ability, you should go through the 15 to 20 chapters that are important for the CAT exam giving special importance to Numbers, Number Theory, Geometry and Mensuration and Algebra.

By the end of August, you should know every formula, concept in each chapter of quant as well as the steps involved in solving these questions. You should have solved each type of question at least once, ideally twice. It may not be important as yet to solve the problem in less time. The focus therefore is entirely on getting to know the variety of questions and develop the ability to solve them. In an area like Reading Comprehension, you should have read at least about 100 articles (at least two a day) in as many spheres as possible. In CAT, the passages can come from Psychology, Philosophy, Medicine, Economics, Sociology, Art, Culture and Religion, Literature, Politics and all other general topics. As we can see, there are about 10 subjects from which the RC passages can be given.

Hence, you should read at least ten articles from each of these subjects/areas by the end of August. Likewise, the other areas in CAT — Reasoning, Verbal ability and Data Sufficiency have to be taken up so that you are thorough at the end of August at least in knowing the types of questions which come in CAT as well as the methods to solve them.

Objective: Know ways of solving each type of question in the shortest possible time. If you are able to do what is required by the end of August successfully, what comes along with this is confidence. By nowlet's say, you have gained the ability to solve all types of questions. At least, you are in a position to identify every question and know the possible way to solve the same. Yet, the time taken for this could be very high making it impossible for you to see all questions given in the CAT paper in the given time and hence every chance of missing on easy questions.

You have to therefore spend time analysing the same exercises that you have already solved, and redo the same ones. But this time, you should look at shortcuts as well as intuitive methods of solving the questions. The methods could have been taught in a coaching class too, but you will start understanding and appreciating them only when you have known the traditional method of solving.

Solve a number of exercises, aswell as take individual area tests to test your ability to grasp the fundamentals in the given time. Analyse every test paper that you take thoroughly. You will start seeing that there are always better and easier ways of solving a question than you have followed thus far. Do a complete revision of all the areas while taking an All India MOCK CAT (AIMCAT) every Sunday. This will ensure that you keep improving in each area and you can also check your progress through the results of your AIMCATs.

The Final Lap (Oct 1 — Nov 15)
Objective: Get the best results from your preparation This is the last leg of your preparation. Here, the concentration should be on maximizing the scores. You will have to take two full CAT level tests in each week, one on every Sunday and one on aWednesday or a Thursday. The focus in the initial one monthwould be on experimentation. You adopt various strategies in each of the AIMCATs that you write and check which strategy is giving you the best results.

It is possible that despite a wrong strategy you may have got good marks or despite a correct strategy you may have got fewer marks. To ensure that you don't fall pray to such mistakes, check each strategy for at least 2 papers. If one strategy seems to be working, use the same for two more papers so that you are in a position to finalize the strategy you are going to use on the final day of CAT. Flexibility has to be kept to account for changes in the pattern of the exam. This way, the 40 days would be primarily used to give you the maximum returns on your preparation. Gear up for the battle ahead!

(Courtesy: T.I.M.E. Triumphant Institute of Management Education)