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Ace CAT in 35 days

ARKS Srinivas | October 17, 2005

Whatever your preparation till date for the Common Admission Test 2005, the last five weeks are critical if you want to ace it.

In these last few weeks, you must aim to maximise your performance.

There will be occasions when you do well in the Mock CATs and there will be times when your score plummets to an all time low.

Barring these exceptions, your score will normally be in the +/ -5 range. If you have been getting a score of, say, 50 marks on an average, then your scores on any day can range from 45 to 55 marks. Now, that is a huge range.

In CAT 2004, a candidate with 55 marks would have got a percentile of around 99.3+ and would have got three to four calls from the IIMs. A score of 45 would have fetched a percentile of just 96+ and no calls.

Such a huge variation is neither desirable nor acceptable. Use the next 35 days to ensure you stay on the plus side of the five-mark figure.

Attitude versus aptitude

As you near D-day, you must approach your preparation with a positive attitude and a concrete plan of action.

Self-belief, and not your aptitude, is the key to getting you those additional marks. You must banish all self-doubt from your system.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Your first step is to understand where you get your marks and where you consistently falter in the Mock CATs.

For instance, in Quantitative Analysis, let us assume you have been able to consistently attempt questions in Simple Equations, Ratios, Percentages, Profit and Loss, Averages Mixtures, Numbers and Number Theory, but you have not been doing so well (or are nervous about) Geometry.

Without much ado, you need to go through your basic Geometry books again and solve every question in every exercise.

In addition, you should pick up the Geometry questions in all the Mock CATs you have written till now and solve them again. This entire exercise for a particular chapter (especially one like Geometry) may take about six to 10 hours, so spread it out over four to five days.

By the time you go for the next All India Mock CAT on Sunday, Geometry should be one of your strong points. This will ensure that, in your next mock test, you will be in a position to attempt three to five more questions in this new area and, consequently, get about three marks more.

Thinkk of how much t his will boost your self-confidence.

Considering there are about five weeks to go, you still have the opportunity to revise, thoroughly at that, at least five weak areas in each of the sections. That would mean a clear improvement of five marks per section or, at least, an overall improvement of 10 marks in all the possible three sections of Quant, DI and Logic, and Verbal and RC.

Should I continue to prepare for Reading Comprehension?

Yes! In fact, you will notice that if you work on an area/ topic for a week and then take the Mock CAT, your score in that area would have improved. This means it is imperative for you to continue practising RC.

What about Data Interpretation?

At this stage, you need to re-look at all the basic handouts and exercises you have solved and solve them all over again.

You will find you have strengths and weaknesses in this area too.

If pie charts are a problem, take 10 sets of pie charts and solve them without setting a time limit. The idea is to ensure you become familiar with the kind of questions that can come with this type of a graph. After this, any time you write a mock test and there is a pie chart in it, you will score a minimum of two marks -- or even four to five marks -- per set. The additional practice you have done has ensured this topic is now a strength.

In fact, the way to go about each of these areas as well as individual topics is to follow a similar pattern (as has been explained for Quant or RC).

The final countdown

If a certain area is still a problem at this stage, it is because you have done nothing to change the situation.

Thirty-five days are more than sufficient, provided you have done some groundwork in all the areas, to be able to take you to the IIMs. Just continue working systematically and consistently over the next few weeks.


  • Cat 2004
  • ARKS Srinivas, director, TIME, Mumbai -- a training institute that helps aspiring CAT candidates prepare for the exam -- has a PGDCM from IIM Calcutta. 

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