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CAT: Beat the 'surprise' element

Bhaskar Dua | September 23, 2005

With barely two months left for the Common Admission Test (it will be held on November 20 this year), your preparation strategy should now focus on giving your best performance during those crucial two hours.

No matter how hard you might have worked, all your effort can go down the drain if you don't strategise well and keep your cool during the exam.

Here are a few tips to help you through the final leg of your preparation:

image iMake the most of mock CATs

Now's the time to get some serious exam practice under simulated conditions.

Give at least one practice exam per week.

Try to make it two, but don't end up giving too many too frequently as that will leave you with very little time for analysis and revision.

ii. Analyse

As a rule of thumb, you should spend twice as much time analysing your performance as you spend giving the exam.

Go through the entire paper again, question by question. Check if you are missing out on too many easy questions. Are you wasting a significant amount of time on the tougher questions? Identify your weak areas. Most important, analyse how you could have attempted the paper better given your level of preparation.

This won't give you immediate results but you will see a marked improvement over a period of time -- your accuracy will go up and you will waste less time on the tougher questions.

iii. Cover up the chinks in your armour

~ You may not have enough time to do a thorough revision, but do go back to your books and strengthen the weak areas you have identified.

~ Practise more and track your improvement in the subsequent mock CATs.

~ If you feel that, despite putting enough effort, you are weak in one area, don't spend too much time or energy on it. 

Everyone has certain weaknesses and it is how well you leverage your strengths that matters most in the end.

iv. Finetune your strategy

Before attempting every mock cat, you must have a well-thought out strategy as to how you are going to allocate time, the order in which you will attempt the sections, etc. Finetune it as you proceed through the mock CATs so you can apply the best possible strategy on D-Day.

v. The 'surprise' element

Every now and then (maybe once in three to four mock CATs), deviate from your strategy and see how you perform.

The basic idea is to make sure you don't get too accustomed to one particular way of attempting the paper and are well-prepared to tackle the surprises CAT throws up each year.

Bhaskar Dua is a second year PGDM student at IIM Calcutta. He is an Electrical Engineer from IIT Madras and scored a CAT percentile of 99.99.


Have you taken the CAT before? Write in and share your tips. Don't forget to add your name, age, the name of your management institute, the year in which you passed out and where you currently work.


Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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