Over the years, the competition to crack the Common Admission Test has increased. This is because CAT is your passport to admission to a good B-School.
In 2005 there were 1.75 lakh applicants and more than 80 participating institutes. In the face of such competition, every CAT aspirant should leave no stone unturned in his or her preparation. Apart from developing fundamental knowledge and sharpening skills through module tests, you need a full-fledged testing experience in a simulated environment.
The MOCK CAT provides just that. It's a test of two-and-a-half hour duration, which covers all the topics, from which questions are likely to be asked in CAT. It also tries to follow similar patterns, and poses similar levels of questions to the students. MOCK CATs simulate the actual experience as far as possible and are conducted by training institutes across the country.
Aspirants need to answer in Optical Mark Reader sheets just like CAT. These OMR sheets are then scanned and results are compiled in the back-end. Students get the results within one or two days on the web sites of preparatory service providers. In a nutshell, a MOCK CAT is an indispensable experience in the preparation for CAT and no aspirant should miss it.
How do I make the best use of it?
Before taking a MOCK Test, you should be thorough with your fundamental knowledge of mathematics, English grammar and verbal logic. Do a warm up by taking a series of module tests of shorter duration.
Then during the series of MOCK tests, you should experiment with various test taking strategies and finally come up with your own strategy. MOCK tests also provide an opportunity to test your resilience, because sitting continuously for two and a half hours and keeping your concentration level at its peak, is a challenge in itself.
You should take the result of a MOCK Test very seriously. Most of the preparatory institutes, give an all India percentile rank, similar to CAT, and it points out exactly where an individual aspirant stands vis-a-vis his or her competitors across the country.
Most of the national level service providers in MBA preparatory education provide a detailed analysis in their web site. These analyses are exhaustive and very helpful for the students. But aspirants should use this feedback and analyses for their improvement.
When are they conducted?
MOCK test series, provided by various service providers in MBA entrance test preparation industry, typically begins in the month of July-August and continues till CAT, ie just before the third Sunday of November.
For other non-CAT entrance examinations like XAT, MOCK tests are generally conducted after CAT.
How expensive is it?
You can enroll in a MOCK Test Series programme at a price ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 4,000 depending upon the number of MOCK Tests and whether other facilities like web-analysis, all India ranking etc are available or not.
But the price should not be the primary consideration. Before enrolling in a programme, an aspirant should be sure of the quality of the tests and availability of other facilities.
Gautam Puri is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and managing director of Career Launcher (CAT training institute).