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CAT: How to beat DI pressure
RMS Atwal,
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October 10, 2008

According to CAT experts at, a little bit of pressure is good because some people perform better under pressure. The smart act would be never to let pressure prevail on you.

It may be a catch-22 for some of you, but the best option would be to prepare well and give it your best shot. Come what may, you have to go for it and come up tops.

Talking of Data Interpretation (DI), it is more than just deciphering graphs, charts and tables. Though it might be a win-win section for some who have a Math or an Engineering background, it can be a proverbial 'many a slip between the cup and the lip' for many others.

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While we want you to go whole hog, never go overboard; keep your cool, but never 'freeze' your mind. It's always good to go an extra mile. But never overshoot your target. Keep your body and mind in top gear and make sure you don't fall ill due to over-exertion.

Now is the time to shore up on what you learnt in the past for your not-so-distant triumph. It is you and you alone who can pull up your boot-straps. 

While practice is the ultimate mantra, give yourself a break and have a look at some tried, tested and trusted tips, and strategies.

~ Look before you leap:  While top-notch managers are trained to take split-second decisions, as a would-be manager you have to look before you leap. One mistake on your part, like making haste in ignoring instructions while interpreting a graph, can prove deadly. In no time you will find yourself at sea.

~ Make a blueprint:
It is always advisable to take a minute or two to plan what you are going to do. Surely you are aware how important it is to plan out the things. No wonder, the 'mocks' are designed all around this concept to train you to face any eventuality.

~ Practise and analyse: It goes without saying that while practice is very important, more important is analysing what and where you went wrong. As you know, Data Interpretation is all about putting your analytical skills to acid test. Try to do as many graphs and bar-charts as possible during this preparatory phase. That will give you much needed confidence.

~ Back to basics: Your basic math skills should be so strong at this level that you don't have to indulge in lengthy calculations on the day. Everything should be on the tips of your fingers. At least the routine calculations need not be performed in the examination hall.

~ Dig deeper: Ever thought of brainstorming yourself? If not, better start doing now. It helps you organise your thoughts. We don't want you to be like a sprinter who, after making a great start, soon finds himself gasping for breath. Otherwise too, now is the time to keep yourself bodily and mentally fighting fit for the bigger race that CAT is, where there is only a gold medal podium finish. Sorry, no silver, no bronze.

~ Win over your ego: It may be advantage DI for some of you because of your math background. Here we caution you against going overboard and getting over-confident. Try to avoid a situation where you find yourself so deeply immersed in graphs and tables that you completely forget the other sections like Verbal and Quant. Fight the urge to continue indefinitely with the area of your strength. 

~ Cautious optimism: While self-confidence is the key at this stage, a 'know it all' attitude will let you down. The smart act would be to keep your feet firmly grounded. You may be sure of a berth in IIMs but play cool, for the CAT is the test of uncertainties. You never know what is in store for you this time. At least, that's what the experience tells.

As you are inching closer to D-day, we would like to caution you against being complacent. So, watch out against

And keep in mind that...

So, the smart act at this stage would be not to totter under pressure. Convert your weaknesses into strengths and strengths into your biggest armour for the 'war of nerves' next month.

Top Careers & You has been preparing national and international candidates for high-end tests viz. CAT, XAT, JMET, SNAP, CET, FMS, IIFT and GMAT since 1998. Visit to gain FREE access to thousands of these tests.

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