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50 days to CAT: It's about speed and accuracy
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September 11, 2008

The number of months you had till CAT has now turned into a matter of weeks and a number of days. The date is November 16. So exactly how many days are you left with?

Considering Sundays for taking mock CATs, and a few other days spent celebrating festivities, you have approximately 50 more days (and nights) with you.

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And to make the most of these 50 days, most of you would have devised a plan of action and would be adhering to a strict regimen.

So what constitutes your 'must do' list? Let's ask a few fundamental questions here.

~ Should you keep polishing your areas of strength and keep areas for improvement at bay? For example: What should one do if he is already good at arithmetic, algebra, jumbled sentences, narrative passages, pie-charts, histograms and trend analysis? Should s/he keep improving on the same and leave out the other not-so-very-strong areas?

~ What if that person is not very good at geometry, probability, vocabulary, fact-inference-judgements, abstract passages, numerical puzzles and caselets? Is it pragmatic to leave out these areas as there is hardly any time left to work from square one?

The questions posed above are not merely a matter of yes or no, and require careful analysis. One needs to look at the attempts and scores history of the past mock CATs and keep working on improving them after every successive mock CAT. One should spend an equal amount of time, if not more, on post-test analysis. An effective way to do it is to keep the two most important aspects of the test in mind -- speed and accuracy.

Let's say you have attempted eight mock CATs till date and this is how your consolidated speed and accuracy table at the end of all eight tests looks:













Your areas of High Accuracy

Quadrant IV is your area of High speed-High Accuracy:
Keep strengthening all the areas in it to ensure they remain so till the day of CAT.

Quadrant III is your area of Low speed-High Accuracy:
Here you get the answer right after spending considerable time and energy on it. One implication is that you are comfortable with this question type but not using the short-cuts effectively. Second possibility is that you are taking it as a personal challenge to solve this question type and won't rest till you get it right -- a great killer instinct which needs to be channelised. Identify the aspects that slow you down. Work on them with respect to specific questions and try and move as many question types as you can to quadrant IV.

Your areas of Low Accuracy

Quadrant I is your area of High Speed- Low Accuracy:
Identify the reasons why you can solve these question types fast, but get them wrong most of the time. It may be because you are hurrying through the question without taking into account a simple but often overlooked idea. Or maybe you are not truly comfortable with the question types, but find them to be easy looking at the question structure only, which tempts you to attempt them. Whatever the case may be, identify the cause, work on it and try and move as may question types from quadrant I to quadrant IV.

Quadrant II is an area of real concern with Low Speed- Low Accuracy:
It implies that you are using precious exam time on questions which don't earn you any scores. In fact, they reduce your overall scores due to negative marking. The next 12-18 days should be the only time you spend on the questions falling in this quadrant. Try and move as many questions to quadrant III, and later to quadrant IV (by November 5).

After two or three weeks of dedicated efforts, if you find that there is hardly any improvement in some question types lying in this quadrant, it would be wise to leave them out completely and concentrate on questions lying in quadrant I, III and IV.

Some dos of the speed-accuracy model
~ Check what you are doing during the test.
~ Prepare a new 2 x 2 matrix after every successive mock CAT.
~ Spend time (at least two or three hours) preparing the matrix, filling in the topics in the quadrants and evaluating what went right and wrong in the test (and why).
~ Keep all the previous speed-accuracy matrices in front of you while evaluating the current one. This will help you develop a trend analysis of your attempts and scores.

The speed-accuracy model will help you specifically in the following ways:
A. It will give you a bird's eye view of your level of preparation and your improvement at any given time.
B. With careful analysis, quadrant IV will become bigger, accommodating more topics from quadrant I and III after every successive mock CAT.
C. It will help you freeze your question attempt strategy and thereby on your overall paper attempt strategy for November 16. is a site for personalised online preparation for competitive entrance exams like CAT, FMS, XAT, etc. also provides free Mock CATs, CAT question of the Day, Daily CAT word list, logical puzzles and Interactive Learning Games.


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