September 19, 2008
We take a look at some section-wise tips for each of the three sections of CAT:
Quantitative Analysis (QA):
- There are three major areas of critical importance in the quant section: Algebra, Number systems and Geometry. Take one section at a time and revise it thoroughly. Revise all the fundamental concepts and identify and attempt as many types of questions as possible, in the given topic. This helps to build focus and understand the concepts of each section in detail.
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- Whenever you have taken a mock test, analyse it thoroughly. While revising your intention should be to identify alternative methods of solving the same question. Also analyse whether your choice of questions was appropriate or not.
- Do not harp too much on the topics which you are not comfortable with even after repeated revisions and tests. They better are left for now. In any case you are not going to attempt all the questions in any section.
- Do make it a point to go through the last few years' CAT papers. Analyse on the trends and the kind of questions. So there may be topics like similarity of triangles which come more or less each year.
- Avoid silly mistakes: Take a note of all different kind of mistakes you committed in the previous mock Test. Things like -- Calculation Error (12+13=35), Unnecessarily spending a lot of time in one particular question, Didn't scan the paper/ Section before started solving it etc. Do make it a point not to commit these mistakes.
Verbal Ability (VA):
With the number of questions in this section coming down to 25 in 2006 and 2007, the focus is no longer on speed as on comprehension and accuracy.
- Tackle the two groups in this section, namely English Usage (ie sentence correction, paragraph completion, Para jumbles, etc) and Reading Comprehension separately.
- Next, choose the right questions (a mix of many easy questions with some difficult questions which are unavoidable would be appropriate) and attempt these questions. As an example, if the cut off (for selection into at least one IIM) for the Verbal Ability Section in 2007 was 25, analysis shows that attempting 13 out of the 25 questions in this section would have been enough. Attempting 13 (ie 50 per cent of the total number of questions in the section) would mean attempting 52 marks. To clear 25 marks one would have needed to get 8 correct (32 per cent of the total in the section) and could have afforded to get up to five wrong.
- Use your knowledge of common idioms and grammar. Read sentences and try to identify if they read right or not often using your knowledge of everyday spoken English. This should go a long way in helping you tackle the easier questions in this section that you choose.
- Use and apply logic to see what comes first and what comes later (Para jumbles) and which option among the paragraph completion answer choices ties in best with the main topic of the passage (paragraph completion).
- For the reading comprehension section, choose the easier of the passages (2 out of 3 or 3 out of 4) based on your comprehension and quickly grasp the main idea of each passage.
- Attempt those questions where the answer seems to be easily available in the passage (more factual type and less inferential type), often related to key sentences.
- Re-read the relevant portions in the passage carefully and choose the option that ties in best with the relevant portion.
Logical Reasoning (LR) & Data Interpretation (DI)
- DI is generally tough and students know that. Only a few can crack all the sets. So at the very beginning you should know that you need to clear the cutoff.
- If you are not aiming IIMs and a few other institutes, you should not worry about cutoffs and. should maximize the score in whatever section you are comfortable in.
- Attempting these sections is like a typical one-day international match (or a Twenty20 [Images] match!). You need to choose the right bowler to target
- The division of time that you allow will be crucial. Ideally for DI it should be slightly less than one-third of the total time, definitely not more than one-third time. Allow more time to English or quant so that you can maximize your score according to your ability and try to clear the cutoff for LR&DI.
- The key in DI lies in choosing the set. Actually, no paper is tough, no paper is easy. There is a very clever mix of easy, difficult and tough questions in all CAT papers. Devote 10 minutes without bothering yourself, think of it as an investment, and read the sets thoroughly. If you do not invest those five to 10 minutes, actually you have no basis of a choice. If you choose at random, luck factor comes in!
- Do not get sentimental about any particular set/question. Being a fighter is good but there is no point fighting a battle you are sure to lose. Try to be practical rather than foolhardy. Move on in case you are stuck up on a question for much time.
- Be ready for surprises. That means new sorts of questions and sets. Something that may look like alien may not actually be incomprehensible. In fact many a times the new types of sets a re a shade easier than the questions you are well accustomed to. Be a calculated risk taker but do not totally come out of your comfort zone.
The writer is Director (R&D), Career Launcher India Ltd.