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This article was first published 13 years ago

Why you need Benchmarking and Analytics for CAT prep

Last updated on: December 23, 2010 14:33 IST

Image: Competition is not as much about how smart you are as it in about how smart you are in comparison with other aspirants
Kamal Wadhera

While preparing for CAT it is crucial to know where you stand with the CAT aspirants from across the country. Benchmarking and Analytics help you to understand just that.

Rajan started preparing for CAT from his second year of B Tech. By the time he reached his final year, he found that an early start gave him a valuable edge over others who started their preparation in third year or final year. He was confident that he would get through.

The D-day came and he attempted very well as he usually did and no wonder he found it hard to digest when the result card declared that he had scored 85 percentile.

Where did Rajan go wrong? Why couldn't he get through IIMs even though he was intelligent and worked hard towards his goal?

Many students share Rajan's problem. They fail to understand that competition is not about how smart you are but where you stand in a crowd.

What Rajan's preparation lacked was benchmarking and marginal day-by-day improvements. Rajan knew the areas he was good at, but he didn't know when, where and how much input he required in each aspect. He knew he was good among his friends but failed to realise that his competitors were spread throughout the nation.

Do you want to be another Rajan? If not, read along carefully.

What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking in test prep refers to monitoring your competitors and understanding your relative position among the test takers. This helps you in understanding your current level of preparation and what additional effort is required to improve your competitive positioning. Benchmarking should always be followed by an action plan and a disciplined effort to focus on the identified areas of improvement instead of re-visiting the little we know. In other words, benchmarking ensures "doing right instead of doing more".

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Kamal Wadhera is the Founder and CEO, , the largest testing and benchmarking platform. He can be reached at TCYonline features a unique benchmarking tool called TCY Analytics which is eventually becoming the de-facto method of test preparation.

Types of Benchmarking

Image: It is crucial to know where you stand in a diverse group while preparing for CAT

Benchmarking can be broadly classified into three categories

Benchmarking with self

This strategy is particularly helpful in qualifying exams and for improvement in a particular subject area. Here the focus is not competition but self-improvement.

The aim is to continuously identify and remove weak areas to reach the desired level of perfection. After reviewing every test, you analyse in detail, the sub skills where your score is low. You work on it and take subsequent tests to see how your score has improved.

You may also take a test of the sub-sub-sub skills where you repeatedly scored low. Therefore, the improvement happens in progressive iterations until a desired level of scoring is achieved.

Benchmarking in a group

Here a student identifies a small group against which he would like to benchmark himself. Usually this group would be of a similar profile as the candidate himself. The candidate first excels in this group and then chooses larger groups subsequently.

Benchmarking nationally

Students who are appearing in National competitive exams like CAT, IIT, PMT, GATE, UPSC etc, adopt this strategy. Here a test taker compares himself with his peers throughout the nation and then would focus on strategically maximising his overall score by working on his weaknesses and reinforcing his strengths.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

Ways of Benchmarking

Image: Mock tests give you a fair idea of how prepared you
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

Paper-pencil based mock tests

This can be a very good tool to assess one's competitive positioning in the nation after completion of one's preparation. The nature of the assessment being summative, this is kind of a final judgment on one's preparation rather than a tool of improvement. However, is the preparation for any competitive exam ever complete?

The test score is reported through an aggregate score and a percentile rank leaving little scope for any analyses of topics for areas of improvement. Another problem with this tool is that since most of the students who appear in these tests are from the conducting institute, the data is not true representative and any inference drawn is biased.

Online mock tests

These tests present a more detailed analysis of test performance. Therefore, the student can easily see the areas where he needs to improve. However, these tests stop at that, and seldom are capable of providing the user the tools and means for the improvement, which are very important.

Since a user would require tests in many different formats for further improvement. Therefore, these tests are a one time affair and the user is left to find resources for improvement himself.

Another major issue with these tools is that the scores and analyses are only reliable and statistically valid if these enjoy the patronage of a significant number of students.

Test preparation without Analytics is incomplete

Image: Analytics help you asses yourself better so you can excel

There are very few analytic engines worth their salt in the online space. A sophisticated online testing platform with high traffic and capability to give scientific analytics can give a learner a number of advantages like:

  • Flexibility to use any type of benchmarking refered to earlier.
  • A large student base for considerable statistical advantage
  • Automated inputs on improvement ideas and action points
  • Generates tests to specifically improve identified weak areas
  • Can pick suggested video tutorials based on your test performance
  • You can benefit from the tremendous knowledge gathering constantly around each question through student and author discussions.

What is Analytics

Question attempts where each question has data of each candidate who attempted it, around parameters like time taken on question, gender, age, city, stream (B.Com, B.Tech, BBA etc)

This data gives students:

Comparative benchmarking:

  • National benchmarking: Get national ranking and percentiles for each test
  • Compare with top ten : Compare your performance with national toppers
  • Compare with Friends/Groups/Classmates: Compare your performance with your chosen friends
  • Customised Comparison: Get city-wise, state-wise, stream-wise comparison reports.

Recommendations like:

  • Knowing your weak areas and get recommended tests to overcome these weaknesses

Self Assessment:

  • Overall Performance till date:  Know your performance trends test by test
  • Topic-wise Analysis till date: Get a cumulative topic wise analysis of your tests.
  • View Overall Analysis:  Know which questions you have marked correct/wrong.
  • Question-by-Question Analysis: Get the answer of each question and discuss with others.
  • Topic-wise Analysis: Know your sub-sub-sub skills to improve faster and your BEST & WEAK topics in the test.
  • Difficulty-wise Analysis: Know how well you performed on difficult questions.
  • Your Time Management: Know the areas where you spend more (or less) based on average time per question

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh