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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, www.TCYonline.com , the largest testing and benchmarking platform. He can be reached at kamal@TCYonline.com. TCYonline features a unique benchmarking tool called TCY Analytics which is eventually becoming the de-facto method of test preparation.
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.
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
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.
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:
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:
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh