In this article, Atishaya Jain, a CAT 2019 99.84 percentiler and IIM A convert, has impeccably articulated the mistakes that a CAT aspirant should avoid.
A brief about me:
I am a General/Engineer/Male candidate. While writing CAT, I had 17 months of work experience. I had graduated from IIT Mandi with a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. CAT 2019 was my first attempt, and I managed to score (189.4/300) and 99.84 percentile. I am joining IIM Ahmedabad this year.
My sectional scores were as follows:
Verbal (50.48 score & 95.47 %ile)
DILR (64.61score & 99.86 %ile)
Quant (74.03 score & 99.76 %ile)
Following are some of the mistakes that most aspirants make and we will analyse today how small changes can make a huge difference.
First Improve your accuracy and then increase the number of attempts :
It is not important to solve all the questions. You need to resist yourself from this mentality. You are attempting this test to get selected and not prove your calibre to someone. If you closely look at the above analysis, you can easily see that attempting 20 questions with 90% accuracy gives you a better score than attempting 30 questions with just 60% accuracy. So focus on doing more questions correctly rather than doing more questions. This strategy has two-fold advantages.
- You have to attempt fewer questions. So you get more time per question, and hence you have a higher chance of making most of your attempts correct. While practising mocks, try to use this technique. Target at least 85%+ accuracy.
- Since you are attempting paper without pressure to solve all questions, you tend to have a cool mindset. Trust me, it makes a lot of difference in your performance on D-Day.
A word of caution: Make sure that your accuracy is high. If you don’t have good accuracy and still you solve only 20 questions in a section, you might end up with a very low score.
CAT is the game of time. Improve speed without losing accuracy.
Once you have a grip on the accuracy, try to push your limits by offsetting boundaries. Try to solve a one-hour mock in 55 minutes. Initially, you will make more mistakes as you try to solve the same number of questions in lesser time. But gradually, your speed will improve, and you will develop a habit to stay with the clock, if not ahead of it without losing your accuracy.
Don’t Fall in love with questions:
A lot of aspirants have a habit of sticking to one question for long. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. For example, In the Quant or DILR section, if you can’t crack a question in 1–2 minutes, move on. Let me share my experience with CAT 2019. While attempting the DILR section, I couldn’t solve the 1st passage in 2 minutes, so I moved to the next one and kept doing so until I reached the 6th passage. By the time I cracked my first DILR passage, I had spent 15 minutes and had 28 questions left.
Don’t carry the regret of one bad section to the other:
As I was saying, I had completely messed up my timeline in the DILR section. But rather than panicking, I spent my next 45 minutes to identify and solve seven good passages with more than 90% accuracy, seven minutes for each passage of 3 questions.
Picking the right question to solve is an art and a huge game-changer.
Imagine yourself solving an RC, and having spent 8–9 minutes on trying to solve it and still not able to answer even a single question. Now that’s when the panic kicks in. It means that you have picked an incorrect question as per your strength and weakness.
A pro Tip: After solving a mock, keep a record of the topics whose questions you are still not able to solve even after revision. That is your weakness. And look out for questions you didn’t have to make a lot of effort in solving. That is your strength. On the exam day, select questions or sections that match your strength. There will always be 60% of questions relating to your strength. Solve them first.
A word of Caution: Don’t spend a lot of time selecting the right set of questions. It is instinctive and comes with habit/ practice.
Take good care of yourself and have sound sleep and food. Good Luck.
If you need any guidance from Atishaya, you may connect with him on Quora.
Note: I advise you read the following related articles to get a fair idea about the CAT exam and its preparation.
- How Should I Prepare For The CAT Exam?
- How Should I Prepare VARC For CAT?