I interact with many aspirants these days. Since we are in the last leg of the CAT 2020 preparation, aspirants are very much into taking the mocks. Having said that, I get to hear the following statements almost every day.
- I have prepared all the topics, but I fail to solve the questions from those topics in mocks.
- I feel so much pressure in mocks that I can’t even answer the easy questions.
It happened with me also. It might be happening with you too.
Why does this happen?
From my experience, there are two reasons for these problems.
- You have mostly solved questions topic wise, and hence your mind has been trained to solve problems from one topic only at a time. When random problems from different topics are thrown at you, you fail to quickly identify the concept that should be applied to solve that question.
- Your question selection is wrong, and so you manage to solve very fewer questions in the first half of the section. It gets you under pressure, and so you fail to answer even the easy questions.
How can you get around this problem?
Practise Mixed Sums:
Let me share an anecdote to bring home the importance of practising mixed sums.
My mother is learning driving Scotty these days. Every day I accompany her for driving. We go to an empty ground, I sit behind her, and she drives. Now, after a few days, she has become comfortable driving on that ground. It is because she drives on the same empty ground every day. However, one day, a few children were playing on the field. So I asked her to drive at the periphery of the ground. She agreed and started driving. But she was not comfortable that day because every now and then, some children would cross her way, and she is not used to driving in traffic. Her brain is not trained to handle the traffic yet. This is why she feels uncomfortable.
In the same way, when you practise the sums topic wise, your mind gets used to using the same set of concepts in every question, but in mocks, questions come from a variety of concepts (similar to the various children crossing my mother’s way), and you start feeling uncomfortable.
So, practising mixed sums from various topics simultaneously will help you stretch your brain muscles, and that will help you handle questions from different topics in the mock exam. You will be able to think about different concepts at the same time, and that will help you solve problems in mocks. It might feel a little uncomfortable in the beginning but you will get used to it in some time.
I hope you got my point.
For practising mixed sums, you can resort to the peer-learning groups. In such groups, aspirants post their doubt questions from various topics. You can solve those and help them as well as yourself. Based on many requests, I have created a peer-learning group. You can join it and start engaging.
Learn the art of leaving questions:
It is very important. In the CAT exam, the strategy is as important as knowledge. You need to act smart and manifest the presence of mind in the mocks. Don’t fall in love with questions. Pick the easy questions first and solve them.
Let me give you an example.
In the Quant section, you started with solving the first question. In the first question itself, you got stuck. You feel you can solve it, and so, you didn’t move on. You spent 4 minutes on that question and solved it eventually. It happened a few more times in the first half an hour. At the end of the first half of the section, you are at the 9th question. Won’t you panic then? You would. You get under pressure, and so eventually, you solve 18 problems with an accuracy of 66.67%. You end up scoring 30 marks. Upon analyzing the section, you manage to answer 27 questions correctly. Why?
- No time limits.
- You realize you left easy questions and attempted the tough questions, and among those also, you got some answers wrong.
Consider another aspirant.
In the same quant section, he spent 5 minutes in going through all the 34 questions, noted down the question number of very easy questions. After five minutes, he found eight questions very easy. He solved them in the next 10 minutes. So, in 15 minutes, he could answer eight questions. He continued this way and attempted 27 questions with around 90% accuracy. He scored around 70 marks.
I hope you realize how a little change in strategy can improve your score significantly. So, learn the art of leaving the tough questions, and start picking easy questions first in the mock exams. It will help you keep any pressure at bay, which, in turn, will help you concentrate more on the questions, and this will improve your overall performance.
My final words:
If you are scoring around 80 marks in the mocks, you need to work on your strategy more than your knowledge. The problem is more with your strategy and approach to the mock than your knowledge. Fix it.
Work on the process, the results will follow.
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