This article by Gejo is a must read and the video a must view for anyone who is serious about CAT and other MBA entrances. It beautifully illustrates how a systematic and a planned test taking process can help you maximse on your strengths and to minimise on your weakness.
Gejo clearly demonstrate that you need not be excellent in all areas to do well in MBA entrances. For those of you who have gone through the my videos of Mock CAT 7, 10 and 13 will find similarities in the way we take the paper. For example both of first first plan (scan the paper, allocate time limits etc) and then implement (attempt), we avoid questions types that we are not comfortable with, use SQC techniques, are usually quick in leaving question, continuously assess our performance and also make mistakes while attempting the paper. While there are similarities in our approach there are significant dissimilarities in our choice of questions for example, while I prefer Arithmetic Gejo avoids it.
Click here to view video recording of Gejo’s Mock CAT 13 attempt, it is also available in your SIS and stay tuned in for similar videos (and write ups ) by other CL faculty.
Over to Gejo.
The three hats perspective
I don’t know how long-posts are received. Normally, people don’t read long-posts. But then, for you, this post may well be the game changer. Yes, this could be a false claim. Problem is – you won’t know whether it is actually worth a read unless you actually read it! So, don’t be lazy… Read on.
When I take a test, there are voices in my head which talks to each other. Yes, you heard it right! Before you make any unwarranted conclusion, let me clarify the same.
I believe that one needs to wear three different ‘hats’ while taking the CAT.
|HAT||Key Results Area|
|CEO Hat||Responsible for the overall management of the test
|Area Manager Hat||5 Area Managers – QA, DI, LR, RC, EU who is responsible for maximizing score in the respective area
|Worker Hat||Responsible for getting the answer correct.
There is one thing that is crucial: THE WORKER HAT IS THE KEY! The marks are going to come from the questions you solve.
However, only a ‘worker’ cannot get you the final score. You need to wear the other hats.
I keep changing the hats during the test. Once the mock is done, I will analyze to figure out which cap didn’t do its job really well – Which were my weak caps?
This helps me to fine-tune my strategy for the next mock.
Let’s now look at Proc-Mock-13 in action: I recorded my attempt and I went through the recording again and saw what transpired. The following is that story.
First things first – I need to set some targets.
|QA + DI||30+||90+%||80 minutes|
|VA + LR||30+||90+%||80 minutes|
10 minutes – buffer
I went through the complete paper and got an idea of the break-up of the areas.
Section 1: DI – 5 sets with 17 Questions, QA – 33 Questions
Section 2: LR – 3 sets with 10 Questions, RC – 4 passages with 20 questions, EU – 20 Questions.
CEO HAT Decisions made:
- Allocated 80 minutes to each section and decided to use the last 10 minutes based on how the test goes.
- Decided to start with Section 2. This was in fact pre-decided – logic is simple: there are two big chunks (RC & LR) in Section 2. I do not want to take that pressure of trying to solve RC and LR in the second half of the test.
- The order in which in I will attack Section 2 was clear – EU first, then LR (sets that I am sure of), then RC. If there is any time left (which is almost never the case), I will decide based on the situation.
Plan Given by CEO for Section 2:
|First 25 Minutes||Next 20 Minutes||Next 35 Minutes|
|Try and attempt all EU questions||Solve LR||Solve RC|
|Around 15 Questions||Around 8 Questions||Around 10 Questions|
[This was based on this specific test since there were 3 LRs and 4 RCs.]
I follow a simple rule in VA – “I will never mark if I am sure that I am not sure.”
25 Minutes | 15 Questions
This is always a very ambitious plan! A wishful thinking most of the time – but then, my CEO gives pretty high targets. CEO normally plans a buffer of 5 minutes.
It took me close to 33 minutes to get pass this area. Though, now I feel that I took a little extra time in some of the questions. I could have saved 4-5 minutes. That could in turn mean one more LR or RC set – that’s 3 more questions. Will it be a costly? Only time will tell.
Here’s the summary of EU:
I started from Q51 and moved on to Q100 in that order and, picked and solved EU questions. Following is the summary:
There were no questions on Grammar – which was the real reason as to why my attempt was high in EU. Almost always, I am not very sure of the answer when it comes to questions based on Grammar.
- Qns 51, 52, 53, 80, 81 were on Sentence Completion.
These 5 questions did have pretty tough words – maelstrom, plebeian, esoteric, soporific, imprimatur, insidious, sedulous.
However, using ‘guess – elimination’ technique coupled with some knowledge, I could knock off 4 questions out of 5 ( I left Qn 81)
- Qns 95, 96, 100 – Homophones
Though in many cases I was not sure of the meaning of the words, I could manage it with less trouble. Key: eliminating options.
- Qns 54 & 55 were Para-jumbles | Qns 96 & 97 Para-Jumbles (Odd man out)
I felt that these questions were manageable except for one question – on Mohiniattam. I just couldn’t eliminate. By using basic application of ‘connection – elimination’ technique I could solve the other questions. I solved 3 out of 4.
- Qns 56, 61, 82, 83, 84, 93, 94 – Summary/Critical Reasoning Questions/Para Completion
While, I normally enjoy solving these questions and answer them without much sweat, I found 3 questions to be speed breakers (56, 82, 83). I let 1 go as I was not really sure of the answer: Q 56 – (Fact is, even after looking at the answers, I am still not sure of that one!)
All in all, thanks to no Grammar, I could solve all questions except 3.
SUMMARY – EU
|25 Minutes | 15 Questions||33 Minutes | 16 Questions|
Since the allotted time was overshot, time for CEO HAT
- Time was over shot but the number of attempts was not bad.
- The other areas now have less time – Will need to manage within 80 minutes
- Need to make adjustments to handle the rest in 45 minutes
- RC requires at least 30-35 minutes. Plus, the 5 questions per RC may work to the advantage.
- Instead of trying for all 3 sets of LR, try and solve 2: that gives around 7-8 minutes per LR, which is little stiff but manageable.
|Next 15 Minutes||Next 35 Minutes|
|Solve 2 LR sets||Solve RC|
|Attempt all 6 questions||10+ Questions|
I always pity the LR Area Manager. He has the toughest task – (1) You have to be sure which sets you want to solve and (2) You can’t be sure of any set unless you solve them! – A typical ‘chicken-egg’ story.
There were 3 sets:
Set 1 – 57 to 60. This set was a scheduling problem
Set 2 – 67 to 70. Questions on distribution
Set 3 – 90 to 92. Minesweeper game
[This, I had got an idea in the first 35 minutes itself. While I was doing the EU questions, I paused whenever there was an LR set to have a quick look and made a note of the above separately on the sheet of paper]
One, I was really happy to see the Minesweeper game. I knew the rules; I had played the game on my computer. I was sure I will attempt Set 3.
Between Set 1 and Set 2, I decided to go for Set 2 since the data didn’t seem too complicated.
I was sure that I will overshoot the time; however DI Set 2 came as a pleasant surprise.
Set 2: I solved by SQC technique – in fact, I got all three answers without much effort. Became a little brave, applied SQC, got all 3! What was great was that it took me just 5 minutes to solve this set.
Set 3: I first ‘played the game’ and filled in the boxes. Then I solved the first two questions pretty easily. I left the last one. However, looking back, I could have solved that one too. I misread the question, got confused and left it. It was a bad miss.
Net, out of the 10 questions presented, I solved 5. Not really proud of this. But on the brighter side, the really good news was that in 12 minutes I could finish off 2 LRs – this is one of those rare occurrences.
SUMMARY – LR
|15 Minutes | 6 Questions||12 Minutes | 5 Questions|
- So far in this section, around 45 minutes was spent and knocked off 22 questions. Not bad!
- Continue as planned – RC time! All the best…
There is an old saying – “If your RC is good, life is good!” [No, it is a sentence that I cooked up. But the fact is: it is true.]
There were 5 questions in each of the 4 RC passages – a gift, I thought.
I had made a note of the following while doing EU:
|Qns||Topic||Size||No. of Questions|
|62 – 66||Literature||Short||5|
|70 – 74||Something about teaching||Long||5|
|75 – 79||Something about innovations & imitations in an organization||Not short.. not long||5|
|85 – 89||Something about science.. looked tough to read||Long||5|
Since I had 35 minutes with me, I felt I might not be able to solve all the RCs.
- Targeted to solve 3.
- Decided to leave out the last passage. [This was done without any idea as to whether that was the best decision! But then, decisions need to be taken.]
This is what I do for every passage:
Read the passage completely à Gather the main idea à Understand author’s position on the topic à Solve the questions à If the question can be answered using the things that I gathered, solve them à If not, go back to the passage and solve à If I am confused, I will leave the question unanswered.
Passage 1: 62 – 66: Montana Scalp
I solved four questions out of the five questions – It took me about 10 minutes with this passage. For almost all the questions, I had to go back and hunt information from the passage.
Reading & Comprehending the Passage: 5 minutes
Solving the Questions: 5 Minutes
Total 10 Minutes
Attempt: 4 Questions
Passage 2: 70 to 74: ‘Space’ while teaching
Though this passage was lengthy, it was a fun read. In fact, I did enjoy reading this passage. I could solve all the questions.
Reading & Comprehending the Passage: 7 minutes
Solving the Questions: 3 Minutes
Total 10 Minutes
Attempt: 5 Questions
Passage 3: 75 to 79: Innovation & Imitation
In this passage I left one question, solved four.
Reading & Comprehending the Passage: 4 minutes
Solving the Questions: 4 Minutes
Total 8 Minutes
Attempt: 4 Questions
The ‘CEO allotted time’ was 80 minutes. That meant, I had 4 more minutes left – too less a time for solving LR; too less a time for solving an RC passage; not much help in going back to EU since the questions I had left out were confusing ones – something I thought I cannot solve.
Time to make a quick decision:
- Should I spent extra 3-4 minutes and solve one more RC or LR
- or is there something else that I can do
Area Manager VA’s extra 4 minutes has proven to be costly.
What’s done is done; need to move on. Borrowing time allotted to Section 1 is never a good idea. Two wrongs will not make a right. Also, I did have the 10 minutes buffer in case I need to come back to this section.
This is what I decided – I will go through the questions of the last passage and see if there are some questions that I could solve within 3 minutes.
I found two questions which were not inference based ones – (1) Tone of the passage and (2) Profession of Author. I scanned and skimmed the passage (something that I usually don’t do) and solved the two questions.
SUMMARY – RC
|35 Minutes | 10 Questions||35 Minutes | 15 Questions|
SECTION 1 SUMMARY:
My take:I was both happy and not happy with the attempts. Not happy because on hindsight, I did feel that this mock was tailor-made to my strengths. I could have touched the magic 40 attempts – a rare occurrence, by the way. An opportunity was given and I missed it. Happy because things could have gone really bad. I could still manage 36 attempts.The reasons:
(1) 3-4 extra attempts in EU: Main reason – No question on Grammar.
(2) 5 extra questions in RC: This was because of 20 RC questions – 1 extra question in each RC passage coupled with a bit of luck with the last passage.
(3) SQC technique helped in one LR. I knew the Minesweeper game and so could straight away attack the LR set. This helped in saving time – gave me time to add additional 3 questions to the kitty.
- After a reasonably good show in Section 2, there was no time to relax – I needed to achieve good score in both the section.
- In the very beginning, I had already figured out that there were 17 DI questions (5 sets) and 33 Quant questions. I needed to get to 30+ attempts. The sound of 5 sets of DI was scary.
- I know my strengths & my weakness in Quant. Here’s how it looks:
|Numbers||4 Star||I don’t get scared with even the ‘toughest looking’ question (I may not be able to solve every question). Most of my concepts in number theory are pretty strong. I have the confidence that I can work my way through.By the way, I treat questions on functions (sequence) and Diophantine equations (equations with integral solution) as number theory questions. [Many regard this as a part of algebra]|
|Modern Math||4 Star||Permutations, Combinations & Probability are things that I ‘love’. I know how to start, how to maneuver myself in tricky questions.I do have a problem with Maxima-Minima Set theory questions – It can be confusing most of the times.|
|Algebra||3 Star||I know most of the concepts. I am good with graphs which helps me most of the times.The tool that I know how to use is SQC techniques – I know when it can work, when it cannot.|
|Geometry||2 Star||Problem! Though I can handle ‘simple’ questions. If it is too confusing, I get scared!Though, I always try and use SQC techniques to handle the questions that I cannot solve using conventional methods|
|Arithmetic||2 Star||This is actually pretty strange. Most of my peers find Arithmetic the ‘easiest’ in Math – but not me. I take time in understanding the question; I need to create good diagrams; I have to solve it systematically.|
Now that you know where I stand, if you want to beat me, then this is the paper you have to create: Questions loaded with Arithmetic & Geometry.
But the good news for me (bad news for many) is that CAT so far has given a significant weightage to Numbers and Algebra.
Plan Given by CEO for Section 1:
|First 35 Minutes||Next 20 Minutes||Next 25 Minutes|
|Try and attempt QA questions that I can solve without much effort||Solve the DIs that are not really difficult||Solve the second round QA questions and DI|
|Around 15 Questions||Around 8 Questions||Around 6 Questions|
[This was based on this specific test since there were 32 QAs and 18 DIs.]
- I was really worried about the DI sets. 5 DI sets – that’s too many. I know how tricky DI can get. But, one thing was sure – just because there are 5 DI sets does not mean I will break my head and try and solve everything. I will only solve those DI sets that I think I can solve.
While solving Math, somehow I don’t keep a track of time. I am aware of this. So, I have to be doubly careful in picking the right question and in letting the wrong ones go.
This is how the first round went:
|Qn||Area||Looked…||When I read…||Did I solve in Round 1?|
|1||Numbers||Scary||Felt I could manage using options but would take some time to read||No, Left it for Round 2|
|2||Arithmetic||Manageable||Found it to be confusing||No, Left it for Round 2|
|3||Algebra||Easy||Realized it will take time.||No, Left it for Round 2|
|4||Geometry||Easy||found that it is easy to solve||Yes, Solved it by eliminating options – SQC|
|5||Set Theory||No idea!||Decided to leave it for later||No, Left it for Round 2|
|10||Functions||Manageable||Tried to apply SQC, but realized I will need time to understand the question.||No, Left it for Round 2|
|11||Numbers||Manageable||Right away knew that SQC will work||Yes, solved using SQC technique|
|12||DS – Number||Easy||Found it to be pretty easy||Solved it using Math|
|13||Algebra||Scary||Realized it will take time to solve||No, Left it for Round 2|
|14||Geometry||Manageable||found it to be a straightforward question||Yes, solved by applying basic Math|
|15||Geometry + Algebra||Manageable||found it to be a straightforward question||Yes, drew graph and solved by applying basic Math|
|16||Algebra||Manageable||knew the concepts to handle the question||Yes, solved by applying basic Math|
|21||Arithmetic||Manageable||got slightly confused… needed time to understand the question better||No, Left it for Round 2|
|22||Algebra||Manageable||figured that basic Math concepts would help solving the question||Yes, solved by applying basic Math|
|23||Numbers||Was not really sure||This was based on Diophantine equations. I had an internal fight as to solve it later or now. Decided to go ahead by eliminating options.||Yes, looked at each option, used SQC technique and solved the question.|
|24||Probability||Manageable (mostly because of my ‘ego’ – how can I not solve Modern Math!)||Knew it was not a straightforward question; But still wanted to solve it. Spent some time on this one and figured I can’t move ahead – left it half way||No, almost certain that I won’t be able to solve it. Left it for good!|
|25||AP||Manageable||Have seen similar questions and knew that by applying basic Math, I should be able to reach the answer.||Yes, used basic formula and solved it.[Though, while doing analysis, I felt that it could have solved it much faster by applying SQC – by putting n = 1]|
|26||Functions||Scary||Felt that SQC technique would probably help. Was not sure though. But still went ahead with it. Thankfully, it did work.||Yes, solved using SQC technique.|
|27||Minima||Little Scary||Felt that SQC technique would help. Played around it for a while. Even SQC didn’t help here! So, left it.||No, left the question for good.|
|31||Probability||Tricky||I had already left one Modern Math question – ‘Ego’ was playing games with my head. I had to solve this one. I used logic to solve it.||Yes, I solved it using logic.[I am still not sure whether my logic is correct, even though the answer was correct! This could be a fluke]I should have left this question alone.|
|32||Minima||Manageable||Not too many data – so felt I should give it a try. Realized it was an easy one (when you get the logic). Solved it.||Yes, solved using logic.|
|33||Function||Little Scary||“Ek SQC try tho banta hain” – that’s mostly what I normally do with functions question.Pushed n = 1 and voila! I got the answer.||Yes, solved using SQC technique|
|34||Arithmetic||Easy||Was really surprised to see the question – it was really easy. I had to read the question again just to be sure if there were any tricks.No! nothing – it was a very simple question.||Yes, solved using basic Math.This question was a gift.|
|35||Numbers||Easy||I knew concepts of base system – So it was manageable. Used SQC and solved it||Yes, solved using SQC technique|
|36||Algebra – Inequality||Manageable||In one glance, I knew I had to apply SQC. Applied the same and got the answer.||Yes, solved using SQC technique|
|40||Arithmetic + Numbers||Manageable||Didn’t really understand the key sentence. So left it for later||No, Left it for round 2|
|41||Combinations||Little Scary||Another ‘Ego’ fight! Used logic and handled the question. It is a tricky question – one that requires a good understanding of P & C. P & C is my strength – so could handle it.||Yes, solved using logic|
|42||Geometry||Scary||One cannot simply let scary looking questions go. The fact that this question looked scary was because of 5 circles kept in a certain manner. Tried with drawing some lines and little SQC technique – got the answer.||Yes, solved with a little help of SQC|
|43||Arithmetic + Geometry||Scary||Didn’t get any clue while reading the question. Left it for later||No, left it for round 2|
|49||Algebra||Manageable||I am comfortable with graphs. Used graph to understand what needs to be done and solved the question.||Yes, using graph|
|50||Geometry + Numbers||Manageable||Used SQC technique – wrote down some values and solved the question.||Yes, using SQC technique.|
SUMMARY – QA Round 1
PLANNED : 35 Minutes | 15 Questions
ACHIEVED : 40 Minutes | 18 Questions
Let me give you an idea on how I got there –
the method that I deployed to solve questions.
For almost half the questions I solved, I used SQC techniques. I don’t know whether you have started applying these methods to answer questions. It worked for me really well in this mock.
17 DI questions is a scary proposition. While going through the QA questions, I had paused to look at the DI questions whenever I saw them – it was scary! My take was – one DI set looked comfortable; another DI looked manageable. 3 DI sets looked really bad – I was almost certain that from DI there is not much I can take. If can do about 8, it would be awesome. QA had to be good, it did go reasonable well – thanks to some SQC and a bit of luck.
|Next 20 Minutes||Last 20 Minutes|
|Solve 2 DIs||Solve the second round QA + DI|
|Around 6 Questions||Around 6 Questions|
Area Manager – DI has a big crib: This should be called TI – Torture Interpretation. Seems to be, anything goes in DI. It can be a Quant question disguised as DI. For instance, there could be a Time Speed Distance problem where the speed of Amit, Raghav and Sumeet is presented in a bar chart!
But then my CEO gave a gyaan, “Don’t worry, if it’s a problem for you, it’s a problem for all – it’s a relative test. Don’t feel bad if you can’t solve all DI sets. If you can solve 1, solve 1; if you can solve 2, solve 2; don’t attack problems that you can’t solve just to prove a point. We are in this together. We are all the same person. We will all go to the IIM together!”
“Okay, boss! Thanks for the wonderful advise. Let me get back to the story”
Like I said, while I was doing QA, I had paused to have a look at the DI sets and this is what I felt
|Qns||# of Qns||First Look & my thoughts..||Decisions|
|6 to 9||4||There were 2 bar charts and nothing else. This was great. There were no additional data to work with.||Have to solve|
|17 to 20||4||Two table with additional information given. It didn’t look that difficult. But once I read a few lines, I figured it’s a tricky one.||Looked very tricky. Should leave it for Round 3.|
|28 to 30||3||One bar chart and a pie chart with additional data. What was scary was the fact that questions asked ‘minimum’ and ‘maximum’. It looked really challenging.||Not now! May be never.|
|37 to 39||3||Set of data given without any chart. It was about PIN codes and how the codes are used to decide the rate.||Could try|
|45 to 48||4||Very deceptive question. When I went through it knew I won’t be able to solve it||Never!|
[I felt that I should give a special gift to the person who set these questions.]
Finally decided I will solve 2 sets – 6to9 and 37to39
DI Set: 6 to 9
This turned out to be an easy one – all I needed was to get the initial logic.
Time Taken: 5 Minutes
Questions Answered: 4 Questions
DI Set 37 to 39:
It was not difficult. I used a bit of SQC techniques and handled the 3 questions.
Time Taken: 7 Minutes
Questions Answered: 3 Questions
Decided to stop – as I felt there is no point fighting with the tough DI sets as of now.
SUMMARY-DI Round 1:
PLANNED : 20 Minutes | 6 Questions
ACHIEVED : 12 Minutes | 7 Questions
Time to go back to QA Round 2
This is how it went:
|Qn||Area||Did I solve in R1?||Did I solve in R2?|
|1||Numbers||No, Left it for Round 2||Yes – I used SQC technique. Eliminated options and solved the question|
|2||Arithmetic||No, Left it for Round 2||NO:I tried for a while but was not going anywhere. Left it for R3|
|3||Algebra||No, Left it for Round 2||No, since I had tried this question for a while in R1, I left it for R3|
|5||Set Theory||No, Left it for Round 2||Yes, used venn diagrams and solve it.|
|10||Functions||No, Left it for Round 2||Yes, took time to understand the question and solved it.|
|13||Algebra||No, Left it for Round 2||Yes, fought with question; got confused; fought again and somehow got the answer.[In fact, though I got the answer correct, I had missed a negative value of the root. Not good!]|
|21||Arithmetic||No, Left it for Round 2||No, left it for Round 3|
|24||Probability||No, almost certain that I won’t be able to solve it. Left it for good!|
|27||Minima||No, left the question for good.|
|40||Arithmetic + Numbers||No, Left it for round 2||No left it for R3|
|43||Arithmetic + Geometry||No, left it for round 2||No:Drew the diagram and realized I am not capable of solving the question.|
I could knock off 4 questions in 15 minutes.
No of Questions attempted: 29
Now panic time!
It seems like CEO, Area Managers are all on a leave and everything is left to the worker. [Our Torture Manager, sorry, DI Manager’s mobile is switched off and not traceable]
To be able to get to 35, I needed 5 more with absolutely no idea where it will come from. On the bright side, I had 24 minutes.
What happened next was mayhem, I was running up and down; tried some DI sets, failed… tried some more Quant questions…failed..
Here’s how it went
ANSWERED : 1 QUESTION [Q28]
One DI question done from one set! Left the rest
ANSWERED : 1 QUESTION [Q40]
ANSWERED : 1 QUESTION [Q21]
ANSWERED : 1 QUESTION [Q3]
In the last 20 minutes, I solved 4 more questions.
I kind of realized – This is it! I cannot solve any more questions. I even thought of going to Section 2, but then gave up that idea.
Waited for timer to reach 0
SECTION 1 SUMMARY:
|PLANNED||Around 20||Around 10||30+|
My take:Normally, my attempt will be just above 30. Even though I had left 9 DI questions, I could still manage a good attempt, though I felt that I had time towards the end and I should have better handled the last 20 minutes instead of going on a panic mode. Also, I could have tried to solve the LR or RC to get to get to the magic 40 number in Section 2 – then fatigue took control.Fact is though, QA saved my day! Also, within QA, close to 10 questions I had solved using SQC techniques. If I had only used conventional methods of solving, I would have solved around 16 QA questions and my total attempts would have been around 25.
Second, my weak areas: Arithmetic, as usual, caused me problems in a few questions. However, my other weak area, Geometry, did not trouble me much in this mock.
Thankfully, the tough questions in this paper came in the areas which were my strength – Numbers and Modern Math.
|SECTION 1||SECTION 2||TOTAL|
Let me leave you with this question: Which are your weak ‘hats’ in Proc Mock 13?
Mentor – Career Launcher