Are you ready to appear for CAT 2016?

Around 150 days are left for the CAT 2016; hence it’s high time to start serious and sincere preparation for it. CAT is an exam which evaluates students on multiple dimensions and hence it is irrational to suggest one common strategy for all the students. Thus, we have decided to come up with a series of articles on Belling the CAT in 150 days, with each article dealing with the strategies for a specific set of students. In the first article of the series, the focus is on the CAT repeater strategy – for those who have written CAT previously. 

The article is written by Siddharth and is in first person. His profile has been shared at the end of the article as well.

To have a meaningful analysis, I have divided the repeaters into two brackets:

I: The 85%ile plus bracketThe Ones who had scored above 85%ile in CAT 2015

II: The Other bracket – The Ones who scored less than 85%ile in CAT 2015

Let me now put forth my suggestions for the two brackets (CAT Repeater Strategy).

I. The 85%ile plus bracket:

The score suggests that the CAT aspirants who fall under this category have their fundamentals in place. These students could have missed the top percentile bracket (98+%ile) because of one of following reasons:

a)      Lack of Sound Test Taking Strategy

b)      Lack of Proficiency in One Section/Few Topics

c)       Lack of Luck on the exam day

Now, let us look at the remedial CAT repeater strategy for each of the reasons:

a)      Lack of a Sound Test-Taking Strategy:  A good preparation is of no use if it is not delivered on the D-Day.  Wrong selection of the questions, improper time management, drop in the intensity during the 3 hour examination, are some of the common reasons. These could be attributed to the lack of writing enough tests prior to the actual exam.  Then, there are few amongst you who write enough mock tests, but, do not analyse your performance.

The solution is very clear. You should take as many tests as you can. As a ground rule a minimum of one full length mock and 10-12 sectional/topic tests should be taken per week. You need to understand that the sectional/topic tests are as important as mock tests as they help to become proficient and efficient in the selected section or topic.  For me, when I was preparing, topic tests helped to increase my concentration and intensity level. I used to take 3-4 topic tests at a stretch, so it was like writing three 20 minutes tests at one go.

The next step to follow after any test is to analyze your performance.  In an exam like CAT – which requires a mix of speed and knowledge, you need to be categorically aware of your strengths and weaknesses.  Management exams are as much about leaving a particular question as they are about attempting the other, and so knowledge about where to invest time becomes critical.  In-depth analysis of the test will make you more enlightened about yourself.  As a thumb rule, “N Minutes test should be followed by at least 1.5 N Minutes analysis”

You must also seek the advice of the experts or teachers on how they would have attempted the mock.  Usually, understanding their perspective – and if advice can be taken from multiple sources, nothing like it – will sharpen your own strategy.

Another important aspect of formulating a strategy is knowledge of one’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s every student’s prerogative to maximize their strengths. Thus, know your strengths and ensure you attempt those questions in the first round itself. This will lead to increase in confidence while taking the exam as well. Once you know that ‘x’ marks are in your kitty you will relax and be able to concentrate on taking the paper. Also, formulate a strategy of which section should be attempted first. Do you want a clear mind while attempting LR or do you want to attempt LR at the end since you feel your mental faculties work better under pressure? These questions need to be answered by you while taking the Mocks and not during CAT.

To summarise, take tests – both full length and sectional.  Follow the N:1.5 N rule of analysis and seek advice.

b)      Lack of Proficiency in One Section/Few Topics

 As a strategy, one needs to score at least 90%ile in each section of CAT to score an overall percentile which would fetch some good calls. There are many students who do very well in one section but score very less in the other, resulting in a low percentile overall. The CAT repeater strategy for the students who fall in this category is to “Focus on the fundamentals of the section you are not good at”.

If you fall in this bracket your sole aim for the next few weeks should be to revisit the fundamentals of the weaker section and solve a good number of problems on each important concept/topic.  Let me guide you further:

i) If Maths is your weak area: Solve the fundabooks. Pick one topic at a time, revisit the concepts of that topic, solve at least 100 good quality questions on the topic, write a few -3 to 4 -topic tests, analyse your performance and move to the next topic.

ii) If English is your weak area: Firstly, focus on vocab and reading. Make it a point to read at least 4-5 editorials of English Dailies. Also, set a target to read at least one book on different genres (to cover all genres to best prepare for the RC section).  Besides, after a month of vocab building and reading, start attempting various types of questions. Make it a point to solve few questions of each variety – RCs, PJs, CR, and Grammar – each week. Take sectional tests. Analyse and Analyse!!

iii) If LR/DI is your weak area: Although LR and DI appear in two different sections of CAT, the same remedy can be followed for both. Be thorough with basic calculations.  These two topics can be tackled by solving a good number of questions. Practice few caselets daily.

To summarize, identify your weak area and focus on the fundamentals.

c)  Lack of Luck on the D-day

If you feel you had been unlucky on the day of your last CAT attempt, all you need to know is that the law of averages will prevail and you won’t be denied, something which you definitely deserve, for long. Be happy, keep on writing mock tests and keep on analyzing them.

Stay tuned for the sequel to the same. Wish you luck!

About Siddharth:
Siddharth is an avid reader and a fitness freak.  From running a marathon to writing blogs, Siddharth is someone keen to explore his new talents. His passion for teaching can be felt in his positively charged classes and his informal interactions with his students to whom he is a mentor and a motivator.

Siddharth Mehta

Career Launcher, Bhilai

Siddharth is an XLRI alumnus.