Lots of queries pour in each day about how persistent efforts are not translating into great scores. More than knowledge, an extremely important aspect of test taking is: choosing the right questions. Therefore, the question to you is – Are you choosing the right questions to attempt?

Most of the time the reason for poor performance is not lack of knowledge but poor question selection and some test takers maybe of the viewpoint that all questions should be answered. Few rightly picked questions are sufficient to get you a desired 99+ percentile. Now, the question that should come to your mind is: Which questions to select and solve? Here is an exercise that will reveal to you how your question selection over the past mocks has been and how you can you can improve your ability to pick the right question.

To check out how good your question selection is, after every Mock CAT or Sectional Test you take, you should ask yourself the following two questions:

Q1. How many questions in each section did I attempt that I should not have attempted?
Q2. How many questions in each section did I leave that I should have attempted?

Obviously, the answer to both these questions should be Zero. While the answer to these questions for the students doing well in Mock CATs would be 1-2, for most of you, the answer to both the questions will be 5-6. This means that most of you have wasted around 20 minutes trying to solve questions that were difficult (Q1) and hence did not have time for the easy questions (Q2).

To be able to understand this better, pick up the last 3 CAT Mocks that you have attempted. Make a list of the topics that are your strengths and a separate list for the topics that you are weak at. Now, based on your strengths and weakness, you have to decide if a particular question should or should not have been attempted by you and then place it in the appropriate cell as shown below. This table has to be filled for each of the three sections separately.

The answers to the above two questions will give you a top-level view of the problem but to have an understanding of your problem and to find the solution, you will need to dig deeper. Suggest that you pick up the last 3 Mock CATs attempted by you and place all the question of the paper in one of the cells in the table given below. Based on your strengths & weakness, you have to decide if a particular question should or should not have been attempted by you and then place it in the appropriate cell. This table has to be filled for each of the three sections separately.

Performance Summary

Mock_­­­­­________                                             Section____________

Questions that should have been attempted Questions that should not have been attempted
Correct Incorrect or time wasted Not attempted Time Well Utilized Correct Incorrect or time wasted Not attempted Time Wasted
Col 1        Good Shot Col 2 Unforced Error Col 3      Missed Opportunity Col 4         In Time Col 5  Risky Shot Col 6 Double Negative Col 7    Well Left Col 8          Time Waste
Q. No: 1,2,3, 17, 22… Q. No: 5, 8… Q.No: 9, 11, 15… Q.No: 6, 10… Q.No: 13, 18, 25… Q.No: 4, 16, 20… Q.No: 7, 14, 19… Q.No: 12, 21, 27…

Now let us understand what each of these six columns stand for:

Good Shot: Good, you not only identified the easy questions but also got them right. You need to ensure that these question types are not missed in any paper.

Unforced Errors: This is criminal. These are the easy questions that you messed up and ended up with a -1 instead of a +3. You need to identify the reason for these silly mistakes. The reason could be that you rushed through the question and missed a couple of words or loss of concentration or calculation errors or plain carelessness.

Missed Opportunities: How could you miss these sitters? Most probably you had wasted time in trying to solve difficult and time-consuming questions (Risky Shots & Double Negative) and hence missed out on these sitters.

In Time: A crucial factor in scoring a high percentile is the Time Factor. This parameter lets you know about your strength questions that you attempted smartly and within the time it should be attempted in.

Risky Shot: These are the questions that you should not have attempted but you did and fortunately got them right. How much time did these take? Was it worth the effort? Hope these were done in R2 or R3.

Double Negative: These questions are responsible for your poor performance. By attempting these questions not only have you wasted time but also earned negative marks. Why did you attempt these questions? What is it that you need to overcome – Ego or Fear or Optimism or Love? The time that you wasted in attempting these questions could have been better utilized in attempting the Missed Opportunities (Column 3 questions).

Well left: Good work, you could identify the questions that are beyond you.

Time Waste: Too bad. Either you wasted time in attempting the questions from your areas of weakness or you took too much time in solving the questions from your strengths. This parameter contributes to all the time you wasted in this mock in which you could have solved more questions from your strength

What Next?

Make this table for all the Mock CATs that you have taken so far (separately for each section) and you will find a pattern which will help you evaluate your ability to choose the right questions in Mocks and hence in CAT. Here are some things that will help you evaluate your performance once you have categorized your questions in the table chalked:

1) Ideally, most of your questions should be in two columns – Good Shot & Well Left. If this is the case, then you are safe and probably have a good score in the section.

2) If there are questions in the other columns then we have work to do. Identify the cause and work as per the suggestion given above.

3) If you have a large number of questions in Missed Opportunity, Risky Shot & Double Negative then your question selection is atrocious. You are trying to solve the difficult (for you) questions in the test and in the process missing out on the easy questions (Missed Opportunity).

4) A large number of questions in Unforced Errors indicate lack of revision and carelessness.

5). If you have a large number of questions in the In Time column then give yourself a pat on the shoulder. However if the number in Time Wasted column is higher then you need to work more smartly in choosing and solving your questions.

CAT Score Booster

To not make this process a headache for you, try CL’s CAT Score Booster. A Strength Finder that is a part of this tool is required to be filled by you. From your next mock onwards, the tool will provide you with a personalized report consisting of the table discussed above. The tool is intended to give you great insights about how well you perform your areas of comfort and how do you tackle the areas of difficulties. For each mock know what your score would have been had you not wasted time on the questions you got wrong or hadn’t attempted these questions even after spending time on them.

As your performance improves, you should fill up your strength finder again after every 15 days. Along with that, CAT Score Booster comes with articles that will help you strategize. Video analysis depicting Gejo’s, Neeraj’s and GP’s way of solving mocks are available for the three mocks that come along with the CAT Booster.

All the best