Why is it that most of us are unable to identify R1, R2, and R3 questions while taking Mock CATs and usually end up attempting the difficult questions over the easier ones? The reason is that most of us are confused about our strengths and weaknesses. We work at the macro level i.e. the topic level (Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry etc.) but our attempts in CAT have to be at the question type level, and many of us are unable to reconcile the two levels.

Is it something new to us? Of course not! We have done this regularly for our school and college exams. For the school/college exams, we would focus not on the chapter (or the topic) but, within each chapter, on the sub-topics or question types that we could handle. We would first attempt the questions that we were sure of answering correctly (R1) and then move on to questions that we were reasonably sure of answering, at least partly (R2). The questions that we were not sure of were not even touched. CAT and all other MBA entrance exams are no different and this tried and tested method of test-taking is what you need to implement to get a good score in MBA entrances.

The first step is to understand your comfort level within different question types (not topics or sub-topics) that appear in CAT and other MBA entrance. Hopefully, the Mock CATs that you have taken so far have given you an idea about your strong and not so strong question types. If not then please analyze your last 2-3 Mocks as suggested in the post ‘Are you choosing the right questions in your Mock CATs?’

Now that you have some understanding of your strong and not so strong question types, fill up the Strength Finder which lists down the question types that have appeared in CAT off late. The strength finder comes with the CAT Score Booster and can be found in your SIS if you have access to the CAT Score Booster. There are two blank columns corresponding to every question type. Based on your comfort level, decide which of the two columns each question type belongs to. What goes into which column is defined below:

Column II should contain all those question types that you are able to attempt correctly most of the time or for which you mark the correct answer in at least 75% of the questions. These are your strengths.

Column I should contain all the topics and question types in which your accuracy is extremely poor or those topics which you are not able to comprehend. These are your weaknesses. These are the topics for which you need serious improvement.

The funda is simple, either you are good at a particular topic or you need improvement in it. There is no middle ground. Once you are aware of the topics that belong to these two categories for you, you need to put in an effort to bring them from column II to column I. I.

How to implement in CAT?

This categorization of QA questions into Column I & II helps us in identifying which questions should be attempted in each of the three rounds.

Column II questions that can be solved in about 100 seconds should be attempted in R1.

Column II questions that are not solved/attempted in R1 or take more than 100 seconds should be attempted in R2.

Column I questions should be attempted in R2 or R3 if time permits.

This will also ensure that you do not waste time on risky shots and double negatives.

How much time should be spent in each round?

This is a function of how comfortable you are with the section and how many questions you can attempt comfortably. Let me give you 3 different scenarios:

If your target attempt in QADI is 30+ questions:

R1 could be 30 minutes for 12-14 attempts consisting of questions that can be solved in less than 2 minutes. R2 could be 20 minutes for another 10-12 attempts and R3 could be the balance 10 minutes for around 8-10 questions.

You could also compress this in two Rounds of 40 and 20 minutes with 15-16 attempts in each round (R1 and R2).

If your target attempt in QADI is around 25 questions:

R1 could be 40 minutes for 12-14 questions, consisting of questions that can be solved in less than 3 minutes. R2 could be 15 minutes for another 8-12 questions and R3 could be the balance 5 minutes for 2-3 questions.

You could also compress this in two Rounds (R1 and R2 only) of 45 and 15 minutes with 12-13 attempts in each round.


If your target attempt in QADI is 20-22 questions:

Do not go for three Rounds, two are sufficient. You could target 10-11 questions in 40 minutes of R1 and 20 minutes of R2.

Alternately you could consider attempting the section in one round (only R1) of 60 minutes and attempt only those QA questions that are in Column II and can be solved by you in less than 4 minutes.

Needless to say, all this is only indicative and you will need to create your own structure based on your strengths and weaknesses. Please work out a strategy that works for you based on the Mock CATs taken so far and test it out in a couple of mock CATs before freezing it.


Instructions for using Strength Finder:

CL students can access ‘Strength Finder’ in the CAT Score Booster from the homepage of their SIS. Other students can access it by registering here.

All the best!


Download The Ultimate Profile Building Guide