It doesn’t take an Einstein’s brain to crack CAT and secure 95+ percentile. There will be many people around you telling either of these three statements:
- CAT needs practice, more than just brains. Work hard on your coaching institute’s material and give lots of mock tests.
- CAT is all about luck, even the best candidates don’t clear on the D-day and those who don’t even imagine they’ll get 80+, end up getting 99 percentile some times.
- Quant is tameable. English is all luck. CAT is an exam of merely time management and some good luck combined.
Well, none of them are entirely wrong. Success in CAT, like in any other exam is a function of perseverance, acumen for detail, time management and luck. So let us see what can we best do about all four, yes, including luck (and no, I am not going to recommend astrologer’s solutions here!)
Since most candidates have an engineering background and believe that quantitative ability is the halo gifted to them, they tend to practice more and more math problems. And when they score well in quant, they tend to ignore Verbal Ability section and even Logical Reasoning just because that lies a bit beyond their acquainted circle of subjects.
But excellence in CAT will depend on the all round ability. So the caveat here is not to focus weaknesses and let strengths denigrate due to lack of practice. Ideally, you should be striking a balance.
Take a mock test (a sample of CAT paper), even before you start coaching classes or self-preparation. Note down section-wise scores. If quant scores exceed way more than verbal, devote time to quant and verbal in the ratio of 40:60 but not anything below 40 for quant even if you think you’re almost a genius. It is important to hold on strengths, but practice more of your weakness, without having a steep ratio.
For verbal ability, it may be a good idea to get hold of newspapers as everyone says, and practicing lots of mock sectional tests. It will take more than just 2-3 months contrary to the popular opinion to polish verbal ability. For those who feel they have absolutely no command over quant, should practice out each and every topic without fail from books like Arun Sharma besides, other material provided at coaching centres (if you opt to join one).
- Acumen for detail
CAT usually has questions of two types, the seemingly tricky but actually simple ones and the vice versa. So while taking your mock tests try practicing ‘identification’ of right question type for yourself first. If you know you can crack all geometry question whether tricky or hard, it may be a good idea to ascertain usually how many questions from geometry are asked each year and then scroll through screen until you solve all of them Every single question here is worth many numbers in percentile.
Again, by having acumen for detail in comprehension questions, you can easily get most of them right. Try practicing against what is taught – read slowly not fast as crazy (the way coaching centres guide to), read with attention to detail and then you’ll save most of the time in answering the questions. It is way better than attempting many comprehensions and getting many questions wrong, just because you read too fast to pay attention to nuances.
- Time Management
Needless to say, time management is the key in all competitive examinations. If you can allot time to each question before starting it, and leave it right there if you feel you’re getting nowhere with it, you will end up doing more questions. The trick here is to subdue ego attached with certain questions or subject areas. It is important that you get to see all questions and don’t miss the last ones because you were caught on the few in the starting.
Yes, to some extent you can rule the luck. This is from personal experience arising out of a grave mistake I did right before my CAT. Having an ice-cream when you know you have a tendency to catch a cold or have a sore throat quickly, can be suicidal for CAT. Next, day you’ll not even be able to read through comprehensions. Adjust your screen contrast and brightness on the examination day, I had my computer stuck at contrast 100, and I always worked with almost nil on my laptop. Drive slow and careful, leave for examination hall well before time so that luck can’t plant a traffic jam to get you late to the examination hall where you pant while solving questions. These small things can play havoc if not heeded. Take small precautions and you’ll not have to blame luck after you take the CAT.
After all of this if you get a decent CAT percentile, you’ll require to do all of this again for GDs and PIs, yes they’ll too need perseverance, wit and luck. With practice taming them should be easy though, have an insight for news articles and have your answers to HR questions ready beforehand, be real and don’t pretend in PIs. There is only one thumb rule to crack interviews – be as different from others as possible, you only have to stay longer than other’s in the interviewer’s memory to get selected into an IIM or any other institute you covet to get into. Cheers and good luck!
(image source: wikipedia)