Get cracking with CAT
Revisiting concepts, question selection, time management and staying cool are key strategies to tame the test, say trainers.
— Photo: S.S. KUMAR
Marching ahead: File picture of candidates walking into a test centre for the CAT examination.
In about a month’s time, nearly three lakh students will take the Common Admission Test (CAT) that determines admission to top-notch B-schools, including the coveted Indian Institutes of Management. While the actual preparation may have begun months or even a few years ahead, the last one month could be vital for candidates, point out trainers.
This year’s CAT will be held on November 16. By now, candidates should have finished a fair amount of their preparation. It is a good time to revisit concepts learnt earlier, for familiarity is vital, points out S. Balasubramanian, Director, Triumphant Institute of Management Education (T.I.M.E)-Chennai, which trains students for competitive examinations.
“Students would have worked out their fundamental problems and written several mock tests by this time. But it is important to revisit the concepts learnt initially to refresh one’s memory. Students could revise the tricks and techniques to tackle the reasoning and quantitative ability sections,” he says.
Candidates should also be careful not to get too worked up about scores in tests, say trainers. “They should make an objective, dispassionate judgement about their performance and stay cool. They should not be worried at this point. Ultimately, what matters is staying cool while taking the actual test,” adds Mr. Balasubramanian.
Prioritisation and selection of questions in the test also plays an important role in the candidate’s performance, according to S. Faiz Ahmad, general manager (south and east), IMS Learning Resources, a coaching institute.
“With the basic preparation having been completed by now, students need to work out a strategy that best suits them and tackle the question paper accordingly,” he adds. Going through all the questions carefully will ensure that a candidate does not miss choosing potentially easy questions.
“Concentrating on time management and distribution of the available time to the sections wisely could make a huge difference to the performance,” Mr. Ahmad notes.
Trainers recommend that students identify their areas of strength and weakness in different sections of the CAT and address weaknesses systematically during the last month, at the same time maximising strong points.
Whether the candidate is a college student or a working professional, it is time to take off from work or college and concentrate on preparation for the CAT. “Don’t overdo it, but devote at least three to four hours everyday,” says Jagannath Prasad, Business Head, Career Launcher, Chennai.
Taking full length mocks, about three per week till the penultimate week, and focussing on weak areas is important. “Set a test strategy for yourself — if your strategy to score high is scanning the paper and starting with QA, and in QA starting with questions on Geometry, then stick to it, don’t try new methods now.”
“Analyse your mock test misses and hits, fine-tune the method of solving the questions and see if an easier alternative is available. Understand if you have missed attempting any easier questions, this would help you in question selection in the actual CAT,” he adds.
As Mr. Prasad puts it, CAT is more than mere technical tips: “It is about your endurance to carry through the two-and-a-half hours with concentration and not break down due to pressure. So, learn to relax and make the next 30 days of preparation fun.”
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