Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to prepare for CAT?

Everyone agrees that there is no clear cut formula of getting through CAT and none but you have to decide your strategy to crack the test.

Believe me, the test is one of the simplest test you can get and there is no rocket-science that goes into it. It just checks an individual on how well he/she can adapt to the new pattern and how good a strategy one can design. Obviously, intelligence does help.

Since I was helping one of my friend to devise his strategy for the test, I thought it would be a good idea to put it over here so that many more can benefit from that.

Some of the tips for cracking CAT:
1. Dont worry at all. The more you worry, the lesser chances you have of getting through. This may not sound good to many but this is true and you will learn it through experience. If you look at it closely, it is just about keeping your cool and nothing else. Sounds simple but practically very difficult. Only practice can help.
2. Identify your strong areas.
3. Identify your weak areas.
4. Analyse your potential. Can you or Can't you? If you are undecided then the answer is still positive but if you take a while longer than this, the answer might turn negative.
5. Get acquainted to all the types of questions and practise.
6. Do not Overdo.
7. Either make a full-hearted attempt or dont make an effort at all. Half-hearted attempt never pays.
8. Strengthen your strongest area and cover up for weakest area(by strengthening).
9. NEVER MAKE A STRATEGY THAT IS DEPENDENT ON TEST PATTERN. Go Open-minded for the test and devise a strategy there itself.
10. Most Important, Develop a clear understanding of all the concepts. To re-iterate, CAT is no rocket-science test, it is a simple aptitude based test.

My Strategy
Based on my understanding/experience and a bit of intelligence(a bit is all I have), I had developed a strategy which did work for me and might work for you as well. I advise you not to follow it religiously and make appropriate changes to adapt it to your style of working.

First of all you need to answer a few basic questions:
1. Do you know your strong points?
2. Do you know your weak points?
3. Do you know what specifically is wrong with your weak points?
4. Do you have any idea of how you can improve upon that?
5. Do you know how much you can score on a bad day?
6. How long would it take you to clear the 3 sectionals?
7. Who are you competing against? (Others/self/exam paper/person who has set the paper)

Make sure all of the above questions are answered before you make your strategy for the test.

It is important to understand that we are competing against humans and each human has some positives and some negatives. Finally what matters to us is the mean/average of it all.
Considering the sample space to have all average people,
Analyse as how much time would you need to score same number of marks that an average person would score in 50 minutes for each section?(Test time assumed 150 minutes)
This is nothing but a way to set your targets at the cut-off marks for each section.

Consider this example:
Now suppose DI and QA are my strong points and VA is the weaker section.
My analysis indicates that I need 25 min for DI, 30 mins for QA and 75mins for VA to score equivalent to other's score considering 50 min in each section.
So that would necessarily mean that I clear cut-offs in 25+30+75=130 mins and that leaves me with 20 extra minutes to maximise my score.
Of these 20 extra minutes, I keep 5-7 min as my buffer time for unforeseen happenings/ unanticipated conditions, which would otherwise be spent in weaker section while the rest 13-15 mins is the differentiating factor to me and it is highly suggested that I capitalise it by spending it in my strongest/'most scoring' section.
Make sure that you dont have to flip amongst the sections very often. Make sure that you don't have to come back to any section. At max, take up your weakest/strongest section twice and manage your time properly that you do not overshoot time in any section.

One important observation here: It does not matter much whether the test is a high scoring test or low-scoring as what you are comparing with, is other individual's score in 50 mins. 20 marks in 50 mins or 45marks in 50 mins don't make a difference, you need same xyz mins in both the cases.

"How do I decide on how much time to give to which section?"
Simple. As per the definition, it must be the time when you are able to score equivalent to other's score considering 50min for the section. Practically, there is an easier way out. Analyse your performance in AIMCAT/SIMCAT/...and record time that you need to clear the sectional cut-off. You have enough AIMCATs to experiment with this.

I think this post should be of atleast some use to people preparing for CAT.
Suggestions/Alternate strategies/Thank you notes/@#$%^& notes are most welcome.

Disclaimer: I re-iterate, the strategies could work out differently for different people and do not fall in the trap of adopting it as it is. It worked out for me but whether it suits you or not, is totally your call.


Anonymous said...

do you think this post deserve a thank you note ???????????????????????????
well rarely you think correct......
thanks for the info but sab pata tha re
we hav one thing in common.....time we give to eng section 75 damn min. :)))))

AbhiTaneja said...

For those who think like that, please do visit this

Pavan Daxini said...

hi ! that was some really useful stuff , thanks for sharing ur experience with us abhi.. keep posting such useful stuff !!

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