Helpful Tips on Optimal Preparation for CAT

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is the common entrance examination conducted in turn by one of the nineteen Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to their management programs in India. Conducted once a year in Oct-Nov, the CAT score is accepted by many non-IIM B-schools too.

It is a computer-based test administered in various locations across India. The total duration of the test is 3 hours, with equal time allotted to each of the three sections. The three test sections are Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VA & RC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) and Quantitative Ability (QA).

There are 100 questions in all [both multiple choice (MCQ) and non-multiple choice (non-MCQ)] with three marks allotted for a correct answer and -1 (one negative) mark for a wrong answer. Note that the negative marking applies to the MCQs alone.

CAT, a highly competitive exam, makes it imperative for you to prepare extremely well. Here are some vital tips to help you along the way.

Get the right study material

There are numerous online resources and books published, promising 99 percentile and more. However, it is crucial to choose reliable resources from the vast repository. Be sure to make use of time-tested and proven study material that has produced better results in the past.

Do not go by off-the-shelf recommendations and word of mouth suggestions; do your own research and get the study material right.

Take mocks

However meticulously you prepare with a plethora of concept-based questions, it is crucial to take full-length mock tests even as you start preparation. Take one at the very beginning to assess your level; you will be able to spot your strengths and weaknesses.

Start building on your basics in the weaker areas while simultaneously fortifying further areas where you performed better. Through the course of your study, take mock tests at regular intervals to assess continuously your preparation and progress, and work on weaker areas appropriately.

It would be ideal for you to take every mock as seriously as the actual exam. This will enable you to practice effectively time management, aim for accuracy and maintaining a level head when in tough spots.

Analyze and evaluate

Take a break to chart out clearly a plan, based on the previous sectional tests and full-length mock tests. Look closely at the test reports to identify your strengths and analyze where you have gone wrong more often.

You will need to balance your preparation on two counts; to work extra hard on the weaker areas and enhance your strengths for top performance.

Aim for accuracy

As in any test, CAT has questions with varying difficulty levels. While it is naturally important to crack the hard ones to get into the top percentiles, the easier ones might be trickier too.

You might be easily misled by deceptively correct options, and tempted to choose incorrect ones; do not walk into these subtle traps.

Even during your practice sessions, factor in absolute accuracy of your answers. Accurate answers are as much absolute requisites as time management is.

Manage time

At the outset, 180 minutes for 100 questions translates to a little less than 2 minutes per question, which might sound more than adequate. However, remember that the CAT is a highly competitive exam with loads of tricky questions at different difficulty levels. It is crucial to manage your time effectively.

Keep in mind that you cannot switch between sections in the 1-hour slots. The CAT administration might surprise you sometimes, allowing you to toggle between sections; but you should not count on it, and misconsider it a great advantage.

Ascertain during your practice sessions the exact time you require for answering the questions. Continue to work on getting accurate answers in a progressively shorter time. Remember! There are no shortcuts; practice and more practice alone make you excel.

Get into study groups

It is always greatly beneficial to be in a group of like-minded people while preparing for an examination and CAT preparation is no exception. Try to shore up a healthy study group that encourages everyone to push forward and work harder together.

Be cautious of people who could dampen your motivation. Do not think twice to quit such a negative group if you feel it is holding you back in any way. Get enrolled in a reputed online CAT tutoring portal and stay focused right from the comfort of your home.

Stay cool and calm

Take time out to engage in a relaxing activity of your choice and completely unwind yourself the day before the examination. Success is then all yours!

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