10 Final Tips Before CAT 2015

With less than 24 hours to the CAT exam, the anxiety levels of students may just be going up. Here are a few tips which can help you focus on the task at hand and therefore help you calm down.

Read all the questions. One can call this the golden rule of CAT cracking. The logic behind this tip is very simple. You have no way of knowing beforehand which questions are easy and which are difficult. Ensuring that you read all the questions means that you would have assessed every question and chosen the easiest or the least time-wasting questions of the lot!

Have a clearly defined strategy. A proper, well-tested plan is critical to CAT success. When you walk into the exam tomorrow, you need to be clear how you are going to run through the each section. Questions such as “Do I handle the RC first or the VA?” are not to be decided on that day.

Plan your time utilisation. Divide each section into smaller time intervals as appropriate. Within each such interval, plan to cover a specific section of the paper. For instance, the 60 minutes for the 3 QA section may be divided as 4 slots of 15 minutes, in each of which you could plan to read 8 to 9 questions and attempt whichever ones you find “not too difficult” among those.

Give a minimum time to each question. It is not possible to know how difficult a question is unless you try it out seriously. That means you need to give every question a certain minimum time. The quantum could vary depending on the type of question. A quant question may require a minimum of a minute and a half while a reasoning set of 4 questions may require even 4 minutes of time for you to even comprehend the question and be anywhere close to an answer. RC will require you to commit time to read the passage as well as attempt the questions. Do not look at the time spent reading a question and not answering it as a waste of time.

Have a cut-off time for each question. No question is extra-special or more important than others. The more the time you invest in specific questions, the less the time you have for the other questions. Further, questions that take a lot of time are probably among the toughest in the paper and answering them does not confer any advantage upon you. So, it is important not to spend more than a certain cut-off time on any question. This too could vary depending on the type of question. The outer limit for a QA question may be 2 ½ min while for a VA question, it could be 1 min.

Use the answer choices intelligently. Some questions are better addressed by looking at the answer choices to either zero in on the correct one though elimination or apply the logic of the question on each choice. Remember that your job is to mark the most appropriate answer choice, not to find the correct answer.

Know your strengths and weaknesses. You have written so many Mocks. By now you should have come to a conclusion as to which area/topic within a section is your strength and which is your weakness. Accordingly distribute your time and attempt!

Do not press the panic button. You have no way of knowing if you are messing up or the paper is very difficult. The safest bet is to assume the latter and work through the paper calmly on the assumption that if you are finding the going tough, so is everyone else as well.

Stop preparing. This is not a degree exam where you would cram up all that you have to on the last day and use it for the next day. CAT is an aptitude exam, which also tests your mental strength. Hence do not bother about how much you did not do. Focus on what you have already done! You need to be really relaxed and hectic brushing up is not the best way to relax. Do something that takes your mind off the CAT for a day.

Enjoy the EXAM. There is no better way to perform in any exam than by enjoying writing the exam.


Wish you Best of Luck !

ARKS Srinivas

ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.