24 Hours To CAT – 10 Golden Rules To Crack CAT

Despite knowing well that this is just an exam, every serious CAT aspirant gets jittery the closer one gets to the exam. The anxiety levels would be at the highest with less than 24 hours to go for the exam.

I have outlined 10 things to do in the CAT exam, 10 rules!

Rule 1 – Read all questions: This is the Golden Rule for cracking CAT. Not reading all questions can mean missing out on sitters! This does not mean that you would first read the questions and then solve. It means that the strategy you follow should be in such a way that you come to the last question.

Rule 2 – Go to the exam with a clear strategy: A proper, well-tested plan is critical to CAT success. In all the mocks you have written, decide the mock strategy that has given you the maximum marks/percentile and go ahead and use that in the actual exam! But most importantly, do not change the strategy in the last minute. What has been working for you in the Mocks will work for you in the actual exam too!

Rule 3 – Plan your section timings:  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  VARC section may be divided into 2 slots of 15 minutes and 45 minutes for VA and RC respectively. Similarly, for DI/LR sets or QA give time to each set of questions and stick to it.

Rule 4 – Give time to each question: Rule no 1 says that you should read all the questions, which means there has to be a minimum time to spend on each question. The quantum could vary depending on the type of question. A quant question may require a minimum of 30 seconds while a reasoning set of 4 questions may require even 3 minutes of time for you to even comprehend the question and decide whether to answer. RC will require you to commit time to read the passage as well as attempt the questions.

Rule 5 – Stop-Loss for each question. No question is extra-special or more important than others. The more time you invest in a question, the lesser the time you have for the other questions. It is important not to spend more than a certain cut-off time (call it the stop-loss) 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 ½ – 2 min.

Rule 6 – Use answer choices: Some questions may be solved easily by using the answer choices than by actual solving. Remember that your job is to mark the most appropriate answer choice, not to find the correct answer!

Rule 7 – Strengths and Weaknesses. By now you should have come to a conclusion as to which areas/topics within a section are your strengths and which ones are your weaknesses. Accordingly, distribute your time and attempt!

Rule 8 – Do not Panic: The single most reason why students fail to score well in an exam is because they think, during the exam, that they are messing it up badly. There is no way anyone will know whether the scores you would get are good enough to get a decent percentile. This is a relative grading paper and hence your percentile is also dependent on how others have done. The safest bet is to assume that if it tough for you, it is tough for others too!

Rule 9 – 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 do not know OR did not do. Focus on what you have already done! You need to be really relaxed. Do something that takes your mind off the CAT for a day.

Rule 10 – 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.