With hardly any days to CAT, I am sure you guys have taken a lot of mocks. Even if you have taken gazillion mocks (as you should have by now), you should make a few adjustments before the actual thing. Here is a short list:
1. CAT will be easier than the mocks
CAT will be easier than almost all the mocks that you have taken. It does not matter whether you have taken mocks from TIME or IMS or CL or the best provider of them all, 2IIM – CAT will be easier than these. Almost all mock test series are tougher than CAT. In the actual exam, there will be very few vague questions, practically zero difficult words and absolutely no boring passages. Most students who are well-prepared end up being surprised by the fact that they know the starting step for so many of the questions. So, do not go looking for or fearing a phantom tough paper. Go in fully expecting to see a paper where you know the beginning step for more than 75% of the questions.
Making an adjustment for a paper that is slightly tougher is easier than making an adjustment for a paper that is simpler. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is true. Lots of students overanalyze their performance midway and underperform in an easy paper. Don’t be in this group.
2. RC passages will be pleasant to read, with very few vague questions
In the actual CAT exam, only about 20% of the RC questions will be ‘vague’. Only for a fifth of the questions will you actually be mulling over dicey one-out-of-two type scenarios. In mocks, give or take 60% of the questions are ones you will feel unsure about. So, this will be a massive difference. Right at the start of the verbal section, you might read two passages, attempt 8 questions and feel absolutely sure about 7 of the 8 answers. About this time, doubt sets in. Like the 108th ranked player who finds himself a set up against the top seed, you can let your mind wonder and suddenly realize that you have attempted only 2 questions in a 12-minute spell. This can kill your score. So, write this down somewhere – there will be very few vague questions in RC.
3. Start brightly and do not overthink things
The best way to handle nerves is to answer a few questions. Resist the temptation to assess how well you are doing, to gauge whether the paper is tough or to sense how the section is headed. Jump in, solve away, mark choices and power through. All this talk of overall exam strategy, mock CAT progression, momentum of scores, etc are all humbug. Anything that takes away your mind from the question at hand is a distraction.
Think of Virendra Sehwag and how he approaches batting. He has started his innings with a boundary on 26 different occasions. Sambit Bal described thus “He has a delightful disregard for history, whether of the past 100 years or the last ball, and thus is never weighed down by it.” Be like that. You have hit the last DI passage for six, hit the next one for six as well. The LR puzzle messed with your mind and you lost 6 minutes unnecessarily, hit the next one out of the park. Keep it simple.
4. Throw everything into it
Feel-good factor matters. Be well-attired, well-fed, well-hydrated and what-not. The small details matter. Don’t leave much to chance. If you give it a full-fledged go, even a miss won’t hurt so bad.
Best wishes for D-day.
About the Author:
Rajesh Balasubramanian runs 2IIM’s CAT program and handles more than half the classes for CAT preparation. He completed his Electrical engineering from IIT Madras in 2001 and PGDM from IIM Bangalore in 2003. He worked as an equity Research Analyst at Credit Suisse, London. This was an enriching experience, in a literal sense; and a soul-sapping experience otherwise. He finally quit his job in 2009 and joined 2IIM as director in 2010.