30 Days To CAT 2018 – A Detailed Preparation Strategy By National Head For MBA, Career Launcher

The palpitations and fear would have increased manifold!

  • Should I do only Mock CATs now that we have only 30 days?
  • Should I leave some of the topics that I am weak in?
  • My scores in two sections are good, but I am not scoring well in one section!
  • My scores are very erratic; I am losing confidence with each passing day! What do I do?
  • How can I improve at least 50 marks in the next 30 days?
  • How do I prepare for GK for IIFT and other exams while CAT prep is still on?

There are too many concerns the students are saddled with. But, the answer to almost all questions is the same.

Concentrate on what can be done rather than on what cannot be!

The acing of the CAT requires two parallel distinctive approaches. One aimed at ensuring the utilization of 3 hours fully in the exam, the other aims at ensuring the maximum returns for the hours invested prior to the exam (read preparation).

Strategy for CAT 2018

However good one may be in solving problems of QA or DILR or good in vocabulary and grammar, the exam requires a special approach. It is much like adapting oneself to various formats of a cricket game (Test, ODI, T20) even though one may be excellent in batting or bowling!

The basic purpose of the strategy is to ensure the following:

 

  • Read all questions in a section/set
  • Identify and solve the easy and medium level difficulty questions
  • Identify and avoid difficulty OR lengthy questions
  • Have a cutoff time (stop loss) for every question/every set
  • Maximize attempts
  • Get emotion out of the window while attempting the exam
  • Being systematic and clinical in approach!

 

To achieve the above, each student may have to hit upon a different idea/plan/strategy for attempting the exam.

Final Strategy For The Exam

Ideally, by now, you should have come to a viable strategy that works for you. The Mocks that you have taken and the analysis that you have done should be enough to have zeroed in on to the best approach to the CAT exam. However, here is a quick summary of how a strategy for the exam can look like.

Possible break-up of time limits:

    • QA – Do it two rounds (35 min and 25 min) OR 6 questions in 10 min
    • DI – 30 min (7.5 min for each set)
    • LA – 30 min  (7.5 min for each set)

Or

    • DILR – Give about 9 to 10 minutes per passage and try to do 5 passages.

   Every set should be read for at least 1 to 2 minutes before deciding on doing the same or skipping it.

    • RC – 40 -45 min  (8-9 min for each passage)
    • VA – 20 – 15 min (Depending on RC)

In every section, sticking to the time limits is sacrosanct. Within each set of Say DI/LR or RC, doing all questions is NOT the objective. Reading and trying to attempt is!

Preparation for the NEXT 30 days!

This is the time to forget all the books and concentrate ONLY on Mock CATs and original CAT papers.

If required, one may take up some sectional tests. However, there is really no point going back to the basics often and or solving tons of questions from each chapter/area.

In this last leg of preparation, writing the Mocks to finalize one’s strategy becomes imperative. At the same time, writing ONLY Mocks and doing nothing to improve one’s capability of solving more questions/different types of questions would be counter-productive. Writing only Mocks will set in fatigue in a few days and it will affect the actual exam.

Plan for Mocks

Take 6 to 10 Mocks in the remaining 30 days. One a week is also more than sufficient. However, your friends and seniors will tell you that you need to write more mocks. No harm in that except there is only so much time to do anything. Writing Mocks alone won’t improve your marks. Hence, use the time judiciously. Take One Mock in 3 to 6 days (as per your convenience) and then utilize the intervening days, i.e. the days between the Mocks for improving the marks in each of the areas.

Here is what I recommend for each of the sections.

Quantitative Ability

  • Important Topics
    • Arithmetic    8 to 10 questions
    • QE/Polynomials/Inequalities/Logs- 10 to 12 questions
    • Numbers 5 to 6 questions
    • Geometry/CG/Mensuration 5 to 7 questions
  • Pick 3 subtopics for every 3/4 days of work (between mocks)
  • For these subtopics – solve about 10 questions in each (From MockCATs you have already done). These are clearly possible from the Career Launchers Drill Down Analysis Tab (if you are a CL Student)

Data Interpretation

  • Divide DI into the seven types of questions
  • For each of the 3 days in between mocks, solve about 10 sets in each such type of questions
    • Tables & its variants
    • Bar Chart
    • Line Graphs
    • Pie Charts
    • Tournament & Games / Sports Based
    • Max/Minima & Venn Diagram
    • Miscellaneous – Spider, Triangle, Scatter Diagram etc.

Logical Reasoning/Logical Ability

  • Divided LR into the following
    • Arrangements (Linear and Circular)
    • Selection
    • Networks & Routes
    • Grouping, Order Sequencing & Ranking
    • Cubes & Venn Diagrams
    • Mathematical & Logical Puzzles
  • Every day Solve 5 to 6 sets of the same type. Which means on a particular day you will only do Arrangements and take up 5 to 6 sets at one go.
  • At the end of 30 days, you should have solved close to 120-150 sets of LR

Reading Comprehension

In RC, it is not enough to keep solving RC passages or taking tests. The scores will only improve if you figure out how to improve the accuracy levels while maintaining the attempts.

In the drill down analysis in the CL Student Home Page For CAT Mock Analysis, you will find the various types of questions that appear in RC. We can broadly define them as

  • Main Idea or Tone
  • Fact-Based or Direct
  • Inference Based questions

Instead of solving only RCs, it would be far better to attach the problem in a different way.           

You should spend time on each type of question. Solve about 10 questions of the Main Idea type for three to four continuous days. Similarly, do the same for the other two types of questions from the Mocks that you have already taken. This way, you are figuring out the best way to tackle these questions. While doing so, when you solve, for every wrong answer – give yourself reasons why the same cannot be the answer. This will give you a method to develop the way to get to the right answer by elimination!

Verbal Ability

The areas to work on in Verbal ability are given below. For each of these areas, one should solve each day a certain number of questions from the Mocks or Sectional Tests that one has already taken. The recommended number of questions

    • Critical Reasoning: 10 questions.
    • Para Completion/Summary/Others – 10 questions  
    • Para Jumbles: 10 questions
    • Words – From every Mock CAT, make sure that you know as many words as possible along with its usage.

Final Word

30 days can make a huge difference to your score. You can add a minimum of 60 marks than you are currently getting. That could mean jumping about 20 to 30 percentile in the final analysis. If you are getting 90 percentile now, you can hope to touch 99 percentile with this approach. Even students, who are only at around 50 to 60 percentile in their Mocks, can reach more than 80%ile and be in the reckoning for the top 50 B Schools.

What is important is to work without fear of failure. Career Launcher is here to help you achieve your goal.

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.

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