4 Common CAT Mistakes You Must Avoid

Every self-respecting CAT aspirant is well versed with the classic pitfalls in their path to glory – trick questions, stress interviews, sure shot topics, CAT 2006-like disasters etc. Students on their lunch break from coaching and candidates waiting outside test centers have small talked about these a hundred times already. Coaching institute teachers gleefully tell each successive batch about their IIM-A bound genius protégé from five years ago who made that one critical mistake and no one ever saw him again.

But what follows is a description of mistakes that are so basic that most aspirants don’t even think about them, duly ruining their first CAT attempts. Avoid these blunders at all costs:


1. The paper is too easy

This is a classic. Thousands of students, including me, were completely thrown off by CAT 2014, the easiest in years. This was also the year CAT went from 60 questions straight to 100. All strategies for choosing easy questions go out of the window when all the questions are easy. Chaos ensued. Time management was non-existent. Ultimately, well-rounded candidates with strong basics killed it. Those of us who based our preparation on elite questions and super tough mock CATs lagged far behind.


2. Complex preparation strategies

A.K.A planning each day of your preparation and each minute of the exam. Simplify this. Try explaining the CAT format to a ten-year-old to gain perspective. 100 questions of Maths, English and Logic. No questions beyond the 10th standard level. You can do great with average preparation if you choose the questions carefully. Everyone prepares part time so a little extra effort makes a big difference. Ignore the hype and see it for the simple exam it really is.


3. Going around in circles

For me, it was circles and trigonometry. For you, it could be number theory or Venn diagrams. You probably have less than 100 hours of preparation left – spend them on mastering topics you already understand clearly. Focus on the low hanging fruit and ignore everything else. E.g. The right time to spend two hours learning how to find the last digit of 63^63^63 is in July, not November.


4. The interview is too easy (Not strictly CAT but I need 4 points)

This doesn’t happen often, but sometimes, the panel offers you candy when you come in. They keep making conversation about your hobbies and the delighted, naive you keep giving long-winded answers. Finally, whilst shaking your hand on the way out, they casually say how they look forward to seeing you on campus soon. Yet the result is a reject. This is the opposite of the stress interview.

In any interview, you are supposed to demonstrate your value to get selected. In an easy interview, the panel lulls you into a false sense of security and the opportunity quietly passes you by. Do not stay passive. It is your responsibility to demonstrate your value by engaging the panel actively and intelligently. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.



About the Author:


Abhishek Tahlan is a second year student at XLRI Jamshedpur and is part of the InsideIIM student team for 2016-17.