A Week Or So Left To Change Your Stars : Last Minute CAT Tips – Suman Saha, XLRI

A week or so left to change your stars. This is it. All the hard work you’ve put in over the past few months or years boils down to these three hours. Everything goes according to plan and there’s no stopping you. You falter at the last lap and it gets very difficult to get back up and actually get going again. You must have gone through numerous text books and numerous mock tests by now and you’ve a clear idea of where you stand. These last few days are for you to relax and contemplate on the journey which started about a year back. No pressure now. The work is all done. Just a few basic things about the three sections which will definitely help you pull through.

Get this straight into your head. RC is CAT. You nail RC and you’re in a very strong position to score well overall. If you screw up RC, unfortunately, it’s all but over for you. It’ll take a huge effort to get back up. 24 questions out of a possible 34 in the section. You can do the math. It’s extremely important to start with the passages which look comparatively easier. By the time you actually sit for CAT, you’d have developed that skill of understanding the difficulty level of the passages by a mere glance. If you can’t do that, start with those which deal with topics which you’re familiar with. You need to understand that the rest of the Verbal Ability questions being non-MCQ there’s an element of luck associated with them. Thus don’t spend too much time on those. Focus on maximising your score in RC. That’ll go a long way in deciding your final percentile. Time will not be an issue in this section so utilise it well. Anything between 16 to 18 correct answers out of the 24 RC questions almost guarantees you a score of 60+ in this section which is a commendable effort in any paper.

Most people have some difficulty with LRDI but you need to understand that this section is more about choosing the correct sets than actually your logical or data interpretation ability. I can assure you that 4 out of those 8 sets will be easier ones which wouldn’t take more than 12 to 13 minutes to solve correctly. So instead of jumping to calculations just as the clock starts, give at least two or three minutes to just glance through the sets. You’ll definitely find some graphs or some structure familiar which you’ve excelled in during your mock tests. Go for those. Remember it’s only about getting 4 sets correct in this section. 48 is a very good score in LRDI and anything more is a bonus. An hour for four sets is more than enough so spend some time in deciding which sets you want to attempt and it’ll be smooth sailing through this section. Choosing a difficult set can lead to a disaster however since it gets difficult to leave a set mid-way considering the time you’d have already invested in it so “CHOOSE THE SETS WELL”.

Finally, the most scoring section – QA. It hardly matters if you are an engineer or if you have been familiar with mathematics in the past or not. This is where you need to score. Considering CAT 2015 had a comparatively easier QA section, chances are that it’ll be tougher this year. So it’s important to gauge the difficulty of the section in the first 8 or 10 minutes. It’ll be foolish to aim a 70+ in a difficult QA section just because you’ve scored well before and you believe mathematics is your love. Stop bringing in your ego into this section, especially the engineers. You need to play smart. It’s important that you get a chance to go through all the questions in this section. So do not (and I emphasise on the DO NOT part) get stuck anywhere in your first run. Do all those which seem easy and leave behind those which seem tough. Go back to the tougher ones once you’re done with your first run. Anything more will be a bonus. Usually, a 65 to 70 is a decent score in QA.

So, please understand that the battle will be gruelling, it’ll be tough and only the strong will pull through. You’ll have momentary phases of extreme happiness and extreme hopelessness when you either get 3 or 4 consecutive questions correct or falter in 3 or 4 consecutive questions. It’s absolutely important to stay calm and composed during those situations. Believe me, 99% of the people will go through identical ups and downs in emotions throughout the test and only the calm will pull through. The difference between a 95-96%ile and a 98-99%ile is calmness. The work is has already been done. Do the things which make you happy now. Watch a movie. Hang out with your friends. Maybe give one last mock. But that’s about it. No pressure now.

I actually went out with my buddies to catch a movie the day before CAT 2015. I did screw up QA a bit to end up with a 98.48%ile but thankfully XAT came to my rescue. The point is, don’t take too much in pressure these last few days. Just keep believing in yourself and the hard work you’ve put in and everything will be just fine. Go on now. Change your stars!




About the Author:

Suman Saha is currently studying in XLRI, Jamshedpur. He scored 99.54%ile in IIFT 2015, 98.48%ile in CAT 2015 and 98.68%ile in XAT 2015. He had calls from IIM Shillong, SP Jain Mumbai, MDI Gurgaon, All the newer IIMs, NITIE and IIT B (SJMSOM). He did his electronics and telecommunications engineering from IEM, Kolkata.