SNAP 2016 preparation, strategy, attempts, cut-offs and more
After the CAT 2016 that was, well… let’s just say it happened, it’s going to be a busy month with MICAT, SNAP, XAT, IIFT results, NMAT reattempts and result, and TISSNET being around the corner. So, you would need to be on your toes throughout this period and cannot afford to be lax about stuff going around you. With an eye on that, we present to you the master article on SNAP 2016 preparation, strategy, attempts, cut-offs and more.
Let’s be frank at the start. SNAP 2015 was, to put it in a word, weird! Over the last few years, SNAP has seen a lot of transition from being an out-and-out speed test to a challenging speed test with cut-offs around 40% of the total score to a speed test again (when the cut-offs went up to around 60%) and then back to a challenging test over the last couple of years. The good part is, of course, that the test would be challenging and so, you who is a prepared aspirant will have an edge over someone who is appearing simply because s/he has made a deposit into the SNAP account. The bad part is, that the test is challenging in terms of abstractness and so, you don’t exactly know what to expect. Does it make the test un-preparable and un-crackable? Of course not. Like any other test, there is a template that you need to follow which will improve your chances of cracking that test.
Things have changed this year. The number of questions has remained constant but the marks per question and the split have been altered. In previous years, SNAP used to have a 30-question-60-marks Reasoning section and a 40-question-40-marks GK section. This year, though, we have 40 questions in Reasoning with 1 mark each and a 30-question GK section.
So, it makes SNAP a 150-question paper as usual but with 150 marks at stake instead of 180. The immediate repercussion is of course what the cut-off would look like. Last year, the cut-off was some 97%ile for both SIBM and SCMHRD, SIBM Bangalore was at around 85%ile, SIIB at around 87%ile and the rest of the courses in 70s and 60s. Given the number of people appearing, we expect the percentiles to remain roughly the same this year. However, the overall marks are bound to come down. If the level remains the same as that of last year (excluding GK that had well… no level), we can expect the cut-off to be around 70-75 marks for SIBM and SCMHRD.
Quantitative & Data Interpretation & Data Sufficiency
As has been the case over the last many years, the section focuses on basics. The questions are expected to be from the following topics:
- Averages: Simple word based questions with linear equations or calculations involved. A must attempt topic. We expect around 2-3 questions from this topic.
- Mixtures and alligations: Another favourite when it comes to SNAP. In previous year papers, sometimes, even 2-3 questions have appeared in a single test and if you are not particularly good at the alligation rule application, it makes perfect sense to understand how to implement it at this point in time. Around 1-2 questions can turn up from this part.
- Permutations and combinations & probability: Another SNAP favourite. The questions are extremely simple and are probably aimed at scaring nervous aspirants away. But if you have understood the basics of P&C and probability, you should be able to cruise through the questions in 30 seconds or less. Expected number of questions: 4-5.
- Time, speed and distance/Time and work/Pipes and cisterns: Again, SNAP favourites. In a good year, you can expect 4-5 questions from this area (10% of the paper). They will consume more time than the average time invested per question and so, you have to take a call on which ones to attempt and which ones to leave. We expect at least 2 questions from this area.
- Simple equations: Ages, income & expenditure, coins distribution and other word problems involving variables are commonplace when it comes to the SNAP. A lot of focus is on these questions and almost all the questions will be solvable. However, these questions tend to have a lot of intermediate steps and the time taken to read the question and form the equations has to be considered as well. So, this will again be something that will have to be thought of before attempting the test.
- Geometry: Simple geometry questions, typically word based (and so, involving areas and volumes instead of lengths and angles) can be expected in the paper. Around 3-4 questions have consistently come from this area and so, if someone is comfortable with triangles, circles and quadrilaterals, these questions are must attempts. We expect 3-4 questions from geometry.
- DI sets: There was just 1 DI set last year and even in the best of SNAPs, we had not more than 2-3 sets based on data interpretation. Not getting stuck in a particular set is the key to going around this part of the section. Simple line/bar/pie charts or Venn diagram based sets are commonplace and are must attempts. The rest, you can skip in the first round and come back to it later just in case you have time.
- Miscellaneous: SNAP has been known to put questions from fresh domains every year be it visual reasoning, paper folds, series based questions, magic square questions, and so on. While these puzzles look tempting and have the ‘seen before’ feel attached to them, these are the questions that will eat into precious time if you are not good at them. So, most of the time, it pays to humbly let go of a question.
Typically, it is recommended that you solve somewhere around 30 questions to stay in contention for an SIBM call. The ideal time allotted to this section is around 35-40 minutes.
Analytical and Logical Reasoning Section
The section is probably an extension of the last couple of important question types from the previous section. This section can consist of DI sets, LR caselets, standalone puzzles, visual reasoning questions, series based questions, and lateral thinking based questions (aka WhatsApp puzzles from last year). It is very easy for an aspirant to overvalue this section and get stuck in it because it is so inviting and all of us love to solve puzzles.
However, it is highly recommended to be very careful in this section. This section will definitely give you an edge when it comes to the final score but considering that clearing the overall cut-off should be your primary aim, doing this section over two rounds is recommended. Even in the easiest of SNAP papers when they used to have sectional cutoffs, it did not breach 40/60 (which is an indicator of the competition) and so, if one has attempted around 25 questions in the first go accurately, one should be fine irrespective of the level of difficulty.
Considering that we have an additional 10 questions this year, we will need to allot a bit more time to this section compared to previous years. Having said that, one can again allot 40-45 minutes to this section and can hope to solve around 30 questions.
General English Section
Opposed to the other entrance tests, SNAP has traditionally focused on grammar and vocabulary with minimal focus on reading comprehension passages. There was a single RC last year and 5 questions following it which is usually the case. RCs account for around 10-15% of the section and are generally short (~200 words) and straightforward. Grammar questions are pretty easy as well and if you have followed our grammar traps and commonly confused word sets series and have a general reading habit, you should be absolutely fine with these questions and can race through these questions with minimal effort.
There could be certain interesting verbal question types though that include figures of speech, portmanteau words, word roots, prefixes and suffixes, homonyms, homographs, homophones, kangaroo words and so on. It pays to think a bit about these words and trying to find a lateral connect instead of leaving them simply because they are ‘vocabulary based’.
Overall, this is a very productive section and will help boost your score by a bit. This is not a differentiator between aspirants and so, one must be extremely careful not to lose out on easy marks in this section.
The ideal time required to solve this section would be around 20-25 minutes and one should attempt around 25-28 questions to stay in contention.
Typically, the section is a healthy mix of static and current GK with a fair share of business, sports and entertainment questions. The questions are all solitary in nature and there have been papers that have had match the following and visual questions as well. However, last year was a shocker and one could simply not understand the point behind having such an arbitrarily designed section. It seemed like a lack of effort and motivation or reason from the paper setters’ side and a lot candidates were taken aback by the ridiculousness that was the GK section.
This year, a couple of interesting things have happened:
- The weight of GK has been brought down from 40 questions to 30 questions.
- The website explicitly mentions that the General Awareness questions will be from the last two years only.
However, we would recommend that you do not enter the test with a rigid frame of mind for this section and attempt it solely on its merit. If you get an easy section as was true with a lot of yesteryear SNAP papers, you can score around 40-50% of the total marks. It is recommended that you solve the section in around 15 minutes, mark the ones that you are sure of and then take a call as to whether gambling would be a nice idea or not.
Speed vs. accuracy
While it has been repeatedly said that SNAP favours the speed enthusiasts, there is a slight subtext to it. While having speed is recommended, one has to couple it with accuracy. Considering that a good candidate would attempt anywhere from 100 to 110 questions and the cut-off would probably be around 70-75 marks so, an accuracy of less than 75% percent could hurt. If one can time the paper well, one should be able to optimize the performance by a fair bit. Remember that GK and VA would not take a lot of time and so, you can invest a sufficient amount in QA and LR.
So, irrespective of your speed, one should have an accuracy of over 80% to make sure that one is in contention for that GDPI call.
How to tackle GK
This is a pain point for a majority of the aspirants. Even if you look at last year’s test, there was no point getting all worked up about the ridiculousness of the section. A good aspirant would look at the section and tell himself/herself: ‘Hey! This is great! Now that the GK section is incredibly tough, I would surely be at an advantage as I am strong across the other sections’ whereas a poor aspirant would get panicked and tell himself/herself: ‘Oh! There goes another year down the drain. CAT did not turn out well and this stupid GK section has eaten into my chances at Symbiosis too. The test sucks, my life sucks, the whole universe sucks. Injustice has been meted out to me. Huh!’
All said and done, a vast majority does not prepare systematically with a vision of cracking the section in a test. So, if you have paid attention to a few bits of knowledge and have covered the usual suspects, you should be fine when it comes to the GK section irrespective of the level of difficulty. There are a lot of sources available online to boost your GK prep including on our site.
Disclaimer: This is a strategy to be followed in sensible SNAP GK sections. If it is as bad as last year’s, it is advisable to mark whatever handful of questions you know and move ahead quickly.
A lot of students go for a conservative approach in this section. However, it pays to be slightly more enterprising and go for the kill in this section (if the section deserves it, that is). The construct of the section is such that it includes a fair share of the ‘popular’ topics (sports, entertainment, and business). Historically, the cutoff has been around 7-8 marks in this section even in the easiest of papers when there used to be sectional cutoffs. An average aspirant should be able to attempt at least 8-10 questions confidently in this section. Now, if you are prepared, you should be able to take the average number of attempts to around 12-14. As we know that you have achieved at least a couple of marks more than what was required, you can gamble for 8 more questions by intelligent guessing (in some cases, the option that seems out of line, match the following questions, other options being seemingly ridiculous or insignificant, India centric questions, longest statement logic and so on). Even if you get one correct, it is a bonus of 1.25 marks and so, there is a lot to gain.
Side note: I consider myself an average student when it comes to GK but had successfully cracked the section by attempting a whopping 32 questions on 40 (21 correct 11 wrong did the trick for me and boosted my overall score to above 140).
Time split across sections
A healthy time split vs. attempts vs. accuracy vs. score in a moderate test would look something like this:
|Quantitative Ability||35-40 minutes||28-30||90%||25-26|
|Verbal Ability||20-25 minutes||27-28||80%||20-21|
|General Awareness||10-15 minutes||15-16||60%||7-8|
Make sure that you adhere to these time limits come what may. You can finish off a section earlier than what has been allotted but overshooting these limits would be sinful.
Handling the incorrect/tough questions
Over the last few years, there have been questions which were overtly ambiguous or incorrect in some cases. As soon as you encounter such a question, it would be a good idea to let go of the question without pumping in time to assume something that isn’t present. Be prepared for such questions as well during the test. If it doesn’t happen, great! If it does happen, you are better prepared than many others to deal with that question.
Pen based challenge
As silly and trivial as it may sound, be very careful when you are marking the answers. There have been cases in the past wherein aspirants have lost out on calls due to incorrect marking of questions. If you are prone to errors, it might help if you are a bit careful while you are marking the answers. For the really clumsy ones, you can mark the OMR sheet with a pencil first and then fill the blocks using a pen at the end. Do what you need to, just be careful.
Expected cut-offs and attempts
Last year was an aberration when it came to difficulty level of the SNAP. Earlier papers used to be easier and the cut-offs have breached 110 marks in some cases. The scores could see an increase by around 5-10% this year and the cut-offs could be slightly higher compared to last year. And of course we can only hope for a better GK section.
All the best!
About the Author:
Shashank Prabhu is the Co-founder of Learningroots (www.learningroots.in), a prep institute that specializes in MBA entrances. He has done his MBA from FMS, Delhi and is a doctor by qualification. He has topped numerous MBA entrance tests, the highlights being a 100%ile in CAT and IIFT and two-time AIR 1 in Maharashtra MBA-CET. He has also worked with reputed organizations including the Tata Administrative Services, ITC Limited and Pagalguy.com in the past in varying capacities.