How was your experience of CAT, since the pattern changed, the calculator was introduced?

As an experience, CAT 2016 was quite fulfilling one because as that countdown timer of test centre computer screen reached zero, rigorous preparation of many months came to an end too. In CAT 2016, DILR section was comparatively way too different and difficult as compared to the previous CAT exams. Many caselets did not belong to any conventional DI-LR topic, and thus, in this CAT, DI-LR section created the real differentiation in the marks of the candidates.

The inclusion of calculator was something to which we had already adjusted to as we had similar ones in the Mock-CAT exams. Although, having a calculator in this exam takes away that mental maths solving edge of engineers, but it also improves the accuracy by reducing the scope of human error.

 

What was your strong/weak section and what was your overall test-taking strategy?

“Only evaluate the first 50 minutes per section” – This was my plain and simple strategy for mock CAT and XAT exams. I only counted those marks which I had scored in the first 50 minutes of any section and thus tried to get the best possible results out of a mock test from just 2.5 hours.Even while solving the previous years’ XAT, I targeted to score at least more than that year’s XLRI-BM cutoff 30 minutes before the allotted time. This procedure was a little bit painstaking, but it did work well for me.

 

What was your strategy for individual sections (Quant/Verbal/Data Interpretation/Reading Comprehension)?

In VARC, first I used to attempt at least 18 RC questions within the first 35 minutes, then spend at least 15 minutes on VA and ended up the section by trying the remaining RC questions. I followed this pattern because, in the final 10-15 minutes, some tradeoff between a tough RC passage and VA questions is required most of the times.

When it comes to DILR, I spent the first 5 minutes to assess the whole section and attempted the easier caselets first (3-4 caselets within 35 minutes). The remaining time was allotted to the tougher caselets. In the final 10 minutes, I always tried to attempt DI as those caselets, in general, are not interdependent. So, it is still possible to get at least 1-2 questions right. While, same is not the situation with LR, as most of the times LR caselets are like an ‘all or nothing’ bet. To sum it all up, 5 to 7 caselets of DILR can be attempted within the given timeframe depending on the difficulty level.

For QA, my primary goal was to take a look at each question and to figure out their difficulty level. Doing so requires a lot of practice in QA especially when it comes to topics like Numbers, Geometry, P&C, Probability, Special Equations, etc. After getting that done, I attempted the questions in order of their difficulty level. But, it is always better to try tough questions from the topics you are good at, instead of focusing on the moderately difficult ones from relatively unfamiliar topics.

 

What was your test prep strategy over the few months leading to CAT? (last few days). Was it a test series inclined one or a chapter by chapter strategy?

I believe that both of these strategies are required to be followed to ace the CAT. In the initial phase, I used to prepare every topic, especially in DILR and QA, through the modules provided by my coaching classes. Such type of preparation is essential for the strengthening of the core concepts. After completion of the basic set of modules for each topic, I started to focus on the Test Series wholeheartedly. Since I had a clear idea about the fundamentals of almost all the topics, so I was able to attempt the tests with comparatively higher speed and accuracy than before. Until mid-October, I used to give only one mock test per week which I increased to two or three, as the D-day was coming close.

After completion of every mock test, I analysed the solutions and noted down my mistakes for each section. Consistent analyses made me aware of my strengths, weaknesses as well as helped me in reducing many repeated sets of errors.

In November, I had my 7th-semester engineering exams, right until three days before CAT 2016. Hence, I could hardly devote 4 hours per day to CAT preparation. So, to tackle this situation in the best possible manner, I started to attempt mock tests in the same time slot as my CAT exam. This routine helped a lot in adjusting my body and mind to perform at an optimum level for those particular three hours.

 

How did you manage to prepare for CAT and other exams within the same time frame?

For any other exams, solving 4-5 mock tests at least within a week before that test is a must do. It helps in the formulation of test-taking strategy as per that particular test format.

As compared to CAT, the syllabus of other management entrance exams varies slightly.

1. Many other exams like NMAT and IIFT put intense focus on Vocabulary as compared to CAT and XAT. For improving my vocabulary, I referred to ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis and High Frequency and Medium Frequency word list of ‘How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT’ by Arun Sharma.

2. DI section of other exams is more comfortable as compared to CAT and thus no extra preparation is required for it. But, since the other entrance tests don’t have a provision of a calculator, so, people who are good at speed maths will always have an edge.

Whereas, LR section of other exams is not entirely caselet based like CAT and thus many different topics like Blood Relation, Data Sufficiency, Coding-Decoding, etc., get included in this section. The new topics are comparatively easy and can be aced by just giving some mock tests of that particular management entrance test.

3. QA section of CAT and XAT is more difficult than that of other tests, and even the topics are more or less same. Thus, CAT aspirants can perform well in this section.

The one section which requires MBA aspirants to go the extra mile is the GK section of exams like XAT and IIFT test.

To prepare for this section, I read The Economic Times daily and used to make notes of it. Apart from that, I referred to Lucent’s General Knowledge and monthly Current Affairs compendiums of IAS preparation sites.

 

What resources did you use to refer while preparing for the essay writing? 

For Writing Ability Test (WAT) preparation, I relied upon various CAT preparation websites to get a brief idea about the hot GD/WAT topics. Some of the issues were Current Affairs based while others were abstract or generic. To increase my knowledge base, I read editorial pieces of The Hindu and The Economic Times.

On a daily basis, I used to surf the internet for 20 minutes to gather information on any particular topic and spent the next 15 minutes writing an essay about the same. Each day, I similarly wrote at least 3-4 articles.

Before writing an essay, I noted down my thoughts and opinions on a rough sheet of paper for the first 5 minutes. It helped in keeping the theme well-structured and consistent.

In Common Admission Process (CAP), my WAT topic was and the time allotted for it was 20 minutes.

Any message you would like to share with the candidates preparing for CAT 2017.

Hello, CAT aspirants out there! Stay confident. You guys have spent a lot of your time preparing for this and believe me it will surely pay off. I can only suggest you that take care of your health. Try to sleep a lot, if possible. Give mock tests every day or at least on every two days and analyze them thoroughly.

During the D-day, don’t worry much about the ‘What ifs.’ Everything will work out just fine. Even if you get stuck on any particular question, don’t devote more than required time for it; otherwise, you will lose out on some easy problems, and they are the game changers. Always remember, you are going in there not to win a battle, but to win the war. I wish best of luck to all of you.

“Only evaluate the first 50 minutes per section” – This was my plain and simple strategy for mock CAT and XAT exams. I only counted those marks which I had scored in the first 50 minutes of any section and thus tried to get the best possible results out of a mock test from just 2.5 hours.Even while solving the previous years’ XAT, I targeted to score at least more than that year’s XLRI-BM cutoff 30 minutes before the allotted time. This procedure was a little bit painstaking, but it did work well for me.

 

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