Mock tests can be seriously demotivating. One day, you're sailing through a test, and on another, you're grappling with severe anxiety, unsure of what to do next after a low score. So how do you recover from these unpredictable blows of uncertainty and anxiety that mock tests lay on you? To understand how to overcome this barrier, we break down what mock tests really are and how you can motivate yourself to do better even after a lower than expected mock test performance!
Simply Taking Mock Tests Puts You In The Top 10% Of CAT Aspirants
On average, nearly 20,000 CAT aspirants enrol for and take mock tests, with approximately 15,000 aspirants taking tests early in their preparation phase and an additional 10,000 aspirants joining in as you head closer to the CAT exam date. This means that out of the 2 lakh+ candidates that register for CAT, you're a part of the top-10% that is serious and dedicated to cracking the exam. Your level of devotion is commendable, but of course, we'll leave the pats-on-the-back for the result day.
Mock Tests Aren't Meant To Mock You
Remember that pop-up that came up after you finished your mock test, that said, "Oh wow! You literally scored lesser than everyone. Shame." No? That's because this pop-up doesn't exist, except in your mind.
The earlier you understand this, the faster you can adapt to the reality of mock tests. Mock tests aren't designed to ensure that every weekend you feel like the scum of the Earth. In fact, the exact opposite is true - mock tests are created to ensure that before you actually enter the test-centre to appear for CAT, you have dealt with the worst-of-the-worst and have a solid strategy that you know will work for you, and that at the end of it all, you don't feel like the scum of the Earth as you exit the exam centre.
Think of it like this - a bad mock test performance is a good thing! This means that you're now in a position to weed out all of the mistakes that you were likely to make on the actual test. Through constant analysis, you begin to master the art of taking mock tests, and eventually minimise your mistakes to a point that you arrive at your desired CAT score. Without mock tests, it's all conjecture.
Forget Your Mock Test Percentiles, Focus On Evaluation
Here is what four-time CAT 100 percentiler and CAT master, Rajesh Balasubramanian has to say about CAT percentiles -
"How exactly does one analyze a mock CAT? Here is a simple guide - Check your percentile.
The starting point for any mock analysis is the percentile. Not because it is very relevant, but because it is impossible to ignore. So, go ahead, knock yourself out. Check the section-wise percentiles, stare long and hard at the numbers, extrapolate the percentiles from the last 3 mocks and see where they are going, imagine how high your overall percentile would be if only you could produce your best section performances in the same mock, give in to curiosity, triumphalism and envy by figuring out others' percentiles.
Do all this to get the damn thing out of the system. Now, ignore it and focus on something that can actually be useful."
A lot of CAT aspirants, especially those new to the exam, often get stuck in the percentile trap, wherein the most important metric to test their level of intelligence is the mock test percentile. Unfortunately, when things go awry in a particularly tough DI-LR section or a complex VA-RC section, it takes seconds for them to undermine their intelligence, not realising that mock tests cannot serve as a metric to gauge how smart you are. Consequently, such CAT aspirants are likely to burn out fast as a feeling of mediocrity begins to creep in and ruin their preparation efforts.
How You Should Look At Your Percentiles
The primary purpose of the 'percentile' is to allow you to gauge the difficulty level of the test, understand your relative performance, and identify your areas for improvement. It is not a metric for intelligence, but a tool to identify weaknesses. Once you've checked your mock test percentile, you need to immediately move-on to the mock test analysis. Start focusing on components such as the time taken per question, accuracy per section, question selection proficiency, and create error logs to track your mistakes.
Create a SWOT analysis for each mock test to identify which topics are adversely affecting your overall sectional scores, the areas you can improve in, and the areas you are strong in. Some mock test series already give such information to test-takers, so make full use of it.
There are some great mock test analysis tips that you can find here. Also, Rajesh Balasubramanian answers all your mock tests queries in this post on CAT mock test FAQs - a must-read if you want some excellent tips to improve your mock test scores!
Take A Break......
One of the most important things to do while preparing for CAT is, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, to take a break. If you prepare extremely hard at a stretch, you run the risk of burning yourself out and perhaps, giving up on preparation altogether. Every time you get a low mock test score and begin to question why you're doing any of this in the first place, drop your books, order a pizza and do whatever relaxes you the most.
Take time out for yourself and when you're ready, get back to the grind, because there's a tremendous reward at the finish line!
.....But Not Too Long A Break
Sometimes, there is a certain degree of complacency that sets in while preparing for CAT. You 'gift' yourself a week off, which then turns into a fortnight in the blink of an eye and before you know it, you're way behind schedule and that's when panic begins to seep in. Such incidents are very normal in the life of a CAT aspirant, but it is important to recover from it as soon as possible and get back on track, simply because there are thousands, if not lakhs of other aspirants that preparing as hard as you and every extra question that you solve, every new formula or shortcut you memorise and apply gives you an edge over the rest; if you don't, there's always the next CAT aspirant that is ready to take your seat in an IIM.
The journey to the CAT exam is a long and enervating one, but it is these months of hard work that will ultimately bear fruit once you step into the exam centre. These next few months are crucial and require you to push yourself to a point where all you dream of and work towards day and night is this:
To conclude, we leave you with this parting thought that you should perhaps write down and post near your study-table:
Make 2019 your year! All the best.
Ask all your questions to the MBA community around mock tests, mock tests analysis, CAT 2019 and other exams on the InsideIIM Q&A section!
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