“Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they; Do not go gentle into that good night.”
Now that four months are remaining for your CAT, this is the make or break time for you. Carefully driven preparation can make all the difference between you and the other people. So, here I’m going to share a four-month CAT preparation strategy. It’s by no means a complete guide for your preparation or the ideal one; the best approach for development is highly personalized for an individual.
We have less than four months. Let's divide this time into four parts, one month each. Now based on your current preparation level you may on a different stage of the timeline I’m going to make. This timeline is for a person who has taken up coaching in the March batch or studied the concepts only once while giving a few mocks.
The first month
Start by giving two mocks; analyze them and note down your accuracy and number of attempts. For a useful analysis of mocks, follow my article here. Now, these two mocks will give you an idea of where you stand regarding solving questions. At this stage, you have to categorize the questions roughly as
- Questions which are taking longer to solve in the mock,
- Questions which you partially attempted and left unsolved (due to less time or don’t know the technique)
- Questions you didn’t answer because you don’t know how to solve them.
Roughly these are the categories you need to focus on in the first month. Start by reading the concepts corresponding to the questions which are taking longer to solve. Are they taking longer because you don’t know how to solve them as you look at the question or it’s your lack of practice? Whatever it is, find it out and work on it. Your first month should cover revisiting the concepts, and revise the formulas while ensuring you are practicing them. Start by doing multiple questions of each type; this will build them in your habit; now whenever you’ll see such questions in mock, you’ll solve half of it without jotting down it on paper.
The second month
Again end your first month by giving two to three mocks. Now see the difference between the previous accuracy and number of attempts. Now this month, you have to start giving as many mocks as possible. Word of caution here don’t give endless mocks; only give your next mock after carefully analyzing your previous mock. By this, I mean that, revisit the concepts of the questions which you were not able to solve and practice three-four questions of that type. By now you can also make a cheat-sheet writing down essential tricks and formulas which you can revise each day.
The primary focus for this month is to give as many mocks as possible to find the gaps in your preparation. It is not possible that you have mastered all the question type in the previous month, so this month will give you time to learn those questions as well as regular mocks, two mocks per week should be good enough.
The third month
By the end of 2nd month, you would have given 7-8 mocks, and you have an idea how you are attempting your mocks. This month will play a crucial part in your preparation. By now you have by-hearted the theory and whatever remains is on your mock taking skills. This is the execution part and the most important. So before moving any further, I would again request you to go through my article about analyzing mocks here. Because every mock has the potential to raise your scores from one level to another.
This part of your preparation you have to build mock taking strategies. You have to try different combinations. E.g. in one mock you raise your number of attempts by taking a hit on your accuracy to see how you are doing; in another, you focus on your accuracy. Often it happens that your scores in a particular section are fluctuating between high and a low. To avoid this, I recommend taking a mock aiming for 100% accuracy, no matter how little your number of attempts become. Remember 100% accuracy. This mock will tell you your scores in each section at 100% accuracy. Now all you have to do is increase the number of attempts at the cost of accuracy to maximize your scores. If you go carefully, you can achieve maxima. This would be the ideal attempt number for you under the current level of preparation.
By the last week of this month, you should have a strategy for attempting your further mocks. Now all you need to do is stick with this strategy for the next final month of your preparation. One such e.g. of the strategy would be: in the QA section skim through the questions, solve only the questions that can be solved in 30 seconds in the first go, and meanwhile mark the questions which you know how to solve but will take more than 30 seconds. Also, mark the questions which look familiar to you but will take longer. This way you have spent some 15 minutes of your one hour. Ideally, you would have done some 7-8 questions in this time. In the next go, you will solve the questions which will take some time, but you know how to solve them. This will take some 30 minutes, and you’ll be able to solve some 10-12 questions. In the next 15 minutes trying to solve 4-5 questions from your best topics. This way you would have successfully attempted roughly 21-25 questions and given that you have maintained a lower attempt level you would end up with 20 correct answers. This would easily fetch you 99+ percentile in QA section. If you boost up your attempts, you can easily get a higher end of 99 percentile.
The fourth month
This is the last month; here the idea is to practice the finalized mock taking strategy. You don’t have to try anything new here; one bad mock can demoralize you. All you need here is the confidence. Plus, you’ll be very anxious during this time. So all you have to do is keep practicing mocks and revising your cheat-sheet every day. Also, keep revisiting the theory of the sections which still bothers you in mock. You never know, maybe the question you are not able to solve in every mock will be solved within seconds on the D day.
I recommend yoga for this period, it will calm your nerves, and maybe you can catch up with some light sitcom or some movie in the last week. All your efforts are done; you have to ensure that you can give your best.
That being said, the timeline I have suggested is not restricted to months, it is the phase of your preparation. You may have one part of it a little longer than the other. With this, I wish you all the best in your preparation.