CAT is just around the corner and I know jackshit! That is exactly what most of us who are sitting for the holy examination into the world of Indian b-schools thinks. Well, frankly that's all you need.
CAT is not an academic paper that you crack by burning the midnight oil. It is a paper where your wits in the moment define the probability of cracking the paper. Sure hard work pays in one way or the other, but given the time you have been now and the examination, that's not what I should be talking about now. So let's talk about what you can do to up the chances of making it to an IIM.
- Read: Make it a point to read a few good books for the next few days. The jumbled sentences, the CAT paper poses before you, have normally 5 options. All of them will look likely if you start with the elimination method. However, if you get your brain in the mode where it has been reading good English for a while, as soon as you see that jumbled sentence, a probable answer will come to your mind. Find out that option and click it without reading the others. That is your best shot. Verbal is the first section and it is important to keep your spirits high at the end of the first hour when you face the mathematical and analytical sections.
- Look out for the time sinks: Let me lay what will happen in front of you. You are solving questions one after the other and your confidence is at its peak. Then you encounter an easy question that involves some calculations. You think, what the heck, I have saved some time by going quick earlier and I know I can do this one too. You start doing the math. Soon you have invested 2 minutes into it and just a little more computations need to be done to arrive at the answer. Now because you have already invested 2 minutes, you want to give it one more minute and complete it so that those 2 minutes do not go waste! This my dear friend is a time sink question. As the name suggests, it will kill your time. Beware of them. Just jot down the question number and move on. All questions carry equal marks and if you have time left at the end of the section, you can always come back to it.
- Take risks: There is absolutely no point in scoring a CAT percentile of 97. It is as good as 007. Just an exciting number to say. Make sure that you have a decent number of easy questions in the bag and then set out on the hunting spree to try your luck. Identify questions where you can make an intelligent guess by eliminating few of the options. Follow your gut at times and take the risk. Don't overdo it. Little risk will either propel you from the 97 to 99 or bring you down below 95, either way, you know what you can get. A lot of risks will negate the positives with negatives and leave you where you are if not worse.
- Stay cool: I had hardly attempted 2/3 rd of the questions in the second section when the time was up and the third section popped up closing the second section. It was shit scary! You might be in the same shoes in the examination and with mounting stress, it is very easy to make stupid decisions in the third section. Think about this article then and remember to stay cool. All questions carry equal marks. If you missed out on something make up for it by focusing on the questions ahead.
In the end keep in mind that CAT is not a paper where you have to vomit everything that you have memorised by heart, It is a paper that is designed to challenge your wits and stress you out. It is a mental game and you have to beat it with focus. If some part of the paper was extremely difficult for you, It probably was for most of the people in that attempt. You do not have to score a percentage, but a percentile. So it is ok to not be able to do many questions. What you have to excel in is your core strength. So best of luck with the paper and hope you nail it.