“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

As the mock season is unfolding I have been getting repeated queries from aspirants who are complaining that despite solving all the basic study materials, learning all the formulas and implementing all the ‘gyaan and fundas’ they are unable to score well in mocks.

It can be disheartening to be honest if your persistent efforts don’t translate into great results but CAT has always been less about knowledge and more about critical decision making under a time-constraint, resource starved environment.

But first let’s discuss the underlying reasons for taking a mock:

  • Acquaint yourself with the test taking environment and procedure.
  • Discover your mistakes (and consequently weaknesses) and to not repeat them.
  • Develop and discover short cuts, tricks and gain exposure to the amazing questions that the mock tests possess.
  • Develop a strategy for taking the test.

Hence the very motive of taking a mock is not to score 99+ in all of them and boast about it in front of your friends but rather fine-tune your “game” for the C-Day.

The Importance of Practice

“The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle”

Professionals in business and in life know that spectacular performances are preceded by spectacular preparation.

Hence it is imperative that you give at least 15-20 mocks, but what happens with most students is that they score 50-70 percentile in the initial 4-5 mocks and end up giving up or losing their confidence before the CAT even happened (26th November this year).

I have seen many testimonies where students who were scoring 0 or even negatives in mocks ended up scoring 99 percentile in CAT, so never give up and keep on grinding!

“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”

Tips for taking a mock test

 1. It’s about selection more than solving (My strategy for CAT): What really separates the 99 percentilers from 90 percentilers is their ability to select the right questions. But how do you do that? The answer lies in solving the exam in multiple rounds.

– In the first round quickly read all the questions

– Bookmark the ones you FEEL are easy to solve or are from the areas of your strengths.

– Solve them first and then again come back to solve the remaining questions.

2. Choose your battles carefully, and you might never lose one: I loathe geometry, I did everything I could to master it, spent around 3 years preparing for it and still used to struggle with it. So on that fateful day of 29th November 2015, I had decided that I will probably avoid attempting it, but I was also pretty wise by now (giving around 50-60 mocks does that to you) and decided that I won’t completely avoid it but keep it low on my priority list. I ended up solving 4 questions related to geometry that day (All correct). So the lesson is that be wary of your weaknesses but don’t avoid solving questions related to that field altogether since CAT might throw easy questions on it, on that particular day.

3. Less emotional and more objective: Being edgy, emotional and impulsive is not a very suitable quality in a prospective manager and I wonder if the CAT actually tests your ability to subside your feelings and just solve all the problems like a cold-hearted machine. As someone who went from scoring 80s in mock to 99.50 in the real CAT, I can vouch that it is extremely important, especially at the time of taking a mock to not let a question get to your ego or lose all your confidence just because you could not solve that LR set. Stay calm, keep your composure. If you cannot solve this one question, just let it go.

4. Reduce your concentration lapses as much as possible: Most students have 2-3 spells of 5-10 minutes where nothing gets done. They have to be eliminated. How? By taking more and more mocks as doing that will train your mind to be at its best for 180 continuous minutes.

5. Try out different strategies: What worked for me might not work for you, make your own strategies and try to implement them effectively.

6. Try to take multiple Mock CATs: TIME is great with quant and DILR, IMS is the god in VA/RC and CL does everything pretty well. I would suggest taking any 2 of them. Multiple friends can share an ID. Make sure you are tested under a different setting.

7. Finally, don’t take your percentiles too seriously: The number of students who consistently score 99th percentile in various test series but fail to replicate the same success during the real CAT is very high every year.

Mock tests are only a way for you to gauge your performance level and even if they are not so good right now you can always improve by practising more and like Jaime Lannister said recently “There are always lessons in failures.” you can also fail fast and learn fast by giving these mocks.


Midnight Ruminations

No matter how good you are at planning, the pressure never goes away. So I don’t fight it. I feed off it. I turn pressure into motivation to do my best 

Most of you might be able to solve a question in a classroom or a “home” environment but would tend to struggle while solving that same question during a mock. The test environment, running clock and the pressure of the occasion gets to us, it’s normal. But when you give a lot of mocks, that pressure starts feeling familiar and that test environment starts feeling like a “home”. Try it for yourself.

You can read the story of how I cleared CAT here.

Karan Kakkar

A die-hard Roger Federer fan, Karan is a singer and a musician who plays three percussion instruments. After spending the first 24 years of his life in Delhi, he finally found solace in the beautiful campus of IIM Kozhikode. Known simply as Kakkar among his friends, he prides myself on having watched all the IMDB top 250 movies in a single summer long movie marathon. He served as one of the student team members/writers of insideIIM.com, representing IIM Kozhikode.



mihir bathia

Thank you Karan, mocks have been playing with my confidence for a while now. Though now, completely phlegmatic towards them. All the best for your not so Kozhi (cosy intended) battles!

Kavita Singh

Wow. I got some really good tips
that I had been looking for. Quite helpful. Thanks for sharing this article. ☺️