Are Mock Tests Really Important For Your CAT Preparation?
The date for CAT 2018 (25th November, 2018) has now been disclosed and if you are taking the exam this year, I’m sure you are engulfed with all sorts of doubts and questions about how to make the most of this limited time available. Before I start with this article, I’d like to tell you all that I am no CAT expert. I cannot give you full-proof strategies for achieving that 99.99 or say the coveted 100 percentile. This is just an effort to throw some light on the questions we all cogitate about while prepping.
These are some of the questions that popped in my mind while I was preparing for CAT 2016. I will try my best to answer them.
- How many mock tests are ideal? Should I practice specific problems or should I take some more mock tests?
Mock tests form an important part of our preparation. Not only do they give us a simulated experience of taking the actual test but also enhance our confidence as we keep on getting better with practice. Having said that, I’d like to mention that mock test should not be taken just for the sake of completing some predetermined number of tests. A strategy that has previously worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you. Some people take as many as 15-20 mock tests while some are okay with just 5. Once you are done with a test, take some time out to review the entire test. Go through the solutions of all the questions thoroughly. Even if you were able to solve a particular question, check out its solution to find out whether there is a faster method. This will be the major source of learning from the mock tests that you take because you will start noticing a pattern in the tests and it will help you build your strategies. I had taken around 15-20 mock tests with proper reviewing of each test because it used to give me confidence and time-saving tricks.
- How much time should I spend on preparing for each section?
Most of us discuss our preparation plans with our friends and thus get confused regarding what to focus on. The first thing to do is to identify your strength areas while practising. For example, if you realise that you score maximum marks in the Reading Comprehension section but you struggle to attempt even half of your Quantitative Aptitude questions, it is quite clear what your strengths and shortcomings are. Focus on refining your strengths and overcoming your shortcomings in this limited time available to you by managing your preparation time accordingly.
- What percentile do I need to achieve for getting into XYZ b-school?
One of my mentors used to advise me to not bother about percentiles and just concentrate on maximising the raw scores. CAT being a relative exam, it is not possible to estimate or anticipate the performance of other candidates. In such a case, trying to predict your own percentile is just futile. Of course, most of the premium b-schools of the country must have already disclosed their cut-off percentiles. A thorough study of the criteria is important to strategise things. But the current focus should only be on speed and accuracy while solving problems and not on the results.
There will never be enough time for preparing and there will always be enough reasons for not preparing. The determination is what will help you fulfil your dreams. It is better to use this time wisely for guaranteed success than to hope that you get lucky on the day of the exam. I wish good luck to all the CAT 2017 candidates for their preparation.