Scoring Less Than 90%ile? – Strategy For The Final Lap – Live Chat Transcript

Just around 15 days left for CAT but you’re still scoring less than 90%ile? What should your strategy be to maximise your score in the last few days? Should there be a change in strategy? What is it that you’re doing wrong? Strong in two sections but weak in one section – how do you balance it out to maximise your score? To answer all these questions and more we have ARKS Srinivas from Vistamind to help you. ARKS Srinivas is an IIM Calcutta alumnus and has trained students for CAT over the last 20 years.

Here are some excerpts from the chat:


Hriday Agarwal:
Please tell how to improve my score.

Vistamind Counselling:
Hi Hriday, You will have to decide which areas you will concentrate on for the next 15 days of prep as well as how you will attempt in the exam ! Broadly, the 34 questions which come in CAT are divided into four areas. Arithmetic (8-10), Algebra (7-10), Numbers (4-6), Geometry (5-6) and the rest could be miscellaneous. Please decide on which two of the above topics you will prepare on and concentrate on these for the next 15 days as well as in the CAT exam. You will see a decent score as well as good percentile!


Ashok Kailasa:
Hello sir, I am unable to solve more than 3 LR DI sets in mocks. Please help me how to improve my score.

Vistamind Counselling:
Hi Ashok, This means that you are spending close to 20 min on each set. My suggestion is this. Spend the first 3 minutes to analyse the Set and determine if you can answer it. If you can, give another 5 minutes to solve. Even if you solve one or two questions, that is good. Go to the next set. Repeat. Now, there will be sets, which you would not know how to solve. Such sets have to be left in 3 minutes. This way, you would look at all the 8 sets (that are expected) and will then recognise and solve all the easy sets giving you better accuracy and probably give you better attempts too! The key is to be disciplined in your approach!


Shivam Joshi:
I am getting a good score in quant but couldn’t manage to have a good score in VA? What should I do?

Vistamind Counselling:
Hi Shivam, You haven’t told me what is your accuracy levels have been in VA. You should ensure that you attempt at least 4 sets in RC (say in 40 minutes) and attempt all the 10 questions in VA (as there are no negative marks).


Sumedh Nitnaware:
Hi. Can you please suggest ideal attempts in each section and the resulting percentile ?

Vistamind Counselling:
Sumedh, I think what you are asking is NOT attempts, but marks. One may attempt all questions and get a very bad percentile if one’s accuracy is bad. Having said that, you should look at attempting at least for around 240 to 250 marks in all three sections combined. Even if you make mistakes (which you are bound to), you would be in a position to maximise your score.


Gayatri Sundara:
Sir, it’s been difficult to maximise score in verbal due to the number of questions and time ratio. Will the exam have a mixture of easy to medium questions or as in the mocks which are difficult. And of the same level as 32 questions

Vistamind Counselling:
Gayatri, The exam will definitely have questions which are of easy, medium as well as high level of difficulty. The trick is not to get bogged down with lengthy or difficult questions. For that, you have to leave the question the moment you notice that you are spending too much time!


Ishwar Chandra:
How many accurate attempts, section wise in VARC, DI LR and QA respectively account for a decent percentile of 90 plus.

Vistamind Counselling:
Hi Ishwar, As per CAT 2015, if you had got 125 marks out of 300, you would get 90 %ile plus. Now, the individual section marks would depend on the difficulty level of these sections. For eg. last year the Verbal Section was easy and to get a 90 percentile, one had to get close to 57 marks out of 102.


Sharma Annanya:
Good evening Sir, I to score well in Quant and VARC but I am lacking in Di. Which takes a toll on me, DI becomes very time-consuming and I am able to attempt not more than 5-6 questions. Any suggestions on how should I utilise these days ?

Vistamind Counselling:
Hi Annanya, You are probably spending too much time on each question. Here is what I suggest. In the next 15 days, solve 5 sets each of DI and LR (every day) from the Mock CATs that you have written. In other words, you are going to solve close to 75 sets each of DI and LR. Now, in the exam, pick up 6 sets out of the 8 that may come, and give about 9 to 10 minutes per set (AND NOT MORE THAN THAT). In these 9 minutes, even if you solve only one or two questions per set too, it would be good. And your percentile would be good too!


Sarthak Mattas:
Sir, I am not able to improve my score in RC and VA Sometimes i get a score of around 40 and sometimes I even tend to fall to 20’s What should be my strategy for last 15 days in VA and RC?

Vistamind Counselling:
Hi Sarthak, Since we have ONLY 15 days, the idea in these 15 days is to get into a Rhythm for the exam. I suggest that you take 3 mocks at max and in the intervening 12 odd days that you have, you should solve 3 sets of RC everyday (with a time limit of 8 or 9 minutes). Also, every day , do 10 sets of Critical Reasoning, Para Jumbles, and such other Verbal areas. In the exam, make sure that you attempt at least 4 sets of RC and all the questions in VA. That would get you to attempt close to 30 questions. And even with an accuracy of 60%, you should get close to 45/50 marks.


Ankur Tiwari:
Hi, I’m getting a score around 120 in mocks. My attempts in quant and DI-LR are less, I basically Aim to attempt 20-22 questions in quant and try to answer all of them correctly, to get a score somewhere around 55 in that section. Same is the case for DI-LR, but failing to achieve this at the moment due to silly mistakes. I fear if I try to attempt more questions my accuracy and score will drop further less. My verbal is comparatively better and I’m consistently scoring above 55 marks. Can you please let me know if my strategy is correct?

Vistamind Counselling:
Hi Ankur, The basic strategy is good. In DI and LR section, you may be spending more time on a set or two which is eating your time away and therefore leaving you with less time for all sets. In the process, you may be missing out on easy sets. Your strategy should be such a way that you check all sets. And pick 5 to 6 of them (which are easy). Here is the idea : On an average, you should spend 8 minutes per set (so 8 * 6 sets = 48 minutes). There should be time to leave two sets (but only after spending at least 2 to 3 minutes each on these sets and finding that they are either lengthy or difficult). This way you would be in a position to get better accuracy!


Ishwar Chandra:
Thank you, sir. My next question – can you suggest an ideal number of sets to practice section-wise like VARC, DI and LR and topic wise like RC, PJ and Tables, pie chart, sequences and arrangements for the next 15 days. Also in Quant topic wise ideal number of questions to practice till the D-day

Vistamind Counselling:
Ishwar, This is the time where you should concentrate only on revising MOCKs as well as doing sets from original CAT papers. I suggest that you do 5 sets of LR and DI each every day. 3 sets of RC per day. In QA, you should take up two topics a day and revise questions of that topic from the MOCKS!


Vishnu S:
In VA-RC, I touch only my strong areas RC and Jumbled passage in Mocks and I am managing to score around 35. In DI-LR, I am able to score minimum 17 questions in 1 hour and was able to score around 45 with minimal errors In QA-RC, I never touch Function and Geometry and was able to attempt around 15 question and marks up to 45 on an average. What should be my strategy.? My Highest mock score is 127 and percentile 85%.

Vistamind Counselling:
Vishnu, In these next 15 days, you have to put in say 4 to 6 hours of work on re-solving the MOCKS that you have written. This will ensure that you get into a rhythm for the exam. Scores are a function of difficulty level and hence I am not too concerned on that. However, if the paper is easy, then you would fall short of attempts majorly! Hence, push yourself to attempt more in the Mocks and probably in the CAT exam. CAUTION: Do not attempt blindly!


Ishwar Chandra:
Last question of the day I took 10 AIMCATs, 5 CL mocks and 6 2IIM mocks. I was completely demotivated by a few AIMCATs by the words of my institute’s director and started taking mocks from different providers. Every time I see that all these so called experts in CAT coaching are trying to alienate students from the original CAT pattern which is a way more balanced one. There are exceptions like 2IIM that work very hard to ensure that the mocks are close to their course content. But they are few and far between. Your thoughts on the same sir.

Vistamind Counselling:
Ok. Interesting question. Remember one thing. The audience is the same. Whether you are writing AIMCATs, CL Mocks, 2IIM Mocks, SmartCATs (that we give) etc. Finally, CAT is an aptitude test. And it is a relative grading test. You should be aware of and be prepared for any eventuality in the CAT exam. Hence, do not worry about whether the Mock is closer to CAT or not closer to CAT 2015!. Remember CAT 2016 may be completely different! Hence, do not get happy only with a same or similar type of questions that have come in CAT 2015. CAT has a history of 25 plus years and the IIMs have surprised pundits too. My advise: Don’t bother about Mocks or Marks now. Concentrate on what needs to be done for the next 15 days and get your strategy for CAT and stick to it in the exam. Leave the rest to the result! All the best.

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