Practice tests, or mocks, are on the must-do list of every serious CAT aspirant and would feature on every topper’s tips. So, we have so far come to understand that taking mock tests is of the utmost importance. To summarise,
- Mocks help you formulate your own strategy for the exam, which is the actual purpose of these tests.
- Each candidate has his/her own weak and strong areas, and mocks help you identify them.
- The detailed solutions and tips provided with every question, helps you understand the application of theories learnt in books.
- They help you realize which concepts need more work on, and which ones you tend to forget.
- Help you in crucial time management
- Help to familiarize you with the test interface.
However, we may wonder, how could a coaching institute or a test maker be sure of the exam pattern, difficulty level, and topics to be asked. To be frank, nobody really knows for sure what surprises the actual exam might throw. Apart from a few basic facts about the test, the exam-conducting body remains tight-lipped about everything else. In such an opaque scenario, how does one correlate one’s performance in the mocks to that on the actual exam day? This is more pertinent to those who have not scored up to the mark in mock tests, and are running low on confidence in the run-up to the D-Day.
First and foremost, is the fact that mocks ARE tougher than the actual exam. This is so because, as previously mentioned, nobody is really sure about what the exam would be like. So, mock test givers tend to prepare you for the worst.
The actual exam has a fair mix of easy, moderate and difficult questions, which might not be the case in the mocks. Herein also lies one important difference between the mocks and the real deal: NORMALISATION. Practice tests give us the raw score, while CAT scoring also accounts for normalization across various dates - time slots and difficulty levels.
Another major factor is the number of test-takers. Not every CAT candidate would be taking the same mock tests as you do. The final exam has all the possible candidates, of all the possible types, hence the numbers taking the exam is far, far more.
It is also seen that only the very serious candidates take mock exams, that would with regular consistency. This sample size is only a fraction of the total number of candidates writing the actual exam. This is one major reason why your percentile tends to be low in the mocks and is remarkably higher in the actual exam.
It has been observed regularly than those who score in the range of 90 percentile in the mocks, get over 99 in the actual exam. So, do not worry over mock test scores. Do not be bogged down by the low scores, nor feel too happy with the high ones. A test or two off once in a while doesn’t mean you entire preparation has come to a nought. Remember, even Tendulkar has had bad days. Take the mocks as they are meant to be, as practice for applying theories, formulating your own strategy, and working your brain under time pressure.
Take each mock as the actual exam, and the CAT as another mock, without the consequence of scores bearing too much on your mind. The questions in front of you are the only things under your control, nothing else is. So, gear up, chin up, and pump for the biggest exam of them all!