What Do Weaknesses Actually Mean In CAT Preparation
This is actually a great question and a really important one.
I will define weaknesses in two categories:
Symptom: The section/sub-section is your hardcore weakness if and only if when you attempt the questions from that section (say RC) with full concentration and after reading the complete passage and you are sure that you are right, but still you managed to get the question wrong. Now the key here is that you were in no sort of hurry while attempting the question from the section. You took your time and were fully confident of your answer.
To add to it, the detailed analysis shows it was an easy/medium question . Also, this is a repeated pattern in more than 25% of the questions in the section or sub-section. This clearly means that section is your hardcore weakness.
[Super Hardcore] You have no idea of what is going on in the questions in these sections unless they are very easy. You might develop cold feet in these sections.
Problem: You have no idea about the section/sub-section. It is not just lack of practice, your underlying concepts are weak and I will go to the extent of saying, they are not just weak, you actually don’t have concepts, to begin with.
Solution: The remedy is to start from scratch for these sections. For example, for me it was RC. I just didn’t get them no matter how much I practised. Then I returned to basics, read the theory, took 2 days just analysing the theory from Arun Sharma and solved questions without any time limit beginning with basic questions and applying whatever the author said to do for solving the RC. The exercise slowly yielded results and my RCs improved a lot.
You feel like you understand everything but you are just not getting it right in the exam despite giving adequate time to the question. Additionally, you might also be committing “silly mistakes” like calculation error or error in missing out on a simple concept which you had prepared very well but it just didn’t strike. If after seeing the answer script you say “Oh no, it was an easy one, just didn’t strike” or “how could I be so stupid to get this wrong”. This is a softcore weakness symptom most probably.
Another symptom is that it is likely that you took way too much time to solve the question while the other applicants took half of yours. So, for instance, if the average time spent on a geometry question by everyone is 2 minutes and yours is 3 minutes or more and this is a continued pattern for all questions of geometry, even if you get that questions right the section will remain a weakness. In all likelihood in this scenario, the questions would have been easy/medium and hence you got them right with larger time spent on them compared to a majority. If tomorrow the same section has difficult questions, you will not be able to solve them and end up spending 5 minutes because you will think this section is your strength. To identify this weakness you will need to go through the detailed report and see the tradeoff you made in terms of time spent on the question and the marks scored in the sub-section.
Problem: This indicates that the section is weak in practice. You probably need to revise the theory once and come straight to the questions.
Solution: Solve hard problems, solve easy problems in a time bound fashion. The topic should be so strong that even after waking from the sleep you should be able to think those questions faster than anyone else. Practice. Practice. Practice. There is no substitute to it and remember, no mistakes are silly.
This article first appeared on Quora.
About the Author:
Rajat Jain has done his graduation from IIT Delhi. After scoring 100%ile in CAT 2015, he converted the call from IIM Ahmedabad and is currently a part of IIM A 2016-18 batch.