Winter Is Here. Do Not Be Jon Snow. Know-How To Bell The CAT, Penned By A 99.57 Percentiler From The Himalayan IIM!
“Why be a king, when you can be a God?” – Eminem. This is the attitude one needs to attempt the CAT examination with. With months of diligent effort and a potpourri of thoughts, the 2 lakh odd applicants of Common Entrance Test 2019, this is a toast to all of you. If you have religiously prepared for the much sought after test, you might have understood that this is an aptitude test which tests your time-bound strategy, as opposed to your Math or English skills. As the batch opener at IIM Sirmaur – The Himalayan IIM, I want to give my two cents.
After entering a B-School, one tends to be as individual, authentic, and unique as one can be. This is especially important when in a completely student driven school. But not deviating from the basics, while having a strong differentiator or Unique Selling Proposition (this is me globing) is the winning mindset. So, I would cook down my advice to the basic three sections:
Verbal Ability: This depends from student-to-student because of the difference in reading speed, comprehension capability, retention capability and approach towards an RC (Reading Comprehension) or other questions. I will devise what worked out for me.
I am part of the majority to whom this was the most dreaded section. For me, mock CATs and their analysis has been the success-sutra so I took out all the 40 mocks that I have solved till then, read each essay and solved every question again – only to check the kind of questions my thought process is at loggerheads with the correct answer, the ones in which I was correct (and why) and those in which I was clueless.
This analysis essentially made me self-aware as to which questions I have to leave in the CAT and avoid the 4-mark penalty. For the questions where I was wrong, it was mushkil but not namumkin to rectify my thought process and eventually score the extra 3-marks. But the real DONs were those questions where I was left in limbo as to how the correct answer had to be chosen.
On the D-Day, I solved all the non-negative questions first, read all the essays and fixed an order by which I would go forth. The essays in CAT for the last two years were easily understandable and every essay contained at least one question that could directly be answered from a reading of the passage (and expect Charles Darwin on your CAT).
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation: The CAT is known for its challenging LRDI sets and hence one does not simply score in this section. I agree that the CAT sports impenetrable sets, but I beg to differ with Bormir in the latter half of the argument. The CAT sports two sets every year which can very easily be solved (like the chess set and the semi-pie chart from their 2018 season). I would have endorsed Ser. Boromir if he would have said “one does not simply attempt the CAT and not solve the easy sets”, and guess what, you already have 2X4X3=24 marks in your LRDI section. The other 20-30 marks are where you make use of your prep and stand in the 98th percentile.
The important tips that helped me in this section were:
. Read all sets before choosing the ones to attempt
· Chose consciously the sets you want to leave and respect your decision. DO NOT GET TEMPTED TO SOLVE THE HARDEST SET AND WASTE 40 MINUTES ON IT
· Make use of the CAT calculator
· Make tables of arrangement for data analysis questions so your work is organized and easy to fill in. Oftentimes, I lost those 4 easy marks sans tables
· Attempt all the non-negative questions and make intelligent guesses, meaning you read the set, the question and make a guess that seems practical
Quantitative Ability: This is the right time to go through all the 30+ mocks you have attempted irrespective of the outcome of the mock and analyse every single quant question. Doing so would showcase the trends like the topics in which you were able to complete a sum in less than 30 seconds or the topics which you thought were easy but tend to lose those 4 easy marks on the common miscalculations (like when a sum says Raj consumes 3/4th of the milk and you consider Raj being left with 3/4th of the milk, or cases where you did not check the units and hence ended up with an answer that is 5/18 times the correct answer – yes, this is a time, speed and distance reference), or when you spend more than two minutes on one sum and get it wrong.
Familiarizing yourself with these trends and a continuous revision of them gives you a heads-up for the D-Day. So next time you find yourself dividing 10 meters by 10 millimetres, your ratio is not 1:1. I used to attempt three rounds of 20 questions each in the first 30 minutes, where I would solve around 12 questions which were sitters or those which were direct applications of formulae or where I would simply be asked to find 20% of 2/3rd of 3420. Then were those questions which I would mark in purple – to revisit and solve. If I found time, I would touch the third set of question which are hard or lengthy and I felt I could try to get the answer. Ideal attempt would be 23-27 questions. Another important observation I would want to make is to make use of the on-screen calculator to minimize silly calculation mistakes that could cost you a 10 percentile drop, given the fact that we would be on the hot seat after giving the LRDI and not reaching expectations (take it from me, it happens). Try not to get carried away by the perception of your previous 2 hours.
CAUTION: Never, ever leave any non-negative question unattempted. Conversely never, ever guess on a question bearing the -1. It is better to leave the question than to choose between the two options you are left with.
Thank me later.
In the coming weeks, give two mocks and try to improve yourself based on the retrospective analysis. The results will be seen for sure because now you are all gifted with the boon of knowing thyself and making new mistakes. Let your sub-conscious take over and remind you of the observation you made. Be more attentive if you are asked “what does the author mean” or “what does the author not mean”, or which of the following cannot (or can) be the value. Listen to your favourite music, eat healthy, sleep tight and spend time with your favourite folks. Afterall, success is a state of mind. Build the calm before the storm, go HAM on the 25th! Up for another pop-culture reference?
In the Infinity War you fight on the 25th, be like Thor. Use all your energy, know that you are worthy and use the recently cast “Stormbreaker” in your brains and take the most logical and impactful decision. Do not think of infinite futures like Dr. Strange or act instinctively and spoil the game like Starlord. Give your best shot, even if it is going for the heart. Well, it worked for Arya Stark! Change the game. Speaking of closure, why be Jon Snow when you can be Thor?
“Why be a king, when you can be a God?”
All the best!