With CAT 2018 done and dusted, most of you might be thinking of giving CAT a go one more time. Repeating CAT is a wise decision if you have fallen short of your expectations due to mistakes that can be rectified. A good chunk of the top percentilers in the CAT Exam are repeaters. The way a repeater should prepare is significantly different from the way a first-timer would prepare for the exam. In this article co-written by Cracku Editorial Team, let us have a look at some tips and strategy for CAT Exam repeaters.
The first thing to do now is analyzing where you fell short of your expectations. Knowing where you faltered will aid in knowing why you did so. This, in turn, will help you in figuring out how to ensure that you do not end up repeating the same mistakes again. Check whether you have missed your target by a whisker or a country mile. If you have missed your target by a huge margin, check whether your past performance in the mocks was in line with your aspirations. Ensure that you did not end up taking the exam lightly. If you did so in your previous attempt, ensure that your preparation this time is reflective of the aspirations you hold. If your preparation was up to mark and you had still fallen short, try to find out the factors that prevented you from fetching your dream score.
Your score in the previous attempt will also play a huge role in determining how you should be preparing for the exam this time. If your overall CAT Score is below the 80th percentile mark, you should be focusing a lot on getting the fundamentals right before May. If your score is above the 95th percentile, practising a lot of questions and making a few tweaks to your test-taking strategy can push you past the 99th percentile mark.
If you have scored between the 80th and 95th percentile, take a few CAT Online Mock Tests to analyze whether your concepts are sound. Taking CAT Mock Tests will help to get a clear idea about what your strengths and weaknesses are. Once you take a few mocks, you’ll have a clear idea about the topics you should be working the most on this season.
Apart from taking cues from your overall scores, try to analyze your performance across the sections in the test. If you have fallen short of the score you dreamt of by messing up a particular section, you know what lies ahead for the rest of the season. If you are a few marks short in all the sections, then the focus should be on performing to the best of your abilities across all the sections.
After forming a clear idea about what needs to be done for the next CAT, start your preparation for the next season.
Tips and strategy for CAT exam repeaters:
Since you have already taken the exam with a decent level of preparation, you’ll be comfortable with the basics of most of the topics. Also, having gone through the grind once, you will have a reasonable grasp of what the exam demands. Therefore, the focus this time should be on solving a large number of questions to impress the concepts upon your mind. Solving a huge number of questions will ensure that you hit the template questions out of the park in no time. This will help you in allocating the time to the tougher questions that you encounter in the exam.
Mr Maruti Konduri, an IIM-Ahmedabad & IIT-Bombay alumni, who is also co-founder of Cracku, an Ed-Tech Company that help MBA aspirants to crack top b-schools said "Be disciplined with the CAT Preparation Process. Try to allocate at least an hour a day for Preparation from December to June and 2 to 3 hours a day after June. Focus a lot on improving your weak areas. At the same time, do not forget to hone your strengths. Try to strike a balance between the two. Do not procrastinate and burden yourself. Ensure that you stick to the Study Plan for CAT that you drafted."
"If you are weak at a particular topic, do not hesitate to go back to the basics. Try to cover the basics of all the topics before May. Ensure that you know the fundamentals of all the topics since CAT is known to throw up surprises."
Going through the Previous Year Papers of CAT, we can find that the level of difficulty of a section can vary by a huge margin even in consecutive years. Therefore, ensure that you can put on a decent performance irrespective of the level of difficulty of the questions.
If you are weak in quants, try to do at least 30 to 40 questions every day. After completing all the concepts, try to take CAT Sectional Tests so that you get exposed to questions from various topics in that one hour. Most of the CAT Questions are multilayered and test your understanding across various topics. Therefore, ensure that you do not dump any topic completely.
Try to read for an hour a day. Having a reading habit helps a great deal in scoring well in the exam. You can start reading things that interest you and slowly graduate to reading articles across various genres. Unlike the other sections in which you can see your work fetching the CAT Results in a while, it takes a good amount of time for your efforts to pay off in the VARC section. Do not get disheartened if your scores do not reflect the amount of effort you are putting in. Analyze the mistakes you make and ensure that you do not repeat them. Ensure that you read irrespective of the scores you are getting in the mocks. Doing so will help in making you comfortable with reading, which will go a long way in ensuring that you score high on the D-day.
If you are weak in the DILR section, start practising sets from a wide range of sources. Exposing yourself to various types of puzzles from sources will be of great help in improving your proficiency in the section. CAT has moved on from traditional bar and pie charts. Though it pays to know the template questions, you have to get comfortable with handling data which are presented in unconventional formats. Apart from solving DILR sets, solve a few puzzles and Sudokus in your free time to improve your thought process. This will ensure that you do not get caught off-guard when the exam throws a difficult set at you.
Test-taking tips and strategy for CAT exam repeaters:
Any serious aspirant will vouch for the importance of taking an ample number of mock tests and analyzing them. The benefits of taking CAT Mock Tests are manifold. Mock tests ensure that your preparation process stays on track. It helps you know whether you are moving in the right direction. If your CAT Scores in the mocks do not improve despite putting in a huge deal of effort, there might be something fundamentally wrong with the way you prepare. Mocks can help you reflect upon the level of preparation and will serve as a great tool to gauge the amount of ground left to cover.
Mock tests also help you know where you stand among your peers. The same score might yield 2 extremely different percentiles in different mocks. CAT is a competitive exam and it is your relative performance that matters. Taking mocks provide you with a fair idea about the level of the people you are competing with.
Mocks also build the discipline to sit at a place and take an exam for 3 hours without any break. Taking a huge number of mocks will help to fight the concentration lapse and fatigue that most of the aspirants usually encounter in the exam. Being switched on for the entire duration of the exam is crucial to scoring well, especially if you are aiming at a 99+ percentile. Therefore, take plenty of mocks so that you develop the endurance to fight the fatigue.
Now that we have seen the advantages of taking mocks, let us move on to how to take mocks and analyze them. Take mock tests in the exam setting. Avoid taking breaks while taking the mock. Ensure that you put your phone or any other gadgets that might distract you away. Take the CAT Mock as if you are taking the actual exam. Do not cut yourself slack at any point in the exam though you know at the back of your head that it is just a mock test. Push yourself to give your best in each mock test.
After the mock, check whether your score is along the expected lines. Analyze each mock you take thoroughly. Most of the repeaters are good with the basics and it is the extent to which they take mocks and fine-tune the test-taking skills that differentiates them. Spend at least as much time analyzing the mock you spent taking it.
How to analyze the mocks?
Each mock test will have a mix of easy, medium, and difficult questions. The proportion of these questions vary depending on the level of difficulty of the mock. The same holds true in the actual CAT Exam as well. Attempting the easy questions first followed by the questions of medium difficulty is the key to scoring well in any exam. All the questions in the exam carry equal weightage and hence, there is no incentive to pick up a difficult question over an easier one.
Check whether you are picking up the right questions to answer in the CAT Mock Test. There will be a few questions set up deliberately to act as speed breakers in each mock test. Ensure that you steer clear of such questions. There is no point breaking your head over a tough question when there are easier ones waiting to be done. Some questions might be deceptively simple. If you were tricked into attempting such deceptively simple questions in the mocks, make a note of them. Ensure that you keep a watch for such questions in the actual exam and save yourself the trouble of walking into the time sink.
Do not get into a tussle with a question. Have a fixed time CAT Cut Off for each question and move on to the next one if you cannot make a headway within the time allotted. Also, sometimes revisiting a question after some time can give you a fresh perspective. Therefore, do not spend a huge amount of time trying to solve a question. Skipping a question will often do less damage than solving it correctly after investing a huge amount of time that could have been used elsewhere.
Maintain a note of the questions in which you made a mistake. Revise the notes frequently to ensure that you do not end up repeating the same mistakes in the exam.
Mock test strategy:
Develop a strategy to be implemented on the day of the exam. Test your strategy in the mocks you take. Start with a List of Strategies For CAT and then put them to test. Choose the one that suits your nature the most. After finalizing the strategy, put it to test in at least 5 mocks so that you become well acquainted with the strategy.
Take mocks in the actual time slots of CAT - 9 AM to 12 and 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM. In the last few days, take a sufficient number mocks in the slot allotted to you.
Do not go into the exam with any preconceived notions. Do not let your past performances haunt you. Try to hold your nerves while taking the exam. Though it is easier said than done, maintaining your composure while taking the exam can make a remarkable difference to your score. Believe in your capabilities and the effort you have put in. All the best for CAT 2019.