Go on and bell that CAT

Last Updated : 03 October 2012, 13:25 IST
Last Updated : 03 October 2012, 13:25 IST

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Those who succeed in CAT often do so because they avoid errors, and navigate the traps that the exam springs up. Sai Kumar Swamy tells you all about common errors that students make in the run-up to CAT, and how to avoid them

CAT (Common Admission Test) is one of the most anticipated exams in the country with around 215,000 students seeking a management career opting to go through this test of fire. The cat, rather felis catus is often described as a small domesticated mammal but the CAT is often described as a vicious bloodletting predator, one that has claimed many a victim. This reputation of CAT stems from the fact that though thousands take this test the success ratio is abysmally low — one in hundreds of students end up at a coveted IIM. This makes CAT more a test of elimination rather than a test of selection. The successful ones often attribute their success to a cool and calm mind and the avoiding of errors and traps which the exam springs. This article will deal with the common errors that students make in the run-up to CAT.

Some of the common errors in the run up to CAT pertain to the preparation across various sections of CAT.

Error #1: Preparing only for select topics

One of the biggest mistakes students make is to narrow down the syllabus and prepare only for select topics based on what has come in the past few years of CAT. CAT has been an extremely unpredictable exam and is known to spring a surprise every year and catch students off-guard. There is a high probability that topics or areas that have not had much of a weightage in recent years might make a comeback and catch the unprepared ones by surprise. Therefore, it is in the best interest of students to prepare for all topics and hope for the best in the exam.

Error#2: Overdose of mocks

Most students believe that the best way to prepare is to take as many mock exams as possible. This obviously isn’t the right way to go about it as repeated mocks highlight the same weaknesses and if students are not analysing their mistakes and rectifying them then there will not be any major improvement in their performance. Thus a thorough analysis of every mock will yield far better dividends than taking a large number of such tests.

Error#3: Speculating on the composition of the paper

As specified earlier, CAT is known to ask questions from a wide assortment of test areas and therefore there is no point speculating as to what might happen this year. The IIMs have disclosed that CAT 2012 will have only two sections — the first section is Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and the second section is Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. Each section will have 30 questions to be answered in 70 minutes.

This means that once the time ends for the first section, students will move to the second section and will no longer be able to go back. However what is unknown is the number of questions that would come from each of the subsections within a section – Ex: the number of questions from Quantitative area and Data Interpretation that CAT2012 will have is not known and therefore students should prepare for all kinds of possibilities.

Error#4: Missing out on items to be carried to the exam centre

This year students should carry along with them their admit card and a original and valid photo identity (any one amongst driver’s license, passport, PAN card, voter ID, college ID, employee identification card or a notarized affidavit with photo, signature, date of birth and residential address) and a valid document as proof in case the student belongs to the SC/ST categories. DA candidates requiring support during the test will need to bring along the authorisation of support from Prometric as well as a valid photo identification of scribe if applicable. Ensure that you have all these items neatly filed the day before the exam so as to avoid last minute searches for some of these items.

Error#5: Blind guessing

CAT always has had negative marking in the past and this is set to continue in CAT2012. The negative marking is to deter students from attempting an extravagant number of questions even without solving them. It is has been seen in ‘experimental’ conditions that blind guessing almost always leads to a negative/low score therefore avoid blind-guessing and marking answers indiscriminately. However, if you are able to eliminate two/three choices (out of the four or five) on a proper basis, then, it is not advisable to leave out such a question even if you do not know how to solve the question.

Error#6: Targeting a specific number of questions to clear cut-offs

Targeting a pre-set number of questions to clear the cut-offs is not a great strategy as the cut-offs are a function of the difficulty level of the section and the paper. Hence this call of attempting a certain number of questions is to be made during the exam but not before the start of the exam.

(The writer is Director, Bangalore, T.I.M.E. )

Published 03 October 2012, 13:25 IST

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