What's your CAT strategy?

Last Updated 13 October 2010, 12:28 IST

What is the right time to start preparing for CAT? How long should you spend on each step, before you know that you’re fully prepared for CAT? And most importantly, how do you strategise for an exam notorious for being long and time-consuming?

The answer lies in the much talked of, but seldom employed, resource of time management. One of the most critical, yet often overlooked components of your CAT preparation, it is imperative that you manage your time well to crack the CAT with relative ease.

Devising a suitable time-table, and allocating sufficient and only the required amount of time to each section should be the first thing you do. The countdown to CAT’10 has begun and is still not too late to start preparing for D-day.

While you cannot afford the luxury of having a very relaxed schedule anymore, over-exerting yourself is probably the worst thing you can do to your preparation at this stage. The best way to manage your time, keeping in mind the limited days before CAT’10, would be to:

*Concentrate more on your strong areas instead of working on your weaknesses. Honing your strengths will guarantee that you don’t miss out on the questions you are sure of. If you start working on new or difficult topics now, you will just be wasting time and may end up losing out on questions you are confident of.

*Make your own daily time-table for practice and revision. Devote ample time to each section and cover a wide range of topics so that you are prepared for every kind of question.

*Keep aside fixed days for mock tests and full-length tests so that your preparation is focused. Practising with mock tests will give you an idea of the kind of questions you may get and also help you finish the test in time.

*Analyse your mock test scores. Ensure that you devote a good amount of time understanding which areas and sections need improvement. An analysis helps you improve with every test you take, giving the final touch to your preparation.

*Read for at least 1-2 hours on a daily basis. Not only will this increase your reading speed, but will also do wonders to your score in the Reading/Comprehension section. Similarly, solve  puzzles like Sudoku, Kakuro and other such games. This practice will come in handy while you attempt the Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation sections.

*Preparing for the CAT can be stressful if you don’t take enough breaks to relax. Make time in your study schedule for recreational sessions, yoga, meditation, movies and other such activities which will help keep stress at bay. Ample sleep and relaxation time in your time-table will keep your jittery nerves at ease and give you the much-needed confidence.

Time-management during the last few days is highly recommended, but use your time wisely when actually taking CAT. This can make or break your percentile.

The two-and-a-half-hour paper generally consists of four sections. The pattern of the paper is such that your percentile in every section will contribute to your final qualifying score. Ideally, instead of looking at it as a 135-minute paper(the other 15 minutes are reserved for the online tutorial), CAT can be divided into three papers of 45 minutes each or 6 papers of 22 minutes each.

It is recommended that you begin with the section you are most comfortable with, to get a good start, and also build your confidence. You may also choose to begin with the section you generally find most difficult so that you have ample time for it, but the choice depends solely on your CAT strategy.

Skim through the paper to identify which questions you can crack easily, and begin with them. This knack for identifying questions comes with practice and is vital to your CAT preparation.  If you get stuck at a question, don’t hesitate to leave it and move on to the others.

You may end up missing out on those you are sure of if you waste too much time on a question. Most importantly, remember that the CAT is not based on absolute, but relative performance.  The objective is not to prove that you are an Einstein or a Shakespeare, but to clear the cut-off. Quality is more important than quantity when you are attempting questions.

Finally, remember to keep some time for revision so that you avoid making silly mistakes and don’t lose out on marks for questions you spent your precious time on.  The best way to hone your speed and figure out the questions you are most likely to crack is through taking giving at least 30-40 mock exams. Remember that your percentile rests on what you make of these last few days and finally the 135 minutes. All the Best!

(Published 13 October 2010, 12:28 IST)

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