30 Aug 2021 19:53 IST

CAT 2021: Make time for mock tests

Knowing which questions to attempt while appearing for the exam takes skill and intelligence

CAT, this year, is scheduled on November 28.Each of us has a unique way to prepare for a competitive exam like CAT. Some like to study for long hours, while some can do only two hours. No matter what your approach is, the key to cracking CAT lies in using the limited time for preparation to the fullest.Proper planning and execution will go a long way in helping you perform better. Avoid distractions, stay organised, and make a timetable to help you to stick to your daily goals.

Verbal Ability (VA) and Reading Comprehension (RC)

To perform well in this section, the skill sets needed are comprehension, retention, critical reasoning, interpretation, and assimilation. To acquire and develop these, begin by reading on diverse topics. You should spend around 40 to 45 minutes every day doing so. Along with this, regular practice will help you improve your reading speed as well as ability to comprehend.

Identifying question types enables you to develop an appropriate strategy to choose the right kind of passages to solve. For para-based questions, along with the aforementioned strategies, elimination techniques can prove useful too.

Data Interpretation (DI) and Logical Reasoning (LR)

This section evaluates the test takers’ potential to be a future manager, as it involves skills such as stress management, observation skills, adaptability/flexibility, and decision-making ability, with limited but different types of information. Concentrate on deciphering the data correctly. The number of question types/sets that are encountered here can be intimidating, the approaches to solve them vary too. But regular practice will increase your comfort level. Knowing the best techniques to solve always helps.

Quantitative Ability (QA)

The general perception of CAT is that it is a math-heavy paper and hence difficult to score. But, nearly 1/3rd of the questions in this section are based on simple, foundational topics such as simple equations, ratios, percentages, profit and loss, averages and mixtures, time and work, and time and distance. Anxiety about more abstruse topics such as quadratic equations, progressions, permutations and combinations, geometry prevents some students from scoring well in questions based on the aforementioned simpler topics.

Spend your time getting used to the language of quantitative aptitude questions. You should hone the art of decoding information. Time-bound practice will help you understand and short-list concepts that need revision. Prepare a compendium of formulae, topic-wise, in a logical order. Initially get your foundational mathematical concepts in place before tackling exam-level questions, because you need to sharpen your saw before you make the cut.

Phases of preparation

The techniques described here will apply to all three sections. The first phase of preparation can be used to delve deep into the concepts and to learn to apply them while solving questions. The second phase calls for a lot of practice and getting familiar with the various question types. It would be a great idea to test yourself with some mock tests at this stage and get the feel of things in a test environment.

The final phase should include time spent on plugging the loopholes that one might have figured out while analysing the mocks, working hard to improve speed and accuracy in the sectional tests and full-length mocks. One may think of writing a mock every four to five days, analysing them and working proactively on identifying areas of improvement.

Be calm and composed during the entire preparation phase. It takes a lot of patience and practice.You may face occasional spells of self-doubt, despair and discouragement — all these are part and parcel of the journey — embrace it. Managing time is extremely crucial for cracking CAT. Proper selection of questions while appearing for the exam requires skill and intelligence.

That judgement as to which ones need to be attempted and which ones can be left comes after solving a good number of mock tests. Believe in yourself, make sincere efforts, then no one can stop you from achieving your goals.

(The writer is CAT Product Head, T.I.M.E. Mumbai.)