21 November 2022 00:14:43 IST

National CAT Course Director, T.I.M.E

CAT 2022: The last-minute scramble

CAT has a reputation for being unpredictable | Photo Credit: Getty Images

With just a few days to go for the CAT exam, the MBA entrance exam season has truly arrived . Following CAT, there are multiple tests lined up — IIFT, SNAP, XAT, TISSNET — over the next couple of months. This is right about the time aspirants start feeling some last-minute jitters about their level of preparation. Here are some tips for aspirants to help their last leg of preparation.

Selective preparation is a no-no

One of the biggest mistakes students make is to narrow down the syllabus and prepare only for selected topics based on the questions that appeared in the exam in the past few years. CAT, and OMETs like XAT and IIFT, have a reputation for being unpredictable to catch students off-guard.

There is a good probability that topics or areas that have not had much weightage in recent years might make a comeback and catch the unprepared ones by surprise.

Know your weakness

Most students believe that the best way to prepare is to take as many mock tests 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. Take not more than two to three mocks and o identify areas of improvement.

Stay away from speculation

As specified earlier, CAT and other popular OMETs are known to ask questions from a wide assortment of test areas. Therefore, there is no point speculating what might happen this year. The IIMs have not disclosed the number of questions per section for the CAT.

While the pattern is largely expected to be the same as last year, one should prepare keeping in mind all possibilities.

Maximise your score

Targeting a pre-determined number of questions to clear the cut-offs is not a great strategy as cut-offs are a function of the difficulty level of each section in the paper. If the sections are individually timed, as they are in CAT, you anyway have only 60 minutes to do what you can with the section, and hence the task on hand is clear.

For exams that have all the sections available throughout the test, the number of attempts per section should be decided during the test, based on the difficulty of the paper and not before.

No guesswork

CAT and all OMETs have negative markings. The negative marking is to deter students from attempting an extravagant number of questions even without solving them. Blind guessing almost always leads to a negative or low score and is hence to be avoided.

However, if you are able to eliminate two or three choices (out of the four or five) in a systematic way, then, you may consider making an “educated guess”, based on what your instinct tells you. Keep in mind that your “instinct” will be able to guide you only if you have fed it well — if you have prepared well enough.