01 Dec 2016 20:19 IST

That last-minute scramble

Don’t put undue pressure on yourself and remember to have a good night’s sleep before the exam

MBA aspirants would, no doubt, have spent a lion's share of their time in the past year preparing for the CAT. But, with just a few days to go for the test, it all boils down to your preparation in the last lap.

This year the competition will be intense — more centres spread across the country will make the test more accessible to a lot of rural test-takers.

There is another vital parameter that separates this year's test from the previous years' — the uncertainty about the pattern. The pattern is set to bring its own set of complexities for the test-taker, especially those who spent a major part of their preparation time assuming the pattern would not change.

It is important that aspirants recognise that their preparation in next few days will make a big difference. One only needs to fine-tune that little bit to be able to attempt three or four extra questions that will enable one to clear cut-offs, and achieve high percentiles. That, together with improved accuracy, will enable one to achieve results not seen in mock test performances.

The first thing on the to-do list is to establish a level of familiarity with the new testing interface. Visit the official website, go through the test guide and the sample mock test that has been made available. But, as the notice on the website suggests, do not draw any inferences on the content of the paper based on the mock paper given; the difficulty level and the topics will differ from the actual CAT paper.

Apart from this, here are a few pointers that will stand you in good stead.

Work on weaknesses

Your preparation for different topics in quantitative ability, data interpretation and logical reasoning could be segregated, as given below, based on your mock test performances:

~~ Topics where both your attempts and accuracy are high: You can bank on the mocks for practice in these topics.

~~ Topics where your attempts are high but accuracy is low: You only need to solve high difficulty exercises in these topics.

~~ Topics where you typically tend to skip questions: You should solve these chapters from the basics upwards. CAT could have questions from any topic, therefore skipping any topic is not a good idea.

Your preparation for the verbal ability section revolves around a comprehensive analysis of your approach, comparing it with the right method as explained in the solutions. Whenever you commit an error, analyse and identify what went wrong. This way, you will learn something from every question you solve and avoid repeating the same error across questions and in subsequent tests.

Pace yourself

A few pointers that you must keep in mind over the next few days:

~ It is not necessary to study each area everyday. You can take up one assignment, finish it and then get on with another. The idea is that the overall balance should be maintained. Also, make sure that you practise different areas systematically.

~ It isn’t ideal to take too many mock tests very close to the exam date. A thorough analysis of the mocks you have taken so far will yield far better dividends than taking more mock tests now. Performance feedback is not just the number of questions answered right or wrong, or the net score.

An analysis of the performance should be done in terms of the kind of questions one has attempted, questions not attempted, and those that weren’t attempted but should have been, as also the aspects that need to be focused on while taking the test next time so that the same mistakes aren’t committed.

~ One size does not fit all. What may work for your friend may not work for you, and vice-versa. Think things through, take feedback and guidance; but know whose advice you should take seriously.

~ Shut your ears and mind to rumours about the CAT; they are only a nuisance and will distract you from your preparation — you will lose valuable time and get worked up for no reason. Always remember — all that you can control is how you perform in the exam.

~ If you have prepared for the CAT exam earlier, then begin with an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses. Spend the next few days only working on your weaknesses; The strengths do not take very long.

~ All preparation should cease two days before D-Day. After putting in everything that you can into preparation, it is time you unwind before the exam. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and keep a cool head before the exam.

Go watch a movie or spend time with friends; don’t worry too much about the likely pattern or difficulty of the paper. Ensure you get a proper night's sleep — you will want to stay awake to tame the CAT!

All the best!

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