While CAT has always been extremely unpredictable and even after knowing the format, the paper tends to throw some surprises almost every time. Add to that the stakes and the amount of preparation going in and pressure becomes one of the most important things to handle during the test.
This article is written by Guest Writer Shashank Prabhu – CAT 100%iler, 5 times AIR 1, Director, learningroots.com , Ex ITC, Pagalguy, TAS
The doubts creep in and one ‘assumes’ certain things will happen and starts thinking about things one does not have much control over. The Level of difficulty of the paper, competence of the co-takers, impact of slots and normalization, predictions by leading coaching institutes and many other factors cloud the imagination of a candidate while contributing precious little to the mental preparation and can lead to either stress or complacency depending on the kind of candidate you are.
The best way to deal with it is to understand yourself well as a candidate and visualize the entire 3 hours beforehand so that there are no surprises. Many will tell you what can happen based on the previous year’s test. However, CAT has been known to throw candidates off balance by tweaking a few things here and there. There could be a few unseen scenarios that could happen during the test and you should be prepared to deal with them. Let’s see what all could happen during the test and which CAT 2016 strategy should you use to counter the same:
It is almost a given that you are at your most vulnerable in the first few minutes of the test. Given that you would be surrounded by a sea of fellow aspirants desperately trying to revise stuff outside the examination hall, it is bound to create a few doubts in your mind. Add to that an extremely unpredictable verbal section and you might get carried away at the start to put a few attempts under your belt as soon as possible. It is advisable to stay away from this. Your mock analysis will come to the fore here. Stick to your strategy to avoid undue surprises. If solving an RC at the start is not what you are used to doing, avoid the RC even if it looks to be an easy passage. Understand that history is important for a reason; it repeats itself.
The easy ones are to make sure that everybody gets a platform to show that they are the bare minimum level, the moderate ones are there to make sure that the ‘prepared’ ones get separated from the also rans and the difficult ones are to make sure that those who are indeed outliers stand out from the rest. You cannot be gifted and ‘not at the bare minimum level’ at the same time. The former is a subset of the latter and not the other way around. So, make sure you attempt all the easy questions correctly without worrying about the difficult ones. Also, even if the question looks incredibly easy, do not get carried away while trying to put it behind you in 10 odd seconds. There might be a minor trap that you might have missed which would cost you a lot more than you can afford.
Difficult text-based questions
There is a conundrum when it comes to text-based questions. Many say that you have to attempt these as they do not carry negatives. But I would go out on a foot and say that it is not necessary to do so. Every question takes some time to be solved and even if it is a text based question, not many aspirants are programmed in such a manner that they will enter a random choice without even reading the question. A good thing to do will be to stick to the basics. If the question type is something you are good at then you answer it without worrying about whether it has options or not and if you are not good at it then you leave it in the first round irrespective of what it ‘looks’ like. You can ‘mark’ the text-based questions so that it is easier for you to come back to them at the end when you can make ‘intelligent guesses’.
Also Read : NMAT Preparation Strategies
New question types
Be prepared for new question types including FIJs, UDLIs, Assumptions inferences conclusions, cause and effect, courses of action, analogies, direct vocabulary based questions etc. Generally, there won’t be too many surprises thrown at you. They do not want the inverted bell curve to be heavily skewed and so, there will be a nice sprinkling of easy, moderate and difficult questions. In case there is a new question type, read the instructions carefully and understand what exactly is being asked. Do not take undue risks with these questions and treat them with extreme caution. It is OK to not attempt all the questions, especially in verbal.
Dense DI sets/Unsolvable LR sets
These are extremely tempting and one will have a feeling that s/he is extremely close to the correct answer. Not all life scenarios look like this:
Again, the right thing would be to stick to the tried and tested strategy. If you are going nowhere after a minute or so, it is better to let go and search for a doable set. You will have time left at the end to give it another shot and so, you need not worry about the difficult sets even if they look solvable. Also, remember to jot down everything on the rough sheet. Trying to think everything in your head is difficult and you would be restarting every few seconds in most of the cases. So, if there is something that you have thought of, write it down and work from there. Remember that you can think of a thousand things simultaneously but can write down only one thing. If you can’t write down the thing that you are thinking about, you are probably on the wrong path.
Appearance of single or 2-3 question-based LR-DI sets
Quite possible. Do not get carried away looking at the easiness of the set and see how many questions are present before jumping on to solving the question.
These are the poisoned pawns in most of the cases. Be very careful before attempting these. If you haven’t seen the question beforehand, it will be difficult to solve.
Obscure quant topics
Although it is extremely far-fetched, questions based on dense trigonometry concepts, Brahmagupta’s theorem, twisted questions based on Stewart’s theorem, or those based on stocks and shares might pop up in between. If you do not know the concepts, leave these questions. Just because the question has a 100 and a 5 doesn’t mean that the answer will be either of 95, 105, 500 or 20 so, avoid guessing.
The 10 min: 15 question scenario
This would be particularly plausible in QA and DILR sections. 10 minutes to go and 15 questions left. What do you do next? Stay calm and solve the best 5 questions or panic and get 2 correct 5 wrong? I don’t think there needs to be an explanation for dealing with the scenario when it comes to finalizing a CAT 2016 strategy.
First slot analysis
The second slot candidates will be dealing with an additional pressure of the first slot analysis. I know it is very difficult but it would serve you well to stay away from it. If 20 students shout their hearts out on online forums that they have solved 90 questions in the morning slot, it does not make the first slot easy. If 20 students cry saying that the paper was difficult, it does not make the slot difficult. The easiest of papers can be nightmarish for someone who is underprepared and the most difficult of papers can be a piece of cake for the aspirant who knows himself/herself the best. End of the day, you have to simply do justice to the paper. Easiness or difficulty is a relative concept and someone who has only ‘heard’ that CAT is an incredibly difficult test will find a moderate paper to be easy while someone who was expecting a 90 attempt test (after ‘hearing’ about CAT 2015) will find a 70 attempt test incredibly difficult. So Keep Calm and …
Overall, the best CAT 2016 strategy is to stick to the basics and not disregard historical trends. The pressure will be immense and the test is not meant for the weak-hearted.
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