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How to manage time effectively at the NMAT?

As would have been obvious by now, the NMAT is more a function of speed than of content. While a few candidates are pretty natural when it comes to speed tests, a lot of aspirants end up getting confused and too worked up in an attempt to solve questions quickly.

Order of sections

I would suggest you take your strongest section at the very beginning, your weakest section post that and the section you are okayish with at the end. This is primarily to ensure that you don’t face any issues when you are starting the test and are pretty much in full flow when it comes to your weakest section. The confidence would get carried forward and you would be able to finish the test well. Take a few mocks before the actual test to make sure that you are used to the order of sections and it is not a surprise come the actual test.

The 15-second rule

Simply put, if you cannot read a question in 15 seconds, it is not worth solving (except of course in the LS section). Candidates who are good at speed tests will tell you that they have a ‘Spidey sense’ when it comes to skipping difficult questions. Of course, it depends completely on a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as to which questions will be easy and difficult but generally, if there is a big story attached to the question, it doesn’t make sense to attempt it in the first round.

A few topics that could be blindly left in round 1 will be: Allegations, interest rates, series, input-output, data interpretation, logical reasoning caselets, and reading comprehension passages

Remember the Pareto principle

80% of your score will be from 20% of the topics that you would have prepared. Of course, you would need that 20 % to gain an advantage over the test-taking population but you also need a base score to clear the cutoffs. Remember this bit and back yourself to be able to solve around 80% of the test. As had been mentioned in the previous article, if you prepare your topics well, you should not face any issue in clearing the cutoffs. Even if it means that you are not solving even 4-5 questions at a stretch, it won’t matter much in the final tally. So, instead of getting desperate during the test, keep your calm and you should be fine.

Using the timer wisely

Make sure that you are fluent throughout the section and are not getting stuck anywhere. Unless you have the range and the speed to make a comeback it will prove fatal. Even a 5-minute idle time is enough to push you from a 200+ score to a low 190s score and so, be extremely fluid throughout the test. If you can subconsciously figure out the time spent on a question, it would be brilliant. However, you can keep track of time and always try to stay ahead of the per question time limit (i.e. say for example you are at question 20 in QS. Ideally, you should be somewhere around the 15th minute. If you are falling behind by a bit, you need to pick it up)

Understanding E + (M/2)

If you are not sure of the cutoffs or of how good your performance has been, you can simply do a quick count of the Easy + half of the Moderate questions. If you are at that level, chances are that you will clear the cut-offs. Typically the split will be approximately 40% Easy – 30% Moderate – 30% Difficult and so, the cutoff will be around 55-60% of the total marks.

So, if you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses and can be fluent without losing hope/confidence, you should do fairly well at the test. All the best!

This article has been written by Dr. Shashank Prabhu, who has been a CAT 100 percentiler, CET Rank 1, and IIFT 100 percentiler. He had a scaled score of 249/360 in NMAT 2016 and 99 percentile in each of the sections and overall score.

This article is written by our Guest Writer Shashank Prabhu – CAT 100%iler, 5 times AIR 1, Director, learningroots.in, Ex ITC, Pagalguy, TAS.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not MISB Bocconi.


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