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Strategies to crack CAT 2017

Now that you will be at the peak of your preparation phase, it is highly recommended that you do not lose focus and avoid getting stagnant. The aspirants who will sustain their energy through this phase and will scale it up a bit will be the ones who will do exceedingly well at CAT 2017. A few things that I would like to share that you can keep in mind while going through these last couple of months.

Regular practice

While you would have graduated from the reference material and booklets, it would make sense to go for filtered practice at this point in time. Instead of solving tens of questions on a particular topic, you can go for solving a mixed bag of questions. Typically, active social groups, forums and trainers will be your primary source of practice. It is recommended that you solve at least one Reading Comprehension passage and an LRDI set a day along with 30 odd challenging questions from Quantitative Ability. This will lead to a solid set of questions that you will have solved before CAT 2017.
Also, at least a couple of mocks per week should do the trick for you. With around 60 days to go for CAT, you can target around 15-20 mocks depending on how much time you can eke out towards preparation. If you have already been taking a couple of mocks per week, you can try to go a bit aggressive on the mock front and touch 3 mocks a week.

Mock taking

You will see the number of takers falling with each passing mock and your percentile will get a bit lower than what it used to be. With only serious candidates in the fray, it is obvious that this will happen. So, however bad you feel about your percentile, don’t give up! The percentile that you get has no correlation whatsoever with what you will/can get at the actual test (except maybe in situations when you are scoring 99+ in pretty much each mock in which case, you are on your path to glory). Just make sure that you analyse your mocks well and do not repeat your mistakes. If you are able to find the optimum solution to most of the quant questions that you are solving, are able to select the best sets in LRDI and are not getting ‘lucky’ in VARC, you should be fine. Maintain a repository of the interesting questions that you come across and go through these at least once a week or so.

Things to avoid during prep

There is a basic set of commandments that I advise my students to not follow while preparing for CAT. Here it goes:

  1. Overestimating the level of difficulty of the test: It is not as difficult as everybody makes it out to be. There
    have been survivors, there will be survivors
  2. Asking everyone around them who has ever scored a 99 percentile how to score that 99 percentile: I haven’t seen
    anyone asking me how to get a 100 percentile get a 100 percentile. If you are good enough, you will know the
    right questions to ask
  3. Falling in company of incapable mentors/fake gurus: I need not elaborate more on this point
  4. Burning out before the test: Taking a mock every day is not recommended if you are doing it out of hope that it
    will lead to a better score. The day prep stops being fun is the day you have started burning out
  5. Putting all your eggs in the CAT basket: Do not make a do-or-die situation out of a measly test. A test hasn’t
    decided anybody’s fate yet and it won’t in the future
  6. Taking mock percentiles too seriously: Don’t take success to your head or failure to your heart
  7. Quitting your job/Not concentrating on your final year at all: Don’t spoil your CV simply because you cannot
    manage to eke out a couple of hours from your daily schedule
  8. Not having a life: Disciplined yes, self-punishing no
  9. Overestimating your ability/Not being ready to accept that you are probably not good enough for ABC: Keep your
    expectations in check. Aim for higher than what you are capable of but understand firmly what you are capable of
  10. Solving random questions/Freebies come at a cost: Most of the free content available is not curated and simply
    downloading and printing 10 kg of material never translated into a 99 percentile

Things to keep in mind during the test

It is very important that you are subconsciously aware that your performance will be relative to that of the other aspirants and so, you do not criticize yourself too badly during the test. If you have been consistently solving 25 questions in QA but on the 26th, you are solving 20, don’t panic. If it is difficult for you, it will be difficult for everybody else. Over the last couple of years a lot of good aspirants have not done well simply because they panicked because of a difficult LRDI section (in which they did fairly okay) and messed up their QA performance. So, I would suggest that you go through the various scenarios while taking mocks so that you are not surprised during the actual test. Because the moment you are off balance, there is a huge chance that you will not end up a happy person at the end of the test. So, content and skill notwithstanding, temperament is probably the biggest factor that decides your fate at the test.

Wish you all the best for CAT 2017!

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