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A week before CAT

With a few days to go for the CAT here’s some last minute advice!

Guessing is more important on the CAT than on any other test you have ever taken. You’ll have to guess often on the CAT because

1.You can’t skip questions. If you hit a mental block, you have to guess. You can’t pass a question and come back to it later. Since all the answers are final, you have to make sure your guess is a good one. Most students waste more than 1/3rd of their time bogged down on a handful of tough questions. You have to learn how to guess, move on, and cut your losses after spending more than a few minutes on a question

2.At the end of the test, when time is about to expire, you have to hurry to make sure you review every question or else face the severe penalty of not finishing all the test’s questions. Many students have to do this last-minute sprint and are often left guessing the last few questions.

The key guessing strategy is POE (Process Of Elimination). A big asset going into test day is knowing that one of the five possible answers must be right. If you can eliminate two of the choices, you can increase your chances of getting the right answer by 65% (from 20% or 1 in 5, to 33% or 1 in 3). Here’s how to do it:

Eliminate answer choices you know are wrong. Even if you don’t know the right answer, you can often tell that some of the answer choices are wrong. For example, on the Data Sufficiency questions, you can eliminate at least two of the answer choices by determining if one of the statements is true.
Avoid pondering over answer choices that look suspicious. For example, on sentence correction questions, beware of any answer choices that look completely different from all of the other choices. In the Quantitative section, you can usually eliminate any answers that are negative when all the other answers are positive.

Once you have narrowed down the list of answer choices, pick one of the remainders.

Skipping is one of the most useful strategies for cracking any tough examination.
Do not get unduly concerned if you seem to be skipping many questions. In the first go, attempt only those questions that are really, really easy (that will take around a minute or less to answer). Though this is generally true across all three sections, it gains greater importance in the quant section. As you go through each question if you encounter a question that you do not know or happens to be difficult, put an X mark next to it, skip it and forget it. If you find a question that you know, but will take two or more minutes, put an A next to it, skip it and proceed. Attempt, in the first round, only those that will take about a minute. After exhausting all these easy questions, if you still have time, come back for the questions that you have marked an A. This way, your selection of questions follows the rule of attempting the easiest ones first and then the tougher ones. Putting X and A marks next to the question eliminates the necessity to re-select questions when you revisit the section.

On an average, students who crack the CAT need to get about 50% or lesser of the number of questions in the quant and DI section as their net score. That essentially translates to skipping every other question, provided you can maintain very high levels of accuracy. So, go ahead and skip questions that are difficult. It will be more detrimental to get stuck in a question and spending a lot of time on it than skipping a question that is easy by mistake.

Accuracy vs Speed in CAT
The usual dilemma that one faces while preparing for CAT takes the form of a trade off between accuracy and speed.

Accuracy is important. But you are not launching a space ship. Essentially this means that you should not hesitate to approximate whenever needed and proceed.

Similarly, one important thing that you need to keep in mind is that as you proceed with each step of solving a question; take a quick glance at the answer choices. This way, in many instances, you will find that you do not have to go to the last step and find the answer. Even if it is only one or two steps saved for each problem, that will give you enough time to crack another three or four more problems in CAT. That is a huge difference when it comes to getting calls from the IIMs.

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Parag Chitale

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