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Cat countdown

With only a few days to go, turn your CAT prep into overdrive!

Today we are less than one month away from the D-day Nov 16, 2008. I am sure there’ll be a lot of mixed feelings – hope, fear, discouragement, anxiety, confidence All with one commonality; one question there’ll definitely be hounding all CAT aspirants right now will be, “What can I do in this last one month ?Well, the answer is – “Lots”.

Come this time of the year and any CAT aspirant should concentrate on developing strategies for himself/herself for attacking the CAT exam. Right now, the focus should be on proper selection, prioritization, time management, street management and of course, energy management.

The first step should be to analyze your scores over various tests that you have taken till now ie both full-length tests as well as topic tests. In fact, you should graph your scores and see how you have been performing over time. This will give you a good idea of your strong and weak areas. Students preparing for CAT should understand that now is not the time to learn new things. At this time, one should focus only on honing one’s skills and polishing one’s strengths. If you have realized that you have not been improving your scores in the Reading Comprehension section then there is very little that you can do about it at this time. This would however establish the fact that Reading Comprehension is probably not your area.

CAT is a typical Management Aptitude Test. It does not aim at selecting geniuses or wizards, but focuses on selecting people who have focused thinking and can exploit their strengths to the best of their advantage. Therefore, once a student has identified his/her strengths and weaknesses, he/she should focus on answering more full-length tests, as they will be a good simulation of your actual CAT. When taking a full-length test one should remember that if the test is for 150 minutes, then you are expected to actually answer the test for only 120 to 130 minutes. You have to spare 20 to 30 minutes in selection of questions that you have to answer. For this, an analysis of your strong and weak areas is very important and it is all the more important to identify these questions in your exam and make them priority attempts. This can be quite a stressful exercise, as it implies that the first 20 minutes of your exam you will be still selecting questions whereas some of your friends may be on the 20th question.

However in the long run, you will realize that by adopting this strategy you will aim at maximum accuracy and also save yourself stress and anxiety at the end of the exam. Proper selection also helps you channelize your time and energy.

Once you have distilled your questions, the next step is prioritization. Start with those questions that you are definite about.

Care should also be taken while answering the questions -answer them, do not solve them. It’s time already that you graduate from solving questions because time does not permit so. Hence with every test you take, you should try to devise newer ways of arriving at the answer by either approximation, elimination or using the shortest method to crack the question.

Yet another problem faced by students at this time is lack of accuracy. In an exam like the CAT you should have an accuracy of at least 80%. It is an indication of a good selection of questions and of course mature thinking on behalf of the test taker. It also reflects that the person taking the test is not impulsive and the risk-taking types, but has a stable thought process and takes only well calculated risks, which is of course, a desirable quality.

Another important practice that a CAT aspirant should give to himself/herself is that of devoting equal time to all the sections. This is a good strategy as this prepares you for all kinds of paper patterns. As CAT is an unpredictable exam in terms of difficulty, you should be ready to face any situation. Hence, if you have put yourself into the habit of working in proper time limits, you will be ready for any surprise. Also, working in time limits will give you a good estimate of how much you can do in a stipulated time period. Then you can prioritize your questions accordingly.

It is also a good practice to attempt some questions from each section as the CAT expects you to show your competency equally across all the sections. This practice also prepares you for facing any type of paper pattern. However if you fine that in your attempt to answer a particular section, you are messing up your performance in other sections, then it’s a sensible strategy to be bold and leave that set of questions entirely or just answer the bare minimum to clear the sectional cut off.

Finally, this is the time for you to build your confidence. So have your feet on the ground. Do not underestimate or for that matter overestimate yourself. Take care of your self. Eat well, have a good sleep- remember granny’s formula- ‘Health is Wealth’. Keep taking full-length tests until last but one day ie Nov 15, and reserve the 15th for recuperation and gearing up for the grand finale – the 16th of Nov, 2008 – the day that’ll decide the next batch of managers.

Parag chitale

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