CAT is the most anticipated management entrance in India. Going by the trends the number of candidates appearing in CAT is declining every year by marginal numbers, however the competition is still immense owing to the fact that over 2 Lac candidates compete for around 2000 seats in IIMs i.e. only 1% of the total number of candidates get the chance to make it.
It leaves all IIMs aspirants with an uphill task to be completed within limited amount of time. One should be thoroughly prepared conceptually and mentally. But no matter how well candidates prepare most of them end up making silly mistakes that can cost them dearly. Today we focus upon some common mistakes shared by experts that can be taken care of with some vigilance on students’ part.
- Don’t Set A Target – The aim of top institutes accepting CAT scores is to get students who score more than others and not students who score a certain pre-decided percentile/scores. Directly setting up a target of minimum marks is being pushy and puts the candidates under pressure. They can feel pressurized while attempting a difficult paper or act over confident in an easier paper.Historically, CAT cutoffs have been on the lower side. Don’t worry about low scores in your mock or final exams as long as your percentiles are on the higher side.
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- Misjudged Cut-Off – There is no way one could decide or guess the cut-off while doing the paper. The guess work may stops them attempting further questions in a section once they reach a score based on their assumption. Ideally this should be avoided and students must give their best within the sectional time limit. The cut-offs for each section is decided by the institutes there is no scope to guess work. Misjudged cutoff is again a bad call.
- Maximizing Attempts – The belief that ‘If I do more I’ll get more marks is a very dangerous mind set among test takers. Remember too many wrong attempts lead to huge negative marks penalty which undo the marks of the correct answers too. In last two years there has been an increase in TITA (Type In The Answers) questions, carrying no negative marks.
As per latest pattern 75% of CAT questions are MCQs under negative marking scheme and the balance 25% are TITA questions. CAT 2018 pattern is yet to be known; hence candidates are strictly advised to have an optimum level of attempts based on the level of difficult. The challenge is to balance number of attempts with number of correct answers.
When attempting sets in DILR and RC passages, spending too much time on cracking a set can actually backfire. This has been a major cause of trouble in the LRDI section of CAT 2016 and 2017 where many brilliant students couldn’t perform well.
- Wasting Time on TITA – No negative marking in the form of TITA questions is quiet tempting. The end result being candidates spending lot of time on these questions. Have a time limit for TITA questions in proportion to their marks.
- Overlooking Scanning – Many candidates feel that scanning the paper is a waste of time and begin attempting the questions instantly. A five minutes scanning helps identifying the easiest questions that can be done first and the difficult ones for the later part. Moreover scanning helps in dividing the time within sectional limit. CAT testing pattern includes a button that allows test takers to see the complete section at any point of time. Use it wisely.
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- Relying on Tricks – Tricks and shortcuts to crack questions might work in Quant and DILR but not with RCs. There are students who heavily rely on these formula and tricks to solve questions. But only a sound base of concepts can help you in understanding and applying tricks in QA and DILR sections. In case of RCs there is no trick or code. All a candidate needs to do is read as much possible and strengthen vocabulary.
- Big No To Blind Guessing – Blind guessing might work in other entrance tests but not in CAT. The level of exam and negative marking can put candidates in trouble with blind guessing game. As per experts blind guessing has always lead to low score of many students.
- Maximizing Accuracy – Maintaining accuracy is a must but achieving high level of accuracy can lead to drop in number of attempts. In an exam carrying negative it is very important to balance accuracy against number of attempts (as pointed earlier). Avoid that by hovering between 70-85% accuracy.
- Starting Late Preparations – Many test takers believe that preparations for CAT can be done in a month or two with coaching. However, as shared by many experts and toppers should begin at least six months before the exam. CAT preparations should be systematic, timely and regular. Candidates should start preparing early in order to have strong foundation in concepts and application of the same.
- Negative Attitude – CAT top percentile holders have always made countless stories where students with average academic background have cracked the paper in first attempt. Yet again many aspirants assume that CAT can only be cracked by students with a strong academic record. Each test taker should get over with negative attitude and should develop a strong sense of time management and systematic preparation.
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Well these are some common error that aspirants must be aware of and easily avoid with some awareness and clear planning ahead of time.