CAT 2018: 10 key points to know while attempting exam
Aditi Garg, 30 Oct 2018, #CAT
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CAT 2018: 10 key points to know while attempting exam - With CAT 2018 around the corner, candidates should be absolutely prepared with the final plan of the exam day. To tackle the last minute palpitations and fear, one must be ready with a foolproof plan. In order to commit no errors and contrive months of hard work spent on CAT 2018 preparation, test takers must maintain composure to avoid silly mistakes while taking the exam. This article of Careers360 brings 10 key points to follow while attempting CAT 2018. CAT toppers and experts bring to you the Dos and Don’ts for the CAT day.

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By now you must have taken numerous mock tests and understood the nitty gritties of taking CAT 2018. You must have a ready game plan for exam day as well. However, a lot can change on the exam day and you may not be able to implement your plan. But if you keep the following pointers in mind, you will be able to sail through those crucial three hours successfully. Read the pointers below carefully to avoid erring and ensure maximum returns of the three hours on CAT 2018 day. 

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CAT 2018: 10 key points to know while attempting the exam

Here we present 10 key points to follow while attempting CAT 2018.

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1. Go through all questions and select backup questions as well: Before starting with a section, click on the tab ‘Question Paper’ on the top right side of the screen and go through all the questions of that section. Select the questions about which you are confident of solving accurately. Do select some backup questions as well so that if you are stuck in a particular question, you can move on and attempt those. Ensure that the questions you are select not only make you clear the sectional CAT cutoff, but leave you with buffer time for revision as well. As Bhushan Baviskar of IIM Shillong says, “It is more about selecting the right questions and solving them correctly. It’s never about solving all the questions. It’s more about the accuracy.”

2. Start with comfortable areas: Since CAT is a sectionally time bound test and the order of the sections is also pre decided, you cannot do much about starting the test with a section of your choice. However, you do have a choice to answer the 34 questions (for Verbal and Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Ability) or 32 questions (for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning). While selecting the questions, decide the order of attempting the questions as well. Choose the topics or areas of your strength to help you boost confidence and momentum.

Avinash Iyer, CAT 2017 topper and 99.61 percentiler shares his time management strategy which worked out well for him. “My strategy for solving the QA section was to skip questions that I knew but would take a long time; tried my hands on the unknown questions and completed the short questions. Then returned to solve the long unattempted questions. To solve the VARC section, I first took up all the reading comprehension, completed them as they take a substantial amount of time. Then I solved the fill in the blanks followed by jumbled paragraphs” he says. 

3. Utilize mark and review tools: You may find a couple of tricky or time consuming questions amongst your selected set of questions. You may not want to give up too soon since you are confident about solving them despite those questions being time consuming. The feature of Mark for Review comes to rescue in such situations. You can mark for review questions irrespective of answering or not answering. Satish Parchani, 99.65 percentiler mentions, “For every section, I read through the questions and if I was clear about the approach while reading the question the first time, I solved it or else marked the question to be solved later. These questions were again taken up in ascending order of difficulty.”

4. Do not spend more than two minutes to solve a question: Each section of CAT has a time limit of one hour. Within that time frame you have to first select the doable questions, solve them and also keep buffer time for revision or revisiting questions you have marked for review. It literally becomes ‘too little time, too much to do’ situation. Hence, if you spend more than two to three minutes for solving one question, especially the Quantitative Ability questions, it would be difficult for you to follow your time management plan. 

At times, test takers must tend to spend too much time on a time-consuming section like RC. Mayank Raj, CAT 2017 and 100 percentiler shares how he tackled this section. “On the day of the exam, for VARC, my strategy was to focus more on comprehension part than on non-comprehension part. I gave approximately 10 minutes to every passage in reading comprehension. After that I invested the last 10-15 minutes I had left in doing non-comprehension part” he says. 

5. Detailed rough work: At the beginning of the test you will be provided rough sheets or scratch sheets and pencils to do all your rough work there. You have to submit the sheets before exiting the CAT exam centre. It is very important that you do detailed rough work for each question which would enable the exam officials to understand your method of deducing the answer. As experts have already mentioned, cracking CAT is not merely a guessing game but an aptitude test. Hence, mention the question number and solve the questions in as detailed manner as possible before clicking on the correct answer option.

6. Select balanced number of questions from each section: IIMs and other top B-schools consider both sectional as well as overall performance for shortlisting and selecting candidates. A skewed performance will only lessen your chance of getting selected at an institute of your choice. Hence, while selecting questions for answering, maintain uniformity in terms of number of questions in each section.

"In the first step, I solved all the questions which I could do at one go till the end. In the second step, I attempted those questions which I thought I would be able to do after giving it a try. After attempting all such questions, if there was some time left, I attempted those which I thought were the hardest for me," mentions CAT topper Shubrajyoti Saha of IIM Shillong. 

7. Attempting TITA questions: TITA or Type in the answer or non-MCQs were introduced in CAT in the year 2015. While these questions do not have negative marking scheme in case of wrong answer unlike other questions, CAT’s TITA questions are mostly time consuming or tricky. Vinayak Kudva, Chief Mentor, IMS Learning states, “As these questions do not carry negative marking, all test-takers would be advised to definitely attempt these questions.”

Hence, you must select carefully so that you don’t compromise on time at the long run. Also, attempt the time consuming TITA questions towards the end, after you have completed the MCQs within the stipulated time frame. 

8. Time management: Since each section is timed for 60 minutes, you have to consider these three sections as three separate tests. Arks Srinivas, CEO of VistaMind suggests section wise time management tips for the test takers.

  • QA - Do it two rounds (35 min and 23 min) OR 10 minutes for 6 Questions (60 min – 34 questions)

  • DI - 30 min (7.5 min for each set)

  • LR - 30 min (7.5 min for each set)

  • RC - 40 min (8 min for each passage)

  • VA - 18 min

He also states, “In every section, sticking to the time-limits is sacrosanct. Within each set of say DI/LR or RC – doing all questions is not the objective. Reading and trying to attempt is!”

Tanya Gupta, an IIM Kozhikode student who obtained 99.47 percentile in CAT mentions, “I made sure that I attempted all the questions that I was sure of. After this, I revised my answers in whatever time I was left with.”

9. Usage of calculator – CAT is the only MBA entrance exam of India which provides test takers with onscreen calculator for simple and non-scientific computations. This feature, introduced in 2015 also received lukewarm response from the CAT takers. Majority of the CAT toppers we have spoken to are of the opinion that the onscreen calculator is time consuming and they were able to solve the questions much earlier using the speed math techniques. 

While it is completely test takers’ choice whether to use the calculator or not, there are certain questions where you can utilise this tool. Nikhil Raj Singh, who secured 99.51 percentile shares how he utilised the onscreen calculator while taking CAT. “Calculators were quite helpful for the DI section and for lengthy calculations of QA. I didn’t use a calculator for small calculations because I felt that it would be convenient for me to calculate those manually. This was an advantage for me as I am good with calculations.”

10. Do not stress: Last but not the least, do not be stressed on the exam day. Avoid last minute revision or engaging in discussion with fellow CAT takers as that might distract you or make you more nervous. As Saakshi Goel, SPJIMR Mumbai student and 99.57 percentiler shares, “Firstly, CAT is a game of how one performs best in a limited time. Secondly, it is playing on your strengths. Apart from all this, try not to get worked up. Remain focused and be calm.”

One must forget about their weaknesses and have confidence in what they know as Sourav SantikariSPJIMR Mumbai student and CAT 99.39 percentiler says, “Just keep calm. Try to take as many mock tests as possible so as to build your strategy for the exam day. Before the exam day, it is extremely important to keep your cool and rest properly.”

Also Read

CAT 2018: Sectional Time Management Tips

CAT Topper Interviews

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