CAT 2014 - Time Management Strategy for the Exam Day
Updated on Nov 5, 2014 - 12:09 p.m. IST by Sreetama Datta
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They say time and tide waits for none. When it comes to CAT preparation or test taking, it is no different. With about a month to go for CAT and massive changes in the exam pattern, needless to say your time management strategy would demand attention. This article of Careers360 will share with you the time management strategy for preparation as well as the D Day.

In this article, toppers of past years CAT and MBA experts of noted coaching institutes will share with you the time management strategy for CAT.

Before we start with the tips, here is a reminder, unlike the past few years, when you did not have much opportunity to manage your time owing to sectional time fixation, this year onwards, you will get the entire duration for both the sections. This will make it even tougher as instead of managing 70 minutes for 1 section, you will now have manage your performance in both the sections, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. As Manek Daruvala, Director, T.I.M.E. states, “With the change in test pattern (longer time duration, increase in the number of questions, no sectional time limits), efficient time management during the test has once again become extremely important.  These two key aspects – concept building and effective test taking – will determine the success of aspirants in CAT 2014.  With one month to go, the focus will now shift towards building an effective test taking strategy.” 

 

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However, encouraging the aspirants with the new exam pattern of CAT 2014, Sandeep Manudhane, PT Education Chairman mentions, “The new pattern is fantastic, only because it allows the freedom to move between sections, as per will. This can prove strategic: you do what you can do, first. Then you do what you are relatively not excellent at.” 

The following table will give you the new test structure which will be followed for CAT 2014.

Section

Area

No of Questions

Time allotted

Section I

Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation

50

Flexible

Section II

Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning

50

Flexible

Total

 

100

170 minutes

Now we will share with you the time management tips for the CAT 2014 Exam Day.

Allocate considerable amount of time to select questions – After your system displays the questions, go through each of the 100 questions carefully and select the ones you want to attempt. Don’t go by the face value of the questions as many of them are sitters, i.e. appear easy but are calculation intensive and vice versa. Selection of right questions can save you valuable time in the 170 minutes of the test. As the popular saying goes, a stitch in time, saves nine.

 

“It is important to go through all the questions since the last 5 questions of a section might have some really simple problems which are very scoring and should not be missed,” says Arijit Gorai of IIM Calcutta who obtained 99.87 percentile in CAT 2013. Manudhane adds, “The standard technique of scan - search - select – solve, works wonderfully well in this new system.” 

Start with your comfortable areas – The thumb rule of attempting any exam is to start with the comfortable questions as it is expected to be less time consuming. Manish Kumar, IIM Raipur student with 99.47 percentile in CAT 2013 shares his strategy as, “I solved questions in which I was more comfortable first and then went for the rest. It is the best Time management formula to follow as it lets you not to get stuck with one question and waste time answering that.”

Don’t take more than 2 minutes for a question – As per the toppers and experts, devote maximum 2 to 3 minutes for a question. If you allot more time, it will not let you complete the selected questions within the time frame and leave time for revision. “I allotted 2 to 3 minutes to each question. In case I was unable to solve the question, I left that question and moved forward,” shares Sneha Mittal, an IIM Udaipur student and CAT 2013 topper.

Do not get stuck with any question – If you are not able to find a way out with a particular question, it is best to leave it at that stage and move on to the next question which you have selected at the beginning of the test. After completing the questions, you may select another question and attempt it correctly but if you cannot find out the right direction within 2 to 3 minutes, chances to answer the question accurately is bleak. Sourabh Sharma, 99.38 percentiler in CAT 2013 and TAPMI student suggests, “It is important to not to waste time in a single problem. There might be a case in which you are not able to crack a problem of your favourite topic but you must leave it and move forward to other questions as we might be missing an easier question which is yet to come.” 

 

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How to make the best utilization of 170 minutes – According to the experts, there can be 2 criteria to divide time- Section specific and Minute specific. If you are going by section specific method, Sandeep Manudhane shares the following time management strategy:

Language -all possible questions - 30 minutes

Quant -B questions - 40 minutes

DI-DS -C questions - 40 minutes

LR -D questions - 40 minutes

 

Now you are left with 20 minutes, and depending on the situation and questions, you have to decide how to spend it best.

 

He also shares an alternate strategy where you can divide the minutes based on the difficulty level of the questions to be attempted.

You can break up the entire test into test-areas, and within each test-area, you can have 'rounds of attempts' viz, first, second, and may be third. So, for the same candidate the strategy will now be:

 

Language - Round 1 - X questions (easiest) - 15 minutes

Quant - Round 1 - Y questions (easiest) - 20 minutes

DI-DS - Round 1 - Z questions (easiest) - 20 minutes

LR - Round 1 - K questions (easiest) - 20 minutes

 

Language – Round 2 - X" questions (not so easy) - 15 minutes

Quant – Round 2 - Y" questions (not so easy) - 20 minutes

DI-DS – Round 2 - Z" questions (not so easy) - 20 minutes

LR – Round 2 - K" questions (not so easy) - 20 minutes

Coming to the minute specific strategy, Manek Daruvala suggests, “Try and finish the first iteration of about 140-150 minutes, for both the sections. Since you know that you need to reach the end of the paper by the last 150 minutes, you tend to keep the pace high.  Do this by attempting only the easy and do-able questions.” He adds, “In the 2nd iteration, the remaining time of about 20-30 minutes, solve the remaining questions from the section where you feel you need to answer some more questions, or simply try to answer as many questions as possible, in order to maximize your score.”

Save time for revision – Revision is equally important for ensuring a good percentile. After the completion of the test, revise the answers and the calculation to ensure that there are no silly mistakes. Allot at least 10 minutes at the end of the test for the revision of the entire paper. Tanya Gupta, an IIM Kozhikode student who obtained 99.47 percentile in CAT 2013 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.” 

Analyze mocks to know which time management strategy suits you the most – By now you must have taken number of mock tests and have got a fair idea on the time consumed on each section or question types. Based on that, chalk out your time management strategy for CAT 2014. “Use the mocks to identify the time that will be required for each section at various difficulty levels. You need to understand that the time allocated needs to be increased or decreased based on the difficulty level of the paper,” suggests Manek Daruvala.

 

Let us have a look at the section wise time management strategy.

Strategy for Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation – In this section, attempt the formula based questions first which would be less time consuming. After that, go for the time consuming and calculation intensive problems.

 

“In the Quantitative section, I divided the time in 30, 30 and 10 minute slots. In the first 30 slots, I solved only quant problems. In the next 30, I took up the data interpretation section and the in last 10 minutes I focused on answering the remaining questions,” Soumik Biswas, IIM Indore student who scored 99.94 percentile  in CAT 2013 shares. According to Sandeep Manudhane, out of 170 minutes, assign 80 minutes for the QA & DI section.

Strategy for VA & LR – Since you have the liberty to choose the area, you may start with Logical Reasoning or vocabulary questions first and keep the Reading Comprehension passages for later. Also, if you can attempt 1 RC passage out of the multiple RC questions in order to save time and increase accuracy.

“For the RCs I used to glance through the passage very quickly and then go through the questions to answer. For LR, I tabulated the data given which helped me in conserving time,” says Sohini Deb of IIM Kozhikode, a CAT 2013 98.11 percentiler. For this section, Manudhane suggests allocating 70 minutes.

Focus on speed but don’t compromise on accuracy – For CAT, accuracy is more important than time as there is negative marking involved in the test. Even if your number of attempts is not as per your expectation due to getting stuck or high difficulty level, ensure that your attempts are correct. “CAT is more focused on accuracy than speed. As long as you ensure that you are never too far behind the timer, you should complete easily,” says Gavin Dsouza, a 99.43 percentiler in CAT 2013 who is pursuing management studies from SJMSoM, IIT Bombay.

Also Read:

CAT 2014: Get the section wise preparations strategy

Why mock tests are important to crack CAT

10 weeks to CAT 2014: How to crack IIM and top B-school admissions

CAT Past 5 years Analysis and Trends

 

Other Feature Stories on B-School and MBA:

Life @ B-School Campus

Changes in CAT 2014

CAT Topper Interviews

MBA Internship Series

 

Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more news and updates on CAT 2014.

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