10 Strategies to Ace CAT 2017 - No matter how well you have prepared for CAT 2017 in the past few months, if you don't have a strategy for the exam day, half of your hard work would be wasted. Pre-planning and a systematic approach for the test day will help you optimise your performance. Careers360 brings you top 10 strategies to crack CAT 2017 which you must follow in order to Ace CAT on the exam day.
The CAT experts and toppers mention the importance of time management, accuracy and revision during the three hour CAT 2017. The experts suggest the techniques to select questions, and the number of questions to attempt in order to crack the test with a high percentile. Let us start with the points you need to focus on while appearing in the test.
10 Strategies to Ace CAT 2017
Aspirants gearing up for the biggest MBA entrance exam can check below the 10 steps on how to crack CAT 2017.
Time Management – Time is the most precious resource, not only for CAT but for all tests. As the sections are time bound, you need to manage your time thrice, as in three hours divided into three sections. You have to manage 60 minutes for each section. Your time management strategy would be separate for the sections. For example, you may choose to spend more time in English Usage area than the Reading Comprehension questions in the VARC section or spend more time analysing and solving the DI questions if your LR section is not that strong. You are the best judge on how to utilise the one hour in a section. Ensure that you do not spend more than two minutes per question and leave some buffer time for revision. “I was wasting a lot of time on questions that I couldn’t find the solutions to. So I started giving each question a defined time within which I tried to solve them. If I could not solve it within the designated duration, I skipped the question and would go back later if there was time left,” mentions Anandu S Mukundan, a CAT Topper with 99.74 percentile and an IIM Kashipur student.
Accuracy – According to experts, the trick lies in maintaining your accuracy level while answering CAT questions. If you have an accuracy level of 100 per cent for your answers in CAT 2017, then there are chances that you can attempt selected number of questions, yet secure more than 99 percentile. Owing to the negative marking scheme, you need to be very careful while marking the answers. For each correct answer three marks would be awarded but for each wrong answer, one mark would be deducted. However, for the subjective type questions, there is no negative marking scheme. In order to ensure accuracy, attempt only those questions which you are confident about. If the questions are calculation intensive, crosscheck the calculation and answer at least twice. Also, attempt all the non-MCQs since they do not carry negative marking. Konreddy Varun Kumar Reddy, 99.84 percentiler in CAT 2016 and MDI Gurgaon student shares, "I used to keep a tab on my accuracy on each topic so that I could invest some time on my weak areas and increase the accuracy going forward."
Selecting the right questions – Selection of the right questions is of utmost importance. Before starting with a section, scan through the questions carefully to mark those which you would be attempting. “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,” states Satish Parchani, who secured 99.65 percentile in CAT 2016 and currently studying in IIM Shillong. Select some buffer questions as well in case you find that your selected set of questions turn out to be tricky or time-consuming.
Ensure sectional cutoffs – The shortlist criteria at IIMs and top B-schools include both overall and sectional cutoff. Hence, ensure that you fulfil sectional criteria along with the overall criteria. For this, you need to ensure that you put equal priority in all three sections, Quantitative Ability, Verbal and Reading Comprehension and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning. There must be parity in the number of accurate attempts. Although aspirants tend to improve the overall percentile by attempting more questions from their strong sections and minimal attempts from weak sections, the ideal strategy would be to perform equally in all three sections. “The test-takers should know their strengths and weaknesses in each of the sections and accordingly maximise their attempts in each of the sections without compromising on accuracy. Sectional percentiles will be the game changer this year,” mentions Vinayak Kudva, Head, CAT, IMS.
Number of questions to attempt – In order to ensure cracking the sectional as well as overall cutoffs, Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher shares the number of questions to attempt per section and the net score required to obtain 99 percentile and above.
Number of Attempts
Number of Questions to attempt
23 to 25 attempts
70 to 75
22 to 24 attempts
65 to 70
20 to 22 attempts
55 to 60
Section wise strategy – Suggesting the section wise strategy during the exam, Bhushan Baviskar, 99.56 percentiler in CAT 2016 and IIM Shillong student shares the strategy he had followed:
- Quantitative Abilities: I attempted 30 questions. I couldn’t solve the remaining four. So, my speed in solving questions of quant helped me overlook the factor of time.
- Verbal and Reading Comprehension: I targeted 45-50 minutes for RC part and remaining for VA.
- Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning: it was more about selecting the right questions and solving them correctly. It’s never about solving all the questions in DI/LR. It’s more about the accuracy.
Attempt your comfortable areas first – It is always better to start the test with in a confident state of mind. After selecting the questions, start attempting the section with the most comfortable questions first. This will make you comfortable with the test and will eventually help you tackle the tricky questions as well. After you solve the easier questions first and within the minimum duration, you will be left with the rest of the allotted time to solve the tougher questions with full focus and concentration. Varun from MDI Gurgaon shares, “Always start with the questions you are more comfortable to answer. In my case, between DI & LR, the latter is my strong area and I attempted it first. For DI, I normally used to do the calculation intensive sets towards the end.”
Utilise CAT Mock Test tutorial to the fullest – The CAT Tutorial or mock test is accessible to help CAT aspirants have a better understanding of the test and the technique required to be followed at the time of the test. The objective of the mock test is to make the test takers familiar about the test interface and the navigation system. It is an important factor to focus on as it saves time, and more importantly device the actual test-taking strategy. In case you are getting stuck in a particular question, or not too sure about the accuracy, it is best to mark it for review later. During your sectional revision, check the question. In case you have doubt, unmark it so that you do not lose marks.
Revise – There are chances that you would commit some unwarranted errors to forget to mark the correct option. Revision comes to rescue in such situations and help you avoid such uncalled for errors. Ensure that you keep some buffer time for each section for revising the questions before the sectional duration ends. “Keeping Buffer Time keeps you ahead of your deadline. It lets you have a good amount of time to revise the test and correct mistakes if any. This strategy of keeping buffer time also helps in cracking top management entrance exams like CAT,” says Ishaan Anaokar, 99.39 percentiler in CAT and a student of SPJIMR Mumbai.
Avoid last minute discussions with peers – Focus should be your key for the day. Do not let yourself or anybody else distract you from taking the test in a confident state of mind. Before the test a lot of candidates tend to discuss with peers or indulge in last minute preparation. This hampers the concentration and focus of the test takers. Hence, before taking the test focus on your test taking strategy and not in discussion.
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