Why, When and How to take CAT Mock Test - Practice makes a man perfect and the saying goes perfectly when it comes to preparing for one of the most competitive management entrance exams CAT. The management aspirants who wish to secure high percentile in order to study at top B-schools must prepare by solving CAT mock tests. For preparation of CAT, mock tests play a vital role as they examine the level of preparation for the actual test. This feature by Careers360 will guide the CAT aspirants on when and how to take CAT mock tests and prepare for the Common Admission Test which is just four months away from now.
CAT 2018 will be conducted on November 25, 2018, by IIM Calcutta. This year, the exam is likely to be on similar lines in terms of pattern, as that of last year. Mock tests form an integral part of your preparation right from the initial stage to the last few days. Let us start with what's a CAT mock test is all about.
A mock test is a practice test or a revision test to make candidates prepare for an upcoming examination. After taking a CAT mock test, candidates can evaluate their performance to check the areas they needs to work on.
Why CAT Mock Tests?
A Mock test is the most effective method of evaluating the current preparation level and re-strategize the preparation plans before the actual test. It also makes the candidates familiar with the exam pattern, marking scheme, and type of questions which may appear in the actual exam. If candidates solve past 5 years’ question papers of CAT, they will have high chances to crack the exam with a good percentile.
Sharing the significance of mock tests in his success, Tejasvini, one of the CAT 2017 toppers, who is currently studying at IIM Lucknow, says, "One should always start the CAT preparation with mock tests. It gives the idea where are we standing now? How much is to be covered? How much time would it need? Why a certain approach has to be taken? What are the necessary means to achieve?"
Apart from this, candidates also need to analyse theirperformance in every mock test. Focusing on the importance of analysing the performance in mock tests, Yash Choudhari, IIM Calcutta student who obtained 100 percentile in CAT 2016 says, “It is not just about taking mock tests but analysing your performance. The more mock tests I took, the better I understood my strengths and weaknesses.”
Adding to the importance of Mock Test, Mukesh Goyal, a 100 percentiler in CAT 2016 says, “Mock test is a very important tool in CAT preparation. Analysing concepts in mocks is very important as it helps you identify your weak areas and build upon your strong ones. They also help you manage your time by solving the question paper in time. With practice, I could judge which questions to attempt and those which I could leave”.
It is important for a candidate to focus on his/her weak areas and take mock test classes to crack the CAT. Whether, a candidate takes coaching or not, practising mocks will support him/her in securing a high percentile.
When to take CAT Mock Test
Mock tests must be an integral part of the CAT preparation strategy. Candidates must start taking mock tests at least before two months of the test. Below is the week-by-week guide for CAT 2018 Mock tests:
10-8 Week to CAT 2018 - When candidates have about 10 weeks to go, they have quite some time in hand to start the preparation if they haven’t yet done so. If they have already started preparing for the exam, then they must have covered the basics by then and they should invest time on the topics which they are not confident about. Manek Daruvala, T.I.M.E. Director suggests, "For those who start their preparation one year or more before the CAT, mock tests should be taken from around eight to 10 months from the CAT. This would give them enough time to be aware of their weaknesses and iron them out."
According to Sreeram M who secured 99.90 percentile in CAT 2017 and currently studying at IIM Calcutta, shares, "I started taking mock tests 3 months prior to CAT and twice a week on weekends and the remaining days are for analysing the mock tests and understanding in which area I didn’t perform well and practicing those chapters."
7-5 Week to CAT 2018 - At this point of time, Practice is the key. Mock tests should be an intensive part of the preparation now. When around more than a month to go, it is time to evaluate the performance. The best way to do so is through practice and mock test. “ Whenever you give a mock test, assess not only the wrong questions but also the right ones. Sometimes you may score very high, while on other occasions you might get a low score. Do not get demotivated with low score and don’t become overly confident when you score high,” says Shiv Raj, 99.94 percentiler in CAT 2016.
4-2 weeks to CAT 2018 - As hardly one month is left, revision should be the prime focus. Do not start any new topic now. Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher says, “One should write one mock in every 10 days and increase the frequency of mocks in the last month before.”
Rohan Tripathi, one of the students of IIM Calcutta, who scored 99.97 percentile in CAT 2017, says "I solved only mock tests in the last month of my preparation. Spending time analysing your attempts is even more crucial than attempting an actual mock. It helps in re-working your strategy to build an optimal one which works for you."
Last week to CAT 2018 - Candidates must now be fully prepared to appear for the test. The preparation should be complete and ample mock tests should have been taken by now. Most importantly, candidates should be comfortable and confident about their preparation. In the last few days, the mantra should be to revise and relax. Arks Srinivas, VistaMind CEO says, "One mock per week is more than sufficient provided one spends time in analysing the mock thoroughly and correcting the weaknesses before writing the next one!”
How to take CAT Mock test
Mock tests tell candidates which topics they have already mastered and what topic they need to work on. They can then direct their learning to other areas and spend minimal further time on the topics they already know. But most importantly, they must know how to solve mock tests.
Sectional mock tests - Since CAT 2018 will have three sections with a sectional time limit of 60 minutes, it is important to strategise Mock tests in such a way that candidates complete one section before time. Mock tests will let the candidates check their sectional preparation, and will allow them to get familiar with the changes.
“Spend minimum possible time in preparing on concepts and start taking mock tests on a very regular basis. The pattern of the exam is similar to that of last years, so get familiarized with the format in best possible manner”, says CAT 2014 Topper and IIM Rohtak student, Balkesh Narang.
Analyse your strong and weak sections - Mock test will allow the candidates to analyse their strong and weak areas. By knowing this, they will be able to focus more on the weaker section. It will also help them to know which section they should attempt first in the actual test to save time and energy for the difficult section. "When you start with the analysis, do not view the answer of the incorrect answers first but try to solve the question again. Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the paper, this should reveal, to you, the questions that you must attempt and the questions that are best left alone," mentions Gautam Puri.
Keep buffer time - When you start preparing for an exam through a mock test, it is important that you keep a minimum of 20 minutes buffer time to finish the test. Keeping buffer time in the mock test will let you know your time management strategy. Also, practising the test with a buffer time will give you ample of time to complete the exam on the actual test day.
Fast Facts on CAT 2018 and Exam Pattern
Common Admission Test (CAT) is a national level entrance exam for admission to management programmes at 20 IIMs and 100 other B-schools. CAT 2018 is scheduled to be conducted on November 25, 2018, Sunday. The exam is divided into three sections namely, Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC). The total duration of the exam is 180 minutes with exact 60 minutes to answer each section. Candidates will not be allowed to switch from one section to another while answering questions in a section. Although IIMs like to introduce changes in CAT exam pattern every year, this year the exam pattern is likely to remain unchanged.