CAT 2015 would be conducted on a single day as per the latest news, which is all over the place. The significance of CAT getting conducted on a single day can be seen on two counts.
1. No student will have an advantage over any other student who is writing the exam. At best, studentswriting in the second slot of the given day would know whether the paper (given in the first slot) was easy or difficult. This may be speculative as one man’s difficulty could be another man’s strength!
2. No more normalization (save between two sets of papers; they can give the same paper in the morning and evening too (theoretically)) issues would plague the student.
I still expect people to ask whether it would be advantageous to write in the first slot or the second slot!!
But, all that for later!
What is of importance at this stage is to use the Mocks that one is writing and get the most out of the same.
Here are some ideas that one can use to improve upon on the performance in the Mocks!
In this article, I am not going to delve on the Test Taking Strategies (which will be coming in the coming week!). This article is to look at Post Mock activities to be done to improve for the next Mock and subsequently for the CAT!
Analysis of your Mock Scores
There are two important aspects of your Mock Score Marks: Attempts and Accuracy!
The objective would be to increase both! However, you have to make an analysis of the increase in attempts over a period of three to five mocks. The trend for three to five mocks will give you an idea as to the state of your preparation.
For eg : Here is a small chart/table one can maintain
While the illustration is given for the overall paper, it may be a good idea to have the Attempts and Accuracy percentages measured for Section I, Section II and Overall Test, separately.
Ideally, the trend in each of the sections and overall exam should be increasing.
Issues affecting the performance across Mocks
a) Difficulty level of the paper: If an exam is pretty difficulty, then automatically the attempts and perhaps the accuracy will go down.
b) Mood in which the paper is written/given.
c) Change of test taking strategy
d) Your own expectation from yourself: Whenever you write a paper with huge expectations, the result is more often than not contrary to your expectations.
e) Silly errors: Simple calculation mistakes or overlooking a part of the problem/question can reduce your scores by a significant number.
Perform Trend Analysis
Divide each section into areas, sub-sections and sub-topics and check the trend in each area, sub-section and sub-topic.
Analysis should be based on the same parameters as the overall test viz., Attempts and Accuracy.
For example: If one were to analyse Section I, then the areas are Quant and DI. Within Quant, you can sub-divide into Arithmetic, Algebra, Number Theory, Geometry, and Pure Math. In turn Arithmetic can be subdivided into the sub-topics such as Rations, Percentages, Profit & Loss, Averages & Mixtures, Time & Work, Time Speed Distance, SICI.
A similar division is required for each of the main areas – Quant, DI, Reasoning & Verbal.
Strengths and Weaknesses
From the above trend analysis one can come to know ones real strengths and weakness.
While there is no empirical evidence to prove such and such score is good OR bad, you can categorize your strengths and weaknesses by analyzing your latest FIVE mock scores
Strength: For a topic, if you have attempted around 8 out of 10 questions (say in the latest FIVE Mocks) and have got an accuracy of 75% or more, then you can safely say that that area is your strength.
Weakness: For any topic, if you have either not attempted or got less than 50% of accuracy from the number of questions given over the five marks.
All other areas/topics would come under a ‘Grey Area’ where a little more effort can get that topic into a Strength area!
You will notice to your chagrin that the areas you thought were your strengths could actually prove to be your bête noire.
The obvious remedy would be to spend time on the weak areas and improve upon the strong areas.
Immediately post writing the Mock CAT, you are expected to check the following metrics.
1. Average time spent per questions attempted :
Since we have 170 minutes to solve the paper (assuming no change of pattern) your ideal time spent per question should be 1 min and 42 sec.
However, you would see that if you have attempted only around 60 questions, then you are spending close to 3 minutes for each question attempted.
Over the next 100 days, the time taken for each attempted question should be close to the ideal time!
2. Average time spent on Correct Questions :
The average time spent on questions that you get correct is always going to be less. Make a note of the time spent on the total correct questions
Average time spent on Incorrect Questions:
In areas such as Verbal (Grammar) or RC, you will observe that the more time you spend on a question the less likely that it will give you a positive mark!
There is an urge among all of us (call it ego) that we tend to spend time on those questions on which we have already spent considerable time. It appears to be a good proposition that – since you have already spent some time, a little more time would get you the right answer. This reasoning is a flawed reasoning. The time you have spent on a question is a SUNK COST. Don’t waste more time on such questions once the time spent has crossed the average limit you set for yourself.
Average time spent on Questions that are left Unattempted:
The IIMs test your decision-making skills by throwing in some googlies. However, the student keeps trying the question and at the end has to skip the question.
This happens more in Quant and Logical ability questions. Here again, the cut-off time has to be adhered to.
Your ability to quickly decide on skipping a difficult OR lengthy question (s) will make or mar your final score!