Let’s discuss about you, my happy reader. You might be someone who would be any of them; an MBA aspirant, fresher, working professional, someone who’s currently pursuing MBA, an MBA pass out or just someone who somehow came across this article and opened it.

Well, firstly thank you for coming to this happy place. Now, coming to the article, you might have come across many success stories of a lot of CAT toppers, their strategies, tips, their way of attempting, etc. A lot of them would motivate and inspire you to push beyond your limits and do well in the exams. However, the real learnings and takeaways can be obtained from knowing what went wrong and capitalizing on not repeating it again and again. The real game is to minimize the number of mistakes. Because, “To Err Is Human

Let’s talk about MISTAKES!

In this article, I would want to highlight the mistakes that I did on my D-Day i.e. actual CAT exam day which was why I scored 94 percentile and not 98+ percentile. If I would have not done these mistakes my score would have easily been 98+ percentile which I was scoring in a few of the mock exams.

Before that, if you want to know about my CAT preparation journey – from 78 percentile to 94 percentile, check this

CAT preparation journey – from 78 percentile to 94 percentile

Let’s talk about numbers:

Context: I scored the following in my first CAT attempt:

  • 70.36 percentile in Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
  • 50.93 percentile in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
  • 92.35 percentile in Quantitative Ability
  • 78.58 percentile Overall

Context: I scored the following in my first CAT attempt:

  • 81.21 percentile in Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
  • 87.35 percentile in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
  • 97.75 percentile in Quantitative Ability
  • 94.01 percentile Overall

Now, let’s start with mistakes that I made section-wise and key learnings from the same. CAT is an exam with a very-high pressure situation

CAT 2021 Form

Starting from a non-engineer’s favourite section:

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

For CAT 2019, Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension was one of the toughest section in the past few years. This can be measured easily by checking the score vs percentile for this section.

For example, my score of 31.44 marks fetched me 81.21 percentile in CAT 2019

But on the others side, 33.43 marks fetched me 70.36 percentile in CAT 2018

I am sure by now you will be able to gauge the difficulty level of this section in CAT 2019.

Mistakes made:

  1. Panicked after seeing the first reading comprehension set, turns out that it was the toughest of all sets!
  2. Read the first reading comprehension set twice to understand the content better
  3. Took around 17-18 minutes on this set and gradually all my strategy went hay wired.
  4. The next leg of this section went in the greed to attempt more and more number of questions.

Key takeaways:

  1. Scroll the entire paper in the first 5 minutes and then set priorities in which set to attempt first and which not to.
  2. After reading the first few lines of the reading comprehension, see if you were able to understand it. If yes, then continue reading or else leave the set for now and move on.
  3. Don’t waste more than 15 minutes on a single reading comprehension set, because it is a game of selecting the easiest questions and which can be done in less amount of time.
  4. Mark the TITA questions with any random number if you do not know the answer because there is no negative marking and especially for the odd one out as the probability of getting it correct is 25%

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

For CAT 2019, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning was moderately difficult as compared to last year. It had a mixed set of logical based data interpretation and logical reasoning questions typically asked in the last few years in the CAT exam.

Mistakes made:

  1. One of the silliest and eventually the biggest mistake made was that while solving I had mistakenly jotted 1.5 instead of 1.8 in the rough sheet. This has led to wrong answers for the whole set
  2. Due to this, I had spent the first 25 minutes on only 1 set, because I thought that I was comfortable with it and will be able to crack it
  3. So, at the end of almost half the time of this section, I had just solved 1 set

Key takeaways:

  1. Be extremely careful while jotting down figures in the rough sheet.
  2. If you think you have taken a lot of time, for instance, 15 minutes and still haven’t been able to crack the set, LEAVE it and MOVE
  3. Check for easier sets at the beginning of the exam only and prioritize them accordingly
  4. Also, you can answer 1-2 questions from some sets without even solving the whole set. So, look for such questions and try to answer them.

Quantitative Ability

For CAT 2019, Quantitative Ability was moderately difficult as compared to last year. To be very honest, I don’t feel that I had made any mistake as such in this section as I have given my best and scored a 97.75 percentile by using the rounds technique.

So, for this, I will only mention key takeaways!

Key takeaways:

  1. Just be calm as this is the last section and you would have already been exhausted after the first two sections
  2. Use the round approach i.e.
  • The first round will contain the questions which can be solved in 1 minute and where accuracy is close to 95%.
  • The second round will contain the questions which can be solved in 2-3 minutes and where accuracy is close to 80%.
  • The third and the final round will contain all those questions which either I don’t know or which requires a lot of time.
  1. Keep track of time and focus more on accuracy then the number of attempts.
  2. Last but not the least, believe in yourself!!

These are the mistakes and key takeaways that I would suggest every CAT aspirant. In the end, it’s all about making fewer mistakes because mistakes are meant to happen!!

Hope this helps. Happy reading!! All the best for your exams.

CAT 2021 Form

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Karma Gandhi | Current Student - MICA
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An engineer who is also a non engineer having different perspectives on things that matter.