Focus on the process, not the result.
You are probably reading this because it’s either your first attempt at CAT and you are trying to look for a strategy or you are trying to find some motivation for your second or third attempt at this thing.
I should probably tell you the if you lie in the former category, the best strategy you can devise is what will work for you and not something that worked for me or any other person for that matter. And if you lie in the latter one, I would say motivation comes from inside and not by reading an article on how to crack CAT.
HOW TO CRACK CAT – this is something you might have typed a lot of times and probably have read a lot of articles and have started following all the things that you read, like study for 6 hours a day, attempt 25 mocks or study 500 hours and you can easily crack CAT. Believe me, I read hundreds of such articles in my time and it just doesn’t work, copying someone else’s strategy.
I am sorry to disappoint, but this article is not about telling you how to crack CAT by doing this thing or the other because it is a combination of a lot of things. What I am going to tell you is what worked for me and if you can just pick a single thing out of this, I’ll consider writing this article successful. It might help you in devising a strategy which can help you.
Here are some things which worked for me –
First thing you should do is to study this exam first. Many aspirants start preparing for this exam without actually studying the exam. What It actually is, what you got to do and what you don’t. You just need to nail down 55-60 questions from those 100 questions to get that coveted 99%ile mark. It is a three-hour exam and there is only a limited number of questions you can attempt in that time limit. So, it’s up to you whether you wanna attempt questions from your strong areas or weak areas.
Now I am going to tell you how I prepared for this exam. I just started with whatever material I could find and start solving RCs, lrdi sets and arithmetic problems. After a month of solving around 100 RCs and some 40 sets of lrdi and dozens of questions on arithmetic, I started giving mocks. That is where the real magic happens and you get to know where you stand and what is working for you and what’s not. How I used to figure that out, we’ll come to that later but what I want to say here is you have to keep thing simple. Practice questions from the material you have and it is never a bad thing to practice different coaching materials. Give mocks (start with giving sectional mocks and then full mocks). Analyse the mocks to death. Start working on your strengths until those topics become something you can’t falter in and side by side work on one weak area per week or two. That is what I did and it certainly worked for me.
So, how did I analyse mocks?
VARC – I used to see how much I have taken in each passage by adding time per questions and see if I have attempted it inside my target which was generally 8-10 minutes. And then start seeing the explanation behind every question, doesn’t matter whether I attempted it right or not. Even if I attempted it right but my logic was wrong, it means it was just luck and it might not work in my favour on D-day. So, read the explanation behind every answer and you will start getting them right sooner then later. And keep a check on your reading speed. You might wanna read a lot to increase your reading speed organically. I didn’t go for speed reading practices as you can increase your reading speed naturally if you are reading a lot.
LRDI – Attempt whatever number of sets you can in the mock, but solve all the sets again after you are over with the mock. See what sets you should have attempted and what sets you shouldn’t have. (You might wanna read my other article on how I got 99.5%ile in this section in 2019). When you have done this for let’s say 7-8 mocks, you may start getting a hang of what sets you should attempt and what sets you are better off skipping completely. And on the D-day, you will know by just reading the first few lines whether it’s for you or not. But it will take time to build this habit.
Quants – This was my weakest section and my target was to get around 90%ile and arithmetic was something I was good at. I used to attempt all the arithmetic questions I could solve and then everything else. I made this area so strong by analysing all the questions and solve them again and again until it has become my absolute strength. This was a somewhat risky approach but it worked for me but I would suggest you to make at least one of the areas like geometry or algebra strong as well. Again, timing yourself is equally important as a question which is taking more than 4 or 5 minutes might well not be worth your time. During analysing, you will most probably see that you got at least two to three questions wrong because you read the question wrong or you were in a hurry to arrive at the answer.
Accuracy is everything and you can see that for yourself. In the above figure, it is clear that that you had to attempt only 60-62 questions to get 99%ile if your accuracy is 90%. But in the same exam, you have to attempt around 85 questions if your accuracy rate is 70%. That is a difference of 20-25 questions (sounds scary right 😉). You should focus on getting the answer right first and then focus on speed. Even if you getting the answer right in three minutes, it is still better than marking an answer in 90 seconds and getting it wrong. That is a difference of 4 marks every 90 seconds.
If I talk about my attempt rate in CAT 2019, I attempted 63 questions (yup, just 63 questions) and I got 52 of them right (and got 98.7%ile), so that give an accuracy of 82% and this is just around that excellent 85% accuracy mark. So, focus on accuracy and it will give you returns in the long run. You have to master the art of leaving questions and that only comes with practice.
This is the last and probably the most important thing I made sure of. I studied 6 days a week and Sunday was my mock day. I had five months of time when I started preparing and I always tried to finish my target of studying 3-4 hours a day before noon. Yup, just 3-4 hours a day will work if you have 4-6 month to go and you are consistent in your preparations.
You have to remember, that it’s not a sprint but a marathon. And I just realised if you are reading this article with two months to go for this exam, I just wasted your time 😛
Apart from all the things I just said, I just wanna add that you have to keep yourself motivated through the process. More importantly, if you are not seeing the results early on. Just keep following your strategy and keep making slight changes to it according to your mocks analysis and believe me you will see the good result in the end.
Hope you got something out from reading this piece and I wish you good luck for all your endeavors and to structure your CAT Preparation in an efficient way, you could visit iQuanta website and be a part of iQuanta CAT 21 Course at www.iQuanta.in