Mistakes to be avoided in CAT


The CAT preparation journey is filled with highs and lows and during that period of time, students tend to make some mistakes which they don’t realize due to highly competitive and nervous mindset. These mistakes can shake the confidence to a large extent and create hindrance in preparation. I’ve made quite a lot of mistakes during my journey as well. Many students regret at a later stage in hindsight that they should not have taken the wrong route. I would like to mention the mistakes that I did and would urge the candidates not to repeat them in order to complete this journey smoothly. I have divided my views into 2 sections:

  1. Common mistakes made during the preparation
  2. Common mistakes made during the exam

Common mistakes made during the preparation

  • Imbalance among 3 sections

The most basic mistake that the candidates make during CAT preparation is not keeping balance among the 3 sections (Verbal Ability, Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation and Quantitative Aptitude). It is very easy to get carried away and focus on the subjects that interests you. For example: Engineers generally find it easier to solve Quantitative Aptitude as compared to Verbal Ability. And they are fond of solving QA questions especially when they know that they can solve with good accuracy. But it comes at a cost. The VA section is neglected. In fact, when they are not getting good scores in VA during mock tests, it discourages them even more and they start running away from it. Resilience is extremely important at that moment. Keep focusing on the weaker portions and improve them as much as possible. Over focusing on one section can also result in problems on the D-day.

  • Over practicing and not focusing on Mock tests

Generally, the first step for preparation of competitive exams is to get familiarized with the topics and solve some questions based on them. But in the name of practicing, students are too late in giving mocks. Practice can always be done along with the mocks as well. The most important thing is to solve questions when the clock is running in front of your eyes. And this atmosphere is found only during mocks. It is not a one-week or a one-month thing. It is a process that goes on for months and it is an upward journey where we keep progressing in terms of the marks scored. So, enough time needs to be invested in that.

  • Improper analysis of Mock tests

Keeping count of the attempted Mock tests is of no meaning if proper analysis of the mocks is not done. It is absolutely essential to analyze the mocks for each and every question. The analysis should include the correct answers as well since you’ll get to know a different way to solve a particular question and might end up saving some time. Experts say that the analysis should be done for at least 2 hours for a 3-hour mock. I would say that it should be done according to your own strengths and weaknesses. It can be related to either speed or accuracy. The strategy and hence, the analysis is also different for different individuals.

  • Skipping basics of topics

Basics of Reading Comprehensions, Logical Reasoning and topics in Quantitative aptitude are generally neglected by people and this results in a lot of mistakes. And towards the end, it comes as a regret since by then, there’s not enough time to go back and read the basic theory related to various topics. My advice would be to take ample time to read about each topic in the beginning and take notes for everything you learn and understand. It helps a lot towards the end. I couldn’t do that and I was searching for topics every single day during the last few days.

  • Not revising subjects time to time

After the practice stage is over, the students focus on mock tests and forget about the subjects. They focus on questions rather than the theory behind that. This happens to most of the people. That’s why it is crucial to revise the subjects periodically from videos, notes or books. It helps during mocks as well and a good score genuinely boosts the confidence. This can only happen if you’re up to date with the topics that you would find in the exam.

  • Copying others’ preparation strategy

When it comes to forming a strategy for CAT, everyone has different opinions and people generally follow what others suggest. I believe that each student should form their own strategy to prepare for the exam as long as he/she is getting positive results. Listening to the experts is also important but you should not let that strategy enforce you to do things that negatively affect your preparation.

  • Over attempting mocks

This is another misconception that there should be a defined number of mocks which have to be taken before appearing for the actual exam. It is definitely not true at all. I have a friend who got a good score by giving 25 mocks and another one who also scored similar percentile by giving 8 mocks. So, there is no fixed number for that. The mocks should be given according to preparation strategy rather than making strategy based on the number of mocks given.

Common mistakes made during the exam

  • Preconceived notions

The trends on the difficulty level and pattern of the exam in the past should not affect the strategy on the D-day. It happened to me in CAT 2019 when the VA section was considerably tougher compared to previous years. But I was not prepared for it and thought that I would have to attempt the required number of questions to secure good percentile according to previous year papers. Although I scored quite well in the other sections, my percentile reduced mostly due to VA section in which I couldn’t really understand the difficulty level. The students should always think that if its difficult for them, it is difficult for 2.5 lac more candidates.

  • Curiosity to know about others

Candidates who appear for the evening slot generally get carried away with the morning slot analysis. Although there is not a lot of difference in the difficulty level of both the slots but the friend or a teacher who’s giving the analysis is telling that according to his/her own strengths and weaknesses. If someone is strong in QA, he/she can solve even the toughest questions and consider the section to be easy. But it might not be applicable to everyone. The only valuable input that one can get from the morning slot is whether the exam format is same or not because that would not change between slots.

  • Being Impatient

This is probably the most natural thing that happens to the candidates. When you’re not able to solve a question, there’s no point being impatient and start feeling nervous. Take your time and back your ability.

  • Getting stuck on a few questions

Another very common mistake is to stay stuck on a few tricky questions. Students need to understand that this exam is not to pick and choose the easy questions but to reject the tricky questions and move forward. It is very easy to get stuck for 5-7 minutes on a particular question just to satisfy the ego. But this can make you press the panic button and then there’s just downfall from that point.

  • Guessing and marking answers

Accuracy is the most important thing in this exam. Speed comes with practice and if you’ve sincerely attempted mocks and maintained the strategy, speed will automatically improve. Accuracy is the game changer. There’s no point guessing answers and marking them with doubts in mind. I did the mistake of guessing the answers for some very tough questions in the VA section and ultimately got all of them wrong. It affected my percentile to a great extent. 

Conclusion

CAT is an exam that tests your patience and perseverance. It is vital to stay confident and stick to your plans. There will be many speed breakers in the journey but eventually you will succeed if your efforts are sincere and in the right direction. So, have faith in your ability and preparation on the exam day, simplify your thinking on that day and solve the questions on merit.

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