CAT 2021: Last Minute Preparation Tips, Strategy, Expert Insights
With just few days left for CAT, the question in the mind of most of the students is “Can I still clear CAT?” and “What should be my preparation strategy from now on?”
Honestly, this requires some effort and attention on your part. But trust me, cracking CAT is easier than you think. With the right kind of preparation and exam taking strategy, writing CAT can turn out to be an extremely enjoyable experience for you.
The good thing is that CAT is not a knowledge based test. This is an aptitude test. In an aptitude test, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend crafting formulas. In fact, it isn’t even needed. Only your presence of mind and conceptual clarity is required.
I share a practical plan that can help you crack CAT in the limited amount of time at your disposal. This plan will ensure that you are ready for D-Day and can perform at your optimum levels.
First of all start by clearing some misconceptions about the exam.
Myth 1: CAT requires advanced conceptual knowledge of:
As mentioned above, CAT is an aptitude test and not a knowledge based test. This means you don’t have to remember a ton of things. In fact, I would say that more knowledge does not mean that you will score higher in CAT. It should be best to solve questions based on the most basic concepts. These are usually what you have learned in English and Maths till class 10th.
Myth 2: There are only 15 days left, now it is impossible to measure higher percentiles:
How one goes in the last few days for CAT 2021 depends a lot on where he is currently in terms of mock scores. To explain the strategy better, I will look at four different types of candidates –
- Those who are currently scoring less than 70% in their mocks,
- Those scoring anywhere between 70-85% in their mocks
- who are scoring anywhere between 85-95% in their mocks, and finally
- Which is 95% ile. scoring above
CAT Mocks. scoring below 70% in
If you are scoring around 60-65% ile or less, you have a real chance of scoring 80% ile in CAT.
Let me share some data in the beginning so that you don’t feel that what I am saying is codeswlop. In CAT 2020 60% ile was of around 30 marks and 80% ile was of around 48 marks.
So, to do that 20% isle jump, you need about 18 more points. Now if you had answered a question correctly that you would have gone wrong, you would have added 4 points to your score.
Thus, 18 marks boils down to about 4-5 questions. Which is basically 1 question/section and then 1 more than your ability section. Do you think you can get 1-2 extra questions correct in the next 6-7 days? If the answer is yes, then the journey from 60 to 80 percentile is not going to be very turbulent.
Focus on the fundamentals and tell yourself that the game in LRDI and Quant is about accuracy and in VARC it is about effort.
CAT Mocks. Scoring between 70%ile and 85%ile in
Over the years, I have seen many students scaling 90%ile in CAT even when their percentile was as low as 70-75%ile in 1-2 weeks before CAT.
The data suggests that the difference between 75% ile and 90% ile is around 20-22 marks. Similarly between 85%ile and 95%ile also there are around 20-22 marks. Thus, to cross this hurdle you just need clarity about what should be prepared and what should not.
For example, out of 26 (about 65%) in Quant, about 15-16 questions are from Arithmetic and Algebra. Similarly, in VARC, out of 18 RC questions, around 9-10 are factual questions i.e. the answers are straight from the passage. Understanding this will help you identify the right 7-day strategy to crack the exam. Take some mocks and back to back topic tests from these specific areas in the next 2-3 days. This should help you brush up on these topics. Do it in the same time slot in which you have your CAT exam.
Scoring between 85%ile and 95%ile in CAT Mocks
Students who are in this category have a real chance of making it 97% ile+. Please keep in mind that all the mock tests are written for anywhere between 5k to 20k candidates, whereas the CAT percentile is based on 2 lakh test takers. Many students who write CAT are not serious test takers, thus your marks will increase.
Look at the abstract. Are you simulating the CAT every time you practice? For example, in CAT, Quant section comes when your mind gets tired of a challenging DILR and suggestive VARC section. Is this what happens when you practice at home? If not, scoring in the subject/section tests at home will not represent your performance in the mock or actual test. Ace to Simulation!
Scoring more than 95% marks in CAT Mocks
Candidates who are already scoring more than 95% should aim to get 99.5+%ile. For example, 95% ile in Mocks is as good as 97.5% ile in CAT. Thus, the actual increase is from 97.5% ile to 99.5% ile which will be around 25-30 marks.
For this once again a change in mindset is needed. This means that you need to simulate real CAT situations when you give mocks. You need to maintain your stamina throughout the paper. For example, if you feel that you lose steam at the end of the paper, one way to deal with it is to take 40-minute sectional tests right after you complete the mock. This will make it a paper of 2 hours 40 minutes instead of 2 hours and hence will help you to build your stamina.
Preparation and exam strategy
You should look at revising all the important concepts present in various subjects in Quantitative Aptitude. It includes revising squares, cubes, square roots, cube roots, formulas and important theorems.
After revising the Quantitative Aptitude basics, now is the time to set foot on the pedals and get ‘match-practice’. As mentioned above, take one mock every day during these last days. This mock-taking exercise should be followed with in-depth mock analysis on the same day.
Mock analysis should really be a detailed exercise where you not only look at the questions which you were not able to solve but also look at the questions which you were able to solve.
This will ensure that you are able to find faster ways of solving questions and hence, will be able to maximize your efforts and your score. This is in line with your objective of correcting 2-3 more questions in each section.
Also, for quantitative aptitude, solve all previous year genuine CAT questions. It means all the questions of CAT from the year 1990 till the previous version of CAT. It does not matter how much you are currently scoring in your mock, this one is non-negotiable. You cannot appear in the exam without knowing what kind of questions come in the exam.
For VARC, in the mocks you will give, make sure that you solve all the VARC questions. This is the ultimate goal for you in CAT exam. To be able to solve all the questions of VARC with about 70% accuracy.
For DILR, the Fractions and Basic Vedic Maths questions that you may have studied in the first week should help. Taking mocks will help you develop the habit of finding easy DI sets.
Another thing that is important to mention here is that you should take all your mocks in exactly the same time slot as your actual CAT exam time slot.
After 3-4 mocks you will be able to concoct a strategy for yourself and it is advisable to follow that strategy in CAT.
Do not attempt any new mock in the last 2-3 days. Just take all the mocks you attempted earlier and study them. Re-solving 2-3 of your worst mocks is a good idea as it will refresh all the mistakes you have made.
It may be helpful to lightly review and glance through the last few mocks. Quit any kind of studies in the last 2 days. Go and enjoy a good comedy movie in these three days. Your mind needs to rest before taking CAT exam.
Milestone Approach to Improve Your Percentile
Talking about scoring high in CAT 2021, here is a quick back to hand calculation.
Looking at the sectional percentile milestones, here’s what they were like in CAT 2020
In CAT 2020, 60% ile was around 30 marks, 80% ile was around 48 marks, 90% ile was around 63, 95% ile was around 76 and 99% ile was around 102.
Let’s look at these percentiles as milestones and see what needs to be done to move from one milestone to another.
You will need additional 18 marks to go from 60%ile to 80%ile. Going from 80% ile to 90% mile requires 15 more points. To move from 90%ile to 95%ile, additional 13 marks will be required. And finally, to jump from 95%ile to 99%ile, 26 more marks are required.
Now, in the exam, one question is wrong which you think is correct, there is a difference of 4 marks. Thus, each milestone is anywhere between 5-8 questions from the next. When you break it down sectionally it is only 2 questions per section away from the next milestone. So, the question is, can you get the 2 queries you’re doing wrong today, exactly in the next 6-7 days? The answer would be a resounding yes!
(The author is Gautam Bawa, Director of MBA Exam Preparation, BYJU’S Exam Prep. Views expressed here are personal)
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