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41 Dos and Don'ts for CAT takers

  The time has come, when you have to get into a concentrated test mode and attack the questions in earnest. CAT 2017 is on November 26 and so this makes it your last lap to the all-important B-school entrance test. Here are a few things to keep in mind in this stretch.  

Vinayak Kudva

With less than 30 days left for the CAT, the moods and anxieties are varied. Some of you will be fine-tuning your strategy, some of you will be looking for shortcuts, while a few - a small number, lets face it - will be quite confident! Irrespective of who you are, in this article, we shall give you a list of Dos and Don'ts in the run-up to the CAT on December 4. So here's what you need to do from the last 30 days until two days prior, what you should be doing on the day before the CAT, what you absolutely must keep in mind on CAT, i.e., D-Day, and finally, what will help you on the day after!

D-30 to D2

Have a positive attitude
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe First things first, you need to have the right attitude. Whether you are well prepared, half prepared or unprepared – stay positive. You can make a difference to the outcome in the last 30 days – just be positive.

Set/review your goals
Give yourself specific goals leading to the CAT (if you haven’t yet), and if you have already done so, see how you can achieve them or improve upon them. For example, for every test you take, set target attempts and accuracy levels for each of the sections. Create a study plan that helps you achieve these targets.

Firm up your test strategy
Now is the time when you fine-tune your test-taking strategy to perfection. Identify your areas of strength and weakness. Practise the A-B-C approach to maximise your attempts in each section. Learn to prioritise. Also, finalise the time you have allotted yourself across areas and questions.

Practise with a purpose
Now is the time when you have a definite objective to your practising. After every test decide the areas that you will work on and improve before the next test. Ensure that you solve enough CAT-level questions, sufficient enough to build your confidence.

Practise with a PC, practise with friends
Since the CAT is a computer-based test, it’s quite obvious that you should be practising on the computer.Further, group preparation can be very helpful while preparing for a test like CAT. Healthy competition can do wonders to your prep.

Be disciplined in your practice
Make sure to practise in a distraction-free environment. Take a practice test like the actual test. Keep track of time while you’re practising. You will soon know what a 10 or 20 or 30 minute stretch feels like!

Create formula charts for ready reference
Post these charts on your bedroom walls, cupboards, study table, PC desktop — in short, wherever you will be forced to see them on a regular basis.

Don’t cram!
At this juncture, with less than a month, don’t try to mug up anything, or cram new concepts into your head. If you haven’t understood a concept by now, it certainly won’t lodge itself in your bra in overnight.

Questions to solve per day
Choose these questions randomly across areas and question types.

  • Solve 35 to 50 Math questions per day.  Recommended time: 100-120 minutes.
  • Solve TWO DI sets every alternate day.  Recommended time: 30-45 minutes.
  • Solve TWO LR sets every alternate day.  Recommended time: 30-45 minutes.
  • Solve 20 to 25 VA questions per day. Recommended time: 30-45 minutes.
  • Solve ONE RC passage per day. Recommended time: 30 minutes.

Take a simulated test every 4 to 5 days
Take this test regularly and analyse your performance, review your progress against set benchmarks. Execute your test strategy and build your test stamina.

Don’t keep looking for the light at the end of the tunnel!
You need to endure the length of the journey to reach the end! Do not worry about the outcome, just focus on the process and the results will be there to see.

Day1: The day before

Have a positive attitude
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

Don’t overstrain yourself
For instance, taking three simulated or mock tests back to back is quite a bad idea. In fact, I do not recommend taking even 1 test on the day before the CAT.

Find out where your test centre is
Make sure you know how to reach there, how long it’ll take to get there, and plan accordingly for the test day.

Be ready with everything you need to carry to the test centre
Don’t wait till the last minute to collect everything in once place. Remember to carry your admit card and the required identity proof as mandated by the CAT authorities.

Relax in the evening
Take the evening off to do something relaxing, like spending time with friends. Don’t do anything stressful that might disrupt your emotional balance.

Don’t over-eat, and don’t under-eat
In short, don’t upset your normal routine. A healthy stomach will keep your mind healthy, which will get you a healthy CAT score!

Get a good night’s rest
Make sure you get enough sleep and rest the night before, since you need to be fresh and alert on D-Day!

D-Day: Test day

Have a positive attitude
“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”– Leah LaBelle

Wake up early
Have a healthy breakfast and leave for the test centre with everything you need to carry.

Reach the test centre well in time
Make sure you reach the centre well before the official reporting time. Plan for unforeseen circumstances.

Warm up right before the test
You can solve a few easy questions to get into “Math mode”. But remember, don’t check to see if you got them right, as it might prove counterproductive!

Do not indulge with the proverbial nerd
You may find several test takers with papers and books in hand, still preparing. Don’t interact with them.

Finish all necessary chores before the test
After all, it’s not a good idea to get Nature’s call during the test! It will break your concentration.

D-Day: While taking the test

Have a positive attitude
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Bell

Execute your test strategy
Solve questions in the pre-decided order you had been using to solve the simulated or mock tests.

Be ready for surprises
The CAT is known to have sprung surprises in the past. If that happens, tweak your test strategy accordingly.

Keep an eye on the timer
Move from one question to another, one area to another without overspending the time you’d allotted for them. At the same time, don’t keep checking the clock constantly. It will only increase your anxiety.

It’s okay to take longer for some questions
Do not worry if you spend a slightly longer time on some questions – there will be questions where you will take considerably lesser time than the average.

Don’t try every question
Avoid the temptation of attempting every question, sometime even at the expense of time. This may hurt your score more if you miss out on easier questions.

Don’t get stuck on a question
It’s easy to get bogged down by a single question, and keep trying to solve it. Don’t make it an ego issue, and don’t let any question disrupt your pace or focus – move on, you may find easier questions ahead.

Keep an eye on options
Plug in the answers and/or eliminate them. And don’t over-calculate. Determine the amount of calculation needed based on answer choices.

Don’t hesitate to mark “None” option
If you believe they’re right, don’t hesitate to mark “None of the above” or “Cannot be determined” options. They have an equal probability of being right.

Avoid careless mistakes
A perfect example of this when you mark the wrong option after you’ve got it right!

An intelligent and educated guess is okay
Just make sure you don’t guess wildly, since there are negative marks for incorrect responses (except for TITA questions).
Stay optimistic
Don’t lost hope if the questions are difficult. Last year, a few students who gave up after a tough DI-LR section and under-performed in the Quant section ended up clearing the DI cut-off but missing out on the Quant cut-off – while those who stayed positive did well in both.

D+1: D-Toxing

Have a positive attitude
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Don’t agonise over what happened
It doesn’t matter how good or bad your performance was, don’t mull over how you fared, or what could have happened better. Take a short break and then start gearing up for the other challenges ahead.

Avoid discussing with friends
Frenzied discussions with friends about the test are best avoided. It may only serve to instil fear or anxiety in you. And you avoid doing it to others as well!

Don’t disclose questions on social networks
Remember, you’ve signed an NDA, so you must not disclose questions on the public domain.

Reward yourself
Go for a party, outing, dinner or a long drive. After all, you’ve just crossed the first and biggest hurdle to your success!

To find out more, and what else you can do from now on, visit www.advancedge.com, or vkpedia.in