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CAT is around the corner: Your 'must-do' list

Last updated on: September 02, 2009 14:32 IST

The number of months you had till CAT has now turned into a number of weeks. The date could be anywhere between November 28 and December 7. So exactly how much time are you left with?

Considering the days spent taking mock CATs and analysing detailed personalised reports, and a few others spent celebrating the seasonal festivities, you have approximately 86 more days (and nights) to go.

And to make the most of this time, most of you will have devised a plan of action and should be adhering to a strict regimen.

So what constitutes your 'must do' list? Let's ask a few fundamental questions here.

Should you keep polishing your areas of strength and keep areas of improvement at bay? For example: What should one do if he is already good at arithmetic, algebra, jumbled sentences, narrative passages, pie-charts, histograms and trend analysis? Should he keep improving on the same and leave out the other not-so-very-strong areas?

What if this individual is not very good at geometry, probability, vocabulary, fact-inference-judgements, abstract passages, numerical-based puzzles and caselets? Is it pragmatic to leave out these areas as there is hardly any time left to work upward from ground zero?

The questions posed above are not merely the yes-no kind, and require careful analysis. One needs to look at the attempts and scores history of past mock CATs and keep working on improving them after every successive mock CAT. One should spend twice the time, if not more, on post-test analysis. An effective way to do it is to keep the two most important aspects of the test in mind -- speed and accuracy.

Let's say you have attempted 6 mock CATs till date and this is how your consolidated speed and accuracy table at the end of all 6 tests looks:

Implications

Your areas of high accuracy

Quadrant IV is your area of high speed-high accuracy:
Keep strengthening all the areas in it to ensure they remain so till the day of the computer-based CAT.

Quadrant III is your area of low speed-high accuracy:
Here you get the answer right after spending considerable time and energy on it. One implication is that you are comfortable with this question type but not using the short-cuts effectively. Second possibility is that you tend to take these questions as a personal challenge and won't rest till you get them right -- a great killer instinct which needs to be channelised. Identify the aspects that slow you down. Work on them with respect to specific questions and try and move as many question types as you can to quadrant IV.

Your areas of low accuracy

Quadrant I is your area of high speed-low accuracy:
Identify the reasons why you can solve these question types fast, but get them wrong most of the time. It may be because you are hurrying through the question without taking into account a simple but often overlooked idea. Or maybe you are not truly comfortable with the question type, but find them to be easy-looking at the question structure only, which tempts you to attempt them. Whatever the case may be, identify the cause, work on it and try and move as may question types from quadrant I to quadrant IV.

Quadrant II is an area of real concern with low speed-low accuracy:
It implies that you are using precious exam time on questions which don't earn you any scores. In fact, they reduce your overall scores due to negative marking. The next 3-4 weeks should be the only time you spend on the questions falling in this quadrant. Try and move as may questions to quadrant III, and later to quadrant IV (by November 10).
After 3-4 weeks of dedicated efforts, if you find that there is hardly any improvement in some question types lying in this quadrant, it would be wise to leave them out completely and concentrate on questions lying in quadrant I, III and IV.

Some do's of the speed- accuracy model:

1. Check what you are doing during the test.

2. Do prepare a new 2x2 matrix after every successive mock CAT.

3. Do spend time (at least 2-3 hours) preparing the matrix, filing in the topics in the quadrants and evaluating what (and why) went right and wrong in the computer test.

4. Keep all the previous speed-accuracy matrices in front of you while evaluating the current one. This will help you develop a trend analysis of your attempts and scores.

The speed-accuracy model will help you specifically in the following ways:

1. It will give you a bird's eye view of your level of preparation and your improvement at any given time.

2. With careful analysis, Quadrant IV will become bigger, accommodating more topics from Quadrant I and III after every successive mock CAT.

3. It will help you freeze your question attempt strategy and thereby on your overall paper attempt strategy for the computer-based CAT.

Good luck!

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