CAT 2018: For years, the Common Admission Test (CAT) has been the most popular MBA entrance exam in India. It draws approximately 2 lakh test takers annually from all walks of life, including, students, working professionals, those who have dropped a year (or two) trying their hand at something different, etc. The frenzy about the stiff competition is actually true; however, the hype about how difficult it is to score well in CAT is questionable.
The path towards preparations can be perplexing. So, it is important to clear the clouds of myth from your mind; and take each step in the right direction. Remember, scoring well in CAT depends more on common sense and the ability to remain calm, rather than on knowledge. Let’s take a sneak peek into what one would need to commit to for breaching the 99 percentile barrier.
Net correct attempts
In CAT 2017, a 99 percentile was achieved at a score of 173 (out of 300), which is, roughly, 58 per cent of the total marks (or 58 net correct questions out of 100). The term ‘net correct’ can be explained by a simple example. Say, Kinjal attempts 80 questions in the CAT paper. She gets 65 correct and 15 incorrect. Now, the marking scheme of CAT is +3 for every correct answer, 0 for every un-attempted question, and -1/0 for every incorrect answer (depending on whether it is an MCQ or a non-MCQ type of question).
For this example, let’s assume that all the questions that Kinjal got wrong were MCQs. Thus, her eventual score will be (65*3) + (20*0) – (15*1) = 195 + 0 – 15 = 180. Now, 180 is equivalent to attempting 60 questions and getting all of them correct, i.e., 60 net correct. Hence, Kinjal’s attempt can be termed as 60 net correct.
Raw Score required for a 99 percentile in a section
What do you need to do to get 99 percentile?
Begin with the basics
The first two months, June and July, should be utilised in solidifying the basics. Everything depends on how strong your basics are, which will help you solve even the toughest of questions without any difficulty. It will also ensure that all the easy (or Level 1) questions become solvable. CAT has been setting roughly 50-55 questions, which can be termed as Level 1. In other words, more than 50 per cent of the paper becomes solvable and easy, when your basics are in place! Solve umpteen number of questions from every topic.
Mocks and analyses
Don’t wait to finish the so-called ‘syllabus’ before you start writing Mocks. It is important that you take mocks alongside your preparations. Writing mocks regularly will help you understand the stage your preparation is in, identify your areas of strengths and weaknesses, and benchmark yourself across other aspirants. Toppers tend to write the first 50 per cent of the Mocks to pinpoint their areas of deficiency; and work on them. They write the remaining 50 per cent to get ‘match fit’; and benchmark themselves against the best.
Play to your strengths
In an exam like CAT, it is critical to play to your strengths. By taking mocks, you should be able to identify your areas of strength; and focus on accomplishing mastery over those. For your areas of weakness, you should concentrate on being able to solve questions that are of easy-to-medium level of difficulty. By doing so, you will grab any ‘low-hanging fruits’. The context is simple, CAT is a test of your strengths, and not of your weaknesses. However, you need to be great in the areas of your strengths; just being good isn’t going to suffice.
Accuracy and speed
Accuracy and speed are important factors for scoring well in CAT. With every Mock you take, work on improving your accuracy. For speed, start applying smarter techniques for solving questions (e.g., the options given, language of the question, substitutions, etc.).
Inputs from Gautam Bawa, Group Product Head, Career Launcher