Catalyser where do you stand?

Most students in the preparation for CAT undertake mock tests. However, not many go back to their solved papers to analyze their performance. While taking tests is an important part of your CAT preparation you must also identify the areas of your strengths and weaknesses and issues that you are facing while taking these tests. Merely solving test after test might not solve this purpose. While you focus on quantity is the number of tests you take, do not forget the importance of quality of the test taking, i.e. a proper analysis.

After having taken a test, try to attempt the questions that you did not attempt during the test and try and figure out if this was due to time constraints and if some of them were worth attempting? This will give you a clear picture about your question selection, an important part of clearing the right questions and getting them right. The analysis should give you feedback about two things –

1) How to plan your preparation?
2) How to execute a test?

Planned Preparation

A section wise and topic wise performance analysis will point areas of your strengths and weaknesses. This should help you plan your preparation between two practice tests. The planning of a test includes not only studying well but also making a schedule. You must first set the target for the number of tests you with take in a week or a month and then distribute them evenly in this period. The target you set should be practical. Two tests in a week is a rational target and will help only to take the test efficiently but also to analyze and learn well from it so that they can be used to improve your performance systemically.

Execute efficiently

Efficient execution of a test is when you are able to bring out the performance that you are capable of, unaffected by the difficulty level of the questions and by the stress levels that may increase under test conditions. This is achieved by spending a few minutes to assess the quality of a section before attempting the questions.

For the Quant and DI sections you should remember to judiciously select the questions that you will be answering. It is not necessary nor is it possible to attempt all the questions. Hence you must select a pool of around 60 percent of the total number of questions for your attempts. For example, if there are 20 questions in the section, select around 12 questions that you can attempt. It is possible that even out of these you might not be able to reach the answer to a particular question. It is imperative that you do not stuck at any one question for too long. The pool of questions you select should be large enough to allow you to leave a particular question and to move on to another one. Do not worry about the loss of time at this moment. Learn to move on confidently. In the verbal section around 70 percent of the total number of questions should be your target. In the final analysis, how close you are to your target is what determines whether you have been able to perform at your best.

Correct and prevent

While analyzing a test, do not merely look at your overall score and be satisfied or dissatisfied by your performance. Understand why you scored in a certain way learn to undertake corrective and preventive measures to improve your score in subsequent tests. Corrective measures include earmarking stress where you have gone wrong and then rigorously practicing those Preventive measures also include marking particular questions that fetched you negative marks and understanding if they were genuine errors or silly mistakes like missing out o an easy question, lack of concentration or losing too much time over a particular question. Identify these factors and be aware of these pitfalls in the next test.

Ideally you must have the data of your performance in at least five tests before you can generalize about any serious problem in your preparation or bring about a change in your test taking strategy. Do not jump to conclusions by looking at your score or performance in a simple test or only one of them. It is also advisable to analyze your scores with the help of an expert a successful senior or a faculty at your study center since they can point out those flaws that you may have overlooked.

As mock tests are the most important indicator of your preparation and test taking skills do not make it an exercise in merely analyzing questions and answers. Your analysis could actually lead to increasing your confidence in the actual CAT.