For CAT aspirants

The forms are out, and that can only mean one thing. This is the home stretch for all CAT aspirants.

Take a lot of tests

This rather obvious advice, but to add to that, you need to make sure you don’t take your percentile scores in the mock tests too seriously. It has been observed that aspirants assume their percentiles may be close to the percentiles they can score in the CAT. Hence a student stuck in the 70 percentile range in a mock test series, tends to create a self fulfilling prophecy of doom in the CAT race for himself – counting himself out of the race before it has even started.

In reality, there is very little correlation between an aspirant’s scores in a mock test and his scores in the real CAT. This will be obvious if you consider the fact that the percentile scores aspirants get in the CAT, the XAT and the IIFT exams, are very different from one another. This shows that the percentile an individual student is going to score in a test is a function of many factors, which might include (but is not restricted to): the difficulty level of various sections, the relevance of the skill set paper, etc. Obviously the skill set tested by a mock paper would be, at best, an approximation of the skill set that would be tested in the actual CAT. Hence, don’t be too surprised to find aspirants, who have been scoring just 70 percentile throughout a mock test series, ending up with a percentile in the high nineties in the actual exam.

Points for percentage:

Focus on your percentage scores. Focus on creating a situation where you score about 25 to 30 percent in each section, irrespective of the paper quality, the toughness of the questions and other factors. Also, direct your energy towards scoring at lest 35 to 40 percent in any test paper you take. The bottom line of qualifying in CAT has always been scoring 35 percent over all and over 25 per cent in each section. Your percentage scores are far more within your control than your percentiles. Your percentiles will take care of themselves.

This leads us to an all important question: Rather, what are the most important steps you could take in order to improve your cores in the fastest possible way if your scores are stuck in the range of 15 to 20 per cent in an area?

Diagnose your flaws:

The first step is to diagnose which area you are falling short in. It is important to determine whether your low scores are due to an ability speed or performance issue. These are the three primary problems that could be restricting your test scores. Needless to say, the solution path for any of these problems will be quite divergent.

Stay tuned for the section wise discussion of this crucial issue in upcoming in this series.

Over the years the benchmark for cracking the CAT has always been around 40 per cent of the net marks in the paper; if an individual aspirant was able to score over 40 percent of the marks in the paper overall (after negative marking) and around 30 per cent of the marks in each section he/she could count on a call from the IIMs. The percentiles would have taken care of themselves.

The IIMs have repeatedly pointed out and it has also been clarified through the sample questions published on their website ( that there is going to be no change in either the sections on which the CAT tests you, nor on the question types. However, one thing that might change is that the quality of questions masked might be more difficult or intricate than the previous CATs. So be prepared for all eventualities.