Focusing on CAT test taking

The CAT is finally out of the bag. After months of secrecy and confusion about what CAT 2009 will have in store for aspirants, students have gained a degree of clarity on how the computer based CAT might pan out. So, what are the implications of the information revealed in the CAT advertisement? And how will it affect your preparation strategy?

The duration of the test has gone down by 15 minutes to two hours and 15 minutes, while the number of questions has been reduced to about 60 or 70.

With all CAT 2009 aspirants focusing on test taking and test performance, the biggest questions on every aspirant’s mind is, obviously, how do I develop my test scores? This article focuses on methods and processes to improve your scores in the area of quantitative aptitude.

Firstly, in an earlier article in this series, we’d outlined how the quants section could be divided into six major parts. To review the areas were: Block 1 – Number systems and progression, Block 2 and 3 – 4 word based chapters, Block 4 – geometry and mensuration. Block 5 – Functions, inequalities, logarithms and quadratic equations, Block 6 – Permutations probability and sets.

The first thing you need to do is, analyze your knowledge in each of these six parts, and determine your ability in each of them. For this, the question you should ask yourself is: For the next 100 questions I face in each of these areas, how many would I be able to handle comfortably?

Think of a number as an answer to this question, for each of the six blocks.

Based on your answer, the following analysis can be used as a thumb rule, to indicate what knowledge issue you may have.

1) 90 + — You know pretty much every question type and variant in the area. You should focus your energies on other things rather than knowledge improvement in the area.
2) 80 + — You may need to increase your exposure to questions just a little bit. Perhaps around 200 to 300 more questions in that area would be sufficient
3) 60 – 80 – You have a significant knowledge issue in the area under consideration. You might need to go back to the basics, but it is more likely to be an issue of the lack of knowledge to theory.
4) < 60 – This indicates a lack of both, knowledge of theory as well as question exposure and you need to work on both these aspects.

Looking Beyond ability

A common frustrating experience for test takers is not getting a known logic, and hence not scoring in questions, which they were aware of.


In order to handle this problem, you need to work on your reactions and reflexes when faced with QA questions. Once you have solved your ability issue in a particular block, your next step is to improve your reactions and reflexes while solving a question. Needless to say, you will need to do this block wise.

Obviously, the main issue here is, how can you improve your reflexes and reactions? Here are a few ideas:

1) Perhaps the most crucial exercise in this context is a comprehensive revision and review of each and every question you have solved previously.
2) A thorough revision of the theory of the block.
3) Solving as many tests as possible under time pressure (this does not refer simply to full length tests, but sectional, and if possible, block wise tests as well )

The fest environment provides you with the option of marking questions for review something that can be a great advantage for a test taker. This was not possible in the context of the earlier paper pencil CATs and is likely to be a fantastic tool, if used optimally.