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CAT 2021 Next Week, Last Minute Preparation Tips

With just a few days remaining CAT 2021 is busy giving the final touches to their preparation, revising all the important concepts, formulae, etc. The number of questions has been reduced this time. Last year, there were 76 questions in total, this year the number of questions may go down to 65-70 or even less. There is no change in the time allotted per section, that is, 40 min.

Prior to the exam, looking at all the mistakes done in the last 10 mocks is very crucial so that one can avoid the same mistakes again. Just focus on giving your best in each of the sections. Ensure maximum possible preparation on your weak sections. Optimise your attempts and accuracy.

The total and sectional number of Qs is not been disclosed as yet. This should not be a major factor as the mock tests (AIMCATs) must have prepared you across multiple combinations of Qs, overall and section-wise, however, those not so strong on specific areas/sections need to watch out to avoid being taken by surprise in case your weak areas/sections have more Qs than expected.

The do’s

Scan the section before you start attempting Qs – click the “question paper” icon on the top right of the screen to get the feel of what is where in the paper. You should invest 1 to 2 minutes on this in each section and make your choices.

Avoid scanning and keep moving on while attempting the questions you know and leaving the ones where you are doubtful. Do whatever works for you the best. There cannot be any one fixed strategy as all of us are unique individuals and what may work for one, may not work for the other.

Get a mental fix of what areas the questions are from and get a broad feel of the questions you would like to attempt first up. This will help you to get a broad feel of the areas and difficulties of the paper. Mark the questions to be attempted – mark both easy and difficult Qs, ensuring you answer the easy ones and stay clear of the tough ones initially.

Pick the low-hanging fruit first – easy questions. Ensure you reach the end of the paper and exhaust the easy/moderate Qs first. Make multiple passes through the paper picking the doable questions from among the remaining ones in every round (limit the rounds to 2-3).

A section will always have easy and do-able Qs. Make sure you spot them and attempt only the easy and do-able Qs in the first pass. Attempt lengthier but do-able Qs in the second pass. This will ensure that at any point in time you are working on the easier questions only, out of the available questions. This will also ensure that no easy question goes un-attempted. Easy questions, by definition, give you more accuracy and can be solved in less time. You thus get better accuracy and higher attempts, the perfect recipe for score maximization

The don’ts

Do not panic if you feel a section is difficult. Just try to limit your attempts and focus more on accuracy if you get a very difficult paper. Do not take stress or pressure of failure as stress-free people deliver better. Avoid silly mistakes. Not paying attention while reading/calculating and not noticing some key info given must be avoided.

Further avoid not paying enough attention to directions. Directions may change even for a question type you have seen earlier. Be watchful and do not assume anything. Do not go to the exam with a pre-decided number of attempts. Any preconceived notions can be dangerous. Focus on score maximization in a section in the stipulated time.

Don’t get stuck on a question – keep moving on and have an exit time. Practice dropping a question if you cross a pre-decided time. If not able to crack/solve, leave the question. There will be other do-able questions and pure guesswork is counterproductive.

First, try your best to solve the Qs completely without guesswork. Before venturing to guess, ensure that you are absolutely certain that two of the four options are incorrect. Then try once again to get the correct answer out of the remaining two options. If you just cannot separate these two, then you may consider making an intelligent guess or may even leave the question. Guessing on non-MCQs is ok as you are not penalized for wrong answers there.

Choose the easiest ones to do in the first 15-20 minutes. The next 15 minutes are to be spent on the ones that are slightly tougher. Now choose options where eliminating two options is possible.

— Authored by Amit Poddar, Sr Regional Head, T.I.M.E.

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