Mock Blues – while it seems like the name of a flamboyant, hippy band performing Blues/Rock/Jazz to anybody outside the CAT realm, the phrase has a totally different meaning to every CAT aspirant. It is July, and by now, you must have all started taking mocks at the rate of one per week. And inevitably for most of us, the most opportune day happens to be the Sunday. Assuming you are taking a mock tomorrow, may you get good scores. But if things go South, there are “tried and tested” (I am kidding obviously) evidences to substantiate things that you should and should not do.
Mock Blues – some background
There are a lot of factors that might make you feel like the world has stopped for the worse. While the mock score (and percentiles, which should not be taken into account) happens to be the predominant reason, there are others interestingly. My chitchats with fellow newbie aspirants have vested me with that much information for sure. Here are a few OTHER tangents that emerge out as a result of ‘The Mock Blue Phenomenon’.
- My overall score is fine, but the section which I anticipated much from has let me down.
- The paper was _____ (insert random gazillion digit number) times tougher than the actual CAT paper. I am not sure why I subscribed to this mock test provider.
- My scores would have been better had I taken the test in _______ (insert the time of a day during which you did not take the test). I did not fare well because I chose the wrong time.
- That dog in the street kept barking, and the birds outside our house kept tweeting and screeching; all these distracted my concentration and hence the result is obviously bad.
Then there are other unavoidable and unexpected factors like power outages, system getting shut down for various reasons, and so on and so forth. In fact, if this were a YouTube video, and Yours Truly a famous pop culture YouTuber, you the reader would have been asked to “comment your most-cited justifications”. However, since we are talking about reality, an aspect that most CAT aspirants fail to grapple with, it is important to know how to deal with a bad mock result.
Truth #1 – Diamond does NOT cut diamond
All of us experience that inexplicable adrenaline rush the moment we click on the final ‘Submit’ and wait for the dreaded scores to appear on the screen. Suddenly, the three-hour drain seems to disappear in that split second, and you seem ready to achieve impossibly Herculean tasks.
However, the split second goes off and the score appears, after all. It is not what you expected. The adrenaline rush that began ensures you do not feel dejected; instead, you feel enraged. You want to nullify the effect of one bad mock by taking another mock right away.
Starting off with the fullest rigour, you realize you cannot concentrate right after the first two passages in the VARC section of your second mock. You shut off the window, only to realize the adrenaline rush is gone, along with every other positive emotion.
Do NOT try to counter one mock’s results by taking another mock earlier than a week at this point in time. It is important to maintain some gap, especially when you have not covered the syllabus one full round (at least).
Truth #2 – You are not Sherlock Holmes
I know, I know, I know. You expected an 120-odd, but scored 80-odd (this is me). Or, you expected 150-odd and scored 100-odd (probably you). These are common symptoms of the ‘Mock Blues Syndrome’.
I am sure if you expected a 120+ and scored 180+, you are freakishly inaccurate in being accurate (sounds like one of those “Which of the following is NOT a statement the author is LEAST LIKELY to DISAGREE with” type questions, yeah?).
Do not jump in and start investigating each and every answer right after your mock score gets displayed. This is not a crime scene, and you are not in a hurry to investigate the scene before traces/clues disappear. Take a break, breathe in some fresh whiff of air, take a stroll here and there. Or, the best of it all (‘best’ because I do it) – just crash in your bed. Three hours of high octane reading, deciphering and number-crunching can be highly exhausting, even if you do not realize it.
You need to give it a break. Another subconscious advantage of this idea is that while you are at it, there are five or six answers you somehow figure out with better clarity. You are definitely kidding if there is not even one question to trouble you or ‘Eureka’ you after test submission.
Once you are over that phase, follow the three-step process to review and analyse your mock.
Truth #3 – There are no friends or enemies
The question paper setter did not have YOU in mind while choosing the questions for this mock (or any other mock). They did not want you to flunk an exam and feel irate. Or, they probably did. Does it matter, though?
There is no point in getting angry or vehement about the nature of questions of a particular mock test provider. If someone had lamented last year that the VARC section in the mock tests of provider X was highly unsolvable, they would have been pleasantly surprised when their VARC scores in CAT 2019 flew out of the park, while others wept over the level of difficulty of the passages.
Your mock test provider is neither your friend nor your foe. And, you are simply giving too much importance to a test whose scores would hardly matter in the long run. The takeaways from that particular test would be obviously staring at your face once you analyse the paper (not right after the test) and understand your SWOT.
Truth #4 – Leaderboard is not an indicator
The easiest way to comfort oneself after a mock is to look at the leader-board. It might work sometime, and backfire on most occasions. Whichever mock you take, there are those who score that 100th percentile (translating to anywhere between 220 and 265 out of 300); it is okay. Do not get dejected; do not be completely satisfied with your score as well.
The most important aspect is to confront and come to terms with the fact that you have scored what you have scored. This is where the next gospel truth becomes very crucial.
Truth #5 – ‘Your scores are bad’ is not equal to ‘You are useless’
Once a mock goes bad, there are only two kinds of CAT aspirants (I fall in one of the two kinds, and I am not telling you which one).
- Those who get false comforts by looking at parameters they know are not useful
- Those who decide CAT is beyond their grasp and they are not “worthy” of cracking CAT
Neither of these is useful. Confronting the reality that your scores are not upto the mark is important (for example, I do not encourage people who think it is okay to score low because it is their first or second mock). At the same time, and this is most important, you are NOT “unworthy” of anything. An exam – a mock exam at that – cannot decide your sense of worth.
So, go ahead and tell yourself you scored bad (with no justifications) but also assert yourself that you will analyse the paper, learn from mistakes, focus more on the weaker areas and improve your accuracy in the stronger ones.
Truth #6 – Channelize your energy
Bad days aren’t unusual, are they? We are in the midst of a pandemic, folks. When was the last time you got sufficient Vitamin D (ahem, sunlight) for a day? We have learnt to live with the ‘new normal’. Take your bad mock result as just another item in this new normal. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Channelizing one’s energy is often mistaken for letting loose. Both are drastically different. For example, if you feel your DILR preparation – or the lack of it – was the reason you flunked, sitting with a DILR puzzle may or may not help overcome the mock blues. However, what would help is channelizing that oozing rage into solving twice the number of SuDoKus you solve per day.
If VARC eluded you this time, you could try reading (not speed-reading, mind you) an extra long form article for the day. These are not proven methods to improve your scores in your immediate next mock; but you are learning to not bog yourself down because you scored less in a mock.
Truth #7 – Mock Blues should not stop you
As cliched as it may sound, resigning from taking mocks is easy. Bouncing back from the arduous ‘mock blues’ phase and continuing your preparations is not. Do not step back from your mock regime because you had one or two or three or six or ten bad mocks.
What is the other way to assess your performance in the absence of mocks? NOTHING. You could as well keep taking those damn mocks.
Stay safe and best wishes for CAT 2020!
Written by Giridharan Raghuraman