Important Things That 99%ilers Do
The last few yards are the toughest. Going from 95th percentile to 99th percentile is the toughest. So, what do the top 2000 do differently? Or, put differently, what should you do to give yourself the best chance for doing this? Probably,that’s the question you’re weighing in your head now. So in this article we go on to list down must do things to cross the 99th percentile barrier. Let’s get started!
Reading always pays off
“If you have the reading habit, build on it. Read all kinds of nonsense. If you don’t have the reading habit, build it. Read all kinds of nonsense.” – We keep reiterating this again and again. Sometimes, students do not realize the power of reading diverse content consistently over a period of time. Don’t forget that this is test where you have to spend at least one-third of your time in reading. Read across a myriad range of sources. Explore different genres. Read novels, novellas; small and giant articles about different topics.This will definitely help you in the actual test.
Accuracy is more important than speed!
Be anal about accuracy from the very beginning. There is, in essence no big difference between the knowledge of a 96-97 percentiler and a 99 percentiler. The big difference between 96th-97th percentile to 98th-99th percentile is accuracy. Having a high accuracy rate is a necessary but not sufficient condition. So, from day 1 aim for near 100% accuracy.
Prepare in a Cocoon
In the last few months, every Tom, Dick and Rajesh will want to give you gyaan and tips on preparation. They might be good (some are great, you know who). But you still need to tune out of this and focus on your preparation. You need to come up with YOUR plan, YOUR exam-strategy and build YOUR routine to crack it. A lot can be outsourced in life, but not this.
Practice, practice, and more practice!
There is no glory in practice, but without practice there is no glory. Solve as many questions as you can. Keep practicing regularly. It is said practice makes a man perfect – but this sentence is wrong (in my opinion). Practice does not make a man perfect, rather it makes permanence. Practice makes permanence – one should keep this thought in the mind if someone is interested in getting a 99 percentile. Practice all the topics even the ones you are already good at. So dive in, get your hands dirty and solve gazillion (relevant) questions from a fabulous question bank or actual CAT Question papers ,which are most likely to come in the actual CAT. Solving gazillion questions intensely from a topic creates links in your brain that are worth their weight in gold when you’re preparing for an exam like CAT.
Be quick with solving the problems. Don’t waste much time on a particular question. If you are not sure about an answer, keep the question for later and solve it if you have time in the end. But while solving with speed, you cannot afford to make silly mistakes. Silly mistakes are a major reason for the low percentile. You need to be careful and alert with every question. Understand the question correctly.
Take lots of mocks and analyse them well
Taking mocks should become second nature. You should reach a point where taking a mock just does not take much out of you. And then start at zero and throw so much into a mock that you get tired at the end of it. After you take a mock, every time evaluate what you have done. Make a note of your mistakes. This will help you know which sections you are good at and which sections need more practice. Accordingly, try planning upon the questions you will prefer to attempt. This way you won’t lose marks unnecessarily. Be careful while solving each question and concentrate completely on it. Don’t be overconfident about your strengths and don’t be ignorant of your weaknesses. Strive hard to convert your weaknesses into strengths.
Be switched-on to new ideas!
Have an open mind. If someone shows you a new way of solving a problem, you eyes should light up, You should try to apply that approach for other sums as well. This will definitely help you to reinforce the methods and will also help you to expand your horizons. Also, whenever possible teach others about that new idea or approach, because when you teach others you become better. You’ll notice that when you help others in solving a question using different techniques, you understand what works and when,well.
Make strategies to reach your aim
Try to have an overall strategy and vary it based on circumstances in the test. Strategy can be evolved by experimenting in your mocks. This will tell you which strategy is more accurate. Strategy should be such that it should be able to accommodate the different situations that you can face in the test. Having a strategy and being able to vary as per situation helps you be calm in the exam.
Stamina is super critical. A lot of students get burnt out during the exam. Make sure you build stamina carefully from day 1. You need to have a sense of when your fatigue errors happen and counter them. Stamina automatically gets built when you take a bunch of mocks. But focusing on it specifically also gives good returns. Also create an artificial daily target for yourself. Read 2 passages from Bharath’s Curated Reading list, solve 2 puzzles and 20 questions from the 2IIM question bank at break-neck speed. Don’t time yourself and plan to optimise. Pace yourself and promise to remain switched on.
Push yourself harder
Apologies if we are entering into self-help gyaan territory. But truth is, the guys who crack this exam are the ones who set high demands of themselves. If you work till 8 pm but are behind on your mock count. Freshen up, have a light dinner and take a mock from 9pm to 12. Might not be your best performance, but will give you new belief that you CAN DO this stuff. Chances are you will get a decent score and then tell yourself that “If this is what I can do when I am this tired. I will bl00dly kill this exam when I am fresh”.
Do not succumb to the pressure
One thing that sets the 99 percentile scorers apart from the less percentile scorer is how they deal with pressure. No matter what the situation is during the exam you cannot lose your calm. You need to deal with the situation with patience. Often, there are questions that the candidate is unable to solve in the first attempt. In such situations, leave the question and move ahead to solving the rest of the paper. This way you won’t lose your time. If you panic and stick to solving that question then you probably won’t be able to complete your paper ahead. Go with a good state of mind and have confidence in yourself. This ain’t easy. There are no easy fixes for this. Make sure that you acknowledge that this is a high-pressure exam and take every effort to de-emphasize that. You need to carry ‘josh’ into the exam hall, not anxiety.
Have fun while preparing
This is a fabulously fun exam to prepare for. You read 4-5 readable passages, solve 25 fun questions and 3-4 interesting puzzles. Become the person who thinks this is a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Not the one who has a feeling of impending doom. So give your best, and forget the rest.
Best wishes for CAT!!
Rajesh Balasubramanian takes the CAT every year and is a 4-time CAT 100 percentiler. He likes few things more than teaching Math and insists to this day that he is a better teacher than exam-taker.