Taking CAT Mocks? Things you should do before and after taking a mock
It is high time you start taking mock exams for your CAT exam preparation if you haven’t started already. Just keep in mind that these mocks are here to make you familiarize yourself with the exam pattern and to check your understanding of concepts. While it’s good to score well, mocks at the initial stages are in no way an indication of your capabilities and your preparation. So keep a cool head, face them and ace them.
Here are certain things to keep in mind while taking CAT mock exams and during the post-analysis sessions:
- Don’t wait till you complete the syllabus:
- Look for your Achilles heel
- Test your strategy
- Root cause analysis
- Time allocation and outcome
Don’t wait till you complete the syllabus:
This is the most common excuse given by candidates to skip mocks. Trust me, almost half the aspirants appearing for CAT don’t complete the syllabus. So skipping mocks just because you haven’t completed the syllabus is completely unacceptable. CAT exam is more about testing your speed and your eye to pick the right question to solve rather than completing your syllabus. It is okay to dive headfirst into mocks without completing even half the syllabus. Try out the questions for the chapters you have completed and attempt questions from other sections post that. Test your RC solving skills and your comfort levels with DI and LR with a timer.
Look for your Achilles heel:
Nothing beats solving questions in a race against time to check your preparation status. The timer brings a lot of variability into the scenario, and it is better to understand where you stand and how you can overcome the challenges you face. Let’s say you have completed your geometry preparation; in an ideal case, you should attempt all geometry questions and get them right. But that might not be the case. Mocks help you identify your weakness and how you can work around them. I would strongly recommend you take up the questions from the completed chapters first to see your grasp on the basics and your solving speed.
Test your Strategy:
CAT exam is going to be a two-hour marathon, and it’s important to know how you will attempt the paper. This especially comes into play during the DILR and Quant section. For example, my general strategy was to look at all the questions within the first 10 mins and pick out the questions I would solve and the questions I should avoid. Arithmetic and modern math were my strong suit, so my n-question target would be around these areas. Similarly, you would have your comfort zone, so it’s better to have a goal and pave your pathway around your comfort zone to reach them. That being said, I strongly urge you to expand your comfort zone with a ton of practice.
The mock analysis is the most critical part of mocks, and I can’t stress this enough. You need to spend at least twice the amount of time you spend on your mock exam. I recommend you complete your mock analysis immediately after the mock exam and keep a separate notebook to note your mistakes and why you feel you missed these questions. There are two main reasons for doing a mock analysis to understand two things. And they are.
- Root Cause Analysis
- Time allocation and outcome
Root Cause Analysis:
The point of mock analysis is to go back and visit the questions not just to see the correct answer but to understand where and why you went wrong. I always have my rough paper from CAT mock exams with me to see what went wrong or to find if there was a shorter approach that I missed. This could come in handy when you are in the final stages of your revision. Also, during mock analysis, you should look out for the easy questions you might have missed out on for various reasons and understand why you missed them to avoid such instances in the future.
Time allocation and outcome:
The other most important reason to do CAT mock analysis is to understand which questions consumed the most of your time and the reason behind it. Typically you are expected to take around 2 mins for a quant question and about 8-12 mins maximum for a set of DILR. So it would be best to look over questions you have spent more time on and understand what went wrong. Whether it’s a calculation speed or getting the hang of the concept, these are things you need to get the hang of before going into the CAT exam. Also, it would be best to look at questions where you have spent more time and not arrived at the solution. This again is an area to consider. It’s okay to let go of questions if you feel they are challenging rather than sit on them and waste your time.
CAT is a game against wits and not ego; if you remember this and prepare well, you can ace it – Harish V