A 7-step strategy to get the most out of your CAT mock tests

Mocks are the most important part of prep work for the Common Admission Test (CAT). Yet, not all students capitalise on them fully. Often, students do not take the CAT because “the syllabus is not yet complete.”

The syllabus for the CAT is never complete. Right through preparation time, there will always be some areas that will need brushing up. A mock test gives you an immediate reality check on which sections you need to concentrate on more. Also, it tells you where you stand in the overall standings vis-a-vis the rest of the aspirants. Plus, in the worst case scenario – i.e. you find yourself looking blankly at the screen and nothing seems to make sense, it will drive you to your books!! Also solving a mock cat has a lot to do with confidence in your abilities and any mock or even the CAT for that matter, will have certain questions that can be solved with the application of native intelligence.

Having said all the above – How do you analyse a mock CAT?

Round M1: This is the actual mock inside the hall. Make sure that you use the review button to scan the section and then decide on which questions to attempt. Keep an eye on the clock because you have ultimately 70 minutes for the section and you need to pace yourself accordingly. Keep cool. One additional feature that you can incorporate from my side, for English is to record the order in which you attempt the questions or record the questions about which you are most confident in order of confidence.

For example, you may have attempted the following questions in the English section 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11,12, 14. Rank them in the order of confidence that you have in your answers which for example, may look like this 6, 12, 5, 3, 1, 14,7,11 – where you are most confident about 6 and least confident 11.I call this ordering your Confidence Index for those questions.

Round M2: After you get the soft copy/ hard copy of the mock CAT, do not look at the solutions! Give yourself another shot at the same mock CAT! Give yourself lesser time say 35 minutes in each section and try to do those questions, which you left out in M1. When you are attempting these questions try to analyse whether these questions are easier than the ones you did in M1. If yes – then there may have been some fault in question selection in M1 during exam conditions. You should have done the M2 questions in M1. Your aim is to ultimately become so good that the M2 questions are consistently more difficult than the M1 questions.

Round M3: Do this 2 days after M2. There will be still some questions left out that you have not managed to do. Now treat this like an open book exam. Use all the resources available at your disposal. Refer to the solutions given, class notes, text books and consult any faculty that you may have access to. Solve these remaining questions using these aids. Also note down these topics which you were not able to solve as this serves as a reminder that you need to refresh your knowledge relating to these topics. Note down the mistakes that you made somewhere and go through them once in a while.

Round M4: Now you have gone through these questions three times! Many of these questions will get hard wired into your brain. So that if you see a similar question in the CAT you will immediately recall how you solved it earlier. Also if you made any silly mistake in trying to solve the question you will hopefully remember to avoid it this time. Check out the solutions for better shortcuts that you might use or actual rules, for questions you may have cracked by gut feeling!

Plus – the CAT is as much about leaving out questions as doing them. If you know which questions to attempt later than sooner then you are that much ahead of the crowd. In M4 just look at those questions which are still unsolved by you or whose solutions you are not confident about despite having seen the official answer. Thus in this case if you see a similar question in the CAT, you give it a wide berth since you were not able to solve it at home. The chances of solving such a question in the exam hall are bleak!

Round M5: Recall that I had asked you to build a Confidence Index (which I call the CAT CONFEX – just like the BSE SENSEX) in Round M1. Once you get your results -total your scores for the bottom half of the CONFEX. For ex : in our Example above 6, 12, 5, 3, 1, 14 7,11 – just total your scores for the answers 1+ 14 +7+11. Over a number of MOCK CATS just watch what is the net score of the bottom half of the CONFEX.

1) If you find that the net score is consistently positive – there is no need for any change

2) If you find that the net score is consistently negative – then there may be a need for rethinking of your strategy since obviously these last few questions are just eating into the score obtained from the top half of the Confex

3) If you find that the net score is completely inconsistent – sometimes negative, sometimes positive – there is not much you can do about it – you just need more maturity to attempt this exam

As far as I am concerned in English – less is more . Though there is a school of thought, which feels that all the answers in English should be marked since you are not sure about so many of the answers anyway!! But I personally feel that marking only those answers which you are confident about, will ultimately fetch you a higher percentile.

Round M6: This is the last exercise with each Mock CAT! Take a diary and mark one page each with a different title. For Example – Parajumbles, Deleted Sentences, Commonly confused words etc. Now when you are analysing the Mock Cat try to categorize each question into a particular type.

Say for Example you were taking MOCK 4 which had 4 Questions and Mock 3 which also had 4 questions of these types


Q1. ParaJumble

Q2. Sentence Correction

Q3. Deleted Sentences

Q4. Commonly Confused Words


Q1. Deleted Sentence

Q2. ParaJumble

Q3. Commonly Confused Words

Q4. Sentence Correction

Now your Diary pages will look like this







and so on..

If you did this consistently for your mocks you will have a question bank at your disposal for revision in the last few weeks before the exam. This could be especially useful in the Quant section as well. All you have to do is to pick your topic and you know where to practice questions from that topic.

Round M7: For each Mock that you solve from now – get hold of an actual CAT paper and try to solve it. As they say – for achieving success – there is nothing like practising on the real thing!!

Tanveer Ahmed is an alumnus of St Xaviers College, Kolkata and currently works with a people search firm as a recruiter. He is a visiting faculty with T.I.M.E. and also coaches and mentors CAT hopefuls online in the intricacies of the English language. (On LinkedIn)

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