I have always maintained in my advice to CAT (& GMAT) aspirants that the best way to score well in the exam on the D-day is to know yourself – your strengths and weaknesses, the time taken per question, which questions to attempt at the start and which ones towards the end, which questions to take a shot at and which ones to totally ignore.
This kind of knowledge comes from in depth analysis of your mock test results. In this article I talk of useful techniques that you can follow for your mock test result analysis and achieve better test scores.
This is the kind of analysis that helps you improve. You should go through all the questions you have got correct. Look at your approach – understand if you got it correct quickly, or did you have to spend a lot of time on the question. If you had to then the topic in question is not your strongest area. If you solved it quickly, then this topic/conceptual area can really help you score better in the exam.
Also, look for better methods to solve the questions you got correct. This would help you reduce the time per question drastically and improve your overall scores.
This is for the questions you did not get right. Solve each and every one of those questions after the test (as part of corrective analysis). The key here is to understand what went wrong:
1. Calculation errors: These can occur due to a variety of reasons. Lapse of concentration/unnecessary exam stress and anxiety are the common reasons and can be overcome with more practice and concentration improvement exercises.
2. Genuine lack of knowledge: The cases where you used an incorrect formula or were not thorough with a particular concept. In such cases you should go back to your notes/concept books and revise.
If repeated revision does not help in this case then you can easily classify these topics as weak areas. The best strategy for these topics would be to attempt these questions in the latter half of the test.
3. Guessing/approximation because of lack of time: This happens with a lot of candidates – you start solving a question, you get stuck, but since you have wasted a lot of time already, you take a guess (to recover the ‘sunk cost’) and it backfires. In such cases follow this basic approach – Revise the topic, and try to solve the question with the recommended method. Do this a few times, if you still get stuck in questions from this topic put these topics in the “Weak Conceptual Areas” basket and attempt them in the latter half of the test.
Remember in CAT, it is important to go through each and every question (give each question 30-45 seconds). It is more important to know which questions to skip without wasting a lot of time on them – it would help you get the maximum returns from the limited time that is available to you during the test.
Comprehensive analysis involves questions that you have not attempted. Again this can happen due to variety of reasons.
1. Lack of conceptual clarity – You did not know the concept that was tested in these questions due to which you could not attempt them. The key is again to go back to the concept notes and revise. And then classify the topic as a strength or a weakness depending on the
2. Lack of time – You either had no time because of some other questions that took more time than usual. Or you were unable to even read the question. The second problem is a more critical issue and needs to be taken care of immediately. Cultivate the habit of reading the question and figuring out the concepts tested. Based on those, classify the question into strength/weakness. If it is an easy question (as per your ability), go right ahead. Else skip it for later. You do not want to miss out on a few sitters at the end of the test in lieu of the some of the tougher questions that you encountered at the beginning of the test.
Deepak Nanwani is the co-founder of MyPrepMate.com, an online adaptive solution for GMAT and CAT. An alumnus of IIT Guwahati and IIM Bangalore, he is a master strategist for all competitive exams.