10 Tips for the Computer Based CAT

With the Computer Based Test set to take off from 28th Nov 2009, here are 10 tips that should keep you in good stead. Do write in at share(at)ankit9doshi(dot)com :

1) DI/Logic will be the real challenge

All those who would have attempted a few computer tests would realise how difficult solving DI/Logic has become. You have to recreate the whole thing on paper! It's not that easy and your speed will definitely be hampered. People are expecting them not to put complicated tables in the CBT but you can never be sure with the IIMs. I think people who do this section well , i.e. accurately and at a great speed will be the ones who will ace the CBT CAT. So practice this aspect extremely well.

I would suggest do the 10 min tests on tenaday.co.in. They have challenging 10 min tests and it really helps your speed.

2) Take the GMAT (If you can afford it)

If you have work experience and you are also looking at applying abroad or to colleges like ISB and other schools in India who accept the GMAT score, this is the right time. I do not think the GMAT requires specialised preparation for more than a month if you have been preparing for the CAT over the last 6 months. The only adjustment that needs to be made is for the verbal section of the GMAT.

The reason to push you to write the GMAT is because , it will give you experience of a live Computer based exam. The pressure during a GMAT exam is less. Reason: Certain set strategies will almost always work in a GMAT environment. Uncertainty is less. And it is very well adminisitered. It will give you a feel of what you can expect for the CBT CAT. I cannot emphasize more the importance of being relaxed and feeling comfortable if you want to ace a competitive exam like CAT. I think it should help. It's expensive but worth trying. I also think verbal training of GMAT will give you an advantage while attempting the verbal section of the CAT . Especially, Critical reasoning and Reading Comprehension.

3) Take a date which is neither very early nor very late

My experience says that whenever there is something new which is tried. It's best to take a date which is not too early and too late. Not early, because you don't want to be the first one to try out something which is going to be so uncertain. The IIMs have not given out how the test is going to be evaluated. So no idea of strategy.

Not too late because if there are some loopholes in the system they will be ironed out by the the 7th. You may miss out on some advantage.

Anyway, this may not be in your hands and your success and failure does not depend on this. But, if you do have a date available around 2-4 December, take that.

4) Read articles online for at least 2 hours everyday

Reading speed online and reading speed on paper are 2 completely different things. One being good does not guarantee the other. You need to get used to reading material on the computer. You need to get considerable practice. Remember, you cannot MARK on the computer. There is no highlight facility in the CBT CAT. You will need to get used to scrolling down. Your eye span will need adjustments. I suggest read from sites like the economist, project syndicate, project gutenberg etc.You can of course, solve 10 min tests on tenaday.co.in and look at free stuff on testfunda.com

5) Don't get too used to the mock tests

Remember, you need to ace the CBT CAT and not the ones administered by the coaching institutes. I fear people might get so used to the mock computer tests of the institutes that they may find the CBT test uncomfortable. Do not train your mind to expect anything. Let it not anticipate too much.

Also remember that, coaching classes are as clueless about the CBT as you and I are ! :)

6) Practise note taking for RCs

I think this technique should help while solving Reading Comprehensions. Considering you cannot mark, and you cannot memorise photographically because of the constant scrolling; try taking short notes on paper while reading. As you read a paragraph, scribble 1-2 lines that best explains the idea of the paragraph to you. You may also scribble a few words if thats how it works for you. This would help you go back to the right part of the passage quickly while solving. Anyway, in my opinion reading all the questions should be the strategy to follow. Try this note taking technique in few of the computer based mock tests.

7) Let there be no fear

I think I failed my CAT 2007 attempt only because of fear. Fear of failure. The mind was scared of making mistakes and hence, I was conservative in my approach. I attempted less questions and could not capitalise on my strong section verbal. It is amazing how a change of mindset did the trick in CAT 2008. No big difference in preparation except that my major preparation was to stay relaxed , calm and highly motivated to do well without being conscious of the exam. Easy to say, tough to practise especially if you are well prepared. People who have not done so well in the mocks anyway have nothing to lose. I don't think the CBT will change this problem. Fearlessness and confidence while attempting questions is the key to do well. I shall be sharing more about how to prepare 1 week before the CAT in detail later. Please remember - not cracking the CAT does not make you poorer in any way. You are missing nothing which is worth the post CAT result blues that people experience on not making it.

8) Attempt more

I know I may draw a lot of flak for this but I am going to stick my neck out and say that attempting more questions is the preferred strategy. I would have done that if I was in your position. I don't mean attempt recklessly but in my experience I have always done well when my number of attempts have been on the higher side. If the difficulty level of the paper is like CAT 2008 which I think was a classic CAT paper target attempts would be atleast 55-60% of Quant and DI and atleast 75% of verbal. This is the bare minimum if you want harbour hopes of a IIM C call which took the highest cutoff across the IIMs last year. You will have to be 100% accurate if you have attempts lower than this to get all calls.

9) Write a written test once a week

Please bear in mind that you are also going to be attempting the other exams(most of you!) which are still very much paper-pencil. It's important you do not lose track of that. Please practise paper-pencil format with the same intensity.

10) Build positivity over the next 2 months

I cannot emphasise more the power of positive thinking. It's important that you feel right before the exam and most crucially you NEED TO BELIEVE you'll do well come what may. There are a lot of ways to build that positivity but I suggest you try rhythmic breathing which you can replicate while attempting the test. It will not only calm you but also help you drive away nervous energy. If breathing, yoga etc, is not your style just simply do things that make you feel good about yourself. Remember times you have really done well and take confidence from that. Positive thinking will also help you become more intuitive and this will help you a lot especially in verbal.

Finally, preparation is the key. CBT CAT or pencil CAT , it requires a lot of preparation and effort. No tips, techniques and shortcuts will work if you have not prepared your basics well. Give it the respect any important exam of your life deserves. Not any more , not any less.

For any comments,help,feedback - you can definitely mail to me at : share(at)ankit9doshi(dot)com

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