CAT Strat
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The CAT 2015 Mock Test – An Analysis

It has been a while since the new CAT 2015 software was put up on the IIM-CAT site (I have to admit I have always found the name a bit cheesy :)). I wanted to wait a while to see how test-takers react to the new pattern in the SimCATs before doling out any sort of advice.

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[title text=”Running out of steam by the Quant section”]
Most of the students I have met have said that by the time they reach the Quant section they are mentally tired. The same would have applied to the Verbal section in the earlier pattern but the Quant section demands more mental energy since you are not entirely choosing between answer options as is the case on Verbal. The best indicators are of course the cut-offs — the Quant cut-off has dropped (marginally) whereas the VA-RC and DI-LR cut-offs have not changed.

It is only going to get tougher on test-day. On test day you will need to report an hour or so before your test starts and since most test centres are not within city-limits you will have to start a good hour in advance to reach the test-centre on time. So in effect you will be spending a total of 4 hours before you hit the Quant section!

How do we deal with this situation? Let’s say the two hours involved in travel and waiting can be equated to 30-minutes of test-taking. Even so it still means an additional 30 minutes worth of mental energy.

On D-day the only thing you want to do is to perform to the best of your abilities — you do not want to under-perform due to lack of stamina or nerves. Unlike for the GMAT, for the CAT you have to wait for a whole year before you can have another crack at it.

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[title text=”Building test-taking stamina to go the distance”]
Sometimes there is nothing better than stories to frame a point of view or argument.

Reasonably keen followers of cricket will be very much aware that the Australian cricket season and summer both start in December and the strength of the sunlight there is very severe. It goes without saying that batting for a whole day or at least three sessions, which by the way is the goal that way top test batsmen set themselves, is as much a test of the body as it is of cricketing skill. In the lead up to the season opening series, Mathew Hayden used to build his stamina by putting weights around his ankles and going running up and down mountains!

Thankfully the task before us is of a different nature — building mental stamina
On every practice test that you will take from now on, do not stop at the end of 180 minutes. Add another 30 minutes by doing a QA-DI-LR section test.

At least once try to take two tests back-to-back just to see how far you can go (you can stand up, stretch and take a deep breath in between tests :-)).

It might seem like a challenge but it is something you should be able to do. Just keep telling yourself — what is half an hour more compared to a year!

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[title text=”The Scientific Calculator”]
The scientific calculator seems to be a welcome addition to the test. One of the bog goals that the IIMs have set for themselves is to increase diversity.

I think the scientific calculator is one of the ways of making it easier for non-engineering graduates to perform well on the test. If they have the requisite conceptual knowledge and logical ability, calculation skills should not be the reason for them not making the cut.

It goes without saying that not just the DI-LR section but also the QA section will become easier with the addition of the scientific calculator.

But before that you need to answer a question — is calculation & approximation your forte?

If your answer is YES, then you do not need to make any changes, you will know when to use the calculator and you will not need all the features.

If your answer is NO and you want to rely on the calculator then you need to have a clear idea as to how each of the functions on the calculator works. If you really want to make the most of it you need to ensure that you now how to use all the features it has. For example, how to use MC, MR, MS, M+ and M?

The one thing you should not be doing is using the calculator as well as paper — multiplying two numbers, writing down the value on paper, multiplying another two numbers and then adding this number to that.

Remember that one method is not superior to another, whatever path you choose you should maximize its potential.

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[title text=”Will CAT 2015 follow the same pattern as the Mock Test?”]
The big questions on test-takers’ minds after seeing the Mock Test are:

  • Are there going to be so many RCs?
  • Will there be no grammar questions?
  • What about vocab-based questions?

No one has expressed any doubts about the other two sections!

Most of you would have recognised the RC passages on the Mock Test from old paper-based CATs. Apart from the RCs had only three question types Summary, Jumbled Paragraph and Odd-One Out. I somehow have a feeling that they just wanted to somehow fill in 34 questions! So there will be fewer passages, my guess is 4 passages and about 16-18 questions.

If there is one thing that has been consistent about the CAT over the years, it is the fact that there is always an element of surprise. So do not be surprised if you encounter Grammar and Vocab-based questions on the test.

The best thing you can do to prepare for this eventuality is to revise all Grammar and Vocab-based questions from this year’s proctored SimCATs.

Over the course of the next two weeks I will do separate posts on how to maximize your scores on VA-RC, DI-LR and QA respectively. For this I will be using the sections from the CAT Mock Test. So I want all of you to take the test as a full-length test by Friday. Mark your answers separately on a paper just in case.

Will analyse and give the key to the VA-RC section on Saturday.

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[title text=”Planning for the next phase”]
The first thing to do post-CAT is to analyse how your test went and you know that everything depends on how everyone else did. On CAT Day I will start a thread on Twitter with the # of attempts as soon as I step out of my centre (Dhanalakshmi Engineering College, Morning Slot), all of you can reply with your attempts so that we can get a clear idea of how difficult or easy the test was.

Post-CAT WAT-GD-PI prep will start immediately after CAT. I will be tweeting links to the most relevant articles for the WAT-GD-PI Round. This is important as results will be announced Jan second week and you can have your first interview as early as 2-Feb, IIFT will be earlier.

FB has its limitations since working professionals do not want colleagues to know about their MBA plans. Given the amount of information on FB it is tough to always be sure that the message is getting across to all everyone. It is a bit painful to send messages to so many What’s App groups. In the mean time open an account on Twitter and follow @tonyxavierims. So do this at the earliest.

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In the meantime, if you find the idea of doing two back-to-back tests daunting then read this in-depth  article on how Djokovic went from being physically unable to compete beyond the semi-finals of tournaments to becoming possibly the fittest sportsman on the planet —

Post any queries you might have about a post in the comments section, I will quickly get back to you.

Keep Prepping,

All the best!


  1. Pingback: CAT 2015 Official Mock Test Answer Key | imsVKpedia

  2. Pingback: CAT 2015 Official Mock Test Answer Key – Web-Log9

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