We are on the eve of SimCAT 1 and a lot of students (mostly first-time CAT-takers) are apprehensive and understandably so, about taking it. Over the years we have found the self-same reasons that induce this fear, and this post is geared towards addressing them.
#1: I Have Not Finished The Concepts Yet
This is probably the biggest reason why first-time CAT-takers who have just started their CAT-prep are hesitant to take the first SimCAT. They tell themselves that they will start taking tests once they finish learning the concepts.
Firstly, this is not a school/college exam, when taking a test means memorizing formulae from a book and reproducing them in an exam.
Cracking the CAT is only 50 percent about knowing concepts, 50 percent is about knowing how to take a test — managing the 60 minutes of a section, gauging the difficulty of questions and choosing the right questions to solve.
Test-taking is a skill that can be honed only through taking as many SimCATs as possible. So if you decide to skip a few SimCATs till you have covered the concepts, you might still perform poorly whenever you take your first SimCAT since you do not know how to take a test!
So even if you feel you do not know a thing, go ahead, take the test and solve whatever you can!
#2: I Do Not Want To See A Poor Score
There is nothing called a poor score, only percentiles matter.
Those who are re-taking the CAT or are aware of CAT folklore, would know that in CAT 2013, a test-taker with a score of 0 would have secured the 55th percentile. Imagine, even if you slept through the whole test you would still have done better than 55 percent of the test-takers!
In the same CAT (2013), one of our students attempted only 16 questions in each of the sections and secured a 99.89 percentile (and did his MBA from IIM-C).
Whereas in 2014 the CAT was a relatively easy and test-takers had to get a much higher number of questions right to hit the 99th percentile.
So, even if you attempt only 15-20 questions in each section and get 12-15 questions right on SimCAT 1, you will still get a respectable percentile on your first outing.
#3: CAT is tough and I am aiming at other tests
Most students want to do an MBA from a decent school and are probably looking at cracking tests that have a reputation to be easier than the CAT.
If you imagine all the MBA entrance tests in India to be stacked up on a dart board, then the CAT is the bulls-eye. And anyone who has ever tried his/her hand at darts would know that you should always practice by aiming at the bulls-eye.
By giving your best shot at CAT you automatically put yourself in a position to maximize your chances on the non-CAT tests for there are very few people who prepare for the CAT alone.
Serious aspirants would be aiming at the IIMs and taking other tests as a back-up, so even if you do not aspire to ace the CAT, you will be competing with those who do and having prepared for it they will give you a run for your money on the non-CAT tests.
If there is one thing that all test-takers should keep in mind during the whole test-taking season it is this — Never Miss A SimCAT.
SimCATs offer you the best possible simulation of the CAT — last year a passage on the SimCAT turned up on the actual CAT, albeit with different questions — in terms of test-structure and level of difficulty, so you should always be not just ready but greedy to take a SimCAT.
All the best!