CAT Strat, Motivation
Comments 42

CAT 2019 Miscellany: Morning Slot, Nervous Insomnia

I was (though I should not have been) surprised that the post on the afternoon slot blues elicited requests for a post on how to handle the morning slot for those who are not morning people at all. It is natural that given the binary nature of tendencies at a broad level, for every aspirant who is a morning person there will be a corresponding night owl. I can’t say I have a cure for this but I can put forward a tentative plan that those uncomfortable with a morning slot can try out over the next few weeks.

Personally, I am not a morning person either, I would call myself a mid-morning person (I work best between 11 and 2). My natural time to wake up without an alarm (irrespective of when I sleep) is 7, the real waking up time is between 7:30 and 8:00.  Whenever I have to wake up earlier than 7, usually to catch an early morning flight, I end up not sleeping that well since I am aware of having to wake up, and if I have to wake up before 6, I barely sleep.

Now if I have to take the test in a morning slot this is far from an ideal situation on test day. But personally, for me, it will not be a problem because I will coast through on the pure adrenaline rush and sheer play that taking a test is for me. A lot of it comes from the fact that I enjoy taking tests and am good it as well, I am sure those of you who enjoy cricket or football or any other sport and are good at it (in the peer group with whom you play) can go and play well even without a good night’s sleep. But test-taking might be something that most normal people might not enjoy or look forward to. So given this, your task is to ensure that you are as physically and mentally switched on as possible by 9:30 A.M.


Change your sleep schedule

The first thing is to ensure that you start sleeping early; sleep with at a time that will give you the required the quota of sleep, which varies from person to person, to get up at 6 AM.

This is very obvious but the key lies in how to get this done.

To fall asleep naturally at 10 or 11 might not be easy for those who usually hit the sack after 12, for this happen you have to be terribly tired.

So if you want to start waking up at 6 AM from Thursday morning

  1. put a night out on Tuesday night (go binge-watch your favourite show, hang out with friends, minus any intoxication)
  2. do not sleep at all, not a wink on the whole day through to Wednesday
  3. take a warm water bath and have dinner by 9 PM
  4. switch off your phone, set an alarm for 6 AM
  5. get into bed with a book and you will crash

Once you do this on day one, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 every evening.

Each one of you will need a different amount of sleep to feel fresh, 6 to 8 hours (if it is more than 8 then God can help you), so vary the timing of your dinner so that you sleep 90 to 120 minutes after having eaten.

Switching off your phone is crucial since it will eat into another 30 or 45 minutes and the bigger damage is that exposure to white light will prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.


Ensure that you wake up and change your morning schedule

The above part is the easy part, the getting up when the alarm goes off is possibly the toughest thing in the world, at least for the night owls. Hence, for this, you will need an enforcer.

You have to designate someone to take the responsibility to bug the hell out of you to get out of bed. The best person for such a job has to be one of your parents, this might be something that they have always wanted to do to you for a long time. If you stay away from them, ask them to call you twice — once to bug you to turn off your phone off at night and one in the morning to keep calling you till you are up. Am sure this is a task that will make them very happy.

The reason I say that you need an enforcer is that studies have shown that will power is something that is highly over-rated and enervating, for example, more than having the things that you crave in front of you and then using will power to resist it, it is easier to ensure that you do not go into those situations or not have those things around. Similarly, using the help of others is a wiser, more self-aware way of going about things than watching more and more motivation videos to get pumped up to wake up (after a point motivation videos only make money for their creators, and if you need to keep watching them, then they are anyway not doing their job).


For those who are not used to waking up at 6, grogginess can be a big factor, so waking up and having a cup of coffee (black works best) might be the best way to switch on all of the lights. But making good black coffee can be an ordeal and it is addictive, also once the caffeine wears off, you can come crashing down, so taking a couple of Brahmi capsules after freshening up might be a better option.


Insomnia induced by test-day nerves

I am sure there are those of you who know that you will not be able to sleep the night before the CAT. The sheer nervousness, you are sure, will have you tossing and turning all night.

Even in this case the best option is to pull an all-nighter two nights before the CAT and not sleep during the day that follows so that the night before the CAT, fatigue will overcome nervousness and your body will crash to sleep. Do not leave this for the end, try it once or twice before.

More importantly, I feel that you should change the way you think of yourself with respect to the test. If you are operating from a space where you are still a school kid who is scared of tests, then you cannot get over the nerves. You have to understand that you cannot view the test in isolation.

If you want to be a management professional and do a course that is aimed at producing business leaders (if we go by the structure of the course, my personal experience of the course, and the mission statements of most b-schools) then you have to start behaving and thinking like a management professional and future business leader right now.

If you cannot handle this pressure at 21-22, then very frankly I do not see how you will manage and lead people in the future. If you will be a nervous wreck as a boss then God help your team-mates. And you can take it from me in writing that even your work life will have enough and more stressful situations that will have high stakes. Why wait till then, your MBA will have enough and more stressful situations, with placements possibly being the most stressful of all. Everything you want to be in the future you have to show potential today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42 Comments

  1. Ayush Gupta says

    Hello Sir,
    I am usually good at VARC section, but when I attempt it during the wee hours of the morning, I find that my attention wanders for a few seconds during which I may be reading an RC, but I am not really grasping any part of it; which makes me having to come back and read the same thing again, thereby wasting crucial moments of time. This happened during last year’s CAT as well and has been a constant damper for me. How do I ensure that I am fully attentive while attempting the paper? Any advice on the matter would be highly appreciated.

    P.S. – I am not a morning person and have unfortunately gotten Slot 1 this year as well.

    Like

    • Hi Ayush,

      9:30 AM cannot be called “wee hours” of the morning. I think the problem you have mentioned is quite common. I myself will opt to take the QA section of the GMAT first rather than Verbal (despite being way better at GMAT VA than QA ) since one can get caught cold reading long passages at the beginning.

      The way apart from all the things mentioned in the post is to read something on your phone during the waiting time as a warm-up. Reading a kindle mobile app version of Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow and reading it first-up at 9:30 for 30 minutes every day from now on is a good way of creating a different pathway in your head.

      I think this should definitely help,

      All the best!

      Like

  2. After completing my graduation, the best offer that i had was either join as a clerk with the Heromotocorp dealer, where i had done my internship or TCS – BPS in later months ( off- campus ).
    I joined none of them and decided to give a shot for CAT again. Apart from CAT, i wrote several government jobs exams too.
    After initial misses, i started hitting them. Now, EPFO SSA mains is on 14th. The job is decent (approx 36k salary and 5days per week work ) and very much achievable. As per the inpredictability of CAT and GD PI round of FMS, i want to have a back – up and this is what i need.
    But the problem is , i will have to invest 12th , 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th for this.
    Should i take the risk Or should i leave it for IBPS PO and other exams that will come till March ?

    Grad BBA
    Cateogry EWS
    AIMCAT 2003 percentile 98.55

    Sorry for this irrelevant post!

    Like

    • Hi,

      If you are scoring 98.55 on the AimCAT then you will score a 99 percentile on the CAT.

      At this stage I do think not preparing for 5 days should not affect your CAT Prep at all since it is a test of skill and not knowledge. A batsman who will lose all touch if he does not bat for 5 days is no batsman at all, or for that matter an F1 racer!

      It is all in the head. So go ahead give these exams and give the CAT as well.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Shashank Nayak says

    Sir,
    Your post is always delightful to read. I have also got morning slot and nowadays i try to give all mocks from 9 to 12 only. But in the mock i kind of get lost in the passage and then it takes more than usual time to understand the passage and eventually the options in the question. And in my case VARC score is very unpredictable and non uniform from mocks to mocks, so sir how can i increase my concentration level especially in VARC?

    And in last two post i find you mentioning about Brahmi Capsule, for the fact i didnt know about this earlier, is it safe taking the capsule and if i start taking it now, will it be useful on CAT day?

    Like

    • Hi Shashank,

      I think a lot of people who are not natural morning people face this issue (you are the second person writing to me since the post went up yesterday) — getting off the blocks with RC becomes tougher since the brain is not warmed up yet.

      The way apart from all the things mentioned in the post(having the capsule and stuff) is to do two things to warm up — solve a Sudoku Puzzle and read something, both on your phone, 45 minutes before the test as a warm-up. Reading a kindle mobile app version of Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow and reading it first-up at 8:30 for 30 minutes every day(after solving a Sudoku) from now on is a good way of creating a different pathway in your head.

      I think this should definitely help.

      Brahmi is a herb and the capsules have absolutely no side-effects at least from my regular consumption, I have one every day and two on mornings when I feel especially groggy.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Shashank nayak says

        Thanks Sir,
        Although i dont have kindle mobile app version of the book, I managed to download the pdf version of book so definitely i will follow your advice.

        And i will take Brahmi capsule in the morning at 8,that will be ok i suppose?

        Like

  4. bikash ray says

    sir i gave simcat 14 …and scored 120 still my percentile was only 80…i gave the exam in morning 9am and and my varc accuracy has gone considerably low…i thought the level of diificulty may be higher…but cutoff has gone too high……what to do?? previously at the same score i used to get a high percentile….sir what could be the reason?

    Like

    • Three reasons for getting lower percentile:

      1. Easy Paper — The VA-RC section was easy overall, the VA was really, really, easy, in fact 24 marks out of 30 were there for the taking in VA. Anything less than 21 on the VA shows a big lack of technique, RC passages were tough but questions were easy, 15 RC questions right was definitely possible.
      2. The peers are getting better as the test gets closer so the same score is nowhere good enough, aspirants are hitting easy papers out of the park whereas you are getting the same score.
      3. More higher calibre aspirants are taking the test — good test-takers who are really serious are taking last few mocks of all players thus pushing scores higher

      So you obviously have problems with technique if your VA-RC scores on this are low. You have to ask yourself as to which part of the process outlined in the Masterclasses and the SimCAT feedback videos 10 and 14 you are missing.

      Mostly test-takers look at all of these but never truly change their solving process as such. Most read without a break, without conscious reasoning — passage-question-options-eliminate 2 — and start reasoning or actively thinking only when left with two options. A lot of this is because they feel these things slow them down and they want to solve as many questions as possible. You can’t drive fast without following processes and not expect to crash most of the time.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

      • bikash says

        i wasted too much time on reading the Rcs….so could not get enough time to solve VA section…as i was unable to understand the passage,so i feared to attend the questions…
        sir,thank u for making the solution video of simcat 14…
        sir please make the solution video for simcat 16 also….it would be very helpfull for us….as it would be our last simcat….and we can apply the strategy in next simcat…and then go through the video solution…

        Like

  5. Manav Hirani says

    Hello Sir,
    I have been following your posts since September and they have helped my preparation a lot. So firstly, thank you!

    I have been taking TakeHome SIMCATs since 10 days now and have been scoring in the range of 160-175 with a couple of blips of 130s. Also, in SIMCAT – Proctored – 14, I scored 148 with a 95%ile but that was mainly due to a high score in VARC (80). I have given CAT 2017 Slot 1 and scored 161.

    I am planning to give a few AIMCATs in the coming week and trying to improve the Quant section which is my weakest. I request you to give me some recommendations on what else can I do to fine-tune my preparation. I aim to achieve 99+ile in CAT’19.
    Thank you!

    Like

    • Hi Manav,

      I think the main focus should be on getting the QA score up, especially the area from which you currently do not solve easy problems as well.

      Spend a better part of your time on QA section tests and QA e-MAXIMISER workshops so that by No-24 you can get a 50 on QA.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  6. Manav Hirani says

    Hello Sir,
    I have been following your posts since September and they have helped my preparation a lot. So firstly, thank you!

    I have been taking TakeHome SIMCATs since 10 days now and have been scoring in the range of 160-175 with a couple of blips of 130s. Also, in SIMCAT – Proctored – 14, I scored 148 with a 95%ile but that was mainly due a high score in VARC (80). I have given CAT 2017 Slot 1 and scored 161.

    I am planning to give a few AIMCATs in the coming week and trying to improve the Quant section which is my weakest. I request you to give me some recommendations on what else can I do to fine-tune my preparation. I aim to achieve 99+ile in CAT’19.
    Thank you!

    Like

  7. Arjun Mehra says

    Sir, I have been getting a rank from 100-200 consistently in my AimCATs and SimCATs. Please guide me what kind of percentile I should expect in CAT. I am very confused.

    Like

    • Hi Arjun,
      Take your average percentile and add half of the difference from 100 to it. If it’s 90, then add 5, if it’s 95, then add 2.5, and so on.
      All the best!

      Like

  8. Sarath says

    Hi Sir,

    Unlike most of the others my problem with VA-RC seems to be the opposite. I have a pretty good reading speed because of which I finish of all the passages pretty quickly. Because of this I always end up with around 10-15 mins left even after attempting the entire section and I attempt around 27-30 questions which results in a big hit on my accuracy. My scores keep fluctuating a lot (45-70) depending on how good my accuracy on that particular test. Any suggestions to improve this would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Hi Sarath,
      This is a better problem to have! You know the problem and need to ensure that you use the 15 minutes well.

      You should watch the RC Masterclass 2 on the Channel tab on the new myIMS, and execute the 5 Pauses approach, should solve both the issues at the same time – extra 15 minutes and accuracy. Then watch the feedback of SimCAT 10 and 14.

      That should suffice,

      All the best!

      Like

  9. Hello Sir,

    I am just another night owl who has received the morning slot and a test center which is more than an hour away from home (Perks of living in Mumbai!) . Should I rent a room in the area of the test center or travel in the morning at 6 am? Just conflicted on what could affect my test taking more adversely, missing on a good night rest at home or travelling early in the morning and being a little tired when reaching the center?

    Like

    • Hi,
      Not a bad idea, if you can afford it why not? Only thing to consider is whether you can sleep well in a new place, I can’t, if you do not have that problem, go ahead.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Not very sure about being able to sleep well the night before CAT, no matter what the place is 😛 On an average, does travelling before the paper affect the performance of exam takers?

        Like

  10. sir
    I am getting the rank of 700-750 consistently in SIMCATs(avg 15k test takers) and the same in AIMCATs(avg 10k test takers).
    What percentile should i be expecting sir?

    Like

    • Hi AG,

      Take your average percentile and add half of the difference from 100 to it. If it’s 90, then add 5 — 95 is the percentile you will get on the actual CAT — if it’s 95, then add 2.5 — 97.5 is the percentile you will get on the actual CAT — and so on provided you perform at the same level.

      All the best!

      Like

  11. Hello sir,
    I have two queries,
    I believe, I have a decent hold over the language, which helps me read any particular passage faster. Usually I can complete a particular passage in and around 3.5-4 mins and the overall RC section in 35-40 mins and I end up attempting 23/24 of the RC questions and 8-9 of the VA questions. So, I have scored a 70+ score multiple times, but my scores equally prone to bomb to late 40-50s. What is it that I should do to make those scores consistent?

    The other query I have is I’m not able to pull off the VA section as strongly (despite having ample of time in the end) as I’m able to pull off the RCs (barring the summary qs)- I tend to over think, which is why I get lost in a limbo. how should I attempt this section- either scattered/ at first/last ?

    Like

    • Hi Yash,

      Having a good reading speed and having a decent command of the English language are just the starting steps to consistently score above 65 in the VC-RC section.

      The third and most important element is reasoning and unless you have a consistent technique/process that you employ to ensure that your reasoning is in place, you will see a fluctuation in scores. It is not about thinking or over-thinking but the process and criteria that you use to think.

      I have outlined these in detail in the RC Masterclass 2 webinar and the feedback of SimCATs 10 and 14, go through them and execute those processes. The order of selection is outlined in the e-LMTC webinar (it is available on the new myIMS in the CHANNEL tab)

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

      • Thanks sir,
        The other thing about VA – what should the strategy to attempt this section in order to maximise scores in this section?

        Like

      • Hi Yash,

        Please watch the video e-LMTC webinar on Channel tab of the new myIMS it has the selection strategy.

        I for one will never leave the VA for the last 15 minutes — either VA-RC or RC-VA-RC.

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!

        Like

  12. Sir, I have afternoon slot for CAT so should I check the reviews of morning slot via peers / IMS whatsapp groups.

    Like

  13. Hello sir,
    I have two queries.
    I believe that I have a good flare in the language, which is why I usually can complete reading a particular passage in and around 3.5-4 minutes and the overall RCs in about 35-40 mins. I’ve got 70+ scores multiple times, but my score are equally prone to bomb to late 40-50. what should I do make them consistent throughout ?
    secondly, given the time I have to solve the VA section I am not able to squeeze out marks out of the 10 question( barring the summary qs) how should I attempt these qs to maximze my score(scattered/ beginning/ end). for, I feel lost in the limbo overthinking varied possibilities.

    Like

  14. Hi Sir
    I am appearing for CAT second time this year. I am quite comfortable with QA and VARC but not that much with LRDI. I feel that I neglected LRDI last year too (or didn’t pay that much attention that should I have) and hence fell a little short of my dream percentile. Although this year my job didn’t give me much time but I tried to focus on LRDI by solving as many different sets I could. Can you suggest me something that I should do for last 15 days?

    Like

  15. simran banka says

    Hello Sir,

    Thank you so much for the guidance as I have also received the morning slot for the test.

    Unlike most of the people whose comments i read above, i am a pretty average student who got 86 percentile last year.
    I knew i could atleast do better than that so i decided to give it another shot. However due to work commitments i could not study much and since 6 months i am stuck at the same level and not able to improve a lot. Mock scores are almost the same as last year but my percentiles are way tooo low and its seriously damaging my self confidence and i am extremely scared now!

    Since its 15 days left for CAT now, can you suggest any remedies pls?

    Like

    • Hi Simran,

      Honestly, there is nothing dramatic that can be done in the last 15 days. I would suggest taking as many mocks, do not bother about the percentile, watching all the Masterclass and e-LMTC videos on the Channel TAB of the new myIMS. If you can execute the strategies outlined in the e-LMTC webinar, you can expect a jump in scores.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  16. Anshu Pandey says

    Hi Tony,

    My first attempt at CAT was in 2017 where I gave the exam straight out of college with no preparation and secured a percentile of 99.8. Last year I prepared a little(gave overall 4-5 mocks) but my percentile didn’t even touch the 99-mark. This year I have given considerable time, from what I could get post office attempting over 25 mocks but my scores have plateaued in the 150-170 range. I do not what I should be doing different or if anything can be done at all in these last 10 days to shoot up my score to 185-195.

    General Breakdown:
    VARC-Attempt 100%, Accuracy 60% (all VA questions attempted in last 15 min with generally poor accuracy)
    DILR- 3-4 sets attempts, usually 1-2 questions incorrect (speed is an issue)
    QA- 20-22 questions attempts, usually 2-4 questions incorrect

    Can you please suggest me any strategy as to how to go about it. I am in need of desperate help!

    Like

    • Hi Anshu,

      Actually, it is not very tough for you to get a jump in scores in the last 15 days since the tweaks are minor if you keep your mind open.

      VA-RC – Increase accuracy to 80% by attempting with technique.
      Attempt VA first, 10Qs 15-20 minutes, watch the e-LMTC VA webinar, VA Masterclass(available on the CHANNEL Tab of the new myIMS), and feedback of SimCAT 10 and 14.

      DI-LR – Nothing to change except to check if you are selecting the right sets, watch the DI-LR e-LMTC webinar.

      QA nothing to change at this stage.

      Devote bulk of your time to perfecting the technique to increase the accuracy on Verbal and select the right DI-LR sets.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  17. Hi Tony,

    My first attempt at CAT was in 2017 where I gave the exam straight out of college with no preparation and secured a percentile of 99.8. Last year I prepared a little(gave overall 4-5 mocks) but my percentile didn’t even touch the 99-mark. This year I have given considerable time, from what I could get post office attempting over 25 mocks but my scores have plateaued in the 150-170 range. I do not what I should be doing different or if anything can be done at all in these last 10 days to shoot up my score to 185-195.

    General Breakdown:
    VARC-Attempt 100%, Accuracy 60% (all VA questions attempted in last 15 min with generally poor accuracy) (still my highest scoring subject)
    DILR- 3-4 sets attempts, usually 1-2 questions incorrect (speed is an issue)(lowest scores)
    QA- 20-22 questions attempts, usually 2-4 questions incorrect

    Can you please suggest me any strategy as to how to go about it. I am in need of desperate help!

    Like

  18. Ishaan Deva says

    Hi Sir,
    For the PRE-CAT it says we can only view solutions and not check our actual responses in the exam. In that case, how can we use our results in order to make changes to our mocks strategies during the last 10 days to CAT, or to set an estimate for our scores in the actual CAT ?

    Like

    • Hi Ishaan,
      The Pre-CAT is conducted on the TCS software and hence we do not have access to the responses within our system.

      The idea of the pre-CAT was to give students comfort with centres that TCS has, some students got the same centre as their CAT centre, and the TCS interface.

      As far as questions and papers go it’s another SimCAT, it’s no different from any of the 15 SimCATs, which should suffice for analysis.

      Like

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