I hope the last week served its purpose, which was for you to process all the emotional side-effects of the CAT. Going by the response to the previous post, there seems to have been enough and more trauma that this year’s edition of the CAT has caused.
The CAT is an indicator of what you CANNOT do, not what you CAN do
The aim of the CAT is to eliminate applicants and not benchmark applicants, so given this you should understand that the CAT exam serves the needs of the IIM admissions teams more than the test-takers.
So, in effect what is tells you is this — it puts really heavy weights in front of you especially the DI-LR section, if you can lift great if you cannot, hard luck.
Until 2018, the other two sections were easy, I assumed it was by design to ensure a more equal playing field to applicants from diverse educational backgrounds (you cannot say you want educational diversity and shaft the non-Math students in the QA section). Last year, the VA-RC level went up appreciably and this year, they did the same with the QA as well. It goes without saying that they still just play it by the ear, every year a different IIM just sets the paper, what ever happens, happens.
So, more or less across sections all you know is that you cannot lift a certain weight but you still do not know what you can actually lift.
With the GMAT for example this is not the case. The test is adaptive, it starts at medium and moves up only if you consistently get questions in the medium range right. This is the reason why the first few questions can seem really, really easy. And each of the questions are tested as experimental questions before they are made scored questions.
So, if you take the GMAT and you get an 85 percentile, it means that you can only solve questions at that level. And as an instructor I would know what your capabilities are precisely, since the $250 is to benchmark your capability with the test being one of the parameters and not the first eliminator. This is also the reasons why the GMAT score card claims that the score has a reliability of 87 percent — which exams that if you took the test again with no change in your level there is an 87 percent guarantee that you will get the same score. So, if I were a recruiter I will always use the GMAT since I will know what you can do as opposed to what you cannot do.
Why this lengthy paean to the GMAT?
So that you stop emotionally telling yourself that you are no good and start making a logical assessment of your level on the other tests.
Please do not go an take a mock GMAT on the rebound to see if you will feel good because nothing you did for CAT is technically useful for the GMAT — 57.33 percent of the test has question types that are not tested on the CAT.
Benchmark your skills with each of the areas on each of the other tests
Each one of you will be taking a different number of other tests. Go through or solve a mock each of the other tests and measure your chances on each of the area of the other tests, make yourself a TABLE like the one below (it is only partially filled)
At PAR denotes that your ability is equivalent to the level of questions asked on test and some light practice will suffice; BELOW PAR indicates that test is tougher than your current capabilities and you need to prep specifically; ABOVE PAR indicates that you do not any prep or practice just the mocks will do.
You should be able to do this based on your evaluation of your performance on the SimCATs and the actual CAT. For example, the RCs on this test are a lot easier than those on the CAT I can easily handle it.
|EXAM / TEST||VA||RC||QA||DI||LR|
|NMAT||At PAR, |
|Above PAR||Above PAR||NA||Above PAR|
|SNAP||At PAR, |
|Above PAR||Above PAR||NA||Above PAR|
|XAT||Below PAR, Three new |
|Below PAR||Above PAR||at PAR|
|IIFT||Above PAR, One new |
|At PAR||Below PAR|
I have not included sections such as GK and DM that were not there on the CAT — there is no way you can evaluate your level since you have not even prepared.
Plan your prep test by test
I do not endorse two-timing your prep — each of these tests is very different from the other and it is best that your prepare one test at a time.
The big temptation can be to prepare a bit for each test all at the same time but think of it — you have 100x hours from now to the end of Jan, and for each test you would need to allocate a certain hours of prep — are you better off spreading those hours or bunching them closer to the test? I think the latter.
You have to work on specific areas, question types and take mocks as well, I for one would not think about XAT even a whit until SNAP is over and IIFT until XAT is over.
Yes, there is the case of TISSNET and XAT being together but the former will end up becoming a subset of the latter in terms of level (with GK being the exception, since the it is an easy test.
Plan your prep area by area
Within your preparation for each test, plan your prep area by area.
For example, you know you need to prep for CR, Modern Math, and DM, if I were you, I would spend three days to master CR fully and then move to Modern Math spend a week and so on (the duration is just a random number). I would not do a bit of CR, a bit of Modern Math, a bit of DM everyday.
If you feel your head will burst with a full day of Modern Math, may be it is best that it burst first before it can tackle QA in an exam situation. The only leeway I will grant is that you can go topic by topic Logs, followed by CR followed by P&C.
If you feel you will forget the CR you have learnt when you start to solving Logs, then I am afraid you have not learnt CR at all, one does not forget to reason, the reverse can be possible if you are learning Logs for the first time (so doing five to ten log problems after you move on to CR should suffice.
Once you finish mastering all the areas, using dedicated stretches of time, you can move on to taking the section tests and then the full-length tests.
Make a list of where and how you messed up on the CAT
Now that the emotions will have died down, write down where and how you messed up on CAT — the worst thing you can do is not correct the execution issues that you faced on the CAT.
- My Arithmetic is still a problem area — I tend to not read properly, I tend to not solve the problem in front of me but patch solutions from Mocks onto the question in front of me
- I never really could apply or did not consistently apply the Shadow Answer technique on RC, which cost me dearly
- I ignored set selection and chose the 6-question DI-LR set (selected to face the 9-balls over instead of 6-ball over without checking whether it is Bumrah or Saini who is going to bowl; akal badi ya bhains, obviously bhains)
- I did not have any time-management strategy
The usual questions I get for the other exams are how to prepare for Vocab, Grammar, GK, and DM.
Firstly, I am last person you should ask stuff like where do I mug up something from. So as far as vocabulary goes, I do not think there is a well-defined list the way there is for GRE, I do not know how many words you know and do not know, so there is no way I can tell you to go mug up this list or that; Barrons Word List, Word Power Made Easy, All About Words — these are some generic books that are around but there is no guarantee that mugging up these words is going to specifically help you out with the questions on these tests.
For Grammar all the videos on the LEARN Module of myIMS should suffice.
The words General and Test do not ever go down well in an Indian context. The GK section on these tests are sometimes just that General, so IIFT can have questions ranging from
What is right combination of the movie and the vest endorsed?
(A) XYZ-Lux Cozy (B) ABC-Macho (C).. (D)…
What is latest reduction in the Prime Lending Rate by the RBI?
(A) .25 Basis Points (B) .50 Points (C) (D)
May be this is their way of selecting a candidate who can be a judge on Jhalak Dikhla Jaa as well as a panelist on CNBC TV-18 with equal ease.
My two bits of advice on GK — use the IMS GK Zone, and just read the newspaper end-to-end for Current Affairs (if you are really desperate, mug up the Manorama Year Book, that is how general, the general in GK is)
For DM, I will do a Masterclass like I did last year.
I will soon put up posts only for the XAT since I have not never prepared and taken the other tests at least once. My skill sets are limited to CAT, XAT, GMAT and GRE.
But some of my colleagues are real champs on the SNAP, NMAT, and other tests, so here are their how to prep videos (the IIFT one will be out soon, abhi Dilli door hai)
Your goal is to do an MBA from a school that will advance your career and set you up for the future. For this you are taking 3 to 5 different tests based on your profile.
This is no different from playing a 3 to 5 test series against different teams at different levels. You just got mauled in the first test by the strongest team, does that mean that the series is lost? There is still everything to play for, losing to the best team does not change your chances against the others.
I do not think there are any more cricketing analogies I can come up with!
I think our unique talent as human beings is to confuse categories, in this case converting a matter of the mind into a matter of the heart, and I am sure we do the reverse as well and pay dearly.
Smile, incase you have forgotten how to 🙂