CAT Strat
Comments 21

How to and not to evaluate your first SIMCAT performance

The response to the first SIMCAT was great and it was nice to see so many students jump into the fray from the word go. But the plunge as most of you would know is similar to jumping off a diving board for the first time — the moment of impact, the bewilderment when you are under the water, and most importantly the desperation towards the end to somehow get back to the ground again. (I have never jumped off a diving board but was once caught under the waves on the beach when I was quite little, thankfully my dad managed to rescue me).

Just like you would not bother too much about the score given to your first ever dive, do not think too much about the score you got. This is neither an engineering exam nor a blood test. So what is it and how should you evaluate your performance?

The four cornerstones of aptitude testing

The four cornerstones of aptitude testing are concepts, application, test-taking strategy and mental toughness.

On a scale of 100, the weightage given to each of these depends on the pattern of the test but on average they would be 25%, 30%, 30% and 15% respectively.

Concepts, Application and Mental Toughness need no defining but what most test-takers do not understand is the key role by test-taking strategy that has two parts

  • Question Selection
  • Time Allocation

Choosing the right question

Question Selection becomes very important on a test where you do not need to answer a question before you move ahead and you can navigate to and fro between questions.

On the GMAT, for example, you HAVE TO MARK an answer before you go ahead and you cannot return to that question again so there is no question of choosing or leaving a question.

On the CAT and the GRE, you do not have any such compulsion. So your task is to identify and solve the easiest questions or sets first, mark the medium-level questions later and never attempt the really tough questions.

How many of you chose questions wisely in the first SimCAT?

  • did you answer questions in serial order as they appeared?
  • did find that you ended up wasting time on tough DI or LR sets only to find out too late or after the test that there were easier questions or sets?
  • did you have unread questions at the end of each section?

If your answer to any of these questions is YES, it means that this first SimCAT is simply an eye-opener for you with respect to your test-taking strategy.

Can you develop this ability to identify the right question to do immediately, mark the right question for later and leave the tough question by the next SimCAT? The answer obviously is NO. You will develop that skill only after solving quite a few SimCATs. Also, we will dedicate an entire 3-hour session to it later in the season.


The CAT has always been doing flip-flops on the question of where it stands with respect to time-allocation. Over the last decade, they have alternated between having sectional time-limits and having no sectional time-limits.

I for one am not in favor of sectional time-limits since it allocating time plays a crucial part in evaluating a candidate’s ability to strategize — use the resources at his/her disposal (relative skills on various sections) to maximize the outcome — clearing sectional as well as overall cut-offs.

When you have to divide your time properly, choose the right questions and solve them correctly, you have to play three roles those of CEO, Manager and Worker respectively.

With sectional time-limits you end up playing only the latter two roles — Manager and Worker. Most you by now would have realised that for the better part of SimCAT 1 you were doing only one role — Worker.

We do not know what changes this year’s CAT will ring in but if they remove sectional time-limits things will surely get infinitely more interesting (or tough depending on the way you view it).

How many of you let your performance on the second section affect your performance on the third section? I am sure quite a few would have. This is where the fourth stone — mental toughness — comes in.

Of the four cornerstones, most of you will be still in the work-in-progress stage on first two — concepts and application. The other two stones you will lay by taking as many SimCATs as possible.

You are not going to see your best scores till September

Those of you who haven’t prepared for an entrance test that is taken by so many people, might be tempted to view your SimCAT 1 like you view engineering exam. If not in the mains, then definitely in the supplementary! Once I finish the concepts I will start scoring well. Yes, your scores will go up but so will the scores of others!

So accept the reality that you will take time to develop expertise in all four areas — concepts, application, test-taking, and mental toughness.

In all probability you will not see your best scores before September.

Who are those people scoring 170s and above!

I am sure you would have seen that the scores and percentiles of toppers will be in a different range and obviously that will set you wondering if they are from a different planet.

Well, most of them will be test-takers who gave a serious shot last year but could not make it for some reason.

There will also be a handful of people from a different planet such as a student of mine last year who scored a 180 in his first SimCAT after attending classes only for a week and having never prepared or appeared for the CAT before!

But not everyone needs to be like that. Many greats have made modest starts. Some food for thought:

  • Number of matches SRT played before first ODI century — 78
  • Number of years it took Djokovic to win his 1st Major – 5

When you are taking a SimCAT you are competing against the most serious aspirants among the approximately 2,00,000 people who register for the CAT, so you really need to be on the top of your game to hit the higher percentile ranges.

How to analyse a SimCAT

Back in the day when I was preparing for the CAT, I spent as many hours if not more hours analyzing a SimCAT as I spent taking it. So the first half was spent taking the test, the second analysing it and only then would I go to the beach to meet friends (that is what I would do every day in the evening in the small beach-town where I grew up —Vizag).

What are the things that constitute a great analysis?

What is the best score you could have got?

Irrespective of what you current level is you should look at

  • the mistakes you should have avoided
  • the questions you should have avoided
  • the questions should have solved

to arrive that the best score you could have got. You need to get that number after every test to know what you are capable of, what was within your reach.

What are the things on which you succeeded but you could have succeeded better?

You should look at the questions you solved correctly and see if you could have done them faster.

  • could you have cut down on solving that DI or LR set if you had spent more time at the beginning trying to understand the set?
  • could you have solved some questions/problems faster by not writing so much, by approximating or looking for an alternate approach?

Use this to make a  list of the process improvements you can make in the next SimCAT.

Solve all the unsolved questions in the SimCAT

Yes, I know you have not yet touched that Geometry book yet but your learning need not be linear. Use every unsolved question to learn concepts from topics you have not yet covered. So if there is a trapezium problem then you can at least learn the formula for the area of a trapezium by learning to solve that problem.

People keep asking for tough problems, especially tough DI and LR sets. The SimCATs will always have the best sets. So spend enough time trying to solve them on your own before looking at the solutions.

If you consistently do these things over the next few months after each and every SimCAT, be it a take-home one or a proctored one you will start seeing results.

If you stick to only solving the books and not doing this part of the job then you are really not preparing for the CAT but for a college exam.

Developing a skill takes more time than learning a concept

As I have mentioned many a times before, cracking the CAT is a skill and it will take time to develop. But the reason I keep repeating this is that one needs to view the whole process with the right mindset.

So think of the first SimCAT as the first time you took a car out after learning how to drive a car in the driving school — one will be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and the pressure of driving in real-time traffic. But by repeatedly taking out the car all by oneself, one learns, one will bang the car, make a dent in it, but one will get better for sure.

All you have to do is take as many SimCATs as possible, spend enough time analysing the tests you take and stay patient, the results will show.

In case some of you haven’t enrolled for the SimCATs – you can do so here

All the best for the next SimCAT!



  1. Sir, I got a 132. With 62 in VARC(attempted all questions, I think VA part went haywire in accuracy), 40 in DILR(solved 4 sets, picking the right sets took a lot of time though), and 30 in Quants (I actually found myself knowing a lot, but my mind just froze and I ended up half-solving most of the questions and moving on to the next- ending up just solving 12 questions).

    Are there any specific improvement strategies you could give me?


    • Hi Sandhya,

      I do not know if you are a retaker but 132 is quite a good score for SimCAT 1. DI-LR scores are very much about selection, if you desert selection for more sets you will find that your scores dropping.

      As far as freezing in QA goes it can be a case of fatigue after two sections or a lack of confidence in QA.

      It is still the first SimCAT and you have done well, you need to take a few more SimCATs to get a clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses:

      1. Can you handle a higher level of RC?
      2. Can you handle calculation-heavy DI sets or math-heavy LR sets?

      In the meantime spend enough time to figure out the questions/sets you have could not solve and work on the areas that you know are your weaknesses. The first step is to have no weak areas — you need to pick off Easy/Medium questions across all nine areas: VA, RC, DI, LR, Numbers, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Modern Math.

      There will be detailed posts on each of the sections and well as test-taking strategy over the course of the season, which has barely begun.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sandhya Varadharajan says

        Thank you very much for your reply, sir! I am a fresher (law student), and you were right- the mind freeze could be a general image of math and QA when it is bound by a time limit for me, although concept wise and generally I feel pretty confident. Verbal has always been a confident section for me (with absolutely no time issues, though accuracy goes for a toss sometimes).

        Thank you again, and I shall work on the areas you specified, and looking forward on trying those strategies in SIMCAT-2!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Shreyashkar Lal says

    Sir, I got 75 only in SimCAT 1. 39 in VARC (most of the incorrect attempts were from the Verbal Reasoning part), 22 in DILR, and 14 in QA. I found myself struggling a lot in the DILR part and it subsequently affected my performance in QA too. Also, I was able to attempt very few questions in QA and ended up not being able to even check 15+ questions.

    Any specific improvement tips by you? Also, when will the Analytics tab show the percentile for this test? So far only the scores are visible of SimCAT 1.


    • Hi Shreyashkar,

      Everything you should be doing in the short-term you can learn from

      1. Watching the Essential SimCAT Strategy Videos (5 of them)
      2. Watch the SimCAT 1 Analysis Videos (not solutions) which will be available later today.

      Percentiles are always released the day after the proctored window ends (13 if the window is from 8-12)

      This blog will cover things one by one as the season progresses.

      All the best!


  3. akshay thite says

    Sir, whenever i solve the DILR section, firstly it takes me a lot of time to select the right sets and even when I do so it takes me another 10 mins to figure out the right approach. After having consumed so much of time I start panicking which hampers my performance in DILR. Again when I go back to see the video solutions of those I really feel they were quite doable on my part but I am not able to reflect it in the mocks.
    My score for simcat 1 was 101 (with only 21 in LRDI)
    also my accuracy for VARC for a toss constantly in 70s.
    I feel demotivated after my scores dropping from 148 ( in PreSimcat ) to 101.
    Can you please suggest me strategy to overcome this and any improvements to enhance my prep would help me a lot.


    • Hi Akshay,

      101 is not a bad score on SimCAT 1.

      Taking a SimCAT is like playing a match and not like taking your college exam — scores will vary based on the pitch and the opposition.

      Just like playing matches will make you more aware of your weaknesses since it is only after playing different teams on varying pitches that you will know which balls, bowlers, and pitches you are susceptible to.

      So treat the first 3 to 5 SimCATs as a learning exercise.

      As far as DI-LR goes, set selection is something that will take time to master and execute quickly so you have to stay patient.

      Do not look at the video solutions passively but to see the wrong first steps you made while solving — did you start drawing tables before understanding the set properly, do you draw the wrong tables, do you try to fill the whole tale instead of looking at what the questions are asking, do you crack the anchor condition?

      You need to figure out the process mistakes you made while solving instead of looking at the solution.

      I will be doing multiple posts on all sections as well as Masterclasses as the season progresses.

      In the meantime,

      1. Watch the Essential SimCAT Strategy Videos (5 of them)
      2. Watch the SimCAT 1 Analysis Videos (not solutions) which will be available later today.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • akshay thite says

        I will surely analyze my upcoming performances keenly, focus on knowing my strengths and weaknesses better and strategize accordingly!
        Looking forward for more such awesome content.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Shubham Agarwal says

    Sir, I got a score of 123 on the test, it is not the score which concerns me, in fact, it is my accuracy and confidence in VARC, I tried giving scores to the various passage and then followed the order, but while solving I am stuck between last two options and since I am not sure about the answer, I skip it, this consumes a lot of time

    Also for the VA part what is the optimal time range for the 10 questions in VA?


  5. Dheeraj Gupta says

    I do not know the reason behind not providing the number of test takers. It would be great if you could let me know as it helps in analysis.


    • Hi Dheeraj,

      On average during the 4-5 day proctored window about 8000-14000 students take the test; the number varies based on the time of the test-taking — the number is on the higher during the first 10 SimCATs and the Open SimCATs and on the lower side during the last 6; another 2000-5000 people take the test after the window.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  6. Snchit singh says

    Sir, i am a fresher. i have taken the pre-sim cat and got 42 score which is not good, i know but have done my best in that test but after sim cat 1 i am totally demotivated as i got only 2 score. In VARC i attempted only limited ques with high accuracy but didnt get result in it . In DILR i find the 2 easy sets but unable to solve them i got confused and panick and i think i have very little practice in this section. And finally in QA i am able to attempt only 2 ques, i dont know what is happening but read the question and unable to interpretate in the mind that how to solve it. Sir please give some tips for a fresher who preparing for a competetaive exam for the first time with not so much guidance. I think this is the situation of 20-30% people who attempted sim cat 1, but no has can share their thoughts with you. Thank you


    • Hi Sanchit,

      I can understand what you must be going through given that it is your first time preparing for a competitive exam.

      I do not know when you started preparing and how much preparation you have done so far (at home apart from just attending classes online, if you have taken up classes; if you have not taken up any classes and are preparing completely on your own it might not be easy at all).

      Either way what you should do is watch videos number 7, 6, and 2 in that order from this playlist.

      The videos will give the required perspective about preparing for Aptitude tests such as the CAT as well as an insight into preparing for the Math on such tests.

      Take the next SimCAT only after you feel you have gained some expertise in each of the three sections through practice.

      I will be putting up posts on each section as we progress.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  7. Pushkar Shukla says

    Hello Sir,
    I got a score of 71 in the test. I had done pretty well in the PreSIMCAT with a score of 165 and a 97 percentile. I know that it was very easy as compared to SIMCAT 1, but I think I should have performed well. QA being my forte, I scored 45 in that section, 10 in VARC and 16 in DILR. The main reason behind not being able to concentrate was that I was famished. But I still think I could have performed well in VARC and DILR. I was confident about my answers in VARC, but I ended up getting many of those wrong. One set from DILR was actually easy but I made mistakes in that set too. Please suggest me ways to overcome these mistakes.
    Also, could you please tell, how many students am I and will be competing with in the SIMCATS.


    • Hi Pushkar,

      It is just the first SimCAT and there is still a long way to go.

      I hope you saw the Essential SimCAT Strategy videos on myIMS before taking SimCAT 1; if you did not ensure that you do that before the next pre-CAT.

      For analysis and learnings from the first SimCAT for each of the sections do watch the detailed sectional analysis videos that we have put up, you will find them on the Channel TAB of myIMS.

      I will be putting up a detailed post on score improvement for each section as well as taking Masterclasses we go forward.

      On average during the 4-5 day proctored window about 8000-14000 students take the test; the number varies based on the time of the test-taking — the number is on the higher during the first 10 SimCATs and the Open SimCATs and on the lower side during the last 6; another 2000-5000 people take the test after the window.

      It does not matter even if you take the test after the window, what matters is that you take the test in perfect test-taking conditions with respect to mental and physical space.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • Pushkar Shukla says

        Thankyou for replying sir. I hadn’t watched the videos before. Are you talking about the Maximising VARC, DILR and Quant; and the Time Management videos. I am watching those videos now, and I now know the strategy to be adopted during SimCATs.


  8. Hello Sir,
    I have been preparing for CAT since mid-February. I have completed the topics on arithmetic. For DILR I have been solving past year sets (not consistently though) for a month. I have been a voracious reader since childhood. Now I devour a variety of articles from different sources, The Hindu and novels every day.

    I scored a meager score of 54. Most of which, I was disappointed in the VARC score as that was the only section where I thought my preparation was subpar. In case of DILR, I wasted time in the wrong set and thus couldn’t select the relatively easier one. Quants has always been a hurdle for me. I freeze when I see questions and tend to forget even easier steps.

    It feels like all my efforts of two months have been for none. Could you please tell me where I’m going wrong? What do I do to improve my VARC? How could one gain confidence in Quants?


    • Hi Siddharth,

      Two months of basic prep is nowhere enough to be competitive on a test such as the CAT, which is possibly the third toughest entrance test in the world (the first two being the UPSC and the JEE in my opinion).

      So there is no reason to be demotivated by SimCAT 1 treat it as a first step.

      Also, if you have not taken up any classes and are preparing completely on your own it might not be easy at all.

      To start off what you should do is watch videos number 7, 6, and 2 in that order from this playlist.

      The videos will give the required perspective about preparing for Aptitude tests such as the CAT as well as an insight into preparing for the Math on such tests.

      Before the next SimCAT ensure that you watch the set of 5 Essential SimCAT Strategy Videos and the sectional analysis videos of SimCAT 1 — the first set outline the question selection and time-management strategy and the second demonstrate the execution of the same on SimCAT 1.

      The road is going to be a long one not just for you but for everyone — getting into the best schools will demand every single drop of what you have inside of you and it will be unlike you have anything you have prepared for so far in your life.

      I will be there all along the way putting up posts on each section as we progress.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.