With less than a month’s time left now for MBA aspirants to prepare for the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2023 exam, we bring you the last minute tips which can help you to get admission to your dream college. Of all the exams held in India, (CAT) is amongst the toughest MBA exams.
This exam is for admissions into Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) and other top B-schools across the country. This year the exam will be held on 26th November 2023 in 3 shifts, i.e, Morning, Afternoon and Evening.
CAT Marking scheme
As per the marking scheme of CAT, for each correct answer 3 marks are given, zero for not attempting a question and one mark is deducted for each wrong answer.
CAT Topper who scored 100 Percentile
Kerala based Renjith Thomas Joshua who appeared in the CAT exams 13 times spoke to the Free Press Journal sharing his vast experience in this field. He is a CAT coach who prepares and guides youngsters for the exam.
Strategy to prepare for the CAT exam
The CAT coach explained this with a very relatable example, he said, "Think of it as a Time-Speed-Distance problem. How long does it take for a car to reach its destination? The answer depends on your starting point (prior knowledge/current performance), your destination (target percentile), and your Speed (how fast you can learn)."
Train yourself for the exam
He emphasized on 'Outcome Mindset' as it opposes 'Process Mindset' which, in his opinion, is not the way one wants to look at any skill-based activity."
Renjith said, "Instead of looking at something as "I’ll practice for X hours or attempt Y trials”, see it as “I’ll train (and review my training) until I can do Z in the next trial, where Z is related to some level of performance."
"Within a section, concentrate on strengths, across sections concentrate on weaknesses,” advised the CAT topper. He adds, “Your half-baked knowledge of your weak areas will do nothing for you except waste your time."
"You are better off working harder to strengthen your strong chapters so that you can at least get the questions from those. And that would be sufficient because the CAT is a low scoring exam", he added.
For IIMs where sectional cut off also comes to picture
Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) have sectional cut-off requirements, candidates need to score above a certain percentile, not only in the total score, but also in each of the three sections.
He reiterates with a little modification, "What I said earlier, across sections, concentrate on weaknesses to the extent of ensuring you clear the sectional cutoff, but after that, it might be better to work more on your strong section to boost your overall."
"There are also many new IIMs and (many reputable non-IIMs) who don’t have sectional cutoffs, so I guess it depends also on your aspiration level", added Joshua.
Time Management for attempting CAT exam
He directed that CAT being a low scoring exam, candidates need to find and attempt 'easy' questions. 95 percentile last year was actually around 30 percentage (60/198) of the total score. And 98 percentile was 72 marks.
Explaining the above point he said, "If you have a perfect understanding of your own capabilities, to the extent that you will finish every question you start solving, and all your attempts will be correct, you only need to do 1 attempt in 5 minutes to hit that 72 marks (or 98 percentile)."
"It sounds pretty unintuitive, but that’s how the CAT exam is. If anything, it shows that accuracy, and your self-assessment of your knowledge, are way more important than speed in this exam”, emphasizes Renjith.
Don’t aim for 100, Have a reality check
Joshua who himself has scored 100 percentiles quite a few times advised that one should not aim for 100 percentiles.
Giving an example, he said, "Whenever I ask a large enough group of aspirants if they think they can score a 100 percentile, a few hands go up. But if you follow this up by asking how many thinks they can get a top 10 rank, a much smaller number of hands (often zero) go up. And then I tell them they are the exact same thing, and there is some visible confusion in the group."
Sufficient sleep and balanced diet to stay healthy
On asking what to eat a day before the exam, he replied, "Have light and easy to digest meals on the previous day, because an upset tummy could easily ruin your day and your exam."
Regarding fitness he said that consistent moderate exercise is enough to get the circulatory system and the central nervous system going.
He believes that good amount of rest is important for the body. "You don’t want to burn the midnight oil to cram a bit more information, because competitive exams are less about knowledge, and more about performance," added Joshua.
Expecting any changes for this year CAT exam
With a lot of experience he said that CAT likes to make changes and upset aspirants to see how well they react to surprises.
Tips for Freshers
Joshua’s advice for fresh aspirants is that they must understand the “mark vs percentile’ distribution of this exam.
He said, “It’s lower than you think, and lower than the unconscious anchors your mind makes in the absence of relevant information, because your mind is conditioned on high scoring school and college exams."
"Have tempered expectations. Know that you’re competing against a lot of repeaters, and they have been in revision/mock exam mode for a very long time", added Renjith.