CAT 2022: IIM Entrance ‘Not Confined to Syllabus’, Stop Making These Common Mistakes to Crack B-School Entrance

With less than 3 months left, one would try to maximize the learning output when it comes preparation for the MBA entrance exam — Common Admission Test (CAT) 2022. Although that can be done very effectively by avoiding simple mistakes, before we do that, let’s take a quick look what is required and what one’s targets could be.

The pattern of CAT 2022 is expected to be similar to that of CAT 2021. The pattern of CAT 2022 is expected to be similar to that of CAT 2021. While there may be minor changes, understanding CAT 2021 will help us as benchmark for what to target.

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CAT 2021 had 3 sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) -24 questions, Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning (DILR)-20 questions, and Quantitative Ability (QA). A total of 66 questions amounting to a total of 198 marks with three marks for every correct response and one mark will be deducted for every multiple-choice question with an incorrect attempt. The table below shows the scores required overall and, in each section, as against the percentile rank at different levels.

Percentile Overall VARC DILR QA
99.5 107 49 37 40
99 97 45 34 34
95 72 34 24 24
90 59 28 20 18
85 51 24 17 14

First and foremost, what needs to be understood is that one doesn’t need to solve all the questions in CAT to score a high percentile. The 99th percentile doesn’t require 99 per cent marks, instead it can be obtained at about 50 per cent of the total marks of the test. A 99th percentile in each of the sections add to about 99.6th percentile overall.

CAT 2022: Common mistakes to avoid

Ignoring one section completely: This is one general bad habit with most students. Putting concentrated efforts on one or two sections, while ignoring the third completely can prove mightily unfruitful. The ignored section is most often DILR or VARC. While, you may work on strengthening one area, be informed that most top B-schools also have a sectional cut-off percentile for shortlisting candidates for further rounds. That means one needs to secure a minimum threshold score across all the sections.

The other reason one must avoid this mistake is that if you manage to score 30 marks each in two of the three sections, and about 35 – 37 marks in the third, it will add up to an overall 99th percentile. Looking at it from this angle changes the game entirely. Securing 100 marks overall may seem very difficult on the outset. However, if you break your target into smaller parts section-wise, say, 40 + 30 + 30 or 35 + 35 + 30, it will give you a better clarity about how much more effort is required in each of the sections.

Attempting mock tests after completing the syllabus: Yet another problem with the students who live in a utopia. CAT does not have a defined syllabus. It has a knack of surprising one with a new type of question every now and then, no matter how experienced or inexperienced one is. After all, CAT tests one’s logic and ability to reason out. Assessment is the single most indispensable tool in the preparation stage.

Secondly, attempting mock tests at regular intervals will show where you stand and how much more effort is required. It also helps you get familiar with various types of questions you may expect in the CAT, especially in DILR.

Attempting mock tests at absurd timings: CAT will be conducted in three slots on November 27  from 8:30 am to 10:30 am, 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The allotment of slots is random, and you would get to know your slot only after the admit cards are out. Cracking CAT requires mental strength to beat the pressure too. Attempting mock tests in the above-mentioned slots will help you body and brain in getting accustomed to focusing during these time slots.

Focussing on speed, not being objective: CAT is not a test of speed. As seen above, a good score in CAT is about 50-55 per cent. That implies there’s enough time in the exam for choosing what to solve and what to leave. During the exam, one may tend to read quickly to save time – a grave mistake. One should read at the speed that he or she comprehends. Remember, you require to solve only about 60% of all the questions in the exam to get to your dream B-school.

By Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman and MD, Career Launcher

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