Common mistakes by CAT test takers – A wake-up call

During CAT preparation, students commit the same set of mistakes that are repetitive in nature. The journey to your final destination, getting admission in IIMs or other reputed MBA colleges, will be filled with many hours of toil and burdensome work. But to ease your CAT preparation journey, we bring you a list of some mistakes which you should avoid to crack the CAT entrance exam.
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1. Not going through the CAT syllabus
The first and foremost thing which the CAT aspirant should do is to study the syllabus minutely. Many a time, it has come to our notice that the students have just a vague idea of the topics that need to be covered. For instance, it is imperative for you to know that reading comprehension is a major component in the Verbal ability section of CAT. It is essential for you to make a list of topics which fall under different areas namely - (Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). Enhance your understanding by going through the CAT exam pattern as well.
2. Not formulating a strategy or a study plan
During CAT preparation, sometimes students study for just 1 or 2 hours and skim the topics. Not having a strategy or a study plan is somewhat similar to walking through a maze. The study plan has to be formulated keeping in mind your strong areas and weak areas. Moreover one has to keep in mind the weightage given to each section of the exam. The second step of the CAT entrance exam is to clear the WAT, Group discussion and Personal interview stage. It is recommended that you devote some time to read newspapers and magazines to gain an insight into the current affairs’ topics.
3. Not devoting enough time to each topic
Another area of concern is when students do not devote ample time to understand the concepts and jump to another topic. Don’t be in a hurry to complete the course instead focus on understanding the basic concepts of each area.  When the concept knowledge is incomplete, then students perform poorly in the exam. For instance, in critical reasoning questions, one should have a proper understanding of the terms like inference, assumptions etc. One has to understand the question types for individual sections.
4. Not attempting enough mocks or over attempting them
The intention behind creating CAT mocks or CAT test series is that it should provide a guideline to the CAT aspirant. The type of questions which come from different sections of the CAT exam gives an idea to the student about the level of preparation which they have to put in. The rationale behind formulating a mock exam is to provide an analysis to the students about their strengths and weaknesses as regards to the subjects. But on the other hand, one has to be careful not to over attempt the mocks. It might be possible that students sit for the actual CAT exam with certain preconceived notions which could hamper their performance.
5. Not analyzing the mocks
Students who do not analyze mocks are not able to find out the areas of improvement. The factors such as correlation between number of attempts and accuracy, time spent on each question, selection of right questions in terms of difficulty level etc, contribute towards a good score. Therefore analyzing the mocks forms a crucial component in your CAT preparation journey.
6. Procrastination
In simple words “procrastination” means to delay or postpone action. Students beware of this term. This is a major problem which many CAT aspirants face. Students defer their CAT preparation as it is a daunting task for them to focus on different areas of the entrance exam. The right time is now; so start your preparation right away.
7. Getting demotivated or having a negative attitude
Students should not get demotivated during their journey of CAT preparation. If you are facing problems in any subject, then you should immediately address the issue. CAT aspirants should understand that having a negative state of mind saps one’s energy. Therefore, the faster you come out of the negative state of mind, the better it is.
8. Not setting targets
Students who do not set targets end up spending a lot of time on the topics which otherwise might require less time to prepare. Therefore it is advisable that have a target set for each day and study accordingly.
9. Not to have a balanced approach
The difficulty level of the CAT paper varies every year. The projected number of attempts and the expected percentile for a particular year could be different for the next year. Students should have a balanced approach in attempting the mocks and focus on getting the accuracy rate high.
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10. Spending too much time on one’s area of interest
Students prefer to spend time on subjects wherein they are comfortable and are already getting a good score. But students appearing for CAT need to understand that one has to get a decent score in all the three sections namely (Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC).Therefore concepts from each section have to be understood, practised and mastered.
Conclusion : Finally, students should make a strategy to master each subject that comes in the CAT exam.  Also, one should definitely go through previous years’ CAT papers to assess the difficulty level of the exam. A very important piece of advice is that you should be thorough with the process of CAT registrations, eligibility criteria, cut-offs, syllabus and exam pattern.
Quoting Helen Keler “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
Analytical Reasoning for CAT’19