So, what should you expect from the ideal Test series for your CAT Preparation? The short answer to the question would be – nothing and everything! ‘Nothing’ in the sense that anything particular you expect may leave you disappointed if it does not happen. ‘Everything’ in the sense that you need to prepare for all probable, if not possible, scenarios that CAT-2023 may actually entail. A test series that really sets you up in a manner that you are not surprised in the actual CAT forms a crucial part of your CAT preparation.
CAT has become relatively more predictable over the past several years in terms of the number of sections (3, namely VARC, DILR and QA) and their relative weights (nearly equal). However, each year brings up something new and not entirely expected.
Reasons for variation in CAT exam across years:
- You can guess some of the reasons for it quite easily. A different IIM conducts the CAT every year, and a different CAT committee oversees it. Their approach and hence the final exam varies every year as a result. So, while the reason of variation is predictable (rotation of members), the impact thereof is not strictly predictable.
- There is no way to know the actual difficulty level unless a lot of data is tested (which basically means the exam is conducted). Every examiner tries to set a balanced test. But his/her understanding of the difficulty level can be biased or incomplete. That is because they know the right answer while creating the question. This error of judgment can cause a section to be far easier or tougher than normal. It can also affect other things such as question types, length of passages or the level of language thereof.
- External factors such as COVID that caused CAT-2020 & CAT-2021 to be 2-hour tests instead of the standard 3 hours. CAT-2022 also continued this trend. Such factors can also come into play once in a while. Even though these are likely to have been exceptions, we do not know what the situation may be later this year. They might just feel that “well, it saves a day, decreases logistics and still gives us the filters we need – so, why not keep it like this.”
- There are always some random factors at play. For example, there have been instances of a particular question type not appearing in CAT for over a decade before making a sudden appearance again, much to the surprise of most. Similarly, the balance between DI and LR in the DILR section tends to vary across years.
What an ideal CAT Test Series Must Include:
Given all this, and a lot more, the mock CAT series (AIRCAT Series for MBAGuru students) should have the following:
- It should have variations in difficulty levels, question types across sections including, for example, passage lengths, language levels in VARC. An old variation (theme completion) resurfaced in CAT-2022. 1000s of non-MBAGuru students were surprised. MBAGuru students had faced that variation in 4 of their AIRCATs and hence were unflustered.
- There should be variations in time duration and total number of questions (till the CAT-2023 committee confirms the plan for this year)
- It should have elements of randomness and surprises, so that you learn to adapt. Remember that the same basic skills are tested – even on the final day. It is how well you adapt to what challenge is presented to you that counts. That is what an ideal CAT test series for CAT-2023 should present you with.
Over the next several weeks, I will write to you about how can you make the most of your mock CATs, how to analyse them, the pitfalls and traps you must avoid (including the obsession with percentiles :)). I will also share stories of students who improved massively and really rocket at the real CAT by not allowing bad scores in mock CATs to derail their CAT Preparation!
About the author: Deekshant has sleep-walked through several 100 and 99.9 %iles in practically every section of the CAT. That he is a cricket fan and he writes okay is evident from most of his posts. 1000s of our students swear that he can motivate almost anyone to double his/her percentile through very simple yet powerful inputs. And that’s why every MBAGuru student has direct access to him via mail and Telegram. Oddly, he somehow also finds the time to write songs professionally. And yes … almost missed this … he is an alumnus of IIT Delhi & IIM Cal