There is very little value in taking a test if you cannot use it as a stepping stone to the next level. And this improvement will not happen, unless you analyse your test performance well. Analysis of AIRCATs/Mock CATs is one of the most underrated and under-utilized areas even if an aspirant has access to the best online CAT coaching.
Even if you spend 1.5 to 2 full days in taking an AIRCAT and analysing it well, it is time well spent! I highly recommend the following process:
- Take the test just as you would take the final CAT exam – no breaks in between, no loitering around every few minutes, no mobile phone (it should be in some other room just like it would be on the day of the CAT). If you make every AIRCAT as absolute dress rehearsal for the final play, you will be that much better prepared to succeed. Once you get the final slot of your CAT, try and align your AIRCATs with that, in terms of the time of the day.
- Once you have completed the AIRCAT, take a break for a couple of hours and then solve the entire paper again without any time limit i.e. take 5-6 hours and solve each and every question, DI set, RC passage. You may do it in parts with taking breaks in between. The idea is to figure out any mistakes that you can in terms of questions solved incorrectly, question selection, the approach used, the impact of time pressure. Additionally, you are adding that extra power to your CAT preparation by solving high quality questions, many of which you would not have been able to attempt during the actual test.
- Take another break before you begin the analysis. It can even be done on the next day. Go through the solutions of the questions you got wrong or were not sure of. Analyse what you did right and what you could have done better. Did you choose the right questions? Did you miss the doable questions? Did you spend too much time on certain questions as a result of which your overall speed was less? How could you have ensured a higher speed and a higher accuracy from the test?
When you look at your entire CAT exam preparation experience, it is important not to read too much into the scores or performance in a single test. You have to allow the patterns to emerge before making any significant conclusion and that can be done only once you do at least 2-3 such complete loops of taking a test, retaking it without any time limit and then analysing it. Only then will you be able to recognise your strengths and areas of improvement. You will know the areas you should focus on in the next 8-10 days before you take the next test.
It is crucial that you understand that merely taking tests does not sharpen the skills you need to succeed; it merely tests them. Remember that battlefield is not where you learn warfare, it is where you display what you learnt during your preparation, in this case, your preparation for CAT.
Taking too many tests is like playing too many practice matches before the real match and it will wear you down in the same manner. You need to feel enthusiastic and not jaded when the D-day comes. You need to feel the adrenaline rush and not a sense of let’s get it over with
This approach of test taking and analysis is time-proven, and has been an important pillar for the success of 1000s of students, but it needs patience, removal of clutter in your mind, resistance to the temptation of doing what everyone else is doing, and knowing that quality almost always beats quantity.
PS: For really talented students, who are likely to do well at CAT regardless of anything, the number of AITCATs/mock CATs may need to be much higher and gap between 2 consecutive ones much shorter.
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