How to Choose the Right Questions in the CAT

You prepare for the CAT by burning the midnight oil. Every night. You consider most of the topics in the syllabus for the CAT as your strong suits. Or maybe not. But you are definitely better than the average CAT taker. Or so you think. The mocks aren’t working that well. Perhaps burning the midnight oil is not working after all. Or so you think. Regardless of theories run within your head on your Mock CAT scores, the bottom line is this – Where are all the good scores gone?

Time for a little introspection. There are certain “habits” that you are falling prey to. The habit of greed. Yes, greed in your CAT preparation. The greed of answering as many questions that you think that is fit that a person of your stature should answer. You did burn that midnight oil didn’t you. What’s a few 5-10 questions! It’s a mock test after all. No Sherlock! The point of a “mock” test is lost is you do not treat it with the same seriousness and respect with which you would if it were to be the actual CAT.

So how do you make sure that you choose the right questions? What is a “right” question in the first place? Is there a science to it? Well frankly. These questions have answers that differ from person to person. What I might have to give to you as advice may not be something that I would give to that pretty lady who works hard over morning coffee. In fact, I won’t give either of you any advice in this regard. This is something that you will have to discover for yourself. And every Mock CAT is an opportunity to do just that. Learn more about what works for you and what doesn’t. Retain the good. Say goodbye to the bad.

So what exactly is it that you learn from a Mock Test? And what is it that you can pick that you will implement in the next Mock? At the end of every mock, identify questions that fall into the following brackets:

#1 Questions you answered correctly that you spent a lot of time on
#2 Questions you answered incorrectly that you spent a lot of time on
#3 Questions you didn’t answer that you would’ve taken less than 2 minutes to answer
#4 Questions you answered incorrectly that you didn’t spend a lot of time on

The above questions are those that let you down. Wait. I’ll rephrase that. These are questions that you gave permission to: “Please let me down.” After classifying these questions in the brackets mentioned above. Ask yourself these questions:

#1 Why did I spend so much time on this question I got right? What happened back there in my brain cells that I couldn’t take the most obvious path to the solution but took the roundabout path? How can I avoid doing this in the future?
#2 Why did I convince myself to commit to the question? How can I avoid doing this in the future?

#3 How in the world did I miss this sitter? Was I blind? Did I not reach this set of questions? How can I avoid doing this in the future?

#4 Why?
It’ll take you time? More midnight oil to burn? Not really. These questions and their subsequent answers should come by quite naturally to you. The answers to these questions are lessons staring at your face. Lessons that you need to take from each and every mock you write.

Probably now. Nah. Most probably now the midnight oil would have reaped benefits for you.

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