Experts say students should work out their own strategy and be mentally prepared

The countdown has begun for the online IIM-Common Admission Test (CAT). Only ten days remain, and for the first time, the test can be cracked on any day within a period of ten days from November 28 to December 7.

There are several apprehensions about the test among the students. However, information posted on the CAT official website says that the duration of the test is 2 hours and 30 minutes, which includes the initial 15-minute tutorial. No breaks will be given during the test.

The test consists of questions that evaluate a candidate's quantitative, verbal, and logical and data interpretive abilities. Therefore, there are a total of three sections in the test. There will be about 60 to 70 questions in the test. There is always a surprise element and hence, this posting cannot be taken at its face value.

So what should the student cracking the examination do as there are only ten days to go? Nishad Gopuram, Director, Triumphant Institute of Management Education (TIME), Kozhikode, says that there are no shortcuts to preparing for the examination. "You need to be focused. Wake up everyday motivating yourself to crack CAT. Let not your determination and desire dwindle. Belief in yourself is most important," he points out. He advises students not to spend more time in trying to learn things which they are not good at. He\she should stick to the basics and ensure that one does not miss out on questions from areas where one is good at.

Take tests daily

"You would by this time have realised whatever your strengths and weaknesses are. Do not underplay or overestimate them," he says.

He advises the students to try to take full-length tests daily and ideally at one's scheduled test time. One should spend time analyzing these papers. While analysing these papers, one should have a detached look at them so that it will give one considerable insights, he says.

Simultaneous use of the scratch sheet while reading questions from one's screen would be a useful practice to work on. Mental calculations would be a real time saver. In one's spare time one should read newspapers and try solving puzzles especially the e-stuff. The ability to read off the paper and read off the computer monitor is usually different.

Easy section first

While cracking the examination, attempt the easiest section first so that one's overall score improves. He advises the students to break the entire test into manageable chunks.

For example, if the paper contains 60 questions to be answered in 135 minutes and all questions carry equal mark, one needs to check if he/she has done at least 6 to 7 questions every 10 minutes. "Do not 'get involved,' with any question. Scan the section," he says. He also has a word of caution. "CAT always can come up with some surprise. Be mentally prepared to tackle any such situation," he advises.

It is generally advised that students work out their own strategy. The same strategy may not work for two students. Hence, what is important is that one does not adopt any strategy based merely on someone's advice. One should evaluate the pros and cons of one's strategy and should be certain that it will work for oneself.

The CAT website says that at the test venue, each candidate will be seated at a desk with a computer terminal and he/she will be provided with a scratch paper for calculations.

After the test, candidate must leave the scratch paper at the desk. Rough work cannot be done on any other paper/sheet, as nothing will be allowed inside the testing room.