With just a few days to go for CAT’13, a balanced mix of revision of concepts and test practice is crucial to cracking the exam.

Your run-up to the Common Admission Test (CAT) exam can be equated to the final preparation phase of an athlete preparing for a very important competition in front of a very demanding audience. In your case, all the pressure comes in from your own set of expectations. You should be peaking at this time for giving out your best performance in the actual test.

Assuming that you have put in consistent work over the last several months, the last few weeks/days running up to your actual CAT testing day should essentially consist of a balanced mix of revision of the concept areas and test practice.

Recalling abilities

While revising, it is a good idea to do a ‘shadow practice’ with the areas. This technique requires you to recall as much as you can about a particular test area without the aid of study material. Use a notebook for good measure and keep track of the flowchart of your recollection. At the end of this session, look back at your study material to see how much you have been able to recall with good accuracy.

This is relevant more for the topics in the Quantitative Ability areas. This exercise gives you the confidence built on your recalling abilities and if you are doing well on this, you can be reasonably sure that you will not miss many questions for want of recalling abilities concerning equations and formulae.

Test-taking practice

While you are doing practice tests in the coming days, do remember that at this time, it is more important for you to understand the reasons for your errors than the number of correct answers. At this stage, correcting a conceptual error will reward you more than learning something new. So spend double the time on evaluating “what went wrong” rather than relishing a good performance. When you reward yourself with the wisdom of correcting an error by understanding the steps that led you to that mistake, you are taking a better grip on test dynamics.

At the venue

Your instructions are to reach the venue much ahead of the scheduled start of the test. When you arrive at the venue, you are likely to meet classmates and old friends. Do not engage in discussions that take away the focus of the examination that’s coming up. Another danger is engaging in conversations based on latest trending topics based on the patterns of the examination. In today’s age of fast connectivity, news travels fast and when people add their views to third-party-provided information, there's possibility for great speculation. You are well advised to stay away from this.

Inside the exam hall

Although the computer terminals are shielded off from the view of other test-takers, it does not take extraordinary effort to succumb to the temptation of stealing a glance at another terminal — with not malicious intent for sure. Don’t stay completely insulated from your surroundings and other external stimulus.

The second section has an exit option before the test-window is over. But it just doesn’t make any sense for you to exercise this option as you will still need to sit out the remaining time inside the testing-window. Utilise your resources completely.

Once your test appears on the monitor, spend some two or three minutes to scan the entire section for preparing a good mental picture of the paper. Consider this time spent at the start of the sections as an investment. This is when you create a mental footprint of the manner in which you are going to go about the paper. The order of the questions need not determine the order in which you answer the questions. While looking at cluster questions, this mental mapping will definitely help manage the time better.

Towards the end of the test, when you have about eight to ten minutes left, you should go back to those questions you have marked out for the last phase. This is something that gets executed well if you have done the mental mapping properly. The combination of good initial scanning, careful picking of questions to solve during the middle of the testing time and marking off those ‘doubtful’ ones for the last stretch would be a good strategy.

The writer is director T.I.M.E. Chennai & Vice President, T.I.M.E. Pvt Ltd.