Success in online CAT requires thinking beyond conventional strategies, and it is smart work, more than hard work, that will do the trick, say experts.
Last year, when the Common Admission Test (CAT) went online for the first time, the apprehension that played on all minds finally turned real with technical glitches marring the initial excitement.
This year, however, the scenario promises to be different — in the profiles of the candidates, their expectations from the test and more importantly, the levels of scepticism they hold regarding the ‘last leg', the coming two months. For those haunted by last year's ghosts, their apprehensions are dominantly coloured by doubt, whereas for the unfazed, with faith in the credibility of the exam, the focus would be on different strategies to replicate the success of the paper-based examination in the online format.
The most crucial factor in online CAT is the ability to replicate the performance displayed on paper-based exams. The online format will be a better measure of time-bound performance, say experts, as each question has to be assessed first, to understand if it can be solved within the pre-fixed time limits.
CAT has done a balancing act by reducing the number of questions but the core strategy remains the same — time management, says Parasharan Chari, in-charge of academics at Endeavour Careers. The paper-based exam facilitated easy navigation and allowed a student to attempt the easier questions before moving on to more difficult ones, but for a smart CAT-taker, this strategy is turned on its head in the online exam, he says.
With the focus now on accuracy, the tactic of racing ahead of others, by attempting too many questions is now nullified. Most experts seem to agree that more than hard work, it is smart work that will aid the aspirant on the day.
“Since there will at least be four sitters in each section, you can solve 10 questions with 80 per cent accuracy,” says Rajesh kumar, MD, VproV Private Limited. “Negative marking is a virus which can kill your complete exam,” he adds.
The difficulty levels of each section and the type of questions every candidate will be put through would be different, says S. Balasubramanium, Director, Triumphant Institute of Management Education, Chennai. “The issue occurs in some problems that involve figures in data interpretation and logical reasoning, where initially, with diagrams drawn on paper, the hassles would have been lesser; but the online pattern has its own share of comforts,” he adds.
In last year's 20-20-20 format, a student looking at making 10 attempts per section, would pre-fix around 3-4 minutes per question, and thereby refrain from attempting the more tedious questions. A correct time assessment requires a precise understanding of an individual's strengths and weaknesses, which is built by the mock test series, Mr Chari points out.
Mr. Chari suggests a good test series that exposes an individual to various combinations of questions giving him enough scope to try out various strategies so that by the time D-day arrives, “while he might not be prepared 100 per cent in content, he is 100 per cent confident about the content he has prepared.”
When taking the mock test, the idea is to maximise the score and the student should avoid all questions he is not confident of. He should also verify his skills of correct selection of “familiar” questions. A sincere self-analysis will result in the aspirant's confidence increasing each day, as he learns of new applications and newer mistakes to avoid. Overall, it minimises the scope of going into the CAT with a huge gap in terms of preparedness, experts point out.
Finally, for those who faced problems due to technical glitches last year, Mr. Balasubramanium has this bit of advice “Be positive, because a fatalistic attitude can doom your results; it's extremely important not to get discouraged by previous experiences.”