How to Prepare for a CAT Retake – Part 1

How to Prepare for a CAT Retake – Part I

How to Prepare for a CAT Retake – Part I: Most of the institutes have given out their calls (or at least most of you know your chances) and many of you might be planning to retake the CAT. For some of you, it might be a case of almost getting there but missing out because of one poor section or just missing out on the overall percentile. For others, the CAT-day might have been a bad day at the office and you knew straight away that nothing much was going to happen.

On my first attempt, I fell into the latter group — I knew I was out of my depth when I saw the Quant paper, there was no way I was going to clear the cut-offs. This despite consistently doing very well in the Sims leading up to the test. I decided to take another shot since I was very clear that it was not out of my league. This post on How to Prepare for a CAT Retake – Part I, in three parts, is for all those re-takers who are NOT hoping to get lucky next time around but want to ensure that they leave no stone unturned to make the cut in their next shot at CAT.

Do not use percentiles to evaluate your ability on a section

One of the ways by which test-takers evaluate their performance on a section is by looking at their percentile on the same. They rate their ability on a section depending upon what percentile they scored in that section. The CAT is a non-standardised exam with question types and level of difficulty varying wildly from year to year. If we evaluate CAT-18 with respect to CAT-17 there were significant changes.

The Quant section was definitely trickier than on CAT-17 as well as the preceding years, making speed & accuracy less of a factor than it was on CAT-17. If you got a 90 this year on Verbal & Quant and lost on DI-LR, which was as tough as it was in the previous year, then can you rest assured that your VA & QA are strong and you will need very little prep? What if next year, the RC passages next year go up a few notches? What will you do if the Quant section poses trickier problems and LR becomes easy? This has happened to quite a few students, percentiles getting reversed in the second attempt.

Nothing can be more dangerous than evaluating your ability solely on the basis of your percentile when planning a re-attempt! This is especially true when your sectional percentiles are in the 80-95 range. Only those with percentile above 98 on a section can rest assured that their ability on a particular section is pretty solid and that’s help you to Prepare for a CAT Retake.

Evaluate the quantum of effort you put into preparing for each area

Instead of evaluating your ability solely on the basis of your percentile, evaluate it based on the amount of effort you put into the particular area. When I started preparing for the CAT for the first time my core strengths were VA-RC and DI-LR, QA (relative to my ability on the others) my weakest area. In my prep for my first go at the CAT, apart from classroom sessions, I did the following:

  • VA-RC: Solved the entire material of two brands including IMS, covering RC, Vocabulary (including foreign phrases and the book by Normal Lewis) and Verbal Reasoning; the only area I excluded was Grammar
  • DI-LR: Solved the entire material of two brands including IMS
  • QA: Solved only material pertaining to Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry completely excluded Numbers and Modern Maths
  • Tests: I would have taken about 50-60 full-length tests in total

Malcolm Gladwell has famously put a number to the number of hours of training put in by those who become high-achievers in their field — 10000 hours of deliberate practice. There has been a lot of debate around this number that seemed to suggest that all you needed to do was deliberate practice and you would succeed. But be that as it may we know that the best sportsmen are the ones who put in more than the others into their practice — it was true of Michael Jordan, it was true of Sachin Tendulkar, it is true of Sardara Singh (one of India’s and the world’s best hockey players). So the first step is to start with an honest evaluation of how much practice you put into each area —  RC, Vocabulary, Reasoning, Grammar, DI, LR, Numbers, Arithmetic, Algebra, & Modern Maths.

Do not prep by percentages; prep to increase the range of your abilities

While I enjoy teaching a lot there are times when some questions from students really get my goat, especially this one — Sir, which topics are most important for CAT? We are so used to guide-book preparation for the better part of our lives that we cannot think of an approach beyond it. I have no problem with this but then one should not aim to get into elite institutions and secure high-quality jobs by playing the percentages. Firstly, you will be taking not just the CAT, but other tests such as the XAT, IIFT, NMAT and SNAP. Across these five tests, your ability across all areas will get tested to various degrees. More importantly, do not look at it through the narrow lens of test prep. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will possessing a good vocabulary not be of any use in your life?
  • Will the ability to quickly read and process content in English, be it articles from the Economist or the latest management books not come in handy?
  • Is the ability to quickly crunch numbers irrelevant just because you have a calculator on your phone?

Until you are looking at all of these things in terms of weightage on CAT and view areas as things to be endured to get into a great institute, you will always be a resource who will be used by others. The day you start looking at these things as core skills are necessary to succeed in life and thus expected of any high-quality individual, then you start becoming — to paraphrase Marlon Brando from On The Waterfront   — a contender, a contender for taking up leadership roles. Make a list of the skills you want to acquire, the areas you want to master. All the Above points that’s help you to Prepare for a CAT Retake.

Meanwhile, Check out the list of Best CAT Coaching in other cities

Are you looking to excel in the prestigious Common Admission Test (CAT) exam in cities beyond the usual hotspots? We’ve compiled a list of the best CAT academies in various cities that provide top-notch guidance and support to CAT aspirants. Whether you’re in bustling metropolises like Mumbai, Kolkata, or Chennai or in smaller but equally promising cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, or Chandigarh, these coaching institutes offer comprehensive courses and expert faculty to help you achieve your dream of cracking the CAT exam.

WAC Additional Resources: Explore More Links and Information

Discover the ideal path of education with WAC, a comprehensive educational website designed to provide guidance on selecting the best coaching institutes to help you achieve your dreams. Explore a curated list of coaching options across various fields, ensuring you make informed decisions about your journey.

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