The Last Mile – Exam Strategy is everything in CAT

exam strategy is everything in cat mentoryes

by Saransh Agrawal, IIM Bangalore 

It’s not long back when I was in your shoes and preparing for CAT (Yeah!! Yeah!! I know it’s about one year now but trust me when you are in a B-School then the time just flies by). I understand that many of you would be very anxious and pondering upon how you would perform in CAT. Well, in my experience, this is what every CAT aspirant goes through. However, let me tell you first hand that this deliberation won’t improve your performance. If anything, it will kill your valuable time.

With just one month to go for the D-Day, it’s now high time that all of you start thinking about your strategy for the exam.

A well-thought-of and executed strategy is sufficient to make that small difference which can lead to good percentile and calls from the top IIMs.

On the contrary, the same strategy can be disastrous if you haven’t tested and practiced it before. Let me elaborate on what I mean by “Disaster”.

Suppose, you make some strategy about how you would go about solving the questions. But, when you have not tried it even once, you are totally unaware of the shortcomings of the said strategy (I know I have used the word “strategy” a lot but I can’t help it, you too will love it once you are in a B-School). So, when you directly apply this approach in CAT, you might face a situation where you have spent quite a lot of time without any fruitful result and can’t do anything now. I do not claim that this is bound to happen but I have seen people facing such issues. So, in short, make strategy now and use it in mock tests so that you are familiar with it.

Many people have asked me about what my course of action and plan was for the exam. I had a simple formula –

If the question is a two liner only then it’s worth reading

Let me explain. CAT is a time bound exam. So, it becomes imperative that you solve as many questions as possible in the designated time. If the question is long and you spend a lot of time reading it and finally cannot answer it, you would have wasted some valuable time. So, attempt small questions first. Even if you cannot solve it, the time wasted is less. Once all the smaller questions are done, then move to longer ones. You can easily switch between questions in the same section till the time ends. This ensures that you will attempt more questions and your efficiency is increased.

Suggestions for the last month

1 – Do not start any new topic now. A better approach would be to strengthen the topics and areas that you have already covered.
2 – Try solving more previous year questions. You get a good idea of the exam feel.
3 – Always solve the questions with time constraint (Why?? Because you must do the same in CAT). Move on to the next question if the time’s up (you can later solve it / see the solution).
4 – Practice a lot through mock tests. They are very useful.
5 – Accuracy is very important in CAT. Do not make any guesses in any situation. The opportunity cost (an MBA jargon, don’t worry if you do not understand) is too high.

That’s all for this time. Maybe next time, I will cover some aspect of interview preparation. But, that’s after your CAT results are declared and shortlists have been announced.saransh-agrawal-iimb-mentoryes

I wish you All the Best and hope to see some of you on campus next year.


Saransh Agrawal is a student of IIM Bangalore.

To get personal mentorship from Saransh, click here.

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