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Perfect Preparation

Appearing for mock CATs is a crucial part of CAT preparations. However, taking these tests too seriously can actually hamper your performance at the actual exam. Arun Sharma presents some pointers for those appearing for mock CATs

The genesis of every achievement that has ever been achieved, of every victory that has ever been won and of every challenge that has ever been overcome is an underlying panorama of belief in oneself. Somewhere sometimes, humans across history have told themselves “I can” and this has been the single most important reason for all human achievements. So why are we talking about this in today’s article? Well to tell you the least, we have our reasons for the same. Consider the following query:

I am preparing for CAT and have been appearing for a number of mock CATs in order to practice for the exam. However, whereas in the earlier mock tests I would score 95 to 96 percentile, my percentile has drastically gone down to a mere 78 and 82 in the last two mock tests.

I feel that undue pressure marred my performance in the last two tests and am now worried about my performance in the actual CAT when the pressure is inevitably going to be high. Please guide me as to how to prepare in these few days that are left for the actual exam now.

The query asked in the above email is commonly asked by many CAT aspirants and is indicative of the pressures that most CAT aspirants face before the exam. While on the D-day, around three lakh people appear for the exam out of which only about 10,000 will actually write the test paper with the confidence of cracking it. So, the question arises, what should be done to avoid this lack of confidence? Before answering this question, it is important to discuss the cause of such negative attitude, that is, the percentile syndrome. Around July to September each year, aspirants appear for a number of mock tests as part of their preparations for the actual CAT. However, as is evident from the above email, while mock CATs do provide you with the opportunity of practicing for the exam, their percentile scores and the consequent interpretation of the same can prove to be detrimental if taken extremely seriously. So except for the percentiles of those students who consistently score over 98-99 percentile, the percentiles of the mock CATs only serve to demoralise rather than motivate most aspirants. A typical attitude that most students adopt while taking the mock tests is to achieve a certain upper limit of percentile score and then constantly try to breach it. However, when they fail to do so, they get frustrated. Furthermore, based on their performance in the mock tests, students very often attribute a certain percentile range that they are most likely to score in the actual CAT. This can be dangerous as such a prediction tends to play itself out as a self fulfilling prophecy even before one starts writing the real test paper.

So what can be done to prevent a loss in confidence at the actual CAT while appearing for the mock tests?

Stop taking your percentiles seriously. Instead, start focusing on your percentage of marks and the percentiles will be automatically taken care of. While 40 per cent of marks have been safe all through, for the last five to six years approximately 30 per cent of marks as a net score have been sufficient to secure 95 plus percentile in the CAT. So focus on improving the percentage of marks you score in the mock tests. The simple logic is that if this percentage is good enough, a high percentile will follow on its own.
Remember that the mock CATs are not the actual CAT. Hence, prepare for the CAT and not the mock CATs.
The CAT paper is designed keeping in mind a lot of factors that coaching classes cannot even consider while designing their mock test papers. For instance, no question asked in the Data Interpretation (DI) and Logical Reasoning (LR) sections of CAT requires more than six to eight steps for solving. However, some questions in the mock papers require as long as 20 steps to be solved.

Perhaps, the most important thing to be kept in mind during this last month of preparation is to have faith in yourself.

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