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Friday, June 29, 2007

2 feet above the paper view of each question

Look at each question from a relatively macro perspective. As you read the question, see if the answer choices give you any clue. More often than not, it will not give much of a clue at this stage. It will just let you get an idea as to whether the answer choices are really close or are they spaced apart. For instance, if you find answer choices for a DI question as 34.3, 34.38, 34.42 and 34.55 skip the question. What is the point in wasting time computing to two decimal points accuracy. Anyway, after you become an MBA you will have the best of calculators and Pentium HT machines at your disposal. What the IIMs are probably testing with such questions is to find out if you are smart enough to skip the question.

You have skipped questions where answer choices really close. What next? Proceed to solve the question. In many instances, even though at the first step answers may not give you much of an idea, as you proceed with the second or third step of solving the problem the answer choices will start making lot more sense. Make it a habit to take a quick glance at the answer choices after each step. It is tantamount to taking a glance at the rear view mirror when you drive a car (that is provided you use the rear view mirror for the intended purpose!!). This time around, it will give you more clues that could help you eliminate answer choices that are not plausible. If your elimination leaves you with only one choice, go ahead and tick it and proceed to the next question. Do Not compute till the last step. It might help get a sense of satisfaction to get the answer after solving all the steps. But then, getting peace of mind in one question will surely cost you missing out on three more.

There will be adequate number of questions in quant section where you should be substituting the answer choices and solving them instead of solving up the logical way. This way you will cut down the time you take for that question by over 50%. Saving time on 10 such questions could mean you will be able to attempt 3 or 4 more questions. Well that is essentially the difference between getting four or more GDPI calls from the IIMs and getting no calls.

Some essentials to do during the last 90 days to CAT


With just about 90 days left for CAT here are some things any serious cat aspirant should follow religiously.

First things first. You have less than 15 days to send your completed CAT application forms to the IIMs. So do it as soon as possible. Do not wait for the eleventh hour to send your application and pray that the courier delivers it on time. If you still have not got your application, you have about four days left to get it from one of the IIMs. So do it now!

Here are some of the things that worked for me as I prepared for CAT and things have worked for many others to whom I have had the opportunity to assist in their CAT preparation.

1. Have a clear strategy before your Mock CATs - fine tune it - and use it on November 21st.
Most wars are won not on the power of the ammunition and armor a country possesses but on the power of its think tank. The same is true when it comes to CAT. Before you take any CAT comprehensive test put down on paper the strategy that you want to adopt for that test.

Though the last few CATs did not have any section wise time limit, it would be to your advantage to set those limits yourself.

Typically, students spend about 30 minutes in the verbal section, 40 minutes in the DI section and 50 minutes in the Quant section. This split could vary from individual to individual.

Having set this limit, shave off 5 minutes from each of the sections and keep those 5 minute blocks as reserve. After the first 105 minutes of the test, take a quick call on your performance. If you realize that you have done equally well in all three sections, spend the last 15 minutes in the section that is likely to give you the maximum returns. On the contrary, if you realize that you have not done particularly well in a section, spend the last 15 minutes in this section.

This way you never run short of time for any section. Also this strategy helps you to maximize your returns within the given time frame.

Essentially, do not ever start the test without assigning time limits for the different sections of the test.

Best CAT Vocab

pariah - - - - an outcast
surfeit - - - - abundance, excessive amount
enigma - - - - a puzzle; a mystery
spurious - - - - false, fake, not genuine
erudite - - - - learned; scholarly; bookish
fervid - - - - intensely emotional; feverish
lucid - - - - clear and easily understood
opaque - - - - impossible to see through; preventing the passage of light
placate - - - - to sooth or pacify
precipitate - - - - to throw violently or bring about abruptly; lacking deliberation
prodigal - - - - wasteful; reckless with money
zeal - - - - passion, excitement
abstain - - - - to choose not to do something
adulterate - - - - to make impure
apathy - - - - lack of interest or emotion
audacious - - - - fearless and daring
capricious - - - - changing one’s mind quickly and often
corroborate - - - - to provide supporting evidence
desiccate - - - - to dry out thoroughly
engender - - - - to produce, cause, or bring about
ephemeral - - - - lasting a short time
gullible - - - - easily deceived
homogenous - - - - of a similar kind
laconic - - - - using few words
laud - - - - to give praise; to glorify
loquacious - - - - talkative
mitigate - - - - to soften; to lessen
pedant - - - - someone who shows off learning
pragmatic - - - - practical as opposed to idealistic
propriety - - - - correct behavior; obedience to rules and customs
vacillate - - - - to sway physically; to be indecisive
volatile - - - - easily aroused or changeable; lively or explosive
advocate - - - - to speak in favor of
nemesis - - - - a powerful river, a usually unconquerable opponent
bolster - - - - to support; to prop up
cacophony - - - - harsh, jarring noise
deride - - - - to speak of or treat with contempt; to mock
dissonance - - - - a harsh and disagreeable combination, often of sounds
enervate - - - - to reduce in strength
eulogy - - - - speech in praise of someone
rescind - - - - to cancel, to repeal
ingenuous - - - - showing innocence or childlike simplicity
lethargic - - - - acting in an indifferent or slow, sluggish manner
malleable - - - - capable of being shaped
misanthrope - - - - a person who dislikes others
obdurate - - - - hardened in feeling; resistant to persuasion
ostentation - - - - excessive showiness
paradox - - - - a contradiction or dilemma
respite - - - - an interval of rest, a temporary delay
prevaricate - - - - to lie or deviate from the truth
venerate - - - - to respect deeply
trite - - - - unoriginal, overused

What is IIM's CAT (Common Admission Test) all about?

CAT - The Common Admission Test to the six IIMs is also the entrance test for few other top B-Schools such as SP Jain, MICA, and T A Pai. CAT tests your skills in five broad areas viz.

Verbal ability and reasoning
Reading Comprehension
Quantitative skills
Data Interpretation
Analytical and Logical reasoning.
The test comprised 90 questions divided into 3 sections in the year 2005. Typically this test can be expected to comprise between 75 to 150 objective type questions and is usually divided into three to four sections. Each question has a question statement followed by four alternate answer choices and the candidate has to choose the best answer for each of the questions and mark it on a special Optical Reader answer sheet.

Over the years, the number of questions being asked in CAT has been decreasing steadily. While the early 90s witnessed 180 to 200 questions, the late 90s, specifically CAT 1999 and CAT 2000 had 165 questions each. CAT 2001, CAT 2002 and CAT 2003 had only 150 questions each and these 150 questions were divided into three sections of 50 questions each. There were 123 questions in CAT 2004 and only 90 in CAT 2005. CAT 2004 and CAT 2005 both had differential marks to questions. There were 0.5 marks, 1 mark and 2 marks questions.

The duration of the test is of 120 minutes. This literally translates to answering a CAT question in 48 seconds. Most successful aspirants do not attempt anything more than 120 plus questions. And quite a lot of them attempt between 70 and 90 marks worth of questions. The key to success, therefore, lies in two important parameters

1. The accuracy or strike rate
While each correct answer carries 0.5 or 1 or 2 positive mark, each incorrect question carries 1/3rd of the marks allocated to it as negative marks. Hence, it is important to get a strike rate of over 85% - that is reduce the number of negatives.

2. Smart Selection
As it is clear that you will not be generally able to attempt all 150 marks question, and you skip between 60 to 80 questions, key to success lies in selecting questions properly. Hence, there are no kudos, nobel prizes or awards waiting for attempting the tough questions. Be smart to choose, the easiest of the questions and the ones that you have practised a lot and smash them. Do not venture into unsafe territories or to questions which you only have a vague idea.

CAT and entrance tests of other top B Schools are a unique breed of entrance exams. They focus on testing some of the basic qualities essential for managers - the grit to work hard, smartness to choose the best alternative, quick thinking and above all perseverance.

Exams like IIT JEE test the depth of your knowledge, while the Civil Services exams test your width of knowledge. CAT evaluates your presence of mind and the ability to perform under pressure. You cannot prepare for CAT during the last 10 days, as one generally does for semester exams. A minimum of 3 to 9 months of regular preparation is essential