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CAT Mock Strategy: Common mistakes made by students in VARC section

Key highlights:

  • if you have not been writing mocks and sectional tests, then you should start writing one immediately
  • What separates a 90 percentiler from a 50 percentiler is just 8 questions; numerically the gap might be colossal, practically it is not.
  • Extreme caution is just as dangerous as extreme recklessness; students who are too cautious doubt almost everything, even those things that are blatantly clear and logical.
  • if you want to touch 98 plus percentile in the VARC section, then you must attempt at least 80 percent of the paper and get at least 80 percent of the questions correct.
  • People think that the right answer in VARC is just a fluke; nothing could be farther from the truth; there is a reason behind why the right answer is the right answer. Unless you are clear about it, the whole idea of writing mocks is a complete waste of time.

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Mocks and sectional tests play a very important role in helping a CAT aspirant crack the exam. Without writing a good no of mock tests and without analysing the mocks, it would be very difficult for someone to do well on the D-Day. So if you have not been writing mocks and sectional tests, then you should start writing one immediately, and if you have already started writing mocks, then here are some points that I think you should work upon.

I have gone through a number mocks and have spotted common mistakes made by all aspirants who are not able to cross the 90 percentile barrier. We can divide the students into three categories: in the first category are those who have difficulty crossing 50 percentile, in the second category are those who get stuck around 75-80 percentile, and in the third category are those who are not able to break the 90 percentile barrier.

If you have not been able to get the desired score in the VARC score, there is no need to panic. What separates a 90 percentiler from a 50 percentiler is just 8 questions, which means that if you get 8 questions in place, you will be right up there. So numerically the gap might be colossal, practically it is not.

To avoid getting demotivated and to maintain their confidence levels, aspirants must try to cross the 90 percentile mark. I will discuss the problems of each of the three category of students that I mentioned in the earlier paragraph.

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Mistakes made by students who are not able to cross 50 percentile:

  1. Not having a proper approach to VARC:

The students who fail to cross the 50 percentile are those who have not much worked on their concepts. They are yet to work out an approach, and, as a result, don’t have in themselves the confidence to correctly mark the answer. In other words, they should again go back to the important topics and must focus on finding an approach to arriving at the right answer. The question you have to ask yourself is how do some students manage to arrive at the right answer. What is it that works for them? Once the approach falls in place, you will realize that easy questions are those that can be easily solved by a particular approach, while the difficult ones are those that cannot be solved easily by a particular approach.

  1. Spending too much time on the wrong question:

Most of the students attempt their paper in serial order, taking one question at a time. Sometimes, regardless of the difficulty level of the question, they keep on fighting until they reach a point where they have lost much time and find it difficult to bounce back. If you have difficulty understanding a particular question, then leave it for a while and move on to the next one. Every RC will have at least 2 to 3 questions (out of 5 or 6) that are doable. Even if you get only those two or three correct in 15 mins, at the end of 60 mins you would have scored around 30 marks, a score good enough to fetch you at least 80 percentile in an average difficulty paper. The fact that you are not able to cross 50 percentile simply means that you don’t’ have any strategy or direction.

Mistakes made by students who are not able to cross 80 percentile:

  1. Attempting the paper recklessly:

By attempting the paper recklessly, I mean that they make too many mistakes. The no of questions that they get incorrect are disproportionately high. If they had been a little cautious, they could have managed a decent 90 plus. You must remember that you always have the choice of leaving the question unanswered. When you have not understood the question, or have difficulty comprehending the options, don’t impulsively mark the answers. There is a difference between a wild guess and an intelligent guess. Marking the answers impulsively is a habit that you will find difficult to get rid of in the later stages of your prep.

  1. Attempting the paper too cautiously:

Extreme caution is just as dangerous as extreme recklessness. Students who are too cautious doubt almost everything, even those things that are blatantly clear and logical. As a result, they spend too much time even on the easiest of questions. Caution should not become paranoia, a state in which you fear almost anything and everything; this happens when you are lacking in confidence. Self-doubt is the biggest killer. Therefore, it is very important that students first develop logic and approach, an approach that works for them, and then gradually move towards speed.

Mistakes made by students who are not able to cross 90 percentile:

  1. Lower attempts:

If you want to touch 98 plus percentile in the VARC section, then you must attempt at least 80 percent of the paper and get at least 80 percent of the questions correct. If your attempts are on the lower side, then it would be very difficult for you to realize this dream. The reason why students are not able to increase their attempts is because they allot a disproportionately high amount of time to reading the passage. Students spend, on average, a whopping 5 to 6 mins in reading the passage, something that results in their not being able to give enough time to the options. If you can save 3 mins in every passage, you will have time enough to attempt one more passage or some verbal ability questions.

  1. Lower accuracy:

With many students, the no of attempts is not the problem; it is, rather, the accuracy. It is not rare to come across VARC sections in which the students have attempted 30 questions, but have got only 15 correct. You must remember that attempts at the cost of accuracy is a bad bargain. It is only going to bring down your confidence, making you vulnerable even to those questions that are easy and could have been done if you had been a little more cautious.

In conclusion, I would like to say that in mocks there has to be good balance between attempts and accuracy, but before this you must develop an approach, and great degree of confidence in that approach. People think that the right answer in VARC is just a fluke; nothing could be farther from the truth. There is a reason behind why the right answer is the right answer. Unless you are clear about it, the whole idea of writing mocks is a complete waste of time.

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