It is difficult to give numbers to answers of those questions in which there is a great deal of subjectivity. It is like asking how much should I eat to remain healthy and strong.
There cannot be a standard answer to such questions. However, in this article we will try to come to a specific number.
More than the number of CAT mocks, it is the improvement in successive mocks that really matters the most.
You might write 30 mocks in the same way, without any improvement, whereas someone else might right just three mocks and see his percentile jump from 60 to 90 in a space of just two mocks.
In other words, it is not the number of CAT mocks alone but the learning that you get from those mocks that truly matters.
Our education system is such that to excel in it one has to work extremely hard; if you have worked hard, success is guaranteed, but that is not the case with aptitude exams such as CAT.
To excel in CAT, you must strike a good balance between hard work and quality work.
Coming back to the question of number of mocks, I would like to say that though there is no upper limit to the number of mocks that you should write, as far as the bare minimum is concerned, we always recommend that a CAT aspirant should write at least 15 mocks.
You might start doing well right from the very first mock, whereas, at times, only after writing 5 mocks will you be able to get some grip on your strategy.
But instead of talking about the number of CAT mocks, we should turn out attention to three very important things:
- What you should do before you start writing the CAT mocks?
- What you should do while writing the CAT mocks?
- What you should do after writing the CAT mocks?
These questions would be elaborately discussed in separate set of articles, but I would write some key points on the above three questions.
What should you do before you start writing the CAT mocks?
It is very important that the student is well-prepared for the mocks. Though sometimes people write CAT mocks just to see where they stand at their current levels of preparation, the number of such mocks should not be more than one or two.
Writing mocks without being well-prepared might give you the wrong impression of what you are truly capable of.
Sometimes in might demotivate you to the extent that the you might lose all interest in CAT, while at other times it might induce complacency because you might have done way better than what you had expected.
So, before you start writing CAT mocks, you must ensure that you have taken at least 7 to 8 good sectional tests, and have struck a fine balance between speed and accuracy.
Writing a sectional test is less exhausting than writing mocks; you are more relaxed and are thus more likely to overcome the stress and anxiety that you will experience in the three-hour version.
What should you do while writing the CAT mocks?
Though you will learn the lessons the hard way, while writing the CAT mocks, you have to always keep an eye on the questions with which you are familiar and that look easy and doable.
Never worry about the difficult questions, because it is not the difficult questions that decide your percentile.
Rather, your percentile is decided by ‘how quickly you spot the easy and average difficulty level questions’ and ‘whether you are able to solve those questions correctly in less time’.
In fact, we have seen that just by solving all the easy questions with 100 percent accuracy, a student can score 80-90 percentile in all the three sections.
If to this tally, you add the average difficulty questions as well, then no one can stop you from scoring 95 percentile in all the three sections.
In other words, instead of worrying about the difficult questions, you should develop the knack of spotting the easy questions/sets/passages in the mocks.
What should you do after writing a CAT mock?
How important a stage of your prep is this, and how often we ignore it! What you do after taking a CAT mock is more important than what you did before you wrote that mock.
All your prep will prove to be futile if you have not carefully planned your post-mock analysis. This stage of your prep will decide whether you will really make it to the next stage (WAT PI) process of the IIMs.
You must remember that the CAT exam paper is just another CAT mock. If you have worked hard and have written a good number of mocks with good scores, the chances are that unless something dramatically surprising happens, you are likely to do well in the exam.
On the other hand, if you have avoided mocks, or have written mocks without working on the improvement areas and without thinking about the strategy part, the chances of your not doing well are quite high. You shouldn’t expect miracles in exams such CAT.
After every CAT mock, you must carry out a thorough analysis, and it is ‘YOU’ not someone else who must do the analysis.
A teacher can only teach and help you develop a method and an approach, but the analysis of the CAT mocks is your responsibility, not your teachers’ or your peers’.
When you look at your mistakes first hand, you are likely to learn more and be careful later; whereas when others pick your mistakes, the whole exercise is done in the second person, and therefore never has the same impact.
The first analysis must be done by you, and if you are not sure of what went wrong and why, then you can always take help of a mentor.
My experience tells me that if the CAT preparation stage teaches you x things, then the post mock analysis will teach you 10x things.
Nothing can be worse than the idea of postponing CAT mocks for fear of not doing well. The sooner you overcome this fear, the higher the chances that you will learn your lessons at the right time.
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