In September 2017, I went home to spend the time till the CAT exam taking mocks religiously. That's a period when I made several mistakes while I was taking the mocks. In this post, I will share the 10 most commonly made mock mistakes. I'm sharing these in the hope that you can avoid them at the onset of your mock taking journey and thereby score better.
10 Common Mistakes to Avoid
#1 - Leaving a Section
Once I was taking a mock and had realized that my VARC attempt had gone great. But, the moment I was half-way through the DILR section, I realized that my overall score was not going to be as expected because I was able to attempt only 2 sets in DILR. So, what did I do? I submitted the mock without attempting QA.
This happens due to two reasons - either you're too excited to see the result of a section that went well (which was VARC in my case) or you're so disappointed by your performance in a section that you end up feeling, "What is the point?"
When I submitted the mock and shared about the attempt with my father (I always did this) - he asked me how the mock helped me? I got a short-lived validation for VARC but I had no clue about the QA section.
That is when I decided to change my outlook towards any CAT mock. It is not a 3-hours long paper. It is a set of 3 papers which are 1-hour long each. When you consider each section as an individual exam and try to ace each one of them, you will get two benefits:
You'll not give up in between.
You'll not face spillover of one section on another.
#2 - Taking a Question Personally
I made this mistake so many times, especially in DILR. Whenever I came across a familiar set which was probably difficult, I would not give up on it no matter what! I would keep trying to solve it over and over again because I took it personally!
The change took place when I read a CAT topper's experience on Quora in which he had said, "If you're able to solve the most difficult set but have no time left for the easier ones, you've got your ego but not your wits."
Always fix a stipulated time for each set/question and no matter how much you think you're good at that topic, if you're not close to solving it, leave it!
#3 - Having Nothing to Measure
Before you take a mock, do you have any agenda set for the mock? For example, whenever I was done with a mock, I set a target for the next one - which section am I going to work on?
This helped me measure my progress after the end of the next mock. So, if you are taking mocks keeping an eye on the overall score but not setting section-wise agendas for each mock, then you are not going to see progress. You'll get disappointed by different sections at different times.
Always have an agenda. It could be a section, a topic, any aspect of the mock you wish to work on before you take the next one. That'll help you.
#4 - Using the Same Strategy
We all have a pattern of taking the mocks, e.g. I used to attempt RCs first, VA at the end, and use the Rounds Technique for QA, etc. These are called strategies of attempt.
In order to see a different and better result every time, you need to experiment with different strategies to see which one gives you the best results consistently over a period of time.
And, you can only do this if you are willing to change the strategies in the first few mocks. If you become too comfortable with the one strategy you began with, it's going to stabilize your marks.
#5 - Selecting Questions Randomly
For each section, you should have some criteria using which you select questions to attempt. Remember, CAT is an exam that tests your ability to choose which questions to attempt first.
#6 - Reading the Wrong Statement
This mistake is often made due to anxiety. We misread the words, numbers, sometimes we even omit constraints during the exam and end up with totally different results.
The best way to avoid this mistake is to practice meditation before taking the mock. Stay calm and read the question carefully. Cut short on the solving time but never on the question reading time.
#7 - Drawing the Incorrect Diagram
Similar to the previous one but different in a context that this doesn't take place due to anxiety. This takes place because we're often not familiar with the trick behind drawing the diagram.
I've shared about this point in a video I made on DILR Tips, which you can watch here:
#8 - Thinking of the CAT Exam
If you're taking a mock, the last thing you'd want to occupy your mind with is, "What will happen on the D-day?" This used to happen with me a lot in the beginning.
I would keep thinking about the result of the mock I was taking and then wondering what if the same happens during the CAT exam? Never take a mock as if it is your final attempt!
It is a step towards improving for the final attempt. So, don't panic during the mock. Take it with a mindset that you're attempting to learn from it. You're not already there and that's okay!
#9 - Skipping the Mock Analysis
Mock taking is not even half the job done. If you don't analyze a mock after taking it, there is nothing you'd learn out of the experience. You must carry out the analysis.
But, ensure that you take ample rest before it. I did another blunder in the beginning that I tried to analyze my mistakes immediately after a mock. Just see your score, take a screenshot and close your laptop. Carry out the analysis after a break of at least 1-2 hours.
#10 - Leaving the Formula Book
After you have carried out the analysis and gone through the detailed solutions, you need to update your formula book with any new tricks, concepts or shortcuts that you found.
From my experience, whenever I didn't update my formula book immediately after the analysis, I often forgot. And, later it only became difficult to recall where the trick was.
So, these were the 10 mistakes that I made during my CAT preparation journey while taking the mocks. If you can think of more or you have experienced more, please do comment below. They can help those who are taking CAT 2020 this year.
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