Scoring Low in CAT Mocks? This IIM Ahmedabad Student was in the Same Boat as You ft. Divya Vaid

CAT aspirants often ask for the mock scores of CAT toppers just to see if they're right on track or if there is any hope to bounce back after a series of low mock scores. Let me present to you the story of Divya Vaid, who is all set to join IIM Ahmedabad (Batch of 2022) after pursuing her graduation from SSCBS and scoring 99.27 percentile in the CAT exam.


Divya told me that she wants to write on this topic as at this stage a lot of CAT aspirants become troubled and may lose motivation because of low mock scores and having faced a time when her mock scores were not as high as the rest of her batch, she thought that this is the right time to share her journey with you all.


So, let's welcome her and hear what she has to share.

Divya Vaid

In Divya's Words:


In The Same Boat!


Most of us join CAT coaching in our penultimate year of college, when we may or may not have the clarity about pursuing an MBA right after graduation. As a result, we struggle to manage between final year placements, preparing for CAT and devoting time to other college activities.


A lot of you appearing for CAT this year may be going through this mental turmoil, I did too and so did a lot of other people in my batch. Being from a non-engineering background, from day 1 in my coaching class I felt surrounded by people way smarter than me, and more often than not, I was unsure of how will I perform, especially in quantitative aptitude and LRDI (this is the case with most non-engineers but not to generalize, I have friends from the same background as mine, who are faster than engineers in QA and LRDI).


As final year starts, most of us get caught up in a lot of activities, and think we can manage it all. I had envisioned a perfect time management plan for my CAT preparation, placements and college academics, it never got implemented. Hence, I would recommend prioritizing from the start, decide on one or at most two things that you will focus on, and then give your best.


Scoring Low in CAT Mocks


With less than 3 months to CAT, I was nowhere where I had hoped to be. It was then that I made a clear choice of where I wanted to be a year from then, the answer being doing an MBA, I redirected all my energy from placements and other activities to CAT preparation.


But the reality was not to encouraging, my mock scores instead of increasing had started getting worse with each mock I gave, instead of being in the final lap of the race, I seemed to have gone back several steps. I could hardly score more than 80-90 percentile in mocks.


On the other hand, my peers were looking at mock percentiles in the range of 96-99. At this point teachers in coaching, and everyone around starts talking about how much one should aim for to secure a seat in a top IIM, I refused to participate in such conversations.


While low mock scores did demotivate me, I never let them define me, or fall into the trap of thinking that I will not be able to achieve my dream of going to a B-school this very year. If you succumb to this pressure, that is where you really lose, not because of a low score, but because of how you begin to perceive yourself because of one mock, numbers DO NOT define you or your potential.



Purpose of Mock Taking


Mock tests are meant for you to gauge your level of preparation and learn something new, we often forget the learning new things part. Even if you score badly in a mock but learn something new from it, it was worth it. In fact, not analyzing a good mock can do more harm that not having a good score.


In your analysis you must aim to -


I. Understand the Sections


Identify your strong and weak points over a series of mocks, there would always be topics that you are good at and those which you always get wrong. Focus on your strengths, if you are preparing for CAT with college, you really don't have the time or energy to give much focus on weaknesses.


Of course you must aim to improve neutral areas (which are neither strengths nor weaknesses). For example, in QA at least 50% of the paper will have arithmetic topics, so you should work on these for sure and mostly these are not that hard, while if there are some 5-6 other topics that you always get wrong, you need not spend any time on them (typically no topic will have more than 1-2 questions from it).


CAT is not about attempting all the questions, it is about accurately attempting the ones that you do, you can always leave the questions from topics you are not good at.


II. Find 'Your' Strategy


Use mocks to determine a strategy that works for you, it maybe going through the questions first and choosing which ones to answer then working them out. Or taking each question as it comes. Try a different strategy in every mock, you might run out of time or mess it up even, but it's just a mock! Its meant for you to experiment with.


A word of caution here, do not go by what someone tells you, a senior who did well, a teacher or anyone. What worked for them may not work for you, and this stands not just for CAT but interviews, and everything else in life too.

III. Focus on Learning


Learn something from each mock, it might be how to solve a different question (it is very important to look at the solutions of the ones you got wrong, so that you don’t make the same mistake again - make a new one!)


Now the learning may not be tangible always, you may learn something about yourself, say how you handle pressure or a particular thing that you must definitely not do in the actual exam (in fact these would help you more as questions can change but if you know how to handle them you’ll manage).



Mocks v/s Final CAT Exam


Another thing you must realize is that most of the test series are made considerably harder than the actual CAT (now this is no reason for you to be complacent or think you’ll do well in the actual exam). They are made tougher so that you are prepared for anything and everything that CAT throws at you, more often this because of the vast (rather loosely defined) syllabus and limited time to cover everything (and these coaching institutes have a reputation to maintain).


Also there will be a lot more people siting for the actual exam than the mock, so a mock percentile is not indicative of what you may actually score.


And finally, if discussing your mock scores or your friends mock scores demotivates you, walk away from such conversations, or tell them that you are not comfortable discussing this. Trust me, people understand.


Ending Note


Do not compare your mock scores to anyone’s else’s, they are not relevant to you, and nor should you judge anyone else based on their scores, everyone has a different story, a different path meant for them to tread. You are not in a competition with anyone but yourself, let others do what works for them, do what works for you and if you can, try encouraging everyone.


For a fresher, there will always be people telling you that its fine and you can appear next year, let me tell you it is fine! Completely Fine! But that choice must be yours. It must not be a choice made for you because of time constraints or lack of preparation and definitely not because of low mock scores.


If you truly want to go for something, you can and mock scores are not representative of your potential. Anyone can make it, you just have to believe you can.

So, this was the CAT journey of Divya Vaid fighting the situation bravely and not comparing herself with others in the batch. The biggest takeaway for anyone reading this should be that if Divya can pick her scores from 80-90 percentile to 99.27 in the final CAT in just a matter of 3 months, you can too!


All you got to do is to plan wisely, let go off the negativity around and focus on your own strategy.


Hope this post helps you.


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