November 26th, 2009 — CAT
Any aptitude test involves two crucial stages-
1) test taking practice and
2) concept learning
Concept learning requires about 3-6 months of preparation. Test taking practice demands about 3 months of preparation prior to the actual test.
Concept learning requires you to first concentrate on building a strong conceptual foundation before fine tuning your test-taking skills. The basic skills and other areas assessed in the CAT are still the same. It is the test taking mode that has been changed. So, you need not change your preparation strategy as far as concept learning is concerned.
You need to compile a list of concepts previously assessed in CAT. With reference to these concepts, make a preliminary analysis of your weaknesses and strengths. Work on your strengths and weaknesses by taking sufficient tests. Practice as much as you can. Look up solved examples, solve other exercises and time yourself accordingly. You need to get comfortable with the computer, so try to attempt tests in a computer based format.
Online testing should not be mistaken for online learning. Just because the test is online, it does not mean the concepts have to be learned online.
Test Taking Practice is a key area. Now that the CAT is online, you need to acclimatize yourself to a computer-based testing environment. You need to be comfortable while using the mouse and keyboard. Your preparation plans should include taking tests on the computer. You need to be at ease while using the computer. It should not hinder your scoring potential.
The computer skills required for online CAT are very basic and minimal. The mouse is required to navigate between sections and questions. You need to use buttons like help, tag question, save, etc that are a part of the test format. You might have to use the keyboard for word processing, and of course for the registration process.
Remember that you need not be a computer wizard to crack online CAT. The CAT has been computerized to ease logistics and not assess your computer skills. Attempt a lot of comprehensive tests to benchmark your performance and improve your test-taking skills. Analyse your performance to fare better in the next test.
November 26th, 2009 — CAT
Your study preparation for online CAT does not depend on the medium of CAT. Whether CAT is a computer-based test or a paper-based test, the basic nature of your preparation does not change. The CAT certainly undergoes some changes every year. CAT 2009 has changed with regard to the mode of the test. However, there are no changes as far as preparation of the concepts are concerned. Nonetheless, you need to get familiar with the online testing process.
You require material that covers basic concepts explained in an understandable way. Check up with reputed MBA institutes for their study material and preparation techniques. You need not be a computer wizard to take an online test. That is you need not be computer savvy to appear for online CAT. You just need to be able to use the mouse and the keyboard. You need to be familiar with a few basic keys. If you practice 4 to 5 hours a day, you will reach that level of comfort.
You can prepare for CAT in two phases. In the first phase, you need to get your fundamentals right. You need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with problems and chapters. Remember that speed-solving does not work. Moreover, time management is a must. Allocate your time in a way that it leaves you with one hour for reading magazines and newspapers. You also need to update yourself on current affairs. A properly planned study structure increases your efficiency and confidence.
The next phase is about analyzing yourself and coming to terms with your strengths and weaknesses. Once you are done with your fundamentals, it would be easy for you to focus and work on your plus points and weak points. Section tests can be taken in the second week of August. You should also alternatively revise your topics. Comprehensive tests should be undertaken at least by the beginning of September. Avoid getting stuck up on solving a particular problem.
The key areas you need to analyze are as follows: Speed is an important concern. It should improve with every test that you take. It is important to take as many comprehensive tests as possible, so that you get used to sitting for hours at a stretch. Comprehensive tests train you and increase your attention span. Accuracy is as important.
November 26th, 2009 — CAT, CAT Preparation
CAT is now a computer-based test. In the Reading Comprehension test, you will see a split screen which will have a passage on one side and question on the other side of the computer. Alternatively, the passage could be given first, followed by questions later. You are required to scroll the screen and thoroughly read the passage and then the questions.
More than reading passages on paper, you need to familiarize yourself with reading passages on the computer screen. This could be a little problematic for those applicants who are not used to working on the PC. But such reading habits can be developed. It will be taxing initially, but it is worth the effort. An important point to note is that you won’t be able to underline or highlight words or sentences in the passage. You can’t even jot down any points in the margin. Hence, if you think you need to remember anything, you will have to commit it to your memory. Jotting it down on a piece of paper is like wasting your time.
Furthermore, you need to thoroughly comprehend the passage to be able to correctly answer the questions. You will have to ‘infer’ the answers because they won’t be directly available in the passage. You are required to read between the lines, to understand the hidden meaning of what the author is trying to convey. You need to be well versed with the nuances and the usage of English language. Get yourself acquainted with common phrases and idioms usually used in Reading Comprehension passages.
There is no substitute for reading as far as CAT Reading Comprehensions are concerned. To get totally comfortable and well versed with this section, you need to read as much as you can. And try to read passages online; on the internet. Reading articles regularly on the computer is a must.
CAT passages are generic in nature. Topics could range from politics and current affairs, science and technology, psychology, art and architecture, economics and business, social issues, etc. So you need to basically incorporate ‘variety’ in what you read. Moreover, understanding the author’s point of view is paramount. You need to also understand his style or ability. For instance, is he being critical, judgmental, sarcastic or prescriptive while discussing an issue or a place or person.
November 26th, 2009 — CAT, CAT Preparation
Mastering any ability or skill is no joke. It does not happen overnight. It has to be developed, worked upon and acquired through hard work, practice and persistence. A lot of applicants fail to understand this and they adopt the rote way of learning. This is certainly not the right way to crack Verbal Ability. The good news is that you can master this ability in 3 simple steps:
1) Practice vocabulary questions: Unlike comprehension passages, other CAT questions need to be dealt with differently. It makes sense to divide this section into other sub sections like sentence correction and pure grammar. Once you have it classified, stick to one sub type at a time and practice problem solving. Keep taking notes to refer to problem areas.
GMAT guides are very useful for solving questions. Not only do you learn a great deal from your mistakes, you also avoid committing those mistakes. A point to be noted is that the vocabulary section guarantees high returns with minimum time investment. Pay adequate attention to the vocabulary section because it makes all the difference between a great score and a good score. This could further impact your overall CAT score.
2) Reading non-fiction: Usually students like to read fiction. However, CAT passages are rarely fictional. For improving your reading speed and comprehension, you need to read those passages that are similar to the ones asked in previous CAT papers.
You need to develop a knack for comprehending non-fiction passages in CAT. Make sure you read a lot of non fiction. Cultivate that habit even if you prefer ficition to non fiction. Reading biographies, analyses and even opinions helps you develop your reading skills. Group studies and discussions are also very helpful.
3) Increasing your reading pace: Sometimes, those who are good at comprehension suffer when it comes to quickly reading the passage. You need to be able to read quickly to attempt CAT passages. It is highly recommended that you read similar passages in magazines and newspapers. This way you can increase your speed gradually. You need to strike a fine balance between ’speed’ and ‘comprehension’. This is where your managerial skills come into play and this is exactly what is tested by the examiners.
November 26th, 2009 — CAT, CAT Preparation
You don’t need to pick up textbooks replete with advanced engineering mathematics to solve Quantitative Aptitude in the computer-based CAT. The QA section in the CAT is nothing but the theory learnt in school up to Class XII. You need to focus on as many practice tests as you can. This is the most important focus area while preparing for QA in CBT-CAT. Every mock test should be taken as seriously as the actual CAT. Pace yourself and time yourself for every test that you take. For those who are in college, you can take tests immediately since you are familiar with concepts and theory. However, working professionals tend to fall out of touch with academics. So they need to brush up theorems and formulae to prepare for CBT-CAT.
You can begin with topic tests when you initially start to prepare yourself. Once you are confident, you can begin to attempt full-length QA tests. Make sure to analyse your performance after every test that you attempt. Mock tests are a great source of feedback mechanism. You can use practice tests to judiciously select questions. It is okay if you are particularly weak in one area but you will still be at a risk. Hence it makes sense to improvise your performance in every area so that you can answer every question effortlessly.
CBT-CAT Quantitative Aptitude can be classified into 3 categories:
Algebra and Number Theory- This section provides maximum questions in any CAT QA section- about 60%. You need to focus on Probability, Card problems, Permutations and Combinations, Progressions, Quadratic and Linear/Simultaneous equations, Logarithms, Functions, etc. The most important being Number Theory. These problems are simple in nature. You can master a few tricks from textbooks to solve them. You can refer to Higher Algebra by Hall and Knight for the same.
Geometry, coordinate geometry and mensuration- Every CAT paper has about 4 questions on mensuration, a few questions on coordinate geometry, but Geometry is given maximum weightage. The topics that you need to cover include basic theorems involving circles, triangles and parallel lines. A general question asked in CAT is to find the length of certain sides or the value of certain angles. So topics like similarity of triangles and congruency need to be covered. Refrain from solving IIT-JEE level questions in coordinate geometry. A school-level textbook is enough to prepare for mensuration.
Arithmetic and miscellaneous- For Arithmetic, you need to cover problems on Time, Speed and Distance and Set Theory. An NCERT textbook will serve the purpose. Miscellaneous problems don’t fall under any specific category. They basically test your mathematical aptitude.