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If your mock results are not reflecting your preparation efforts

Deepak Mehta is a man out of time. He wanted to be born a few decades earlier, before the advent of the computer, when times were simpler and people were more content. Unfortunately, he wasn't. So, to compete in today's time, he has equipped himself with 2 degrees - one each from BITS Pilani and IIM Ahmedabad. He cracked CAT with a 100 percentile score. In his spare time, he likes to write on random website on random topics and for random people.


I hope that all I am going to write is taken in a positive sense and not seen as obnoxious or condescending. I can understand that it must be really hard on you to see that the results did not reflect the amount of hard work you have put into it. But let us just brush aside the past and start preparing for the future. And the best way to do it would be to analyze the past and see what things went (or could have possibly gone) wrong.

A lower score in the Verbal Ability section does not necessarily imply that your English is poor. While you can improve in sentence construction, proper usage of grammar etc, that is not very relevant to the CAT examination. A major portion of the Verbal section is Reading Comprehension (RC) which involves analytic skills more than dictionary-knowledge. The only trick to steer through RC is constant practice. Only when you have read the text carefully and understood what  the author is trying to say, will you be able to answer the questions correctly. This means a lot of practice as there will be topics you will find dry/boring. And when you are bored while reading, you just read, you don't understand. So make yourself love every topic that can come- Politics, History, Law, Science, Philosophy etc. Do not leave the topic, however, unbearable it might be.

The mocks, while being a very good approximation, are not exactly like the actual examination. My highest score in mocks was 99.89 with the second highest being 99.5 (I gave around 20 mock tests). So, do not compare the two and be disappointed. The latter mocks are more difficult as the people giving them progressively become more serious. And your percentile is a function of others' performance as well. But at the same time, the disparity between your mock results and the actual one is too much. It most probably means that either something went wrong on the final day or you were really unlucky.

Are you taking rest properly ?

Trust me, this is very important. Get a good night's sleep, make sure that there is nothing bothering you during or before the exam.

How many hours did you put each day into the preparation?

You should not be just satisfied with your average mock scores. Strive for better results. Why not 95%ile? What's stopping you from getting 99%ile? What is so impossible about achieving 99.5%ile?

Did you review what went wrong after every mock test? Do that. It gives you a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses. You might be absolutely sure that your answer/approach to a particular type of question is right. But it might not be. What happens then? You keep on repeating the same mistake again and again. I reiterate, CHECK YOUR ANSWERS AFTER EVERY MOCK TEST AND FIGURE OUT WHAT WENT WRONG AND WHY.

Lastly, luck also plays an important role. After all, you are judging a person's years worth of preparation with just 60 questions. Not fair! A person might cover only 50% of the syllabus and luckily get 50+ questions from that portion. Another might cover 90% of the syllabus and still get only 30 questions from that portion. NOT FAIR! So what do we do ? Simple, do not leave any scope for luck. (That might sound absurd and haughty, but that is the only way. I am not saying I completed everything. But I did cover almost all of it and was also lucky)

Complete everything. (All the booklets given by your coaching)

Some section-wise preparation tips:

Quant: Quant is divided into topics and each topic contains a plethora of questions that can be classified into one or the other categories. So basically every topic will have say 5 types of questions and hence, 5 different approaches to solve them. If you get any question, you can classify it into one of the 5 sections and then proceed to solve it in an efficient manner. I am not saying, you can't solve it any other way, but that would be plain time-consuming.

Logic: Again, there are some basic types of questions. If you have practiced enough, you will be able to solve the question in a very short amount of time. (E.g. there are 4 guys- A, B, C and D. They own 4 cars- red, blue, green, black. They have 4 jobs- scientist, engineer, doctor, lawyer. They come from different countries- India, US, Australia, Israel. The smoke 4 brands of cigarettes- Marlboro, Camel, Classic, Winston. Then there will be extra information given- For example, the guy from India owns a red car and does not smoke Camel, and so on.This question can be solved by anyone, but someone doing it for the 1st time will need a lot of time)

Reading Comprehension: Practice, practice and only practice.

Verbal ability: Do read Word Power Made Easy- Norman and Lewis (basic) and All About Words (Nurnberg and Rosenblum) (in the same order). Also, read business papers, magazines and well-written novels to enhance your verbal ability and also increase your reading speed. I hope this helps.

God bless!
And don't despair.
"The worst thing that can happen is you fail. Big deal! Get up and try again."