Mock Analysis : Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension


  • Director, Verbal Ability | Elite's Grid


    A lot of people will tell you that Mocks are the single most constituent of your CAT Preps. I beg to differ. It’s not the act of taking mocks, the analysis is the most important part.I've always maintained that when it comes to VA, there are no set procedures. And I'd always encourage you to try different strategies and see which one works for you the best. I, or any mentor as of that matter, can only give you the tools, their employment is up to you. When it comes to the subjectivity, it’s not a surprising event if I were to give the same text or quote to 20 different people and everyone ends up interpreting it differently.What works for me might be disastrous for you, or it just might be what you were looking for.

    But a general recommendation regarding analysis is to divide the entire VA section, including RCs in four different sections, namely:

    1. Strengths
    2. Weaknesses
    3. Opportunities
    4. Threats

    Will be explaining these in just a minute. But before that, always know that there are two sort of statistics that you can obtain from every mock that you take, and these are:

    1. Data based on the timing, difficulty level, question type, accuracy etc.
    2. A detailed and analytical review of the various question types that you get on the mock.

    The first step in your analysis is to note the time that you spent per question. Was it too much, was it too fast or was it just perfect? Since a general rule of thumb is that we get 1.8 minutes, or 108 seconds per question in the actual CAT, anything that is double this time can be counted under “Too Slow” and anything less than two-thirds of this time can be classified as “Too Fast”. You need to be able to check whether you just marked an entire set because you felt you were running out of time, or if you spend a lot of time per question, more than it demanded. And you need to highlight this in your analysis, take a note of the questions that are consuming a major portion of your time, and analyse your problem or improvement areas accordingly.
    Problem areas are indicated by:

    Percentage questions that are correct constitute below 50%, especially if the overall difficulty level is low or average
    Average timing that is 30 seconds+ higher or lower than it should be (on average)
    A big discrepancy (more than 20-30 seconds) in average time for correct vs. incorrect answers of the same type

    Now, we can use this data to classify our answers in the four SWOT categories. A Strength can be a topic area with 85%+ overall accuracy, and where timing is within the specified time limits. An Opportunity can be a topic area where the overall accuracy is 50-85% plus the timing is within the specified limit or was just way too fast, or way too slow. A Weakness is describes as any topic area where the overall accuracy is below 50% and the tie taken for the same is either too low (too fast), or just around the time-limit. A Threat is any topic area where you consistently get less than 50% correct plus timing is way too slow. You are getting these wrong anyway, so you should wither take less time to get these wrong, so as to get others right, or you should just skip these altogether.

    A. STRENGTHS

    DO NOT SKIP THE ANALYSIS OF THESE QUESTIONS. Yes, you might be a God of PJs or any other area, but that isn’t a good enough reason to skip questions. Remember that Gods caused an Inundation. The Gods aren’t perfect. You still have lots of things to learn in these areas. First, did you get the question right for the right reasons? Or did you get a little bit (or a lot!) lucky? If you got lucky, then you just as easily could have gotten this question wrong, which means you need to move this question to another category. Okay, so you got it right and you knew what you were doing. Now you can move on, right? Not so fast. Did you do the problem in the best way that it could be done? Best = efficiency + effectiveness. Basically, did you do the problem as efficiently as you could while not sacrificing accuracy? Even when you get a problem right, the answer to this question is not always, “Yes!” Examine other ways to do the problem and figure out which way is the best for you. Further, how are you going to recognize a different future problem that tests the same thing, so that you can immediately replicate your “best way” approach? You need to figure that out as well; your overall goal is to recognize future problems (as opposed to having to figure everything out from scratch). Finally, if you had had to make a guess on this problem, how would you have done so? I know you didn’t need to ” you knew what you were doing. But maybe you’ll have a harder problem of this same type in future, so learn how to make an educated guess now, on a problem that you actually did understand.

    B. OPPORTUNITIES

    First, you need to figure out which weak areas here are actual weaknesses and which areas were merely consequences of other things happening on the test (eg, the question was highly rated). Why did you get this question wrong? Include why you thought the wrong answer was right (and make a note that this reason is not a good reason to use to pick an answer) and why you thought the right answer was wrong (and make another note that this reason is not a good reason to use to eliminate an answer). Finally, something in this category may indicate a fundamental weakness. Prioritize your effort to learn this material based upon your answer and, as needed, return to the relevant sections of your books. You need to know whether these were really weaknesses or were you just going too fast The only acceptable reason to get a problem wrong too quickly: you decided this problem was way too hard for you, so you made an educated guess and moved on. If you sped up because you thought it was easy, then made a careless mistake, your first instinct in future should be to take your time. Don’t sacrifice a correct answer just to save 30 seconds. Alternatively, if you sped up because you thought or knew that you were behind on time, then you need to fix your timing problems elsewhere in the section. If this is the case, try to decide whether this problem is something you should be able to do in the expected time-frame or whether you still need some review and practice in this area. Check other problems of the same type on this test or previous tests to make this assessment.

    C. WEAKNESSES

    These are still weaknesses even though you got it right! These questions are costing you points elsewhere on the test – maybe more points than you’re gaining on this problem. Figure out why the timing is higher and how you can do these more efficiently. If the timing is just a little bit too high, that may be okay . Perhaps the problem is extra hard and long. If you’re consistently going long, however, then perhaps you don’t know the best way to solve the problem, in which case: (a) figure out the best solution, or (b) the best way to recognize that this problem requires a certain set of steps, or (c) both. As with your strengths, don’t forget to make sure that you really did know what you were doing on the ones you got right; if not, then move questions from this category to threats.

    D. THREATS

    These are the biggest weaknesses, obviously. Get them wrong faster. Seriously – you’re getting them wrong anyway, so start by just taking less time to get them wrong! That will improve your performance on all those other ones on which you’re currently rushing and making careless mistakes! What is slowing you down? Figure that out and it will tell you what to do next. You may need to review the material from your books, or do more practice with problems of this type, or find more efficient ways to solve, or learn better how to recognize questions of this type, or be more quick to make an educated guess… whatever that is, do what you need to do to get better. (At the same time, evaluate the frequency with which the particular material in question is tested; set higher priorities on the things that are more frequently tested.) Or you can just skip the questions that fall within this category. Your time is better utilized elsewhere, especially if you think you have started your preps a bit late. Know the category, and avoid it like a plague.

    Now, the question pops up. How to actually go with the analysis. A very simple answer is to read and take the entire mock again, without any time limit and then analyse whether it makes an impact on the mock score. That’s all for the Analysis part, really.


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