How to review mock CATs

Everyone tells you that the value in taking mock CATs lies in analyzing them, and not just in mechanically taking them. How exactly does one analyze a mock CAT? Here is a simple guide
Check your percentile.
The starting point for any mock analysis is the percentile. Not because it is very relevant, but because it is impossible to ignore. So, go ahead, knock yourself out. Check the section-wise percentiles, stare long and hard at the numbers, extrapolate the percentiles from the last 3 mocks and see where they are going, imagine how high your overall percentile would be if only you could produce your best section performances in the same mock, give in to curiosity, triumphalism and envy by figuring out others’ percentiles.Do all this to get the damn thing out of the system. Now, ignore it and focus on something that can actually be useful. There are three parts to this –

1. Mocks have the best questions, learn how to solve all of these
Mocks are often seen merely as a tool for assessment and bench-marking rather than as a tool for learning. Mock CATs usually have the best questions, the ones that have an elaborate 6-minute solution while also having the elegant 1-minute solution. So, make it a habit to review the questions that have gone wrong, questions that you have skipped and then the ones that you got right as well. Very often, students ignore the ones they have gotten correct. If all your attempts were through the best approaches, chances are you would have attempted 5 more in each section. There is a learning angle to every mock CAT. Do not ignore this. As this article says, the mock CATs have quite a few Now-you-know questions.

This is why it is very important to pick a mock CAT provider who focuses on providing detailed solutions and helps with the thought process. In other words, have a look at the 2IIM mocks before you go looking elsewhere. 🙂

2. Which 3 get kicked out, which ones get in?
After every mock, do a simple exercise to improve decision-making. Select at least three attempts from each section that you should have skipped, and replace these with three you should have attempted. In your first few mocks, you might even be able to select 5-6 questions in each section. The big gains in mocks come from improved decision-making; and you have to take a conscious effort to improve this. If you can reach your point where you cannot find more than 1 question in each section that you had incorrectly chosen to attempt, you can count yourself ready for the exam.

3. Topic-wise and timing-wise analysis
You should ask yourself a few questions similar to the ones given below –
How good is the hit-rate in Sentence Rearrangament? Was it worth doing the DI even after taking 15 minutes, did I at least get all 4 correct? Should I completely skip Sentence Elimination questions from now on? Did I get a Permutation Combination question wrong again? Should I completely dump this topic?

On the timing front, figure out when the fatigue errors creep in. All of us find that there are 2-3 questions where we cannot really fathom why we marked that stupid wrong choice in the first place. This is essentially down to fatigue. There is a spell of 15-20 minutes where not much gets done and errors creep in. Locate this spell, see when it usually happens and reduce it methodically.

On the timing front, it is important to know which type of question gets you the best marks/minute. You might easily attempt 3 RC passages accounting for 12 questions within 30 minutes. But if you get 6 of these wrong, that is effectively same as attempting only one RC and getting all questions correctly. Four correct answers in 30 minutes is a very poor return.

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