Spend time on planning to score more

New Delhi: Time spent on planning is time never wasted.

Talking on the CNN-IBN special show Bell the CAT, M M Anand, Professor of Marketing and Business Communication Skills in International Management Institute, New Delhi, shares tips and answers last-minute queries for CAT candidates. He asks candidates to plan well to gain from their strong points.

Is CAT the most important and most difficult test?

Ans: I think more than two lakh people appear for the test. From this year onwards, they have put a minimum eligibility criteria, which was not there earlier.

What will be the pattern in this year’s CAT? (Sourabh Grover from Faridabad)

Ans: This is the one question which is on top of everybody’s mind. First thing is they must expect the unexpected. Because neither the GMAT nor the CAT ever announces what the pattern would be.

But one thing that is happening consistently is that the number of questions have been going down from 150 to 120 to 90. So, what is the one thing that students need to focus on?

Ans: Don’t try to guess the number of questions. If the number is less, the level of difficulty will be high and vice versa. Last time, we had 90 questions and that was the most difficult paper. I have with me the score of one student. He had 99.96 percentile and yet he did not make it to any of the IIMs for the simple reason – he is an engineer and he was complacent.

It is obvious that there is tremendous boon in Mass Communication and Media Industry – the sectors include films and TV, print and radio. I wish to pursue a management course in films and TV segment. Could you tell me about the management programmes related to films and TV and what are the institutes in top 25? (Ramanathan Tyagarajan from Chennai)

Ans: One is the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, which should be ideal for you. Then you have School of Convergence, which offers specialised courses on media. And you have all other institutes like Hamdard and Jamia Milia, which offers specialised courses.

Whoever sits for CAT doesn’t want to take any chance and also apply for other institutes. But the syllabus is not always same. While some people focuses more on General Knowledge (GK), some people focuses on Quantitative Aptitude (Quant). So which will be the one strategy that one needs to be followed?

Ans: Different institutes will have different criteria. For example, Faculty of Management Studies (Delhi University) tests them in terms of general sense to the environment. CAT doesn’t have that focus at all. So, it will differ from institute to institute. Those who are specialising in media, they need not be very good at Quantitative Aptitude at all.

There are three to four days left for preparation. So, what exactly should be the strategy for Quants? Next thing is that during my practice tests, I often score about 26-27 in English, but every time I left the grammar. Should I continue with this strategy in actual CAT, or should I have a look at grammar and, if possible, I should attempt it too? (Debashish from Nashik)

Ans: First think, you must remember that the time spent on planning is time never wasted. The main objective is to test your capabilities under stress. Take about one or two minutes, go through the entire paper and then try to plan your strategy. You can plan your best performance or strongest point first — be it Quantitative or Comprehensive. But don’t leave Comprehensive for the end, because under stress, you won’t be able to do well in the Comprehensive test. So it should be in between.

He was also talking about not doing very good at grammar. But what I understand is that you have to get certain cut-off score in every segment. Do you need to do equally well in sub-sections also? For example in English, there are grammar and Comprehension. Do you need to do equally well in all of them?

Ans: Most institutes will have cutoff points section-wise. You must have 50 percentile marks on each section. I gave the example of a student, who had got 99.96 percentile, but his Quantitative Aptitude score was about 36 percentile. If he would have done one more question or two more questions, he would have made it. And let me tell this candidate that 12 correct answers can get through 99 percentile.

How can I improve my score in English? I am preparing for CAT 2007. How can I improve my scoring in reading, Comprehension and verbal ability? (Hardik Juner from Ludhiana)

Ans: For 2007, try to read as much as possible. Because nothing can be helpful than reading fictions and that will help you improve your language. It cannot be done is short run in any case.