[CAT] The Mock That Didn’t Go Well

[MUST READ FOR ALL CAT ASPIRANTS. THEY WILL BE FACING SIMILAR SITUATION IN ONE OR THE OTHER MOCKS, AND KNOWING THIS MIGHT HELP YOU SURVIVE THE PRESSURE IN A BETTER WAY.]

The higher the flight in the sky is, the worst the fall will be.

After starting the test series on a high note, I was able to score well for first few mocks. The days were good, and the preparation was going smooth. The dream of getting through was becoming more and more achievable with each good mock that I was giving. The confidence was at its peak. All my strategies in mocks were providing good results. Consistency was the key and I was sensing that consistency in my results.

Then this online mock exam came. It was the fourth online mock that I was giving. It had two sections with sectional timings. First section was Quant + DI and the second section was Verbal + Reasoning. This was the format of 2013 CAT. Each section lasted for 70 minutes each and each had 30 questions in total.

It started and as usual I had the simplest strategy in mind. Sail through quantitative aptitude, then do DI and conserve energy for the next section.

The confidence was there as always. But in this mock, I was experiencing something odd. 10 minutes into mock, I had solved 2 questions. It was all okay. Seemingly, the over-confidence was building up. I stood up to drink water. (The thing which I could have done before the start. But I was so confident that 1 or 2 minutes here and there won’t make a big difference.)

I returned and the timer read: 55 minutes left. 15 minutes and I had solved 2 questions. Okay. Not a big issue. I knew that I would cover up in the later stage. Pressed Next. Since the questions come in randomized order, the next set (three questions on the same charts) were of DI.

(I always followed the strategy of solving quantitative aptitude first and then only jump into DI sets. But today was different. I chose to go sequentially and solve all questions that came on the way.)

The set was nearly unbreakable. Usually, the CAT has one such set which makes you waste your time and still you won’t be able to solve. I took 10 minutes and wasn’t able to solve even a single question. On all other days, I would have switched to other questions had I not been able to solve in certain time. But today was different. I gave five more minutes and then gave up on the set. 30 minutes into the section and I had marked only two answers. I was sweating badly. My hands started shivering. (This is what I do when I am in tense situation.)

Nothing was working according to plan nor I was even trying to follow the plan. The face expressions had turned blank. 38 minutes remaining. I know that this was the real test. Let me not lose the battle on the half point. It might be the case that the whole section was tough to crack. I took 3 more minutes and traversed through all the questions to see how difficult all those questions looked. It looked tough at the first sight. I flagged a few questions that looked easy and planned to focus on those for next 20 minutes.

I had solved 10 questions in total when the clock read 15 minutes remaining. I was panicking. The hands were shivering badly. I knew that this time I would not even be in top 100 students. In next 15 minutes, I again jumped into another DI set. (The experience of past mocks suggested that only one of the three DI sets use to be tough. So I chose to score 3–3 questions more in last 15 minutes.)

But today was different. Nothing was going right. That set too was tough to crack and I wasted another 10 minutes without scoring any. (Imagine you are giving CAT, you have 5 minutes remaining in the section which is your strength, and you have solved only 10 out of 30 questions… I was feeling that same thing.)

Luckily the last DI set was easy and I ended the section with 13 attempts out of 30 questions.

The second section started. First three questions were from reading comprehension. I started reading it. But was I actually reading? My mind was consumed with the first section only. I still was thinking how badly I had performed and how low my percentiles would go.

I was unable to focus on this section. I kept switching from verbal and reasoning again and again as none of the questions were getting solved due to lack of focus. Since I had attempted only 13 in first section, I wanted to attempt as many as possible in this section (to raise the total score). Thus, in the questions where I wasn’t in full focus and had confusion between more than one options, I still was selecting to mark the answer.

Verbal aptitude was my weakness and I surely knew it. I was betting to improve the total score through the section in which I was unable to clear sectional cutoff. I kept on attempting all questions and finished the section with 28 attempts.

The time was over and the interface generated the final score. I scored over 99 percentile in section 1 (in which I had attempted only 13), and scored below 65 percentile in section 2. (in which I had attempted 28).

The reasons were simple.

  • Section 1 was too tough and one could score 99+ percentile by getting 10 questions correct.
  • Section 2 was moderate. With enough attention and attempts around 20, one could have cleared sectional cutoffs.
  • Those less attempts in section 1 did affect my focus in the next section. I couldn’t get out of the worry of that. I messed the whole mock exam just because of my presumptions about all mocks being the same and more attempts meant good percentiles.
  • All that mock tested was your control over your mind. Your composure and stability. I lacked both.

The score was bad, but compared to all the mocks, this taught me the most. It is correct when they say that failure teaches you the most. I learnt these lessons hard way, but I hope that knowing my experience will help you all prevent similar situation from occurring.

Thank you.

-Arjuna@War (Parth Shah)

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