Come July/August and you shall be tormented by a shower of Mock Tests leading up to the CAT and other Entrance tests. Annoyingly, Sunday-to-Sunday, the seemingly painful experience of wasting Sunday mornings just never ends. From here on, (till Jan, where the season thankfully succumbs to an end) each Sunday will pose as a test of your early-rising and reaching-on-time skills. And of course, your… err… aptitude, presence of mind and other such ‘secondary’ skills.
Now, if you are not amongst the 90% sane junta (who use Math skills only to calculate the amount of time, money, sleep wasted in these Mocks/Entrance Tests and then apply Reasoning skills only to reason out that Sunday morning slumber is far more important) AND if you are determined to join a fancied B-skool the next year – which may be the case if you are stuck up with a boring job or worse (God forbid) if you are jobless – then thankfully, you have crossed the first ‘Hurdle’. Taking up mocks, that too on Sunday mornings, with all seriousness and preparations is of unquestionable importance. More important is to take them with the right kind of attitude and mindset.
You will, of course, be burdened with a plethora of DOs and DONTs by various coaching classes and forums regarding your mocks. I shall burden you with a few additional ones…
Are you done with basics?
Pls Pls ensure that you are done with all your basic fundae etc before the mocks. Obviously, whether you have successfully implemented this diktat will be evident only when the mocks start. But all basic material should be done with, formulae sheets should be prepared, basic word-list (for those who require to) should be referred. You should be able to solve most basic quant questions in the mind itself. Short tests, sectional tests, etc should have been at least started, if not finished.
Use previous years’ papers extensively:
You guys would obviously know this. Thumb rule. Most important to see the kind of questions each Entrance Test characterizes. Only those kinds of questions should be hashed and rehashed in your mocks. Coaching classes often shoot unnecessary variety in question types (Eg synonyms, antonyms in mock CATs make no sense – evidently the CAT cares a damn for your word-power. Such questions would make sense in a mock SNAP, FMS etc) You realize all this only by solving past papers.
Are you taking the mocks at ONE coaching institute?
This could be a big mistake. Always try to obtain a few mocks of other institutes and take them periodically. Most institutes also come up with Free Mocks in between. Use such opportunities to try out diff institutes’ mocks. It is very imp. to test yourself in mock tests with different flairs. For eg. I had joined a test series of a particular class. However, I noticed that each time the VA section was relatively simple and I could score well. On testing myself with other mocks, I found out that I wasn’t just good enough. But my ego rubbished this fact and I conveniently assumed that other institutes shelled out unnecessarily tough passages and reasoning questions. Incidentally, after a disastrous VA score in the CAT, with Quant\DI scores of 99+ percentile, and obviously my damned ego was nowhere to be found. It returned only after my 99.7 percentile score in VA in the following XAT (which means others fared horribly that day).
Analyzing your mock performances:
Ahh… Here’s one aspect which is truly easier said than done. And something which cannot be taught to you. You HAVE TO learn analyzing your mocks on your own, in your own style. Else you can join the 90% junta that I mentioned above.
The first 1-2 mocks will, more often than not, be a dud. Don’t worry mates, you are just natural. Barring a few people, who may have attempted CAT etc in the previous years OR who are by definition – ‘Exceptional’; not many do well in the first few tests. (In case you do, pls don’t jump around, there is also something called Beginner’s Luck.)
The only pointers I can add here:
Pls don’t follow rankings and percentiles in your institute’s Mock Tests very religiously. They can be misleading. High rankings in mocks do not guarantee you the same in the actual test. Again, low rankings do not mean the same will happen on D-Day. Just have targets for each mock in terms of scores, no. of attempts etc. Try and get better mock-by-mock. Aim to clear the projected cut-offs of each mock comfortably. Use mocks to compare yourself with your OWN past performances, rather than comparing with others. Yeah, you should try to figure somewhere in the top percentiles/ranks and not bother about it much then.
Pls analyse every mock right after you have given it. You save the analysis for later; you might as well save it for after the CAT itself (or whichever exam you are targeting). By hook or by crook, you got to finish the analysis that very day itself, when the memories of your 2-2.5 hour struggle are fresh. You shall then pinch yourself, curse yourself for your mistakes and (hopefully) put your mind on it the whole week.
Often, you may find that you are always lagging behind the cut-offs in one section and clearing the others comfortably. Work hard to change this. Again, often, this one nagging section is Quant. You have to analyze your problems on your own. Hound yourself to find out what is wrong. Is it because of your not-so-clear basics? Slow speed? Accuracy? Silly mistakes? You may realize that not one, but all of these are your problems, which means you have to work harder and smarter. You may find that you face none of these problems, which means you are not good a good analyst at all and you need to refurbish your analytical abilities.
I am sure you shall find a lot of other detailed pointers on ‘How to analyze your mocks’. Use them if they suit. Dispose them if they don’t. You have to do it in your own style. Strategies to be followed during the Test etc cannot be dictated by someone else. (Coaching classes will also preach the same, but so that you wont blame them in case their strategy fails miserably…).
There is really no point trying TOO hard in each mock. You have to take each mock as it comes with reasonably improving targets in mind. You know most things and you obviously have reasonable logic between your ears. Just APPLY, SUPPLY and get the REPLY!!
Hope you figure among the 10 % insane bunch… ALL THE BEST!