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How to attempt CAT on D-Day

Sectional Time Management Tips for CAT 2021: During Exam

While the sectional time limit sounds like a limitation, it is actually a boon in disguise for all MBA aspirants. Below, we have decided how to handle the challenge of the time limit that you face while appearing for the CAT 2021.

Step 0: Start with your Comfortable Areas

How to attempt CAT on D-Day

  • The thumb rule of attempting any exam is to start with comfortable questions as it is expected to be less time-consuming. CAT 2020 Topper, Abhilasha Balakrishnan says, "From my CAT mock test preparation, I already knew one thing that is, the one thing that puts me off is the timer. I always start getting worried whenever I see a timer. So I made it a point that I will never see a timer unless only a few minutes are left. That really helped me to keep calm. Since one of my strong sections was VARC, the first section was pretty good so I had the confidence that I can scale through with the exam."

Step 1: Practice the Art of Leaving


  • Vishesh Garg, another CAT 2020 topper who scored 99.99 percentile. He states that “In QA, I usually divide the paper into three levels based on difficulty, so I give like 1-1.5 minutes to easy question, 2-2.5 minutes to medium difficulty and remaining time to tough ones depending on how many I am able to solve.” Yes, you read it right. Practicing the art of leaving questions is how you will survive on the CAT exam day. It is one of the most important tricks you should have up your sleeve to crack CAT. 
  •  It must be noted that just to give as many answers as attempting the doubtful questions will lead to negative marking thereby lowering your entire scoring. Be sensible and quick enough to recognize the difficulty level of the questions that come at you and accordingly invest time on them as and when required or simply skip them.

You have to let go of the rotten eggs so you go to the golden ones which are easy to crack.

Difficulty level

Attempting a maximum number of questions in an exam is not the only way to gain accuracy. The difficulty level of the question paper is measured by the number of questions attempted by the candidates. In case you feel that the difficulty level of the paper is high, in that case, you must:

  • Read the question paper carefully and assess each section.
  • Identify the level of difficulty for each section.
  • Always begin with the easier section to manage time efficiently.
  • Make sure you don't make a wild guess as it may lead to negative marking.

Step 2: Don’t Spend Much Time on One Question


How to attempt CAT on D-Day

  • Keep a maximum of two to three minutes for a question. If you are not able to figure out the way to solve it, move ahead to the next question. 
  • Considering the paucity of time, with each section in the CAT exam given 40 minutes as per last year's CAT exam pattern, spending it pondering on one question can prove to be lethal. Thus, spend a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes on one question. If you are still unable to recollect, go to the next question.

Step 3: Attempt each CAT Section in Three Rounds


  • While juggling between sections is not allowed in CAT 2021, yet the possibility of candidates switching between questions within a section also can lower their chances of scoring. Hereby dividing each section into three rounds will help ease the process.
  • First Phase – Solve questions that you find extremely easy and are completely sure about.
  • Second Phase – Opt for questions that you feel you can give a try
  • Third Phase – Go for questions that are time-consuming and would require more head pondering.

Step 4: Save Time for Revision


How to attempt CAT on D-Day

  • Revision is equally important for ensuring a good percentile. After the completion of the test, revise the answers to ensure that there are no mistakes. Allot at least 10 minutes at the end of the test for the revision of each section. 

Step 5: Go Back to the Marked Question in the Buffer Time


  • Mark the time-consuming questions for review and revisit them once you complete the section. After a thorough revision, try and solve those questions. “In the first step, I solved all the questions which I could do at one go till the end. In the second step, I attempted those questions which I thought I would be able to do after giving it a try. After attempting all such questions, if there was some time left, I attempted those which I thought were the hardest for me,” mentions CAT topper Shubrajyoti Saha of IIM Shillong.

How will Sectional Time Management for CAT 2021 be advantageous?

As per experts, dividing the exam into sections limits candidates from spending much time switching between them. As they are supposed to attempt one section at a time, it also gradually increases the chances of gaining higher sectional scores. Moreover, taking a buffer time of approximately 10 minutes for each section also aids in saving more time at their disposal and completing the exam beforehand. The advantages that applicants can have with this pattern of the CAT 2021 exam that has been a constant over the last couple of years are:

  • Complete focus on a particular section for a stipulated period of time
  • Not worrying about complex mathematical formulae while solving a reading comprehension - one after the other
  • The flexibility of dedicating a shorter time span to sections that you are less confident about

How to manage time on the day of CAT 2021: General Tips

Right after entering the examination hall, the count-down begins, aspirants taking CAT have only two hours to complete all the questions. It is necessary to manage 120 minutes accordingly. The most important thing is to keep calm and not let the anxiety take over. Here are some suggestions that one should follow on the day of the exam.

  • CAT has a sectional time limit, which means each section needs to be completed in 40 minutes. Due to the sectional time, limited candidates cannot switch to the other section. As per past years’ trends, the sequence is VARC, DILR and QA.
  • When one starts to solve questions from any section, they should take a look throughout the section and try to mark which one they will attempt first. Candidates can select such questions on the basis of their strength or interest level or the difficulty level of the section.
  • While taking questions to form the RC or DILR section always read passages or questions thoroughly. Through this candidates get an idea of what set or passages hold in it.
  • If in case, any particular question is taking more than your estimated time then it is better to skip such a question and solve it later if the sectional time limit permits.
  • While taking the DILR section, it may be hard to solve all the questions. Expert says, even a candidate is able to solve all the questions from the DILR section, still they solve any 2 questions per set and leave the rest for that moment and solve them later if they still have time left in hand for the DILR section.
  • Try to keep 2-3 minutes for revision. So, that one can take a look at all the attempted questions of a particular section.

How Toppers Managed Time on D-Day?

  • With a sectional time limit of 40 minutes for each section, it is a challenge to solve all the questions in a stipulated time period, wherein no balanced time from the previous section can be taken forward. Such was the challenge for toppers and thus succeeded by showcasing their management skills by planning a strategy to attempt questions from each section. 
  • Such was a topper Lakshay Kumar who says, “For Reading Comprehension, I made sure that I completed it in the first 40 minutes (skipping any difficult questions) and then gave 20 minutes for the Verbal ability section. For Reasoning, I gave the first 7-8 minutes reading and deciding the difficulty level of each question set and then the rest 52-53 minutes in attempting the sets with the easiest being attempted the first. For quants, the rule of them for me was to attempt in order of question paper but skip the question if within the first 30-40 seconds the approach does not strike your mind.”
  • Here is an interview of IIM-Calcutta alumni stating some strategies and facts about CAT.
    https://edurev.in/studytube/CAT-Toppers-from-IIM-share-their-CAT-preparation-s/fd2fcc11-26a9-438f-8547-1c384ff098d3_v

What to Carry at the CAT Exam Centre?

  • CAT exam related documents such as duly filled admit card, ID card
  • A simple transparent ballpoint pen
  • Additional photograph (For attendance sheet)
  • Personal hand sanitizer (50 ml)
  • Personal transparent water bottle

DOs and DON’Ts for Exam day

(i) List of Do's for CAT 2021 Exam Day

  • Carry Admit Card and Photo ID Proof
  • Self Declaration Form
  • Prior Visit To The Exam Centre of CAT 2021
  • Be On-Time
  • Check Seating Arrangements
  • Verification of Documents
  • Rough Work On Scratch Sheet
  • Obey The Invigilators
  • Use Washroom Beforehand
  • Submit Admit Card, Writing Pad

(ii) List of Don'ts for CAT 2021 Exam Day

  • Say Bye to Personal Belonging
  • Do Not Sign Admit Card Beforehand
  • No Unfair Practices
  • Seat Change Request
  • No Bio-Breaks
  • Do Not Peek Into Fellow Test Taker’s Screen
  • Do Not Apply Mehndi/Henna
  • Don’t Wear Restricted Items
  • Do Not Waste Rough Sheets
  • No Companion Allowed

Additional

Section-wise Time Management Tips for CAT 2021: Before Exam


Step 0: Divide your CAT preparation time depending on your strengths and weakness

How to attempt CAT on D-Day

  • Now that you are thorough with the syllabus, you must have been able to identify what are your strong and weak areas. This will enable you to understand how much time you require to complete the syllabus of each section. For a person who is from either a science background or from an engineering background, then in such a case he or she might have an edge in quantitative ability, data interpretation and logical reasoning. They might take less time to complete the syllabus compared to the verbal ability and reading comprehension section. Vice versa would be the case with the student who is from a humanities background.

Step 1: Set a Weekly and Daily routine

  • Candidates must divide their week by devoting two days to each section and one day they must keep revising all the three sections and whatever they studied during that week. Again on a daily basis, depending upon once grasping power, one should divide the hours in a day. Devote four hours to each section. Similarly, at the beginning of the week and the month, draw a plan stating what all you will cover and make sure that you meet those deadlines or else all the effort will be futile.

Step 2: Initially, start with the detailed and complex topics

How to attempt CAT on D-Day

  • In the starting of the preparation, one should focus on the detailed topics of each section because one needs more time to understand these topics. So, initially, one will have ample amount of time and would be able to allocate more time to understand the topics which they might find complex or detailed. Aspirants can get the advantage of the strategy two or three months before the CAT 2021 because then they will have to concentrate on the small and easy topics and would have to just brush up the detailed topics.

Step 3: Take mock tests and analyze your performance

How to attempt CAT on D-Day

  • Once the candidate has completed his or her syllabus and is confident about it, then they must start taking mock tests of CAT. Candidates can start taking mock tests for each section. It is when approximately three to four months are left for the exam, that the candidates should take the mock test as this will help them to know how well they have studied and which are the areas where they are lagging behind.
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FAQs on How to attempt CAT on D-Day

1. How will Sectional Time Management for CAT 2021 be advantageous?
Answer: Sectional time management for CAT 2021 will be advantageous because it allows you to allocate specific time periods for each section of the exam. This helps in ensuring that you give equal importance to all sections and do not spend too much time on one section at the cost of others. It also helps in maintaining a steady pace throughout the exam, reducing the chances of feeling rushed towards the end.
2. How to manage time on the day of CAT 2021: General Tips?
Answer: Here are some general tips to manage time on the day of CAT 2021: 1. Plan your time allocation for each section beforehand. 2. Start with the sections you are most comfortable with. 3. Practice time management during your mock tests to get a sense of your pacing. 4. Do not spend too much time on difficult questions; move on and come back to them later if time permits. 5. Keep track of time during the exam using a watch or the exam hall clock. 6. Avoid getting stuck on one question; if you are unsure, make an educated guess and move on. 7. Save some time for revising your answers towards the end.
3. How did the toppers manage time on CAT D-Day?
Answer: Toppers on CAT D-Day managed their time effectively by following a structured approach. They started with their strong sections to gain confidence and quickly solve questions. They also practiced the art of leaving difficult questions to save time and used their buffer time to revisit them later. Toppers allocated specific time slots for each section and adhered to their plan strictly. They avoided getting stuck on one question and made educated guesses to save time. Overall, they maintained a steady pace throughout the exam and utilized their time efficiently.
4. How to attempt CAT on D-Day?
Answer: Here are some tips on how to attempt CAT on D-Day: 1. Read and understand the instructions carefully before starting the exam. 2. Begin with the section you are most comfortable with to build confidence. 3. Skim through the entire section quickly to get an idea of the difficulty level of questions. 4. Allocate specific time slots for each section and stick to your plan. 5. Solve easy and moderate difficulty questions first to maximize your score. 6. If you come across a difficult question, mark it and move on. Revisit it later if time permits. 7. Manage your time well and avoid spending too much time on any one question. 8. Save some time towards the end for revising your answers and making any necessary changes.
5. What are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to CAT 2021 time management?
Answer: 1. How can I effectively manage my time during the CAT 2021 exam? 2. Is it advisable to attempt each section in three rounds during the CAT exam? 3. How can I save time for revision during the CAT exam? 4. Should I go back to the marked questions during the buffer time in the CAT exam? 5. What strategies do CAT toppers follow to manage their time effectively on the exam day?
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