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Test taking techniques

MBA Entrance tests are unique in the sense that the attributes required to clear it are more than meet the eye. Not only is knowledge important, a capacity to stay cool under time constraint is also required. Intelligence is no doubt crucial but a knack for basic common sense plays an equally important role.

Here we explain these factors and their role in a successful attempt at the MBA Entrance examinations.

A few words about time management

In a superfast test like the CAT, you have got to manage your time most effectively. Past experience suggests that many intelligent and sharp people goof up in the test just because of improper time management (or mismanagement). Although each person has his/her strong/weak areas and tries to attempt the paper as per his/her strengths/weaknesses, still, if possible, you should follow the following points to exploit your potential to the fullest.

Test taking techniques

  • The English Usage section generally takes (or should take) the least time in any particular test, so attempt this section first. In the CAT, you should be able to complete this section / questions from this section (if there is no separate section) in the first 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Data Sufficiency questions (8-10) also take less time compared to other Maths/DI questions. Hence these should be attempted before other Maths and DI questions.
  • The Reading Comprehension section should not be attempted last and preferably not even first. The ideal sequencing would be to place RC (to be attempted) just after EU.
  • Generally it is seen that if you keep on hopping from one section to another, you don't gain anything but only lose. Hence don't hop between sections.
  • Always scan the test paper first in 30-40 seconds and then start with any section.
  • Never overskip time limits set by you for individual sections. Take this point very seriously because if you don't score at least the cutoff marks in all the sections, it does not matter how high your total score may be, unless you score the cutoff in each section it is meaningless.
  • Within a section always solve the easiest questions (or at least those which you think are the easiest) first. Never ever spend disproportionately large amount of time on any one question.
  • Neglect the elements of surprise/tough questions in the beginning. The examiners tend to give you the toughest questions in the beginning or the end of a section to frustrate you. Always look for questions which are easiest.
  • Unless you have an extraordinary knack of solving reasoning/puzzle type questions, solve them after other easy questions.In DI always try to approximate. Read footnotes and headings very cautiously.
  • Develop a very strong vocabulary. It is quintessential for success in any exam. You can always solve vocabulary questions very fast and steal a march upon all other competitors who lack a strong vocabulary.
  • In RC generally one passage out of 5 or 6 or 7 is very obscure. Attempt that passage in the end (or leave it outright).
  • Develop the art of eliminating wrong answer choices by approximation/intelligent guesses.
  • Be very fast at mental calculations.
  • Reading Comprehension section requires on your part a thorough concentration and hence should not be attempted in the beginning when the invigilator disturbs you to sign a few papers or some problem may occur etc. If you have already attempted one section (EU) already, you are so deeply engrossed in the paper that you just don't find any chance of losing concentration.
  • Remember, all these exams demand on your part to strike a very mature balance between speed and accuracy. If you try to go exceptionally fast, you will commit not only mistakes but blunders and if you are too cautions about your accuracy, you may just fail to reach the desired cutoff.
  • The RC passages in all these exams are from greatly diverse fields and hence you're expected to be a Voracious Reader for clearing all these tests.
  • Finally, the oft-repeated advice - read the directions VERY carefully. Otherwise be ready to lose a lot of marks.

Caution:The tips given above are of general nature. Minor variations are always possible depending on the person. Hence, take the advice with a pinch of salt.

  • Take a good night's sleep before going for the actual test. Take this point very seriously.
  • Don't study anything just prior to your exam. Keep the mind light and fresh.
  • The IIT - Schools of Management (B, D, Kgp, M, K) & IISc - Bangalore
  • Don't forget to take your Admit Card, HB pencils, watch, sharpener, eraser and the other absolutely essential prerequisites.
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