Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cracking the CAT

Cracking the CAT

Well I don’t really know when can this phrase be applied- Cracking the CAT? When a person gets a call from IIMs or for doing well in general? And if the later, than how well? Actually I received an email from a relative who congratulated me for “Cracking the CAT”! I did manage to get around 96 percentile in CAT this year,........
 by learning from my previous performance which was quite pathetic.

Actually I feel that it all depends on the kind of paper, its pattern etc. Like for me, English has always been my favourite right from kindergarten I would think! And I always depended on it for that lead ahead of others even in school. Similarly in CAT, all those mock tests that I gave previous year, English would always be my forte. My usual pattern would be that the number of questions I would attempt in Maths and DI combined would be equal to the number I attempted in English and I would be confident of most of my attempts in English. If this happened, I would know I have done quite well. Last year that was the problem, English was tough and so my main run machine was rendered ineffective. And this year it again fell in place. I attempted 45 overall out of 75 (compared to last year’s 23!) with 20 attempts in English itself . And I was confident of most of my answers in English and as expected, I got good marks in it at 99.66 percentile with 45 marks out of the total 90 I got! Which means that out of the 2.7 lac students who attempted the CAT, the highest marks that anyone scored in the English section was 45.15! Which means I missed out being the highest in English section by just 0.15 marks!

I do feel though that a lot of unnecessary hype is created around something that is quite popular or famous. People try and find things when they don’t exist. Like for famous people too, people are always guessing the motive behind their every statement and act which I feel is mostly creating something out of nothing. For CAT too, people are always trying to figure out what would be the surprise this year. With all kinds of analysis of the past papers, trying to find out a pattern of some sort, and even the statement that – “CAT not springing any surprise might be the biggest surprise” has become a cliché too. Now even if there is no surprise in the CAT paper, that too becomes a surprise! What a surprising thing! It means whatever it does, that will be a surprise. I would like to know the thinking of the people who set the CAT paper. All these things must be falling on their ears too. I even think they might be laughing inside seeing and hearing so much being made out of it when all they want is to set a paper and I don’t really think they set the paper always with- ‘giving a surprise’ in mind. Keeping their requirement in mind, they would be proceeding.

CAT is surely a really big phenomenon, termed as one of the toughest competitive exams all over the world. Throughout the year all coaching classes, which I don’t think are necessary for everyone, coming up with some innovative idea for an ad, and giving the figures of the number of students of their coaching class that have got IIM calls and not to mention as CAT gets closer, the kind of attention it gets from everywhere. Even in the television, news channels continuously talking about it, bringing in experts and students asking questions (don’t know what they will get out of it asking at the last moments!?) and ironically the experts telling- "Don’t do anything different at this stage now and go with what you have done! "

Seriously I would recommend everyone not to listen to or read to anything related to CAT, much as Cricketers are advised not to read the articles about Cricket during the Match so it goes for all fields as well. It only puts unnecessary pressure, with some articles saying it is a battle or a war and you have to be on the offensive right from the start, others telling you to relax and give it coolly as just a mock-test.
Tell you what; no one knows it better than you yourself as to what is best for you. Just listen to yourself.
Well, going by my way, I don’t know if I can recommend it, after the CAT last year, I did not prepare for CAT again for the whole year, neither read or saw anything in news or news papers related to CAT and looking at me it would be difficult for anyone to say up to the day of CAT whether I am going to give it or not!

I am pleased with my performance but it also made me realize how great is the difference between 96 and 99 or 100 percentile. Maybe it is not so great either but it definitely requires a little extra of everything to get just that much ahead.
And this goes on every year, lakhs of aspirants come and many go disappointed, a few get success but this phenomenon is going to continue for a long time for sure.
So I don’t know if I cracked the CAT (Don’t know why they say so!?) or ‘belled the CAT’ but I think having had a crack at it, if not completely then at least I managed a small crack!
Fact - The Common Admission Test (CAT) of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore, Kozhikode, Lucknow, and Shillong is going to be a Computer Based Test (CBT) from this year onwards. (2009)
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