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Retaking CAT Exam? 10 Strategies to Keep in Mind

Last Updated - October 05, 2017

CAT is one of the most sought after and the toughest management entrance exam in the country. Every year around 2 lakh candidates appear for CAT, and fight for the meager 4000 seats in IIMs.

The reasons for repeating CAT exam can be many. Most people retake exam because they did not get the desired CAT Score, some people performed well but did not get calls from the institute they wanted, or some got calls but could not clear CAT GD/PI.

Whatever the reason is, taking CAT means you are investing one more year into this exam and you must make sure that you do not let go the opportunity this time. Some of the key points you must remember while preparaing for CAT again are:-

  • Analzying what went wrong last year. Check out CAT 2017 Paper Analysis
  • Strengthen your basics and practising as many mock tests as you can.
  • Look out for more opportunities and try new CAT Preparation Strategies to score better in the current year. 
  • Focus on your weak points and converts them to your strengths.
  • Practise more, read more and stay stress free for better score. 

Analyze What Went Wrong Last Year

The first thing you need to do before starting your second version of CAT journey is to sit down and think why you could not clear CAT Cut off last year.

Ask yourself questions like – Didn’t I practice enough last year? Weren’t my basics clear? I performed well in mocks but ruined it all on the D-day? I performed well in two sections but messed up in the third section?

All these questions will help you identify the actual mistakes that you did last year. Note down all the mistakes and start working on them.


Don’t Forget to Do the Basics

It does not matter that you scored a good 95th percentile last time, an average 80th or a poor 45th; the fact is that you are taking CAT again and past scores do not matter now.

You have to clear all the basics first and then move to higher level. Now the time taken on doing basics may depend on your score last time. If you are someone who has scored a 90+ percentile last time, this means that your basics were good, so you may go through them quickly. But if you have scored less than 80th, then you need to do basics properly and just like a first timer.


Choose the Right Material

Candidates tend to go for solving tougher questions if they are repeating, so that they do not leave any loophole in their CAT preparation this time. But if you are focused towards tough questions only and not on easy and medium level questions, then this is the biggest loophole you are leaving. Remember that the basic rule of cracking CAT – which is to be good at basics and knowing how to smartly apply them. It does not change if you are repeating CAT.

Therefore, avoid any random material which you find irrelevant. Solve from only those sources which have the history of producing IIM Converts.


Convert Your Weaknesses into Strengths

When one prepares for CAT in a shorter period of time, it might happen that he/she may not get comfortable with some topics or just simply refrain from doing such topics.

If such things happened with you last time, then do not let them happen again. If algebra was your fear, then solve as much algebra questions as you can. If you were not comfortable with LR sets last time, then solve a lot of LR sets.

Repeating CAT is all about getting rid of the weaknesses, so if something was your weakness yesterday, make sure that becomes your strength tomorrow.


Cure the Sectional Imbalance

Many candidates fail to get a good score because they just ruined one of the sections, although they performed quite well in other two. If you are one of them, then you need to give a little extra time to that section in which you didn’t perform well. So if your sectional percentiles were 95-95-60; or 90-90-30, then you need to work extra hard on that one weakness of yours.

But if you were someone who scored and 80-80-80, or even below that, then you need to understand that the problem lies in your whole preparation strategy and not in any one of the section.


Target 50 Mocks This Time

If you have practiced even 6 or 7 mocks last time, then you would know that mocks are very important part of your preparation. And since you are repeating CAT, then the importance of mocks becomes much more this time. Therefore, we suggest that you target 50 mocks this year.

Now this may seem a huge number, but the secret to the success of most CAT toppers is mocks. Avidipto Chakraborty (CAT 2016 100th percentiler) solved 80 mocks during his CAT preparation.

Prateek Bajpai (CAT 2015 100th percentiler) took 47 mocks in his CAT preparation. So, now you know that solving CAT Practice Papers is secret to success of many, then do target a big number of mocks this time.

Also, do not forget to analyze them properly; otherwise they will be of no use.


Try Out New Methods and Strategies

One of the important thing to do is to try new things this time. Many candidates, stick to their old strategies even while repeating CAT and end up without much improvement. Some even end up scoring lower than their previous percentile, due to this rigidness in their approach.

Even if you score well, the end result is that your last CAT attempt was unsuccessful and you did some mistakes. There might be the case that your way of solving questions was slow, or it was not accurate, may be your strategy was not a good one.

Therefore, we recommend you to learn new methods, strategies, approaches and develop more analytical thinking towards CAT. This can surely add a lot of marks to your score and help you get your desired CAT score.


Stay Afresh During the Preparation Phase

You might have invested 6-8 months last time, and are preparing for 8-10 months this time as well, and during all this time you might have solved numerous QA questions, many RCs and tons of LRDI sets.

And due to all this, there is a high chance that your preparation may get boring, monotonous and you might start feeling constant mental fatigue.

In such a situation, there is nothing wrong to take a break for a day and starting the preparation again. You can watch hollywood movies, hang out with your friends, simply take rest or have a short tour in the break.

Remember that with tired brain your productivity decreases and grasping things becomes more difficult. Therefore, do not forget to stay afresh during the preparation phase. If your mind needs rest, they give it some rest.


Take Care of Your Profile As Well

IIMs mostly reject candidates who have a lot of gap in their education. Therefore, while repeating CAT, do not make the mistake of weakening your profile. If you have just completed your graduation this year, then it is not much of a problem.

But if you had taken a drop last year and again taking a gap this year, then this can seriously ruin your profile and decrease your chances even further. Therefore, try to do something that does not let a gap creep in to your profile.

You may volunteer in an NGO, work part time, do freelancing, and take up a new course or whatever you like. Just make sure that your profile stays strong.


Stay Calm on the D-day

You have prepared hard and long for your second attempt, and finally the day has come. The stakes are high, but do not let the pressure overpower you. You have put in a lot of hard work and do not let your nervousness ruin it again.

Keep control on your nerves and get the best out of you in those 3 hours. If you stay confident and deliver your best, a high CAT score is just round the corner.


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