The Quantum Leap - Accentuating the CAT Mock Percentile

An aspirant setting out on his journey to an IIM starts off with the mocks at extremely humble percentiles. Getting this percentile up and near to his dream percentile is his/her constant pursuit. In Neil Merchant’s life, a Career Launcher student who appeared for CAT in 2014, the mock percentile took a quantum jump and how. Languishing in the mid 80’s, Neil’s percentile hardly ever gave him hope of him making it to his dream B-schools - the old IIMs. What he did eventually was some serious introspection of his mocks by methods that he devised for himself. His story is not only inspiring but also insightful about how to pull off this seemingly difficult feat.

To know about how he went from 85 percentile to 99.88 percentile in CAT 2014, read on...

About Neil
He is Neil Merchant. His Grand Father named him so as he wanted Neil to be an astronaut! Well, he carved a different journey and has taken a giant leap now - he is pursuing PGP from IIM Calcutta.He is a life-enthusiast and enjoys the variety it has to offer. Apart from indulging in the Goansusegad life, he gets a kick out of playing tennis, singing, and writing poems. Neil was very active in his undergraduate course, where he headed the sponsorship and placement departments of the campus. He has had diverse interesting experiences through his journey at the JagritiYatra, Lowfundwala (an advertising start-up based out of Mumbai) and TRRAIN, an NGO for the empowerment of people in the retail industry.

Neil's Journey ussi ki zubaani
I am Neil Merchant; I'm pursuing PGP at IIM Calcutta. My scores were not up to the mark till I started following GP Sir’s blog. This was a month and a half to CAT when the exam pressure is at an all time high and one has a tendency to give up. Miraculously, my percentile in mocks improved from an average 85-86 to 99+ and I scored a 99.88 in CAT 2014. I have tried to consolidate my approach in this post; I hope it is helpful for the ones giving b-school entrances this year. The first thing one must do is to take a mock test, regardless of prior preparation. This helps to get acquainted with the test environment, to assess one’s initial position and most importantly, to get the first-hand experience of what lies ahead for the rest of the season.

The commandments of CAT are:

  • You must not attempt the questions which you are not 100% sure of
  • You must attempt 100% of the questions you are sure of
  • You must give enough mock tests for practice

But more importantly

  • You must thoroughly analyse each and every mock you give and not repeat the mistakes

It is imperative that you align your approach to these as much as you can. Trust me, nothing is more frustrating than seeing those negative marks on the questions one has spent a lot of time on, and in that process missing out on the easy questions at the end of the paper. In addition to that, giving mock tests without analyzing them is like shooting arrows without bothering whether they are hitting the target or not. It's futile.
On the basis of the approach, the weekly schedule I prescribe for the test-takers is:

  • Step #1: Take a mock test, I usually took it on Sundays
  • Step #2: Redo all the questions you got wrong or left unattempted in the paper
  • Step #3: Do a question-wise analysis, putting them into 6 categories (Good Shot, Risky Shot, Unforced Error, Double Negative, Missed Opportunity and Well Left). If you have CL’s CAT Score Booster, then this aspect will be taken care of by that tool. Once you fill up the strength finder as per the topics that you find difficult and easy, you’ll get a personalized report after each mock in which all the questions of the mock will be categorized in one of these 6 categories.
  • Step #4: Do a sub-section wise analysis for the paper
  • Step #5: Identify weak areas (Points 2, 3,4 and 5 can be done on Monday )
  • Step #6: Solve questions from the weak areas, 3-4 days of the week dedicated to this
  • Step #7: If available, one must watch the corresponding “How I gave Mock CAT” videos. I can’t stress how helpful these videos were, I could write an entire post on it. Just imitate their techniques and the results would show. Here is the video snippet to one of the videos: 
  • Step #8: Take the next mock!

I suggest you to take a mock test every week till one month to the exam, after which the frequency should increase to two mock tests a week. This shall give you sufficient practice required for D-Day. CL’s CAT Score Booster is a breakthrough tool that does the exactly same analysis that I used to do manually. It would help the aspirants save a lot of time as such an in-depth analysis will be readily available after each mock that they take. I would like to re-iterate that analyzing mock tests is equally important, if not more, to giving them. One thing I learned in the whole process is that it doesn't matter where you start, you can always make it to where you want to be.

Never give up. Never compare. Keep the optimism. Keep improving. I wish you all the best and hope that you succeed in obtaining a seat in your dream institute. It is not as far as you think it is.