180 Minutes, 1 strategy - How to manage time in CAT
Section 1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
You must have already decided the order in which you want to answer: RCs first, followed by VA or vice versa. More often than not, people go with RCs first. In any exam, getting done with a few questions early will boost your confidence and keep you composed. Opposite of what Mark Twain famously suggested, the task of eating the proverbial ugliest frog should be kept for the end. Getting stuck with something tricky right at the beginning won't do you any favours. Hence, skim through the RCs within 2-3 minutes and choose the one which looks the easiest. Quickly solving one set of RC questions will help you remain composed. Then choose the next easy one and so on. Please note that there will be some RCs which won't be in your comfort zone. Follow the above strategy to assure a good start. TIP: practice RCs of as diverse topics as you can find.
Typically you should spend 8-10 minutes per RC. 1-1.5 minute per VA question is recommended. Hence, be done with RCs in the first 45 minutes and quickly move on to VAs for the next 15 minutes. Depending on the difficulty level of the paper, you should find the right balance between accuracy and speed. Ability to judge the difficulty level comes by writing a sufficient number of mock tests.
Section 2: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
A common and advisable strategy is to scan the 8 sets in the first 5-6 minutes and get a rough idea of what the type of sets are. Some sets will be heavy on calculations and require less logical reasoning. Some others will be the opposite of this. Some may seem easy while others may seem difficult. Some sets shall be so long that reading the entire set will take up 3-4 minutes, let alone solving it. While you scan the sets in the first few minutes, make a list of the order in which you shall attempt the sets. Again, keep in mind you have to delay eating the ugliest frog. It is advisable to keep the easy ones at the top of the list. Also, you may solve the sets requiring logical reasoning before the ones requiring heavy calculation. The rationale behind the list is to figure out the easily doable sets in the first. This will stop the pressure from building and help to keep a calm head. Doing the most difficult or calculation heavy sets at first will require more time and getting stuck will build pressure. Typically, the maximum time you can spend in one set is 10-12 minutes, if the set is difficult. There will be some easy sets too. You must solve them in 6-8 minutes to be at least able to take a look at all the sets.
TIP: While preparing, try to solve sets on your own without the help of others, as CAT brings in new types of sets every year and you should have the skill to think quick and at the spot.
Section 3: Quantitative Aptitude
As there are no sets here, you should not waste your time on scanning the entire paper. Start from the first question or from the middle of the paper if you want. Do the following:
o If the text is so long that only reading it will take 1.5-2 minutes, skip it instantly. You will have time at the end for the skipped questions. Also, skip a question if you are not able to figure out how to proceed in 1-2 minute after reading the question.
o Once you have found a doable question, a general rule of thumb is to absolutely not spend any more than 3 minutes on that question. Only if you are sure of solving it in a maximum of one more minute, then you could think of spending an additional few seconds.
o Please note there will be some easy to moderately easy questions distributed throughout the paper. Your priority should be to find and solve them. They will give you the time to go back to skipped questions in the end.
o Keeping these things in mind, you should be able to go through the entire paper in 45-50 minutes. By this time you will be done with all the easy and moderate questions. The remaining 10-15 minutes shall be for skipped questions.
o While you skip questions, note them down into two groups, group one for the lengthy ones and for those in which you made partial progress. Second group for those which are best left unsolved owing to their difficulty level. Doing this will save you some valuable seconds.
o Note that these are advisable strategies. A good number of mocks will help you find what strategy suits you.
ALL THE BEST FOR YOUR CAT FROM TEAM CAREER LAUNCHER AHMEDABAD!