CAT 2011 - Thoughts based on CAT 2010

CAT 2010 results were released a few days ago, and it is time to think about what we have learn from the results. I have categorized my thoughts into two categories.

Opinions that have been reinforced

1. CAT is not an impossibly tough exam. A number of diligent non-genius candidates have done really well. (All the evidence I am going to refer to is anecdotal and not based on any survey.). Thorough preparation, lots of practice and good planning should be enough to get candidates close enough. The final ingredient is perhaps a little bit of luck, but we cannot budget for that. The previous post on Self-belief holds good even now.

2. CAT rewards preparation from first principles: Quant, DI and verbal have all become more application-intensive and CAT 2010 has continued on with that trend. There is a higher bias towards non-formulaic questions. In maths and verbal, intuition and deeper-understanding is getting rewarded vis-a vis blind formulaic learning. As my boss never tires of saying - Intuition can be built with practice.

3. Balanced preparation is a must: With competition this high, one cannot afford to say my strength in quant should take me through. A few of our students learnt that lesson this time around

New pointers that CAT 2010 has shown us

1. Quant level across the country is pretty high: 15 years ago, \a student needed to just now a bunch of formulae, and need not have been conceptually sound. 6-8 years ago, when CAT made a shift towards more application-intensive questions, it was sufficient if one was conceptually sound. And you could get away without much practice. You always had time to derive 1-2 formulae, do trial-and-error and build hypotheses, verify with bunch of examples, etc. Now, the luxury to do all that is disappearing. A student almost needs to pick the right method to solve a question straightaway. No time for any trial-and-error business. One needs to have basics sound and practice gazillions of questions. The more different kind of problems you can lay your hands on the better.

2. To crack DI, one needs to be good at DI and LR: One out of two wont go. There are some tough DI passages and tough LR questions that you are better of leaving. The option of "I will kill DI and leave all LR questions" will not work

Those of you who are preparing for CAT 2011 and beyond, best wishes.