The CET has been quite a volatile test in the recent past – while the test had stabilized (in terms of test pattern etc) to a large extent until 2012, it was abolished in 2013 wherein CMAT became the official test for entrance to the Maharashtra B-School programs. In 2014, CET made a comeback as an online test and the test went off quite smoothly as well. However in 2015, the test was said to be ridiculously easy, there were quite a few erroneous questions and a whole lot of concerns were raised on the way the test was conducted (students even resorted to litigations for a re-test). To add to the chaos, JBIMS exited the CAP round process thereby reducing the value proposition of CET. Finally, however, nothing changed and the CAP rounds determined the admissions to all the Maharashtra MBA/MMS programs (minus JBIMS). Hopefully CET 2016 will prove to be different and with JBIMS back into the fold the CET should recover some of it’s past glory.
The Syllabus: What to expect?
As for any test, it is important to know the various topics and question types that are expected to be assessed in the CET. Ensure that you are comfortable with most, if not all, of these topics and question types. Practice as many questions as possible – especially for reasoning question types. Effective practice is key to improving your speed while taking the test. The DTE has announced that there will be 4 sections this year as follows:
- Logical & Verbal Reasoning – 75 Qs
- Abstract (Visual) Reasoning – 25 Qs
- Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation – 50 Qs
- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension – 50 Qs
While the initial reactions from students suggested that this was a major change in the CET test structure – a quick look at the past CET test break-ups shows that not much has changed (at least in terms of content) actually. Find below the break-up of past year CET papers ( I believe that last year’s CET structure was more of an exception than a trend – I have therefore excluded the same) :
1. A ] Logical Reasoning (Expected No of Questions: 50-55)
1. B] Verbal Reasoning (Expected No of Questions: 20-25)
2] Abstract (Visual) Reasoning (Expected No of Questions: 25)
3. A] Quantitative Ability (Expected No of Questions: 30-35)
3. B] Data Interpretation(Expected No of Questions: 15-20)
4 ] Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (Expected No of Questions: 50)
A suggested Prep Plan
For someone who has been preparing for other B-School entrance tests like the CAT and XAT, the Math and Verbal sections will more or less be a cakewalk. Even if you had not prepared that well, the level of questions are quite basic and a little bit of revision and practice should help you ace most of the concepts assessed in these areas. The challenge is, however, to master the new question types in Logical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning and Visual Reasoning – as these questions not only comprise 50% of the paper but also can be time-consuming if you are solving some of them for the first time. In the next couple of weeks leading to the test ensure that you are familiar with and have sufficiently practiced the various question types that have been repeatedly asked in the past CET papers (as mentioned in the tables given above).
Apart from this, take a mock test every 2-3 days and ensure that you do a detailed feedback and analysis of every test – it is important that you learn from every test and act on the same in your next attempt. As CET is more of a speed test, one should not undermine the importance of fine-tuning one’s test-taking skills and strategies while preparing for this test. The rest of the post will focus on how you should work on your test-taking skills and strategies for CET 2016.
Test-taking skills and strategies for CET
With just 45 seconds on an average per question, the Mh-MBA/MMS-CET is outright a test of speed. You need to read fast, think fast and more importantly, respond fast to every question that comes along the way. Compare it with the CAT – you have double the number of questions to be solved in 30 minutes less – so what, if the questions are on the easier side. You need to have a tremendous sense of urgency while taking this test – there would absolutely be no time or opportunity for a power break. You are expected to bulldoze your way through the 200 questions – read a question, solve it if you can or simply mark an answer and move on. In all probability, you will have no time to get back to a question – and if you do get a chance to revisit the question, you have either had a very good day at the office or a very bad one!! And as the test has no negative marking – you need to ensure that you have attempted every question – even if it means a few wild-guesses here and there.
Be mentally prepared
As the test is all about mental agility, you need to ensure that your mind is calm and relaxed before you start taking the test. A tired mind is a recipe for disaster for a test like the CET. And this agility needs to last for a good 150 minutes – because you cannot afford to lose concentration or efficiency during the latter half of the test. So, you need to train your mind on a regular basis to work at a stretch for 2½ hours – so design your study plan in such a way that you always sit for a minimum of 2.5 hours at a stretch (and not just for the mock tests). Doing this, on a regular basis, will help you build your mental stamina.
Have a Strategy
CET has no sectional time-limits, there is no negative marking and there are no sectional cut-offs – so what could be an ideal strategy for a test like CET? While there is no ideal strategy, you need to evolve a strategy that works for you – as in, helps you maximize your attempts, and hence your score in the test.
A possible strategy could be to solve the test in 2 rounds – in the first round, attempt all the questions (across sections) that you feel will take less time or are in your comfort zone. Rest of the questions can be solved in the second round – ideally you should not spend more than 5 seconds to identify which questions you will leave for the second round. The time spent in each of the rounds will vary based on the composition of the test and also your competency levels. As a benchmark, one could possibly look at solving around 120-130 questions in the first round in the around 80-85 minutes and the remaining 70-80 questions in the second round in the time left. To execute this strategy have the answers to the following questions before starting the test:
- What is the average time you should be spending on questions from different areas? At what point will you decide to mark a question and move ahead (rather wild guess an answer and move ahead)
- Are there specific question types (in each area), wherein you will take considerably more time compared to the average for the area? Would you prefer to solve these questions in the second round without even reading them in the first round (for eg. You may choose to always solve sequential output tracing questions in the second round)?
One may alternately have a strategy of solving questions in just one round or of taking more than 2 rounds by solving questions belonging to particular area(s) in one round. No strategy is perfect – see what works for you and get used to it. The only rule is that you must not spend too much time going back and forth.
Know how to navigate
It is important for you to be familiar with the test software – take sufficient simulated tests like SimCET that not only simulate the test content but also the test software. There are 2 ways to navigate through the test:
(1) Question by Question (using the save and next option provide at the end of each question.
(2) Using the Question palette provided on the left of the screen by clicking on the relevant question number – a view question paper option is provided below this palette to help you decide which questions you want to directly navigate to.
Sectional delimits may be introduced: As per the DTE website, for the first time, the online CET may be demarcated into sections (like the CAT, CMAT etc). In this eventuality, it will be easier for you to navigate across the paper and to identify questions that you may prefer to do in the first round. Take enough mock tests (before the actual one) that simulate this possibility.
Pace yourself well
You need to have an ideal test timeline in place, i.e. how many questions should you have solved at the end of every 30 minute interval. At the end of every 30 minutes, assess how many questions you have completed and regulate your pace accordingly. It can be demoralizing to find yourself having solved only half the questions at the end of, let’s say, two hours!!
Don’t leave any question unattempted
As there is no negative marking in CET, you have to ensure that you do not leave any question unattempted. Even if you are relatively unsure about the answer to a question, you must still mark an answer before moving ahead. And if you do not understand a question at all and would like to revisit it later, you should still mark an answer and mark the question for review before moving ahead.
Last but not the least..
Have a positive mindset. CET is possibly your best chance to get into one of the Top 50 B-Schools in the country (if not Top 10). Take the test, do well and you get a straight entry into B-Schools like JBIMS, Sydenham, K.J.Somaiya, Welingkar and PUMBA. I know of quite a few students who hadn’t done well in other tests, but have now graduated from one of these B-Schools – thanks to CET. So, this year it might just be your turn:-)
All the Best!!