In this series, A2A (Asked to Answer), get answers to the most often asked questions by CAT and other MBA entrance exam aspirants.
In this blog, let us look at one of the most common queries I get asked by test-takers during the SimCAT (mock test) phase of their preparation: I know how to solve most questions, but don’t find enough time to solve them!!
If you find yourself in this situation more often than not, then your root problem is the failure to select the right questions to solve while taking the test. We end up solving questions that we believe we know how to solve without considering how long we may take to solve the question. “One liners first”, “Strong Area first”, “First Come First Serve” are other syndromes students fall prey to, thereby bringing down their attempts. So, is it possible to master the art of question selection in the last mile leading to the CAT? Difficult but definitely not impossible:-)
Read on to find out how you can use the ABC approach to get better at your question selection whilst taking a test – thereby improving your attempts and hence your score.
The ABC Approach
How would you approach a test where the questions would be pre-classified as (1) easy, (2) solvable but time-consuming and (3) difficult. Logic suggests that we would first solve all questions marked as “Easy”, then move on to questions marked as “ Solvable but time-consuming” and then move on to “Difficult” questions. This approach will guarantee that you maximize your attempts in this test. Unfortunately, the CAT does not offer you any such pre-classification – so how do you go about maximizing your attempts? Let us understand the ABC approach:
As you read a question, classify it as a “A”, “B” or “C” in not more than 20 to 30 sec. If it is an “A” solve it immediately; if it is a “B” mark it and come back to it in the second round and if it is a “C” you will never come back to it, in all probability. However, this does not mean you first mark all questions and then get into solving them. Questions MUST be solved in 2 or 3 rounds – with As being solved in the 1st round along with the classification, Bs in the 2nd round and Cs in the 3rd round.
The better you get at this classification, the better you will be in your question selection process. So, how does one go about classifying a question- use the following grid to decide if a question is an A, B or C.
within comfort zone?
|Question understood ?||Familiar question/ |
know how to proceed?
|estimated time < 2 min||Verdict|
The A-B-C mix
Though it would be ideal to have all questions as As while taking the test, this is generally not the case – especially in a test like CAT. For someone with a good hold over most concepts, most of the questions will either be an A or a B. More Cs indicate that you need to work on your concepts:(
While the mix of As and Bs is also dependent on the level of difficulty of the test, you need to evaluate if some of the Bs could be converted into As if you knew a better approach to solve the question or used the options smartly. Remember, higher the number of As – higher will be your attempts in the section.
Caution: Do not mark a question as A only because you know how to solve it – you must believe that it can be solved quickly as well.
From now on, for every question that you solve during the test or while practicing first classify it as A, B or C. After you have solved the question, check whether you got your classification right, i.e if you marked it as an A did you solve it in under 2 min; if you marked it as a B, could you solve the question irrespective of the time taken; and if you marked it as a C, was it really that difficult or did you miss a point. The more the accurate you get at this classification, the better you will be at selecting questions during a test.
Practice the ABC approach for the next few days and execute it thereafter while taking mock tests. The result will be there to see – an increase in attempts that will be coupled with an increase in scores:)
All the Best!!