CAT 2016: How 1/3 negative marking pulls your score down to 39 from 99; Learn the right strategy from CAT toppers at IIM
Score of 99 in CAT 2016 depends more upon how strong you are to avoid your temptation and less on how many more questions you attempt in the exam
The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) is conducting the CAT exam 2016 on the 4th of December, which leaves you a little over 15 Days to prepare for the exam. While most of you have been preparing for months, some of you are yet to begin.
The CAT exam is difficult to crack and most aspirants start preparing for it 8-9 months in advance. And those of you who haven’t started preparing yet due to late registrations, there’s still time!
CAT 2016 Exam Pattern:
|Sr.No||Name of the section||Marks||Duration|
|2||Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning||32||60|
The mechanism of marking in CAT 2016 can award you with high percentile even if you have solved fewer number of questions rather than getting tempted to solve doubtful ones. Your score may go below ‘zero’ even if you attempt all the 100 questions. There have been number of candidates in earlier CAT exams who scored negative marks as their strategy to attempt CAT did not synchronize with the marking scheme in CAT exam.
The marking scheme announced for CAT 2016 has 3 marks for every correct answer and 1 mark deducted from your credit score for every wrong answer. The exception is Non-MCQs where your wrong answers will not impose penalty of negative marking.
At the beginning, with so many similar options in verbal (I hated parajumbles, never got them) you tend to never know what could be the right answer. But, practice makes perfect.
Step 1 : Identify your sweet spot
My strategy for CAT in general was to do a run through the entire exam, mark the easy and medium questions and attempt them first. You have to realise that all questions carry equal weight, but some are easier. That was the first step of my strategy : Identify what you can do best naturally.
Step 2 : Identify your weak spot
Over the mocks I gave through the two-three months, I regularly noted down how I did on each test, broken down up to a topic level. I gave an insane number of tests, all I did was to test myself. Once tested, I would note my performance and I gradually saw patterns arising in what I was good, bad and literally sucked at. This was my second step, identifying what I was bad and what I sucked at. Para jumbles were at the end of the spectrum for me.
Step 3 : Improve and analyze both strengths and weaknesses
My third step was to work on improving each of these three buckets and my dynamic excel sheet showed me where I was going. I would devote my practice time in the reverse order of my strength in the topics. My performance improved considerably, and data never lies. Always monitor your performance.
On a granular topic basis, for improving in reading comprehension, the best solution is to read and read as diverse as you can. Reading a lot increases your focus while reading any text and thus pushes up your accuracy. I also used to read the questions and then read the passage. You tend to be alert in the passage around the part of the question automatically. For vocabulary, learn words, read the dictionary. Word power made easy is a great place to start, and general reading always helps. For para jumbles, I don’t think I am the right person to guide, but they generally tend to have lift offs and ends, that you can pick up. Lists at your own risk.
Step 4 : Leave what you will do wrong
I followed this up to one week before my CAT, after which I implemented the fourth step : Identifying what I will always do wrong. Most people think that you should attempt the entire paper. Don’t, especially in verbal. Negs kill you. In my year, I attempted 28/30. I probably got all of them right. What did I leave? Parajumbles. 🙂
In essence, practice, identify your strengths and weaknesses, monitor your performance and then choose your questions wisely. Remember, great strategy is not only about opening the right doors, but also closing the wrong ones.
An additional piece of unsolicited advice : sleep well. It improves accuracy much more than any amount of test practice.
- Accuracy level which was high earlier, dipped now
- Out of earlier 14 only one was wrong. He could have scored 13×3=39-1=38 raw marks out of 102 maximum marks, if he had not moved further to attempt more questions
- The next move of attempting 13 more questions got him 2 correct and 11 wrong. Out of these 11wrong answers, there are 2 Non-MCQs also. The net position comes as follows-
Credit for Correct answers 2×3=6; Debit for wrong answers 11-2 (no negative marking for non-MCQs)=9×1=9. After deducting 9 marks for wrong answers, the net marks scored are 6-9=(-) 3 marks.
- Total score in Quant 38-3=35 marks. This is a huge loss as even deduction of a single mark can dip your percentile by 6 or 7.
No IIM to shortlist ‘A’ now
Candidate ‘A’ might have got a higher percentile if he had avoided the temptation to solve more questions to score high. With the dip like this in all the 3 sections, ‘A’ might not score the minimum qualifying sectional percentile prescribed by IIMs not to say of getting higher on merit percentile.
If a candidate gets 100 percentile by accurately solving 60 questions and if ‘A’ after solving 80 questions ends up in 40 correct and 40 wrong, he loses 40 core marks out of his score of 120 marks in CAT 2016. If he did not attempt the wrong 40, he would score full 120 and might score a high percentile of 96 to 98. Now with the loss of 40 marks, his percentile may also go down 75 or 76 which may not make him eligible even to be shortlisted by any IIM.
What did 100 percentile’r do?
Pranjal Agarwal (100 perctile in CAT & IIMA student); Disha Gupta (98.83 percentile in CAT & IIM Ranchi student); Shashank Heda (99.99 percentile in CAT and IIMB student); Saransh Garg (99.98 percentile in CAT & FMS Delhi student) – all are unanimous that accuracy is more important than attempting more questions and it is better to attempt the easy questions first so that the situation to panic doesn’t rise.
No candidate in CAT attempts all the questions. 100 or 99 percentilers in CAT don’t go beyond a certain limit. A 99 or 100 percentiler might have attempted 55 or 60 out of 100 questions within his strong area and thereby committing negligible mistakes.
Cracking CAT 2016 with 100 percentile means you have a good accuracy level. After declaration of CAT 2016 result in the second week of January 2017, if you ask a 100 percentiler about his testing room strategy, the answer would be that he avoided temptation to attempt more questions. Seeking answers to the questions, you don’t know how to crack right may drag you to the domain of temptation of inaccurate attempts. This will lead you in low scoring range and despite attempting more questions, you will not be able to score high.
CAT 2016 exam will be divided in 3 sections. First section on Quant will consist of 34 questions; second section will comprise 32 questions on Data Interpretation & Logical reasoning (DILR) and the third section will have 34 questions on Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VRC).
Remember the Key points
- Total number of questions in CAT 2016 – 100
- Total available time to solve CAT 2016 – 3 hours
- Time allotted to solve each section – 1 hour
- Marking scheme – 3 marks for correct answer and deduction of 1 mark for wrong answer
- Non MCQs in each section without provision of negative marking
- Expected Sectional raw score taking you beyond 90-95 percentile – 45 to 55
While maximizing the attempts, the greed to attempt more number of questions taking them as a challenge in view of Prof S K Agarwal, expert and mentor on CAT preparation, is contrary to the testing room strategy. In fact CAT 2016 test takers should attempt only those questions which they can solve quickly and belong to their strong areas.
Clear your concepts, practice greater variety of questions of varying difficulty level within the actual CAT 2016 time frame. Analyse the mistakes and avoid their recurrence.