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TARGET MBA: METHODS TO BUILDING CONCEPTS

With just about 40 days to go for CAT which marks the start of the MBA entrance test season, your Prep needs to necessarily cater to two objectives: Building concepts and Optimizing test performance. Clearly, conceptual clarity would have implications for performance during the tests by way of question selection, accuracy, time-per-question etc. Through this article we bring to you various methods to help you better build your concepts for these exams.

Quantitative Ability

• If you think your QA skills would be under the 70 percentile mark, begin with a basic book. There are various books in the market that you could use. Please avoid solving the textbooks from school at this time. And remember, there are many other MBA Entrance exams that your are going to write at the end of the year. And most of these ask much simpler questions in QA as compared to CAT. So, hang on.

• Observe your performance in mocks and segregate the topics into three areas:

• Topics where both your attempts and accuracy are high – you can bank on Mocks for practice in these topics.

• Topics where your attempts are high but accuracy is low - you only need to solve high difficulty exercises in these topics.

• Topics where you typically tend to skip questions – You should solve these chapters from the basics upwards. CAT could have questions from any topic and therefore skipping any topic is not a good idea.

Data Interpretation and Reasoning

• Once again, you could begin with a simple reference book for practising these areas.

• For advanced questions, you could bank on the mocks that you write. Write mocks on a regular basis and spend ample time analyzing your performance in the tests.

Language Ability

• Reading Comprehension

• If you are not a regular reader, then read a few novels over the next 1 month. This will help you develop an ability to read and remember paragraphs. The topics/titles to read is secondary. The first step is to start reading. Anything under the sun will do. But read.

• The key skill to doing well in the Language Section is to read carefully into the meaning of the sentences – what is implied and what is not. And then an ability to reason into things – the assumptions, logic, conclusion, inferences etc. As you will recall, these are precisely the skills you build through questions on Critical Reasoning. Practice Critical Reasoning.

Verbal Ability (Para Jumbles, Para Completion, Para Summary):

• Each question type in VA is governed by a set of specific rules. Have a list of these rules for each question type. Use it. And every time you see that a rule is not working – analyze to identify what went wrong. This way you will learn something from every question you solve. The problem with most of us is that we solve a lot of questions, expecting to score better as we go. But that does not happen. The simple reason is that we solve them by the same method (our intuition) and look at the answers only to see if the answer was right.

General Pointers

• It is not necessary to study every area every day. You can take up one assignment, finish it and then get on with another. The idea is that the overall balance should be maintained. So, at the end of say 15 days, if you have devoted 5 days to QA, 3 to DI, 3 to LR and 4 to Language, it would do. (The distribution of days is only indicative. Your exact allocation of days will depend on which areas you need to focus more on.) Remember that the scores in the mocks have a direct bearing on your self-confidence. Never write a mock if you don’t feel your 100%. And never leave a mock in the middle. After the test is done, it is only the score that you will remember (the headache, the music in the next room, the long travel to the centre, the college assignment, the unpreparedness – these all shall only be excuses beyond a point).

• Don't expect miracles. Any performance improvement exercise is a slow and steady process. But it is definitely doable. Also, one size does not fit all. What may work for your friend may not work for you and vice versa. Think things through. Take feedback and guidance. But know whose advise you take seriously.

• If you have prepared for CAT earlier then begin with an analysis of your strong and weak areas. Spend the next few days only working on your weak areas. The strong areas do not take very long. Form is temporary. Class is permanent.