When to leave a question in the CAT Exam to ensure that accuracy doesn’t take a hit is one of the most popularly asked queries by MBA Aspirants. In this article, Team Career Anna will try to share some insights on Question Selection and when should we decide in the exam or mock to leave a question. 

When the CAT Exam is just around the corner, candidates are generally palpitating out of fear, yet are fully prepared with the syllabus to the best of their ability and want to attempt as many questions correctly as they can. However, just like every exam, even the CAT exam paper has certain curveballs which are either hard nuts to crack or must be left unanswered to avoid wasting much time.

Attempts in the CAT Exam

Generally, the number of attempts for a majority of students is around 18-20 in each section with 12-15 of correct answers, which leads to an accuracy of around 70% after spending approximately 4 minutes per question. However, the big question here is, how do you define an attempt?

Most students (and faculty) define attempts as the number of questions for which an answer was marked. However, the general definition of attempts includes:

  • QA questions which require around 100 seconds to form equations, do calculations with no answer being marked.
  • The DI/LR sets where you spent a considerable amount of time in making the table. However, you turned out to be unsuccessful and abandoned the set without marking answer(s) to the questions.
  • The RC questions whose answers were not marked post reading the passage
  • The Critical Reasoning, Para Completion & Para Jumbles questions which were left unmarked after a couple of minutes of working on them.

Therefore, the accurate representation of ‘Attempts’ in the CAT Exam is the number of questions which consumed over 1 minute of yours, regardless of if you marked the answer or not is not important. In every section there are at least 5-6 such questions, therefore, most of the students are attempting 25+ questions with 12-15 answers marked correctly, 6-8 incorrect answers and 5-6 questions for which the answers were not marked even after spending quite some time on them.

When to leave a question in the CAT Exam?

leave a question in the CAT Exam

To start off with putting a message across, we would like to say “CAT is like a game of cricket, where you need to play (Attempt) every ball (question) at its merit.” However, this merit will vary from player (student) to player (Student). So just because some verbal god can solve a verbal question, doesn’t mean that you should be able to solve it as well (Remember that what might be the ball to hit for Sachin, might not be the ball at which Dhoni may hit as well).

Now, these balls (questions) could be coming to you in four different forms: 

1. Questions from your area of interest or from topics you are comfortable with (i.e. from topics which are your strengths) and can be solved in less time.

2. Questions from your area of interest but the ones which will take time to solve. 

3. Questions from not so good areas from your perspective, but which may be solved if worked around properly.

4. Questions from not so good areas from your perspective, and cannot be solved by you unless you spend at least 7-10 minutes on them or maybe even longer.

Therefore, the CAT Exam Paper Attempting strategy should accordingly be drafted:

Phase 1

You solve all the sitters from your strong areas in this phase. All the questions falling in this category are attempted.

Phase 2

This phase comes when you are done with sitters. Here you solve all the questions which are from your strength areas but take slightly longer time. 

Phase 3

This phase comes after Phase 2 and you give a shot at these questions. If you are able to solve them in 2 minutes or are about to reach the solution, you invest upto 1 more minute in them and solve them. Else, you should leave them after 2 minutes itself and not invest more time in them. 

All the questions which do not fall in top 3 categories, should be left unattempted by you in the examination unless you are done with all the questions falling in top 3 categories and still have time in hand (with the sectional time limit being introduced, this will be a very rare case). You should not be even wasting 1 minute for the question (unless done with first 3 categories) which falls in the 4th category i.e a non-sitter from your weak or not so strong area. 

Quick Important Tips to Keep in mind while attempting the CAT Question Paper

1. Read the question
2. If you think you can solve and in less time, solve it.
3. If you think you can solve a question but which will consume more time, mark it for review and come back to it later.
4. If you think you cannot solve, leave it.
5. If you get stuck at any point, leave it, mark of review and come back later.
6. Don’t mark unless you are sure of the answer.

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