A CET aspirant asked me to write my CET preparation strategy. Though a lot of time has passed since I took CET competitively, the fundamental principles haven’t changed much.
The first ever CET that I took seriously was CET 2008. It used to be a paper pencil test back then and the topper used to be around 160. So we had a fair benchmark in mind and the entire focus was on developing a plan to get there. In my first CET mock, I got 130 and topped the CL Mumbai leader-board and felt that without any serious CET specific preparation, I had managed 130 and that was simply brilliant. After taking the remaining 9-10 mocks every Sunday and a few take home tests, I was still at 130-140. Anything north of 140 was a dream that never materialized that year. It was simply frustrating. My attempts used to be around 160-165 and accuracy was about 83%
Outcome: CET 2008, 160-165 attempts, score 137/200, 99.36 percentile.
It was also the day I decided to take another attempt at entrance tests.
1. Do not look at your mock percentiles and ranks. Utterly misleading and ridiculous. (One of my closest friends never took a CET mock and got a 99.99 in the final test. Do not try this unless you are sure of your alien aptitude)
2. Simply taking mocks without any analysis doesn’t help. It just sounds good that you’ve taken 20 mocks, but if there hasn’t been a visible planned improvement in the score, you are pretty much at the same place where you started.
For the second attempt, I started taking mocks in the month of January. By that time, I had taken other entrance tests and there were other opportunities materializing so I was a little relaxed on that front. I was pretty sure of getting into a good b-school and that took the pressure off. But the fact that I could not crack it in the first attempt, kept bugging me. And I was taking CET only for JBIMS. To ensure that I get through somehow, I had taken December (for practice) and February MAT (seriously) and had done pretty well (99.99) in both. Just to have a backup and apply under All India seats in case of any screw-up in CET.
Coming to preparation, most of the preparation was purely mocks and solving questions from improvement areas. After taking a few more mocks, I was attempting 185+ genuinely almost consistently, with score never falling below 140 and averaging at 150-155 with around 175 as the top score. Two things had changed drastically from the previous attempt.
1. I was exposed to more number of questions and knew every single question type.
2. The rigor that I subjected myself to
I took about 35 mocks (about 3-4 mocks per week, 5 at times) and analyzed every single mock. My strategy was simple: Don’t think of the paper as a 150 minutes 200 questions paper. Think of it as 5 papers of 40 questions each with 30 minutes available to solve one paper. So irrespective of difficulty level, reach about 80-90 attempts in the first one hour, another 80 in the next hour, and then close with the remaining questions. The strategy helps because one gets to see almost the entire paper (seeing the entire paper is different from solving) and gives one a better chance of attempting the easy ones.
I also learned to keep my ego at bay and not fall in love with a tough or different question. Decide whether to attempt a set or not. Decide when to leave a question. Master that art. In case your strategy fails, do not lose hope and do something that will help you get back on track. My paper had 15 consecutive questions of visual reasoning somewhere and I spent a lot of time there but then managed to get things back on track by increasing my speed.
As mocks used to be paper-pencil as well, after every mock, I used to stand at the test venue and check my answers with key. A lot of fellow aspirants used to give me strange looks but I didn’t care. It wasn’t about them, it was about my performance and my uncontrollable desire to be at the top of it. A score of less than 150 used to sadden me and probably that kept me going. On non-mock days, I used to solve questions from the weaker areas and used to analyze my mock performance.
More than anything, I was in love with the test. I knew I was good at it and kept pushing myself to check my limits. I could have stopped after about 20 mocks, but kept going because I never got bored with mocks. The moment you feel pressured to do something, you lose interest. I never let that happen.
1. Take as many mocks as you want but there has to be a logic behind that number. It should not be boring and should not leave you under-prepared.
2. Solve as many questions as you can but don’t keep on solving the same type again and again.
3. As there is no negative marking, a lot of people mark responses randomly in mocks. Do it only in the last 2-3 mocks so that you get used to budgeting time for that activity.
4. Relax for 1-2 days before the test and don’t feel pressured.
5. Never let your accuracy fall below 80%
6. Prepare a logic repository for yourself. People don’t do that. How on earth will one remember the logic of a super numerical series based questions from the 5th mock? And these notes should be visited, revisited, and visited again.
A day before the test, I just revised all the formulas and concepts. Went for the test and took it like just another mock. I attempted about 195 questions genuinely and I was almost certain of a 160+ score.
Outcome: CET 2009, 195 attempts, score 163/200, 99.99 percentile
You have about a month from now and you can improve if you know where you are, where you want to go, and what will take you there. Hope this post helps. All the best! 🙂