CAT 2016: Your memory to turn the tables; know the importance & sharpening tips from Prof S K Agarwal


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June 22, 2016
Despite all the changes in CAT 2016, it is the memory power that will retain the maximum to flow it out during the real exam day
You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory

Consistant yearly reviewing and updating process in CAT exam brings more and more changes in its structure and content. CAT 2016 going to be convened by IIM Bangalore may again throw more changes and surprises before the aspirants, as has been the trend for the past few years. Despite all the changes in CAT 2016, it is the memory power that will retain the maximum to flow it out during the real exam day.

The learning of basics for VARC, Quant and DILR topics and practicing them to retain the things is one of the most important memory sharpening tools to crack CAT 2016 with a high sectional and overall score, says Prof S K Agarwal, expert on Verbal Ability and mentor on CAT 2016 preparation. The apprehensions on changes in CAT 2016 may come true but if you know the concepts and fundamentals and are able to apply them appropriately when needed, you are the winner. It is a known fact that the face of CAT that got changed in 2014 was fully overhauled in 2015 and therefore further changes in CAT 2016 may not be ruled out.

100 questions from 3 sections in 3 hours
It appears that CAT 2016 on the lines of last year exam would contain 100 questions divided in 3 sections and will need to be solved in 3 hours. It means lesser time of less than 2 minutes is available per question to solve. Moreover if CAT 2016 goes by the last year sectional time allotment pattern, you have only 1 hour to solve 1 section of 34 or 32 questions. And again if the pattern is divided between MCQs and Non-MCQs, you will have to thoroughly solve the non-MCQs to arrive at the correct answer since answers to non-MCQs are to be typed in the relevant boxes on computer screen.

All these and other expected changes in CAT 2016 would call for a higher speed and accuracy from test takers to solve more questions and score a high sectional as well as overall percentile in this coveted MBA/PGDM entrance exam to explore admission opportunity in one of the desired IIMs.

To achieve the goal of success in CAT 2016, your memory will play an important role as the well learnt and practiced concepts on various topics need quick and accurate application. How to sharpen your memory, is shared below by Prof S K Agarwal, Verbal Ability Expert and mentor on CAT 2016 preparation.

Nearer the exam, sharper becomes the memory
The quote of George Eliot ‘The terror of being judged sharpens the memory’, has the message that nearer the day of examination, stronger will become your memory. Since you are going to take one of the toughest and trickiest Management Entrance Examination – CAT 2016, you will need a lot to remember, a lot to analyse and plenty of the material to practice- the solution of which will come from the stock of your rich memory.

We all know that a great memory is required in this competitive environment but how to sharpen and make it rich–is a lesser known phenomenon. Following are a few expert tips to help you sharpen our memory to crack CAT 2016 with a high score.

Don’t be under stress
When your mind is tired, you don’t like anything and the world becomes a useless place to live in. Keep that stress in check. In fact physical stress is not so harmful as the mental stress. It is one of the brain’s worst enemies. Over a period of time, if left unchecked, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones. It would then create difficulty in concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.

Use your Brain Power
The proverb that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, may not hold good when it comes to testing and using the power of your brain. Scientists have discovered that this old adage simply isn’t true as the human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and learn—even into old age and  this ability is known as neuroplasticity. Brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways. The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory.

No sleepless nights
Skipping the sleep, burning midnight oil and getting up too early with no sleep following day, will not only deteriorate your memory but also the physical health.  The choice is yours. Please do remember A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether a fresher or working professional going to appear in CAT 2016, both need to stay mentally sharp to perform better. You cannot expect to make your brain work at full capacity, when you can’t have good sleep. Creativity, problem-solving abilities, and analytical skills go down due to lack of sleep.

When sleep overpowers you, it doesn’t need a bed even. It is advisable to have a good sleep to avoid the disastrous effect, the sleeplessness would cause.  Research shows that sleep is necessary to sharpen your memory.  Subconscious mind consolidates itself during the sound sleep with the key memory-enhancing activity occurring during the deepest stages of sleep.

Your diet
A diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, “healthy” fats (such as olive oil, avacados, nuts,) will provide lots of health benefits, and will also improve memory. Just as the body needs fuel, so does the brain. It’s not just what you eat—it’s also what you don’t eat. Colourful fruits and vegetables are particularly good antioxidant "superfood" sources. Try leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, etc. and fruits such as apricots, mangoes, cantaloupe, and watermelon

Regular Exercise
You need regular exercises. Experts always suggest not to skip your exercise any day unless you are advised against it by the doctors. It enhances your ability to process and recall information. Physical exercise increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss. It also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and protects brain cells. It keeps you fresh, smart and active physically as well as mentally.

Meditation works like “magic”. Regular meditators have more activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with feelings of joy and equanimity. It also increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and encourages more connections between brain cells—all of which increase mental sharpness and memory ability. Studies show that meditation helps to improve focus, concentration, creativity, and learning as well as reasoning skills.

Audio-Visual study
Memory works faster on audio-visual than the reading only.  Whenever you watch the news, TV programmes, listen to Radio – be attentive and find out the usage in different contexts.  Try to involve all your senses.  You can’t remember something that you never learned. Similarly, you can’t learn something, if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process a piece of information into your memory.  Try to relate information to anything that is of interest to you- some personality, place, colour, taste. 

Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, it will be even better. Focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Practice explaining the ideas to someone else in your own words. Rehearse information you’ve already learned before someone, before the mirror, review what you’ve learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter.

Enjoy with friends & family
In one of the studies from the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline. So volunteer, join a club, make it a point to see friends more often, or reach out over the phone. If you don’t find a like minded human do not undermine the value of a pet—especially the highly-social dog.

Moving with friends or enjoying a funny movie may prove to be a great memory booster. Countless studies show that a life that’s full of friends and fun comes with cognitive benefits.

When you think of ways to improve memory, think of activities such as solving a crossword puzzle or mastering chess strategy, or do more light hearted pastimes.  Humans are highly social animals. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Relationships stimulate our brains—in fact, interacting with others may be the best kind of brain exercise.

Come out of Monotony
Do Something out of the routine – Monotonous working brings boredom with it. Do some activity, go outside, enjoy the nature, play with children-they are experts to make you rich in your energy level.  Keep a toy on your desk. Put up a funny poster in your room. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you feel good.  Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun. New experiences, such as taking a different route to work, trekking, water sports, can also sharpen the memory.

Memory booster: Laughter
Early in the morning, you may find people in the park laughing at nothing. Why do they do it- because it is a well established fact thatlaughter is the best medicine. This holds true for the brain as well as the body. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain. Listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity.

Laugh at yourself and share your embarrassing moments. Most of the time, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humour you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out.

Memory, like muscular strength, requires you to “use it or lose it.” The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and retain the stored data.

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