CAT Exam 2020: 7 Last Minute Exam Day Tips by CAT Toppers at IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Udaipur, SPJIMR, MDI

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November 27, 2020
With only few hours left to appear in CAT 2020 exam, it is not only your good CAT exam preparation but also the CAT test taking strategy that helps to improve your CAT percentile. CAT toppers share 7 tips for CAT 2020 aspirants who have prepared well and wish to get admission in IIMs in 2021 but are a bit nervous and are under stress. CAT toppers emphasize upon well planned last minute exam day tips with the CAT day test taking strategy
7 Last Minute CAT Exam Day Tips by CAT Toppers

As you are aware that the CAT 2020 exam, with many changes in its pattern and more time slots will be conducted on November 29, 2020 in 156 test cities by IIM Indore in morning, afternoon and evening slots as a computer based test,  to help you in improving your CAT score, shares last minute exam day tips with the CAT day test taking strategy from CAT toppers studying at IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, SPJIMR, MDI among others.      

It is not only your good CAT exam preparation but also the CAT test taking strategy that helps to substantially improve your CAT percentile. CAT toppers offer seven tips for CAT 2020 aspirants who have prepared well and wish to get admission in IIMs in 2021 but are a bit nervous and are under stress.

The key changes in sectional time and slot timings of CAT 2020 for different sessions are as under:

Slot Timings for 3 CAT Test Sessions
CAT 2020 exam sessions have increased to three from earlier two. New CAT exam slots are of two hours duration each. All the three sessions will be conducted on same CAT 2020 exam date - November 29, 2020, as below:

CAT Exam 2020 Slot
Slot Timing
Reporting Time at the Test Centre
8.30 AM to 10.30 AM
7.00 AM
12.30 PM to 2.30 PM
11.00 AM
 4.30 PM to 6.30 PM
  3.00 PM

Sectional Time Limit of 40 Minutes for 3 Sections in CAT 2020
Each of the three sections in CAT 2020 – VARC, DILR, Quant will have sectional time limit of 40 minutes instead of 60 minutes earlier. You cannot move from one section to other until the time limit for the section which you are attempting, is over.

So, before the exam starts and during the 2 hours of exam, you should not feel nervous and remain calm and confident. CAT toppers share key important tips for your CAT day.

  1. Keep the Momentum -  Revise, Book Mark and Solve
  2. Devise Strategy as per Time Slot
  3. Be Calm and Relaxed
  4. Adhere to Reporting Time
  5. Perform at Your Best
  6. Treat CAT like Another Mock
  7. If difficult, Skip the Question 

In view of CAT toppers, CAT preparation time for basics is now over and you should gear up for the CAT exam day. Your focused attention should now be on revisiting and strengthening what you have learnt, more practice sessions, taking Mocks, identifying and improving upon your errors, removing your weaknesses and further strengthening your strong areas instead of conceptual clarity, strengthening of fundamentals or starting anything new.  

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7 Last Minute CAT Exam Day Tips by Toppers 
If you are positive, remain cool and calm throughout the exam, you can score high and remain motivated.  Any feeling of pessimism or the stressful feeling, fearing some problems related to preparation, exam room strategy or unanticipated technical glitches just before CAT 2020 is uncalled for and unfounded. You have to take the bull by the horn. Be confident and remain motivated, any dip in the confidence level at the eleventh hour may turn the tables against you.

1. Keep the Momentum
Sruthy S Kumar, CAT 2019 topper with 97.71 percentile and IIM Lucknow student of PGP 2020-22 batch, has shared her CAT day strategy, “As the CAT exam approached, I began concentrating more on revising concepts and questions rather than taking more mock tests. During my mock analysis, I had bookmarked some important questions in each section and I stuck to solving these questions with a timer. One week before CAT I stopped taking mock tests but I regularly took VARC sectionals as it’s very important to keep the momentum.  And something I found very useful was the routine I followed. Once the CAT admit cards were out and I realised that I had a morning slot I started aligning my studies to fit the D-Day routine. I started waking up early morning and took all the mock tests in the morning slots and stuck to this schedule till the last day. This will really ease you come the CAT exam day.”

Similarly, a Footballer, Swimmer and fresher with B.Tech, Hemang Syamantakmani Pandit from Nashik who cracked CAT 2019 with 99.18 percentile and is presently the student of PGDM 2020-22 batch at SPJIMR Mumbai said that he took his last mock about 6 days before CAT and never gave any other test before CAT as he didn’t want any recent close to CAT mock result to affect his mindset. According to Hemang, “For the rest 5 days I revised my notes a bit but mostly chilled out and hung around with friends to destress myself before CAT. A day before the exam I just revised my QA formula sheet and slept early to make sure I was properly rested on the day of the exam.”

2. Utilise Time as per your Time Slot
If you have the CAT exam in first slot and need to report at 7 AM, you may not have time to do any thing and will also have to sleep early as you have to wake up early. But if you have your exam in 2nd or 3rd time slot you will get some time to revisit the things and may also have some time to interact with your friends you had appeared in the morning slot to get a glimpse of the exam.

Working Professional, Hari Ashwath Ramachandran with 3+ Years Work Experience cracked CAT 2019 with 99.44 percentile and has joined SPJIMR Mumbai instead of many IIMs, shares, “I was allotted to the 2nd Slot (Afternoon slot), 24th November, 2019. I woke up at 6:30 that morning, and sat down to solve some LRDI puzzles. I completed an entire section, glanced through some basic QA problems and concepts, and went through the newspaper (the editorial followed by the business and economy section, as usual). I tried to not let the stress get to me, and I stayed well hydrated through the process. My strategy was in place, and I knew what I had to do and how I had to approach each section (For instance, since my RC skills were strong, my strategy revolved around completing all 5 RCs before jumping in to the VA part).”

Nikita Agarwal, another CAT 2019 Topper with 99.22 Percentile and the student of MDI Gurgaon of PGPM 2020-22 batch, shares her CAT day strategy, “The CAT day is the only thing that matters in the end. It is very important to have a calm mindset on D-day. Since I was in afternoon slot, I had this urge to get information online, from friends regarding the difficulty level of paper. But I realised that this is only going to affect my mindset, so I woke up, had a healthy breakfast, spent some time with family and left for the centre. I had stopped giving mocks a week ago before the CAT day. I only focused on revising the basics from the notes I had prepared, analysing my past mocks again and that’s it. On the D-day, the first section turned out to be a bit harder than expected. I was stuck on one RC for 15-17 minutes. This slowed me down and I panicked. I thought I couldn’t perform well in first section. DILR was already my weak section, but I knew I had to cover up for VARC, so I put all my efforts in this section. After solving 3 sets, I realised I couldn’t solve the whole another set, so I solved the questions without solving whole set. The last section was relatively very easy and well, it all worked out in the end. So yes, my strategy was to just do give my best without getting panicked if I mess up a particular section.”

CAT Mock Test

3. No Sleepless Night: Be Calm and Relaxed
No Sleepless Nights is the key CAT 2020 last minute tip shared by past CAT toppers, studying in IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, Udaipur among other top B-schools.

According to IIM Ahmedabad student of PGP 2020-22 Batch, Rahul Gupta who scored 100 percentile in CAT 2019, “I tried to keep myself relaxed on the day of exam. Worrying too much makes me do silly mistakes which I wanted to avoid. My centre was from my place so made sure all the bookings were done properly so I don’t have to worry about them on the day of exam. Tried to get a good sleep the night before and tried not to think much about any topic or subject to avoid last minute panic.”

TanujRuia, CAT 2019 Topper with 99.69 Percentile and IIM Bangalore Student of MBA 2020-22 batch shared, “On the CAT day, I made sure that I slept more than my daily average and had a heavy breakfast. Since my exam was in the afternoon slot, I thought of revising just the few basic Geometry formulas in the morning. I was pretty calm and composed. As I had given a lot of mocks earlier, I was pretty relaxed.  So there was no such pressure.”

An NGO Volunteer, a Computer Science Engineer and Fresher Manya Gumashta from Bhopal, cracked CAT 2019 with  98.94 percentile and converted IIM Udaipur, IIM Trichy, IIM Rohtak, Baby IIMs, SCMHRD and IMT Ghaziabad. However, she opted for IIM Udaipur to pursue MBA 2020-22. Sharing her CAT day strategy, she said, “ I feel like we lay a lot of stress on the D-day and then freak out at the last moment. Which is why I just relaxed and calmed my mind for two days before the exam. I watched a movie, went out with friends, and made sure I’m not thinking about the exam for those two days. This helped me a lot in clearing my mind before entering the Exam Hall.”

According to Nancy Mittal, CAT 2019 topper with 97.16 percentile and IIM Kozhikode student of 2020-22 batch, “I had planned to stay calm and pick right set of questions and my main aim was high accuracy.”

4. Adhere to Reporting time
Please note CAT 2020 has three slots instead of earlier two slots. Accordingly you should adhere to the reporting time as due to social distancing norms the process of entry to the testing lab will be slow. CAT toppers recommend to arrive at the CAT test centre well in time to avoid any last minute rush

5. Give your Best in the Exam
Sriza Ghosh who cracked CAT 2019 with 98.62 percentile and is a student of SPJIMR 2020-22 batch is of the view to perform at your best withouting losing your calm. According to her, “My CAT strategy revolved around staying in control of my emotions. At the end of every section I took a minute-long break and closed my eyes. Moving from one section to the next is onerous, however this practice reduced the sudden stress. For VARC, I solved all the RC passages first and then moved to the VA section. A very smooth shift from one part to the next ensured that no time is wasted in getting in the zone for the next part.”

Manya Gumashta, IIM Udaipur student said, “My main strategy was not to let the stress get to me, and to not ruin the other sections just in case one section goes badly. This helped me majorly because while giving the exam I had realised that I’d spoiled my VARC section, but I went on and gave my best in the next two sections, which helped my increase my overall percentile.”

6. Treat CAT like another Mock    
CAT toppers are of the view that on CAT day you should treat  CAT just like any other aptitude test and suggest the CAT 2020 aspirants to think like wise. According to them, “Before CAT keep reminding yourself that it’s just an aptitude based test and you  just need to perform to your full potential without any panic attack. You have been performing well in your mocks and so, try to give yourself the confidence by thinking of your mock percentiles.”

After taking so many different mocks, has already made you so comfortable with the pattern that the final exam would feel like any other mock. Focus more on the revision of concepts and analysing your previously attempted mocks. 

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7. Learn to Say ‘No’ to a question
Only lot of Reading and trying to attempt all the questions without assessing and managing the limited time available in CAT exam is not a good practice. Knowing more only is not sufficient, you should learn to say no to a question and move to the next as time available is less. Focus equally on all the sections. The time spent on one single difficult question will go waste as there are equal marks for each correct answer. It is very much possible that you may attempt correctly two questions instead of one only during the same time that you have spent on the difficult question. So better to skip it.

CAT 20209, a single day affair on November 29, 2020, will decide the fate of 2.28 lakh aspirants going to take test and seeking admission in top rated IIMs and other B schools in India. Test takers should understand that they need now a very relaxed atmosphere, full night of sound sleep without stress on their mind. 

More seats in IIMs in 2021
Almost all the IIMs have increased the intake for 2021-23 batch. Not only IIMs but also other top B-schools like FMS Delhi have also increased intake. IIMs are on the path to double their intake in coming years. More candidates will find admission opportunities in IIMs in 2021.

Moving ahead with this strategy, IIM Ahmedabad has slashed its qualifying minimum CAT 2020 percentile to 80, IIM Indore, Kozhikode, Udaipur, Trichy, Amritsar, Nagpur have already announced their increased intake in PGP 2021-23 batch.

At present there are 20 IIMs and if each one adds 50 to 100 seats in 2021, it will come to around 2000 additional intake. With all this and more in the offing, you stand more chances to get admission in IIMs than earlier. Not only this, the IIM Act 2017 has empowered all the IIMs to award MBA degree instead of PGDM now.

Stay tuned to for more updates on CAT 2020