Mocks: Overcoming fear

I happened to talk to a student recently and the conversation that we had inspired me to write this post. This student is someone who is targeting top ten institutes through CET and has not taken a single mock (SimCET) yet. When I asked him the rationale behind this decision, especially when we don’t have the liberty of time with us, he said: I am scared.

And he went on. “I am scared to take a mock because I feel that I won’t do well. A bad score will demotivate me, lower my confidence, and I don’t want that to happen. I will take a mock around mid-February when I feel better prepared.”

As usual, I told him to take a mock immediately to understand where he is at this point of time so that we can chalk out a plan to reach his desired score. If he pushes it by another ten days or so, we will lose out on the opportunity to work on the test taking skill in these ten days. And that’s the whole point. Test taking is a skill which develops only with diligent practice. There is no other way to get better. Solving questions without any time limit should be limited to the learning concepts phase. Once you’re done with the concept and initial few questions of a topic, rest of the preparation has to be in a timed manner.

Speaking of developing skills and overcoming this fear, I am sharing some insights from one of the greatest athletes, Alex Honnold. He is the only person to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Free solo refers to climbing without ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment. El Capitan is about 3,000 feet. Imagine going up there without any rope or any protection whatsoever and being the only person in the world to have the mental and physical strength to do it. When he was asked in one of the interviews as to how he controls his anxiety while climbing, he said:

The main way that I stay comfortable while climbing is through preparation, through training, through practice. I’ve spent enough time climbing that I feel very comfortable doing it. The key for me has been to take small steps outside of my comfort zone so that eventually I feel comfortable in situations that I wouldn’t have before. So it’s not so much a matter of getting into a situation where I feel really scared and then trying to control the fear. It’s a matter of slowly broadening to the point that I just don’t feel that scared doing things that used to be scary.

Alex Honnold

If you have been anxious or worried or scared about your performance, here are a few pointers that might help:

1. Write down all the topics that you’ve covered so far and solve questions from these topics only in the first mock. Don’t worry about 200 questions. But if you’ve identified 20-25 odd topics and there are 75 odd questions from those topics, make sure that you solve those 75 in the first mock. As you progress, keep adding to this list of topics. Gradually, you will see some improvement in your attempts as well as accuracy as your content starts to get better.

2. Be specific. When students say quantitative ability is my problem, it’s a generic statement. Be specific and say: I don’t know Logarithms. The next question is if you don’t know a topic, how much effort is required to get to a fair level? Logarithms, for example, takes about 3-4 hours to understand and remember the basic identities and solve about 30 odd questions. If I can manage that, I will be able to add Logarithms to the list of topics that I am comfortable with. In most of the cases, I’ve observed that when students decide to do something and actually sit down, they are able to do it. But the problem is taking that first step towards improvement because that’s where you need to overcome the resistance.

On the field of the Self stand a knight and a dragon. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon.

Steven Pressfield

3. Start with sectional/area tests if you’re not comfortable with mocks yet. For example, in a day, one can easily do 4 sectional tests and cover 200 questions. If you can do this with breaks, you can also do it without breaks. Try solving sectional tests back to back for 2.5 hours. This should prepare you for a full length mock test

4. Accept the fact that you will never feel 100% confident about your preparation. Nobody does. Having taken all these tests several times in my life, one thing that I’ve realized is that there is a lot to learn. Sometimes, we also end up learning new things that we haven’t come across in years of test taking/teaching. One can’t cover every single question. But one can have enough exposure to get to a level where one realizes that it’s enough. Just because there are more than 100 questions of a topic in the book doesn’t mean you need to solve each and every one of them. If you find yourself breezing through questions after about 50 are done, you’ve understood the topic. Either move to higher difficulty questions from here or move to some other topic.


If there are any queries, please leave them in the comments below and allow me a few days to get back. Share this with your friends and co-aspirants. Happy prepping! 🙂

22 thoughts on “Mocks: Overcoming fear

  1. Chetan Chaudhari

    This is what exactly I was feeling I started a mock in the morning Take Home 2 Quit it because I couldn’t get fist puzzle right and that disappointment wraps you
    Thanks a lot reading this made me feel bit better

    Like

    1. Hi Pratik! Either increase your attempts or accuracy or both. In every mock, set a target for yourself: For example, in the next mock, I will solve 110 genuine questions and try to score 85. In the next mock, I will attempt 110 genuine and try to score 90. In the next, try to solve more questions. Keep on doing this over the next few mocks. I am sure things will get better.

      Like

  2. Kalyani

    I have taken all three SimCETs till now and will taking the 4th one in two days. I am stuck between 85-90 marks and I want to increase it to 100 in the coming 2 SimCETs . I have set a strategy for sequence of sections and it is working for me. But the problem I am facing is that the number of questions is vast and the limited time makes it difficult to go through each question, comprehend and select the right ones to solve. Any strategy you would suggest?

    Like

    1. Hi Kalyani. This is a common concern. You need to look at a section as a test. Think of AR as a 20 minutes test of 25 questions. Think of VARC as a 40 minutes test of 50 questions. This is a psychological shift that I am not worried about 200 questions in the test but taking 4 different tests that add up at the end. In my view, question selection part is applicable only in QADI and LR sections as the other two must be done completely. Again, not possible to go through all the questions but a cursory glance should help you decide.

      Like

    1. Hi Mohit! Most of the papers available in the market are memory based and are not reliable. And these papers are from earlier years and the level of CET has changed now. I suggest focusing on mock tests instead which are more in line with the current level of difficulty.

      Like

  3. Srinivas

    Hello PS sir,

    Sorry on going a tangent. Your incisive analysis was good. I have a query:

    (1) Does JBIMS accept ATMA (May 2020), CMAT (January 2020) , and MAT (2020) for the DTE CAP round process? Can you elaborate a bit sir

    Thanks and Welcome.

    Like

      1. Vinay chudasma

        Sir, I try to solve all the question and my weakness is quantive. So i am trying maximum mocks to get good score & should I attempt 15 mocks or more ? Till exam ?
        Should I make Smart notes for exam for last minute for reference.

        Like

      2. Hi Vinay. You can do whatever works for you the best. Instead of focusing on the number of mocks, focus on the ‘why’. Have a clear objective in your mind with respect to target attempts and score.

        Like

  4. Akash Pawar

    Sir kindly make a blog about how to overcome temptation to solve mpore in one section and thereby wasting lot of time. hardly getting 40-45 min for LR , simcet 3 score 106.

    Like

    1. Hi Akash! Simple. Make an error log and understand the mistakes that you’re making. Avoid all those question types in the first round. Your time distribution looks faulty as LR is a demanding section and will definitely need 55-65 minutes depending on how fast you’re in other sections.

      Like

    1. Hi Hrishi! If you haven’t spent time analyzing these mocks and aren’t aware of mistakes made by you, there won’t be significant improvement in score. As I’ve mentioned multiple times in my posts, one has to work on content, analyze mocks, and be aware of mistakes and traps. To improve score, broadly, you either need to push your genuine attempts or increase your accuracy or a combination of both.

      Like

  5. Suyog Kokate

    Hello sir, your blogs are helping very much!! Thank you!!
    My score in last few mocks is in between 85-90. This is because of very low score in VARC. What should I do to increase score? Please help me how to prepare for VA at this stage.

    Like

    1. Hi Suyog! VARC as a section can be easily done in about 40 odd minutes as there are some questions that can be cracked in 10-15 seconds (such as vocabulary, fill in the blanks). I suggest reading on a regular basis to improve your comprehension and speed. As you won’t be able to improve vocab significantly in the remaining time, spend more time on specific question types. For example, you can improve summary or parajumbles if you solve around 40-50 questions of each. That will give you better return. Also, make sure that you learn grammar rules and solve commonly tested rules. Hope this helps!

      Like

  6. SABYASACHI

    Sir, please give some tips and tricks for the PGDBA exam. I scored 100 percentile in QA in CAT 2019(OA : 99.43) AND 99.999(QA) XAT 2020, but In XAT I could not clear the DM cutoff.
    I left my job and gambled all my savings for this CAT attempt, but right now with no BLACKI calls,I have only one option left right now and that is PGDBA. I am afraid and I really cannot say if I am right or wrong at this point of time and this time I heard rumours that over 15000 students are appearing for the test and I am in a very confused state right now. Can you please provide some suggestions on how I can deal with my current predicament.

    Like

    1. Hi Sabyasachi. First of all, fantastic quant score! Kudos! Regarding PGDBA, there is a series of IMS webinar that’s ongoing. Please attend those. And don’t worry about the number of students taking the test. You try and give your best. If this is the best option, you try and make the best of it.
      What about FMS? what about MDI and other colleges in that league? Not interested in those options?

      Like

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