Hi! I hope all of you are doing well and the delay in CET 2021 announcement hasn’t affected your motivation too much. In this post, I have shared my preparation journey when I was a student, back in 2008-09. I went from 99.36 in my first attempt to a 99.99 in the second attempt, and in this post, I have shared the things that I did differently in my second attempt. Hope this will push some of you to leave the apprehensions aside and get back to prep!
As most of you know, the level of questions in CET is not ultra difficult. If one is given infinite time to solve the questions, most of the people will do well on the test. However, attempting 200 questions in 150 minutes becomes a herculean task. It is not easy and anyone who says the CET is easy is misguiding you.
Here is my preparation journey:
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. And as the difficulty had remained more or less similar, 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 score 130/200 and topped the mock 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 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.
- Do not look at your mock percentiles and ranks. Instead, look at only the absolute score.
- 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 around 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 (AIR 32 in NMAT). 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 bothering 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 percentile) in both. Just to have a backup and apply under All India seats in case of a disaster in CET. [MAT scores are accepted for All India seats. For more information on JBIMS admission process, check out my post: JBIMS Admission Process]
Coming to my preparation strategy, 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 significantly from the previous attempt.
- I was exposed to more number of questions and knew every single question type.
- My preparation was far more rigorous and disciplined compared to my first attempt.
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. [In the old format, the questions used to be jumbled. In the current format, the questions appear under different sections, offering a better control on the outcome.]
As mocks used to be paper-pencil as well, after every mock, I used to check my answers with the answer key immediately after the test. 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 my weak areas and used to analyze my mock performances.
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. I took mocks not because someone asked me to, but because I wanted to!
- Take as many mocks as you want but there has to be a logic behind that number.
- Solve as many questions as you can but don’t keep on solving the same type again and again.
- 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.
- Relax for 1-2 days before the test and don’t take too much pressure.
- Never let your accuracy fall below 80%
- Prepare a logic repository for yourself. 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
After this score, the rest of the journey was easy. GD was pretty simple and I was asked questions related to my profile, academic background, work-experience, hobbies and interests, and Economics (for some random reason) in my interview. My final state rank was 9. [In the old format, CET used to have a common GDPI process and the total score of CET + GD + PI + Academic record was used for the purpose of admission. They discontinued GDPI around 2012 or so and since then it has been purely test driven.]
Hope this helps! All the best! 🙂
This was my response to a Quora question. I would love to hear from you! Keep visiting this space for more articles and if you have any article suggestions or queries, please leave them in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog. Share this with your friends and co-aspirants. Happy prepping! 🙂