Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Planning to take CAT Mocks in 2020? There are a variety of CAT mock tests available like AIMCATs 2020, CL Test Series 2020 or SIMCATs 2020, amidst which it can become difficult to decide which one to purchase. Moreover, if you're not sure how many CAT test series to buy, when to start taking mocks and how many mocks to take in a month, then this is an ideal post for you which gives answers to all these questions.
Number of CAT Mocks
So, the first question that you should ask yourself is - "How many CAT mocks are you planning to attempt?" When I started my CAT preparation, I had TIME's AIMCAT series, which had a total of 25 mocks. AIMCATs begin in January and pan out till November in this fashion: no. of mocks in Jan to May: 5 mocks in total; June to Aug: 3 mocks in each month; September: 5 mocks; October: 4 mocks; November: 3 mocks.
As you can see, there is an inverted U-curve in terms of the number of AIMCAT mocks that are available in each month. Now, you may choose to take the test non-proctored i.e. at home (and not at the centre) but it is highly recommended to take at least some proctored mocks to get used to the set-up. If you choose to take them non-proctored, then you can give the mocks anytime after they become available.
Coming back to the question of how many CAT mocks you should attempt, I'd say a total of 50 CAT mocks maximum. A minimum of 30 CAT mocks are good to go. So, the number of CAT mocks you choose to attempt should be between 30-50. You can practice more if you feel like, but make sure there's ample gap between them (explained ahead).
Number of CAT Test Series
Since a minimum of 30 CAT mocks are recommended, generally students purchase two mock series. But, a big mistake is taking them in the very beginning. The best strategy is to start with one. This is because:
It takes time to get comfortable with the interface - By buying two test series and attempting them together, you'll get confused between the two interfaces. It involves things like where the next, submit, back buttons are, how the colour coding represents attempted, non-attempted and marked questions.
The second series will cost cheaper at a later stage - Many coaching institutes offer a discount on test series when the exam is close. This is because most of them cannot be attempted in a proctored manner anymore. One should make use of that discount.
For the recommendations on which test series to buy, I'd suggest you to read this answer on Quora by Gaurav Saha. It is one of the most comprehensive comparisons I've found online regarding CAT test series. The second series that I took was Career Launcher's CAT Mocks. The reason I'm not commenting on the best series out there is because I had only two to compare.
When to Start with Mocks
I took my first CAT mock in February or March, a month after my coaching classes began. I had covered very little syllabus by then, so I didn't understand the point of attempting a mock in February/March, but my seniors had recommended it, so I went ahead with it. And, it was a good piece of advice. This is why it's important to begin early between February to March for attempting CAT mocks:
You'll start taking CAT seriously - Once we realize where we stand among the lot competing in CAT, we start putting in more efforts to improve day-by-day. The first few mocks will do that job for you.
You'll get comfortable with the proctored setting - Taking a CAT mock in a test centre is like attempting the CAT exam in the examination hall. So, you need to practice that early on.
You'll get to know the pattern of CAT - While practicing questions, it is very important to know what kind of questions get repeatedly asked in CAT. For example, para jumbles.
So, start early - in February or March. At most, by April, when most test series become available.
Timeline of CAT Mocks
Now that you know when to begin and how many to attempt in total, let's talk about their distribution in the entire year. You'll have time till the last week before CAT 2020. So, mostly from February to November. Here is how you should divide the attempts along with the gaps in between:
February - 1 mock
March - 1 mock
April - 1 mock
May - 1 mock
June - 2 mocks
July - 2 mocks
August - 5 mocks
September - 10 mocks
October - 10 mocks
November - 10 mocks
This is a distribution for 43 CAT mocks, I took approximately these many during my time. Take all the mocks in a month as evenly spaced i.e. for a month like August with 5 mocks, take one CAT mock per week. For a month like October with 10 mocks, take one CAT mock every 3 days.
You must have noticed that the number of mocks suddenly increase from the month of August. That is because ideally, you should be done with your syllabus by July (the basics at least). Please note that coaching institutes tend to stretch their classes till September end, sometimes even October. But, there is no need to follow their pace after May. During the summer vacation (for those in college), you need to gear up and finish the basics (level of difficulty 1 and 2) for all three sections by July end.
Suggested | My Routine
Around August end, you can buy the second CAT test series. That's when you'll be extremely comfortable with the interface of the first one and ready to learn a new one. For those who get AIMCATs 2020 as their first test series, it is highly recommended to have another test series by August end. TIME's AIMCATs tend to be tougher than the CAT exam and you wouldn't want to demotivate yourself due to lower attempts.
So, a total of 30-50 CAT mocks from two test series (not purchased simultaneously) spread in between February to November in an increasing order of the number of CAT mocks per month. This was all about the timeline of CAT mocks you should set for CAT 2020.
If you also want a post on how to analyze the mocks or what to do in between two mocks, comment or message to let me know. Hope this helps you.
Edit: on aspirants' request - How to analyze a CAT mock?
More on CAT:
Must-Read: 15 Free CAT Mocks