The current generation of cricket fans is unlikely to know Chetan Pratap Singh Chauhan. Those with interest in politics might know him as the Minister of Sports and Youth in the UP Government or as the ex-BJP MP from Amroha.

Those of us who followed cricket in 1970’s can possibly never forget Chetan Chauhan’s contribution to Indian cricket, he was a solid opening batsman. Chetan Chauhan played 40 test matches between 1969 and 1981 and with Sunil Gavaskar formed arguably India’s best opening pair in Test cricket. This opening pair of Chauhan and Gavaskar scored over 3000 runs at an average of 53.75 (highest in Indian cricket) and had 10 century partnerships in Test matches.

Chetan Chauhan has 16 half centuries to his credit (with 9 scores of 75+) but also holds the dubious distinction of being the first Test player to score over 2000 runs without hitting a century. In First Class matches, however, Chetan Chauhan was a prolific scorer. He hit 21 centuries and his highest score is 207. A couple of his big scores were made when he was batting with a fractured jaw/finger.

So why am I talking about Chetan Chauhan a few days before CAT?

In the last few days I have received umpteen number of calls from students on the following two issues:

  1. Scores in Mock CATs are falling as we come closer to CAT
  2. I get a good score in section tests but not in Mock CATs.

To my mind, both these are symptomatic of the “pressure of performance”, which leads you to change your behavior and desert the process that hitherto gave you good scores.

When we take section tests, it is for practice and we know that we will not be benchmarked against others; but when we take Mock CATs we know that we will be benchmarked with other 20,000+ students. Since we are aiming for a good percentile, we either try to increase our attempts (thereby increasing the errors) or become over-cautious which leads us to slow down (and time wastage) leading to lower attempts and lower scores.

To tide over this, we need to stop worrying about the outcome – attempts, scores, percentiles etc. – and keep our focus on the process. If you compare your own behavior in papers/sections where you have done well with the same in papers/sections where you have a poor performance, you will find a marked difference. It is this change in behavior that is leading to poor scores. Many of you are engineers and will appreciate the fact that a good process leads to a great outcome.

In case of Chetan Chauhan, my take is that when approaching a century in Test matches, the anxiety or “pressure of performance” made him lose his focus or change his behavior leading to disappointment, not only for him but also for millions of followers (like me) of cricket glued to radio hoping that he would get to the coveted 3 figure mark at least this time.

What do I mean by change in behavior?

In Mock CATs, for example, in the VARC section while attempting RC:

  • many of us read faster than what we are used to, which leads to poor comprehension and more incorrect answers;
  • some of us, on the other hand, do not want any incorrect answer and hence go back to the passage to verify the answer of every question, leading to time wastage;
  • and some more of us do both of the above.

Something similar happens in DILR and QA also.

If your scores are falling in the recent Mock CATs, it is not because of your knowledge or the difficulty levels of the Mock CATs. In the last couple of weeks, neither have you become stupid nor have the papers become more difficult. The only change, as established above, that has taken place is in your “behavior” due to your anxiety (or pressure of performance) to do well in the Mock CATs.

Irrespective of the paper, a test-taker’s job is to:

  1. read a question/data set completely before deciding to attempt/leave
  2. attempt easy questions first
  3. leave difficult questions for later
  4. solve a question once and not recheck the solution/answer
  5. not waste time in time consuming questions
  6. not try to save time by reading the question/data/passage faster than your normal speed
  7. not try to save time by rushing through the calculations

My advice to all my students is to focus on the process and not worry about the outcome, because the more you worry about the outcome the less you are likely to follow the right process.

In my limited understanding, even Bhagwad Gita asks us to focus on the process and not the outcome.

All the best,