Different Approaches to Problem Solving
Do not be fooled by the title of this article! This is an article which is extremely important from the perspective of CAT? How so?
The ‘problem solving’ in this article actually refers to mathematics and the reference here is to your mathematical skills.
Well, as far as aptitude exams go, there are three kinds of problem solvers out there:
- The Instinctual Problem Solver
This tiny fraction of problem solvers see problems, do some magical act in their brains and then come up with a solution in a matter of minutes. This kind of problem solver does not require books or established methods to solve problems. Also, this is the kind of problem solver that makes you sweat in the classroom and makes you feel as if you do not know mathematics and there is no hope for you in the exam. When you see the mock scores, you see section toppers scoring almost 80 to 90% in their preferred sections and even more doubts creep in: is this exam for you? Well, as I said before, this is where you need to understand that this fraction of problem solvers is extremely small; it is a tiny part of the 2 lac+ candidates that are going to appear this year in the exam. And most importantly, since this kind of problem solver is so small, it might not even impact on your final result.
Advice for this kind of students: There is some advice for you guys as well. Make sure you do not get over-confident and stick to plan in the exam. For many a student, their downfall is brought about by over-confidence in the exam and you should not commit the same folly.
But then which is the problem solver that has an impact on your prep? Well, let’s explore this kind of problem solver as well.
- The Hard Worker
Of all the kinds of problem solvers, this is the one who has the maximum impact on the results of the exam. By sheer dint of the number of problems solved and the number of approaches learnt, this problem solver is able to make a dent in the exam scores. He is able to understand what is required of him and the kind of skills required to crack the exam. In fact, the two most important skills are hard-work and perseverance (and not talent per say). The third thing this kind of student is able to understand is his limitations. Remember, this is again critical in order to crack the exam. As an example, geometry is not a particularly strong area for the author of this article (that is I). So what is the solution that I follow for it? One, I cover the basics for it (so that I do not miss out on the really easy geometry problem in the exam) and second, I leave geometry questions for the end (once I have gone through problems from strong areas). This simple rule means that mathematics cut-offs are never a problem for me as I am able to maximize my scores from the areas I have practiced well. This is the skill you require in order to maximize your scores.
Advice for this kind of students: Make sure you continue on this path of your talent maximization and achieve the best possible results that you can. Maximize your scores by being aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
- The Dreamy Problem Solver
This is the third kind of the problem solver and sadly, in terms of numbers, this is the biggest chunk of the pie. This kind of problem solver does one thing: he thinks and dreams about his problem solving skills could be, how others are more talented than him and how he does not have the mathematical skills required to crack the exam.
What this kind of problem solver does not understand is that the vast majority of students lie in this category and that is through sheer dint of hard-work that some of these students shift from category 3 to category 2. Are you one of these? Are you one these students who thinks he can’t make it because he does not have enough talent? Well, take this myth out of your system and make sure you do everything possible to shift from category 3 to category 2.
Advice for this kind of students: Remember, your aim is not to be in category 1; your aim is category 2 and making sure you clear the cut-offs for the exam. There is no other way out than hard work and the sooner you start, the better it is.
This is all for this post. Hope you have learnt something about yourself and your problem-solving skills.