How to prepare for CAT exam?
CAT is the national level entrance examination conducted every year jointly by one of the top IIMs (Institute of Indian Management) and Tata Consultancy Services (Information Technology Partner). The exam offers tough competition to get into IIMs or other top B-schools.
Accordingly, the preparation for CAT exam, the best and largest MBA entrance exam leading to admission in 20 IIMs and hundreds of other top MBA colleges in India requires a well-planned approach with time management. More than two lakh candidates appear in Common Admission Test (CAT) every year and the number is still rising giving a tough competition in MBA admission.
Every serious MBA aspirant should follow an effective preparation strategy to give their best CAT attempt. You need to effectively utilize the time available for the CAT preparation. For this, you need to have the right strategy in place so that your CAT Preparation goes smoothly. This means not overestimating your abilities and falling short of your preparation plan nor does it mean underestimating your ability and going too slow.
Strategy for CAT preparation
CAT toppers and experts describe CAT preparation strategy in two words – ‘Smart Preparation’ and avoid the hard meaningless preparation that consumes lot of your time with lesser gain. Since, IIMs do not require a professor or a deep learner in only one area, the CAT exam is designed to measure your aptitude and assess your analytical and communication skills in the areas of English language and usage, Analysis of a situation with data, Approach to arrive at the decision by using reasoning and the basic mathematical skills..
If you are beginning your CAT preparation today, you should dedicate close to 8-10 hours per week depending on your level of preparation. This is the point in your preparation when you should be building on your basics and ensuring that you complete your syllabus to the maximum extent possible.
How you decide to distribute these 8-10 hours in a week depends on how much time you can dedicate on weekdays and weekends. However, they should be equally divided between each section i.e. 2-3 hours each for VARC, DILR, and Quant with the remaining time dedicated to either the attempting mock tests or focusing on the section where you feel you need the most preparation time.
Below are some aspect which will help you design your own CAT preparation strategy.
- Understand CAT Exam Pattern & Syllabus
Understanding CAT exams and syllabus will help you in your preparations. You will get to know the important topics and key concepts which will help you to prepare more accurately.
- Learn your basics
Perfect your basics for Verbal Ability, Reading comprehension, Data Interpretation, Logical reasoning and quantitative aptitude.
- Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses
By identifying your strong and Weak topics you can distribute your time accordingly and prepare for the CAT exam.
- Master the concept
After analysing the syllabus, try to master your concepts for each segment of the paper. Remember that you cannot proceed to the complexities without being strong with the basics for each topic.
- Mock Simulation
While you are preparing, it is essential for you to keep taking mocks and keeping track of your progress. Knowing how to solve the problem is one thing but solving the problem under the time pressure of the exam is something completely different.
CAT Preparation - How to Prepare for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)?
The purpose of Reading Comprehension Section in CAT exam is to test the ability of candidate to read and understand the given data. So, the only sound strategy to prepare for the reading comprehension section for CAT is the practice of habitual reading. Developing everyday reading habit, understanding the context can help you to solve this section easily.
Verbal ability comprises of questions across multiple types – para jumbles, identify the sentence which doesn’t form a part of a coherent paragraph, summary based questions. Usually, these questions are high scoring and easy to solve but require good speed and grasping skills.
These are some general tips you can follow while preparing for the VARC section of CAT:
- The most important tip for CAT reading comprehension is doing 2 RCs daily.
- Try speed reading and don’t try to attempt all the questions in an RC rather even if you attempt 3-4 questions, it would be more than enough but losing marks is not an option.
- Try to get the gist of the RCs while reading it, it will help in summary-based questions and descriptive answers.
- Develop a healthy reading habit, take out 30 minutes of your day for reading a novel and another half to one hour (depending on your speed) to read at least the editorial section of the newspaper.
The most important difference between VARC and other sections of CAT is that this section is not about finding the right answers but rather finding the wrong ones and eliminating them. Many options might appear correct, so you need to develop logic and understand why they are wrong and not the other way around.
CAT Preparation - How to Prepare for CAT Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)?
The weightage of Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) in a CAT exam is usually the 1/6th of the test paper. In CAT 2020, this section was moderate but time consuming.
The tricky part about DILR is that it is not mathematics and there is no formula. It is logic based and requires some amount of calculation and counting. Meaning, it’s a skill to be acquired and not knowledge to be remembered. Mental calculation is the key here. To strengthen your hold on DILR, don’t use the calculator, rely on your brain. Master tables from 1 to 20, knowledge of fractions from 1/1, 1/2, 1/3 to 1/20, basic addition and subtraction, etc.
DILR section of CAT can be mastered with practice, the more you practice, the quicker you will get in achieving accuracy. By attempting 2 Logical Reasoning and 2 Data Interpretation sets per day, you’ll be completing 4 sets of LR and DI questions each within a week. You will need to ramp up this practice rate as the CAT Exam draws closer. This will ensure that you have attempted around 100-150 DILR sets before CAT excluding mocks.
CAT Preparation - How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)?
The Quantitative Aptitude section of CAT includes Arithmetic, Algebra, Advance Mathematics and Geometry; and makes up for the 1/3rd of the CAT question paper.
In this section, there is no other way of scoring well but by being thorough with each and every chapter. Memorise basic theories and attempt variety to sample questions to tackle QA section of CAT. This section may require heavy calculation. The important thing is to improve your speed of solving. Most candidates have the ability to solve almost all the questions in the paper. The difference between the toppers and the have-beens is that toppers practice enough to increase their speed such that they can solve these questions within the time frame.
Online CAT preparation
The Online Preparation or E- learning for CAT has gone beyond the conventional classroom learning eco-system. The flexibility and ease offered by the online preparation supersedes the conventional classroom lectures. Apart from low cost, the online preparation offers quickly updated preparation material with the relevant exercises.
Not only candidates but the top coaching centres have also switched to online CAT preparation to avoid the wide spread deadly impact of highly contagious Corona Virus. Besides, due to the country wide Covid lockdown, the only option is online preparation. So, not only the online CAT preparation is more flexible, low cost but is also a good option during this period of social distancing.
You can also visit our YouTube Channel to get access to a number of videos for CAT Preparation
Solving Sample Papers and Mock Tests
A key aspect of CAT preparation is solving sample questions and online mock tests. The candidates must make sure that they practice about 35-40 mock tests during their preparation time. While the ideal time start full-fledged mock tests is in June/ July, experts recommend that candidates solve topic-wise sample questions while studying them for better clarity of concepts.
Another factor in favour of giving as many mocks as possible is that it develops your time management skills which are quite difficult to inculcate from any other method. It also builds the candidate’s stamina to function at a high level throughout the 3-hour exam. Attempting mocks followed by an in-depth analysis would help you measure your level of preparation unlike any other preparation strategy.
If you want, you can have a look at our CAT Test Series – Online Mock Tests for CAT