Why did EduRev make this guide on How to prepare for CAT?
- We wanted to answer the question "How to Prepare for CAT through self-study" once and for all in the best / perfect way possible.
- Since students waste a large amount of time, effort, and money while preparing for CAT just because of a lack of the right direction and guidance. We believe our guide to CAT Examination will be valuable for every CAT aspirant and will help them to get into their dream IIM.
- This guide was made to teach in a guided way so that you can clear CAT with the least amount of time, effort, and money spent, by just making sure you study what actually matters for the preparation of the exam.
How was this guide made for the CAT Aspirants?
- This guide has been made by EduRev experts by referring to the strategies & interviews of the toppers including Abhilasha Balakrishnan (CAT 2020, 99.86 %ile), Yogesh Taneja (CAT 2019, 100 %ile), and Rahul Gupta (CAT 2019, 100 %ile).
- Special thanks to Abhinav Gupta (IIM Kozhikode) and Ritika Jain (IIM A) for reviewing the final drafts.
Step by Step Preparation Strategy for CAT
This section aims at helping you to devise a well-planned preparation strategy for the upcoming CAT exam. Let’s have a look at the fool-proof STEP by STEP preparation strategy for preparing for the CAT exam.
Step 1: Understand the exam, make a mental plan and prepare yourself.
- Understand the exam: Although there's no defined syllabus of CAT but EduRev team has done exhaustive research from previous year papers & best books recommended by toppers and has compiled the detailed CAT syllabus, which you can read here.
- Make a Strategy & Time-table: A comprehensive plan needs to be in place before you start preparing for the exam. Whether you are a student or a working professional, you need to give at least 2 hours on a daily basis and devote a good amount of time on the weekends. And if you are preparing on a daily basis, you should divide your time for preparing different sections in a balanced manner in order to wrap the CAT Syllabus.
- Increase your reading speed by building up your reading habits: Go through novels, journals, or reputed magazines regularly to ace the verbal section smoothly.
- Train your mind to do basic calculations: Practice Mental Maths & start playing sudoku, logic & puzzle games to boost your calculation speed for CAT.
- Improve your understanding of different topics: Go through various newspaper editorials & articles and try reading a diverse set of topics every day which will improve your retention power and comprehension ability.
Step 2: Check a few mocks and PYQs to understand where you stand
- Start by attempting PYQs and Mock Tests: It is highly recommended to attempt Previous Year Papers (PYQs) and Mock tests for the first 2-3 weeks to understand the type of CAT questions, their composition, subjects/topics which are being asked, and their format.
- Analyze your strengths & weaknesses: Start your preparation by keeping your strengths & weaknesses in consideration. To clear the CAT exam with flying colors you need to understand that you will be great at a few topics and need to put in more effort in your weak areas.
- Do not worry about the percentile in mocks initially: This is the first phase of your CAT preparation, so you should not worry much about the performance in mocks or percentile. The objective is to understand your strong & weak areas. It will improve gradually as you practice more tests and start preparing for each section independently.
EduRev provides All India Rank (AIR) & in-depth analysis after every test that you attempt. You also get to know the average time taken by the students across the country to attempt a particular question. Continuous analysis & improvement is really important for every CAT aspirant.
Step 3: Section-wise preparation: How to go about Quant, VARC & DILR Sections of CAT
Once, you've understood your strengths & weaknesses and are done with Steps 1 & 2, it's time to start focusing on section-wise preparation. The CAT exam is divided into 3 major sections, and as per the pattern of the exam in 2021:
EduRev team has also compiled a section-wise strategy to ensure that you score a great percentile in the CAT exam.
Step 3.1: How to Prepare Quantitative Aptitude for CAT?
Quantitative Aptitude is the section where numerical questions are asked to test the mathematical skills, accuracy, and speed of the candidates. In general, the questions in the quant for CAT section are related to basic and elementary mathematics and require the candidates to be completely acquainted with the fundamental concepts to solve them.
"You have to realise that all questions carry equal weight, but some are easier. That should be the first step of your strategy: Identifying what you can do best naturally."
- Make the basic foundation strong: You should grasp the basic concepts first. And then, move onto sectional tests to then eventually Mock Tests. You can learn the basic concepts from the notes on EduRev, curated by IIM alumni, to improve your understanding of the topic from basics to advance from here.
- Keep in mind the Important Formulas & Short Tricks: You should understand that a long question that can be solved in 10-mins, can also be cracked with a trick within a few seconds, you need to master those important formulas & short tricks. EduRev has provided video lectures & detailed notes for all the topics which help you understand such tricks with some quick examples. These are highly recommended for CAT preparation and you can get them in the Quantitative Aptitude (Quant).
- Improve your calculation speed: You can increase your calculation speed/skills by using various techniques, which you can learn through Vedic mathematics trick videos provided under the Quantitative Aptitude course on EduRev. It will help you to do basic calculations faster & remember square & cube roots, you can attempt the questions faster.
- Brush up your basics of mathematics through NCERTs: If you're a beginner & think that you need to work on your basic mathematical skills and have ample amount of time for the same, we recommend studying the basic NCERTs through this Mathematics NCERTs for CAT course on EduRev.
You can also find a detailed preparation strategy with the syllabus for Quant here. EduRev's team of experts has specifically designed this after researching the past year's paper, interacting with the toppers, and referring to the best books recommended by the toppers, to help you with Quant preparation for the CAT exam.
Step 3.2: How to prepare VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension) for CAT?
Reading Comprehension part in the VARC section is considered the more tricky part of the CAT exam as this section can get any composition of topics and different types of questions. You need to prepare for Reading Comprehension by devoting much more time to practicing on a variety of RC passages and Verbal Ability questions.
- Read as much as you can & increase your knowledge of topics: Every topper has emphasized that you should start reading newspapers and novels to prepare yourself for the RC section. It Increases your reading speed, retention power, and comprehension ability by reading a diverse set of topics every day. Read as many articles, as many editorials as you can, or the Guardian or the Washington Post. This will also prepare you for GD's & PI's.
- Attempt RC-based tests and questions: First read the questions and then read the passage. You tend to be alert in the passage around the part of the question automatically. You can start practicing & mastering this skill by attempting different RC-based tests and questions from the RCs asked in previous year papers & are available in the Reading Comprehension section in the EduRev course. It also provides video lectures & notes to help you understand the different RC-based questions asked in recent years.
You can attempt previous year RCs and can read a diversity of topics in RCs from the course on EduRev: 100 RCs for Practice
- Practice Verbal Ability: You should practice a lot of questions to strengthen the topics of verbal ability and watch quick videos to understand the topic briefly & understand through examples. Spend more time practicing a variety of topics. You can find quick videos & notes and multiple tests to practice for each topic in the Verbal Ability course on EduRev.
- Improve your Vocabulary: Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis, is the go-to book to improve your vocabulary. It is not a book to be read but a book to work with daily to enrich your vocabulary. This book may or may not have a direct impact on your score for verbal ability but it will ensure that you’re well prepared for GDs, and PI's. You can find some helpful videos, notes & MCQ tests on Vocabulary, here.
- Work on improving your Grammatical Skills: If you're a beginner, High School Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin is a highly recommended book to help you create a strong base. EduRev has also provided a dedicated section of English Grammar & Grammar Tenses to help with the same. Each section provides interactive video lectures to help you understand the topic with detailed notes (& examples) and quick online MCQ tests
- Converse with your friends in English: If you are weak in VARC, conversing in English with friends, and even watching English TV series and movies will be helpful. Write down whatever new words you encounter after reading at least 5-6 newspaper articles every day.
For more information, you can also refer How to Prepare for VARC with EduRev
Step 3.3: How to prepare DILR (Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning) for CAT?
- Data interpretation is the process of reviewing data through some predefined processes which will help assign some meaning to the data and arrive at a relevant conclusion. It involves taking the result of data analysis, making inferences on the relations studied, and using them to conclude.
- Logical reasoning consists of aptitude questions that require a logical level of analysis to arrive at the correct solution. Most of the questions are constructed based on concepts and the rest are out-of-the-box thinking ones.
Logical reasoning is classified into two types:
- Verbal Reasoning: It is the ability to logically understand the concepts and solve problems expressed in words. Verbal reasoning tests the ability to extract information and implications in a sentence.
- Non-verbal Reasoning: It is the ability to logically understand the concepts and solve problems expressed in numbers/letters/figures in combination with words. Non-verbal reasoning tests the ability of deduction and induction of logic of information and implications in a problem.
“I believe that the difficulty level of this section is usually overrated. I would start with the set that I’m most comfortable with and I would just read carefully and follow the instructions word-by-word. Next, I would try to follow my instincts, use hit and trial, make cases, and eliminate the erroneous ones. Again, practice is what did wonders here. Also, do not be scared of using that on-screen calculator, just make it a friend.” - Vishesh Garg (99.9 percentile, CAT 2020)
- Practice Previous Year Papers & Mock Tests: You can start by practicing the DILR section of previous year papers of different MBA entrance exams under the Archive for LRDI section: CAT, XAT, SNAP in the LRDI course on EduRev.
- Topic-wise Preparation: You should watch a few quick videos with examples and start practicing the questions. Practice is what will make you really good at this section. You can watch topic-wise videos with examples and practice online tests for each topic on EduRev.
- It is recommended to start with a generic topic like Pie Chart, Tables & Venn Diagrams Diagrams & others. It helps you get tuned to the DILR section from the perspective of how you start looking at data sets, and the conclusions you derive from them.
- Data Interpretation (DI) is considered a bit more time-consuming. Start practicing on DI questions. Use approximation techniques for quick calculations. You can practice them here.
We have prepared a detailed preparation strategy for DILR which you can access from How to Prepare for DILR with EduRev
EduRev should be the first go-to app for every CAT aspirant. You get thousands of questions to practice including topic-wise & complete mock tests. Practice has been the only mantra to have worked in CAT exam for me. I cracked the exam after 5-months of the preparation. - Sazal Batra (IIM A)
Step 4: Practice, Practice & Practice: Topic-wise, Section-wise tests & PYQs
Solving previous year's questions is very important and is essential for the preparation of CAT exam. Practicing topic-wise and section-wise tests will boost your confidence and will help you prepare well.
- Attempt Section Wise & topic-wise tests: After covering the basic concepts of Quant, VARC & DILR. You should practice well by giving section-wise & topic-wise tests.
- Attempt Previous Year Papers: You should also attempt sectional & complete previous year papers to understand your analysis before the actual exam. You can refer to the Archives given in the courses of the different sections: Quantitative Aptitude, VARC & DILR. Also, the complete previous year's papers can be accessed from here.
Step 5: Start giving mocks at least 4 months before CAT
4 months are more than enough for CAT mock test practice. Also, The count of mock tests you have taken is not important. The importance of mock tests lies in how well you analyze each test and work on it.
- Attempt full-length Mock tests: You should attempt full mock tests from at least 2 sources and can also refer to EduRev's Mock Test Series for CAT Exam, offering sectional & full mock tests. We recommend you attempt the mock tests through the EduRev website as the actual CAT exam will be conducted on a computer system.
- Analysis is a must: After every CAT mock test, you must analyze your performance and evaluate your scoring areas based on the CAT question paper. The analysis of your mock CAT paper will bring clarity to your strengths and weaknesses.
The objective of these mock tests provided at EduRev is to prepare yourself for the actual CAT exam and improve your performance in every section before the exam. You can get real-time %ile and AIR whenever you attempt any test on EduRev including all the Mock Tests. It helps you to constantly keep track of your performance.
Analysis of test on EduRev
- Focus on strength: Going by your own evaluation, you must focus on your strong areas and build on the same. As most of the questions in CAT are based on the application of basic concepts, learning both concepts and application at this stage is not advisable. Instead, you should put all your efforts towards the areas in which you have nearly been able to control and solve questions on the same.
Step 6: Revise all important questions & formulae (keep them handy)
Preparing for the CAT exam involves practicing as many questions as you can. But all that practice is worthless unless you know how to revise for the CAT exam. No matter where you are in the CAT preparation journey, you must plan about your revision of CAT syllabus right now.
- Tricks and Shortcuts: When you look at the solutions of different questions you attempt through your books and mocks, you'll come across some interesting shortcuts. It is important to revise them.
- Important Questions: There are some extraordinary questions (they're unique and not difficult) that make you go "Oh, I didn't think like that". There's no other way to solve such questions quickly apart from the technique mentioned in the solutions. So, having these questions on your tips is going to help you.
- Important Formulas: Needless to say, you need to revise the important formulas of each chapter. You will come across these formulas during:
- Reading the Basics
- Solving the Booklets
- Analyzing the Mocks
- Books recommended for revision: Books that are recommended for CAT Examination by toppers that you can refer to revise your concepts with examples:
- QA: Arun Sharma, Nishit K.Sinha
- VARC: Meenakshi Upadhayay & Arun Sharma
- DILR: Arun Sharma, Nishit K.Sinha
The EduRev course for CAT examination is designed in reference to these books providing video lectures & notes for each topic where the topic is explained briefly with multiple examples with multiple topic-wise tests, you can refer to the respective links to access the courses: Quantitative Aptitude , VARC & DILR.
Do you know that EduRev provides you an option to mark questions for review after you've attempted them? It helps you to create a collection of questions where you got stuck and revise them at the end.
Step 7: Analyse & Repeat Step 4 to 6
After going from Step 4 to 6 analyze which are the areas in which you are lacking and which are the areas where you are having a stronghold.
- Revise the questions you have attempted well and Practice weaker areas: Do not forget to have a look at the questions you have performed well while attempting mocks. This helps in building self-confidence as well as having a grip over such questions in the future. Practice rigorously the weaker area topics until refining them to perfection.
- Recognize the kind of mistakes you are making and correct them: There are 3 types of common mistakes that candidates make in the CAT Exam: conceptual mistakes, silly calculation errors & attempting the questions which could have been avoided. You need to analyze after every test, what types of mistakes you are making frequent and then improve them accordingly.
- Sleep well and take care of your mental health: An additional piece of unsolicited advice for the last 1-month before the exam is that you need to sleep well. It improves accuracy much more than any amount of test practice. Take care of your mental health as well.
Step 8: One month before CAT
Here are the things you should definitely follow in the last month before CAT:
- Frame a month's schedule in advance and adhere to it on a strict basis
Vow to study for at least 5-6 hours every day (if you are a working professional) and 8-9 hours (if you are a student). Do not stick to one section while framing the timetable. Give adequate time to all the sections with consistent breaks in between.
- Mocks, Mocks, Mocks – Put Quality over Quantity
Aim to take at least 10-12 mocks in the last month – at an average of 2-3 per week. Do not plan to take 30 mocks in the last month – that can be counter-productive. You should spend at least as much time reviewing a mock as you do in taking it. So, allow at least 3 hours for the review
- Worry about accuracy a lot
You should aim for near 100% accuracy in Quant and DILR and upwards of 80% accuracy in VARC. Worrying about accuracy is an attitudinal change that you should make.
- Revisit Fundamentals. It does help
Basics and fundamentals will help you prepare well. Revisit and revise them again and again in the last month before CAT.
- Revise what you have learned. Do not go for new topics
Now is the time to get better at things that you are already good at and dump the things that you are poor at. Revise the stuff that you are comfortable with and forget about the topics that you hate.
- Continue to read something every day
Reading habit matters. Read for an hour or so every day till the day of CAT (and beyond).
- Take care of yourself: Lastly, take care of yourself throughout the month. Take breathers between your perpetual studying hours and go for a drive, play a sport, or get enough hours of sleep.
Step 9: CAT Exam Day Plan/Strategy
Step 9.1: Before Exam:
- Revise important formulae: On the night before the CAT exam, revise all the important formulae, concepts, and theorems before going to bed. Remember, this is not time to start any new topic or even take a mock test. Your CAT preparation must be completed at least a fortnight before the CAT exam so that you can dedicate the last few days to revision. Revise all the concepts and go to bed with a clear and confident mind.
- Sleep well the night before: To be able to stay alert during the CAT exam, it is important to sleep well the night before. Sleep for at least eight hours before the CAT 2021 exam day for a calm and relaxed mind during the test. Having a well-rested mind makes a lot of difference when you are attempting a test that includes heavy calculation and logical reasoning.
- Avoid last-minute revision: In order to avoid any confusion just before entering your CAT exam center, avoid last-minute revision. Studying more is not equal to knowing more. So, don’t stretch and don’t stress. For a competitive exam like CAT, it is important that you prepare well throughout the year and not in the last few days or hours. Overall and well-structured exam preparation is the key.
- Reach the exam center before reporting time: Reach your test center at the time mentioned on the admit card for smooth and safe entry to the exam hall. Carry CAT admit card and ID proof.
Step 9.2: During Exam:
- Follow the exam pattern and your strategy: Throughout your CAT preparation journey, you have faced a lot of questions and different CAT mock tests have helped shape your CAT day strategy. To avoid any panic situation do not change your CAT day strategy or break your CAT exam solving pattern. Follow the chronology:
- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and
- Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
- Maintain your speed and accuracy: Be confident in your preparation. Keep yourself motivated with the thought you have invested your time to crack this paper. Follow your strategy and maintain your speed and accuracy. Do not over attempt or play the guessing game.
- How to attempt CAT on D-Day: For detailed knowledge on How to attempt CAT on D-Day go through this document which will help you in making a perfect exam day strategy and will provide you with tips that must be followed on the D-day.
Step 9.3: After Exam:
- Avoid after discussion: You have finished your paper. Come out of the center and stay grounded. For your peace of mind do not discuss answers with your friends. This will help you stay calm even after the paper.
Step 10: Other MBA Exams: XAT, NMAT, TISSNET, IIFT & SNAP
Here is the list of other MBA entrance exams you can go for after going for CAT.
- XAT: XAT or Xavier Aptitude Test is an online CBT (computer-based) management entrance exam that grants the eligible candidate's admission for MBA/PGDM courses offered by XLRI Jamshedpur, XIMB Bhubaneswar, SPJIMR Mumbai, IMT Ghaziabad, etc along with other 156 management institutes the country.
You can find the syllabus & strategy for XAT exam here and mock test series here.
- NMAT: NMAT by GMAC is a national level entrance test conducted for MBA admissions at NMIMS University and other reputed B-Schools in India as well as abroad.
You can find the syllabus & strategy for NMAT exam here and mock test series here.
- TISSNET: Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) will conduct TISSNET 2021 exam on Saturday, February 20, 2021, as a computer-based test of 100-minute duration. TISS-NET 2021 is a computer-based National Entrance Test for admission to all the Masters (M.A.) programs offered by TISS.
You can find the mock test series for TISSNET exam here.
- IIFT: The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade was established in 1963 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to contribute in the skill building for the external trade sector of India. It offers research and training in international business and trade.
You can find the syllabus & strategy for IIFT exam here and mock test series here
You can find the syllabus & strategy for SNAP exam here and mock test series here.
Step 11: Prepare for Interview & Group Discussion
Written Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview (PI) of the IIMs is a tough nut to crack, due to its unpredictable nature.
- You can prepare well for this round, going through all the current affair journals, business magazines, and newspaper editorials. It is important to remember that only knowledge is not enough, what you also need are personality traits like confidence, composure, and communication skills.
- Some of the parameters on which a candidate can be judged in the WAT-PI round: communication skills, writing ability, subject knowledge, listening power, confidence, leadership skills, presentation skills, interactive skills, decision-making ability, problem-solving ability, critical and analytical thinking, and open-mindedness
You can prepare for the interview in the best possible manner by following this course, here.
FAQs Related to CAT Examination
Q.1. Can I edit or make changes in CAT application form, once I have made payment?
After paying the amount of the CAT application fee, no changes will be allowed to be made in CAT application form. However, the correction window opened where candidates could edit their photograph and signature only.
Q.2. I have completed a five-year dual degree course. How can I enter my marks for a bachelor's degree?
As per your university norms, candidates need to enter the aggregate of marks that are equivalent to Bachelor’s degree and enter under Bachelor’s section and equivalent marks for Master’s degree under Master’s section.
Q.3. Can I appear for more than one slot for CAT 2021?
No, candidates can not appear for both slots. It will be considered a fraudulent activity if one attempts to appear for both slots. To ensure that one has only one attempt, photo IDs, admit card, candidates' pictures and biometric information will be verified.