Tips to Prepare for CAT

  • The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the top ranked management entrance test conducted nationwide every year. CAT preparation takes a lot of hard work of the test taker to qualify this management entrance exam, which is gateway for admissions in IIMs. Applicants should focus on giving maximum number of mock test to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and work it up.

    Also, management aspirants should keep on building management fundamentals, application of concepts, and exposure to MCQs, increasing speed and working out strategies for various types of questions. To begin with the preparation, the candidates are required to be familiar with the syllabus and the exam pattern.

    CAT Preparation

    Getting Admission into one of the IIMs and other top-rated B-Schools is a dream for most of the management aspirants. To get admission into the IIMs, the candidates must ace the CAT exam and for that prepare well in advance. However, if you think that studying from the best CAT preparation books and the finest coaching centers will ensure success, then you need to think twice as preparation strategy is what matters!

    Determine Your Strengths & Weaknesses: You should analyse your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (i.e. SWOT). Take a mock, know which areas need to be worked upon (work on your weakness), which areas need just improvements (fortify your strengths), which areas will help you score the most (exploit your opportunities) and which areas can be avoided (steer clear of threats).

    Know Your CAT Syllabus & CAT Pattern: Instead of randomly picking up topics to prepare, get hold of the complete list of areas that you need to cover. The syllabus for CAT is never constant, but can get a better picture of the various topics here. Put up the syllabus in front of your study table and keep ticking off topics you’re confident about. This is an excellent way to keep track of what you know/don’t know and it will take some stress off your mind as you keep checking off the topics you've covered.

    Keep Practicing: It is extremely important to take as many mock tests as possible. Start with at least 1 mock test every day, in the last week, take only 2-3 tests. It will increase your test-taking speed, overcome panic and give you a clear picture about the topics you’re weak in.

    Stay Disciplined: Plan your preparation calendar and stick to it! Two months is too short a time period to be wasted in procrastination. What you do/not do every day would impact your CAT score. So get out of the panic mode and get into the study mode NOW!

    Identify Questions Need to be Ignore: When you sit down to give the paper, you should be able to identify the question types that know you can’t handle. In addition, you must zero in on the questions that you know will take up most of your time. Basically, this exercise will help you prioritise well during the exam so that you do not end up wasting time.

    Manage Your Time Well: Your ability to manage time during the exam is the most crucial aspect of CAT. Therefore, your preparation plan for D-day should be in sync with the total duration of the exam. This is necessary to optimise your scores.

    CAT 2017 Exam Pattern Details & Preparation Tips 



    No of questions

    Suggested Time

    Quantitative Aptitude



    60 minutes



    Commercial mathematics


    DI & Logical Reasoning

    Logical Reasoning


    60 minutes

    Data Interpretation

    Verbal and Reading Comprehension

    Reading Comprehension


    60 minutes

    Verbal Logic


    Grammar Correction



    3 hrs.

    Quantitative Aptitude

    Quantitative Aptitude (QA) section includes questions from number systems, geometry, trigonometry, probability, permutation combination, algebra, mensuration, time and work, averages, percentages, profit and loss, quadratic and linear equations, etc.

    Knowing the basics will help you tackle. Get your basics in place, solving school level Math books would be of a good help also solve a lot of practice questions from a good source. As speed is what you need in this exam, know your tables, squares, and cubes very well. Mental calculations and methods of approximations need to be practiced rigorously to solve calculation based DI sets.

    Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

    The Logical Reasoning (LR) and Data Interpretation (DI) section is more skill-oriented and less knowledge-oriented having questions from analysis of data based on text, tables, graphs (line, area), charts (column, bar, pie), venn diagram, clocks, calendars, binary logic, seating arrangement, blood relations, logical sequence, assumption, premise, conclusion, linear and matrix arrangement, etc.

    For DI and LR, previous year papers are really important. As a matter of fact, if you can get hold of previous year mocks from a coaching institute - that is a wonderful resource as well. Mocks from present year would work too. But all of these are required at the second stage of your preparation. Once you are done with the basics. Time and Work has a set of formulas. To solve problems on sentence correction, you need to learn the rules of grammar first. Very similarly, you need to improve your skills in LR and DI by doing some basic stuff first.

    Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

    Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension section covers areas of reading comprehension, verbal reasoning, syllogisms, analogies, antonyms, and synonyms, fill in the blanks, sentence correction, idioms, etc. If your English is really poor, then put efforts on your grammar. Materials for English and Comprehension are easily available, both in the form of hard copy and soft copy. Apart from grammar, there will be questions on vocabulary, therefore, you must also prepare for the vocabulary. Keep using the words as much as possible which will help in revising.

    Books for CAT 2017 Preparation

    Best Books for Verbal and Reading Comprehension

    Nishit Sinha’s The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning

    How to Prepare for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay

    Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis

    Barron’s Pocket Guide to Vocabulary 

    Best Books for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

    Arun Sharma’s How to Prepare for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning for CAT

    Trishna's Verbal Ability And Logical Reasoning For The CAT And Other MBA 

    Best books for Quantitative Ability

    Arun Sharma’s ‘How to prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT Published by Tata McGraw Hill

    Arun Sharma’s The Complete CAT Digest, by Tata McGraw-Hill

    How to Prepare for the CAT Common Admissions Test by Muhamed Muneer, published by Om Books

    How to Prepare for the CAT Common Admissions Test by Muhamed Muneer, published by Om Books

    Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by Abhijit Guha and Published by Tata McGraw-Hill

    How to Crack CAT 2017?

    Maintain a relaxed schedule on the day before the exam, to stay fully focused on the D-day.

    Never attempt a mock on the last day. It reduces your intensity during the actual exam. Also, if you do badly in that mock, you may lose confidence before the big day.

    If you have made study notes, revise them for some time in the day, but not for too many hours.

    Re-check all the documents that you require for CAT. Have your admit card, confirmation e-mail, multiple ID proofs (with photocopies), two to three photographs handy. Don’t leave this check for the last day.

    Definitely visit the exam centre 1-2 days before the exam, ideally to reach at a time similar to your exam timing. Identify the best possible route, mode of transport, problem areas (if any) to reach the centre.

    Reach at least 60-90 minutes before the exam start time. Use your exam centre recce from the previous day to plan out your trip.

    Do not carry too much material to the exam centre, as some centres don’t take responsibility for your bags and other material.

    Go through the entire tutorial provided by the CAT authorities. Any time that you save from the tutorial will not get added to your test. Completely acclimatise yourself with all the screens and features of the test interface.

    In each section, avoid attempting questions in chronological order. Take a few minutes to scan the entire section, and identify the questions and sitters that you can attempt first.

    Do not spend more than 3-4 minutes per question. If you can’t grasp the concept of the question in 1-2 minutes, leave it for the time being and come back to it later.

    After your exam, do not try to over analyse the paper pattern of the previous or next slot. This will not change your performance and scores.


    Read these articles to get tips and tricks on CAT preparation

    CAT 2017: IIM Interview Preparation Tips

    MBA Entrance Exam: How to Prepare Without Coaching?

    MBA Entrance Exam: How to Handle First 5 Minutes?

     Top 10 Preparation Tips for Management Exams

    Top Tricks Every CAT Topper Knows But Won’t Share With You

    Things To Do A Week Before Your MBA Entrance Exam

    Dos and Don’ts to Keep in Mind a Day Before Your MBA Entrance Exam


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