Exam Guidance for CAT (Common Admission Test)

In a world obsessed with the word ‘Management’, MBA has become one of the most sought after degrees. Management and entrepreneurship often go hand-in-hand. Most of the startup CEOs and corporate honchos are MBA degree holders. CAT which stands for Common Admission Test is a much bandied about entrance exam especially when it comes to aspirants. To make a mark for themselves and subsequently join elite institutions such as Indian Institutes of Managements, Faculty of Management Studies etc., aspirants have to score a decent percentile in CAT. With the number of students taking CAT escalating to new heights, the sense of rigmarole in this competitive environment is not hard to visualize. And yes, CAT throws surprises on its applicants with its characteristic trademark ‘The only predictable thing about CAT is its unpredictability’.

Need I say more that test takers are under immeasurable pressure? The so-called pressure keeps test takers on their toes and they seem to be in the eternal pursuit of foolproof strategies and exam guidance to ace the Common Admission Test. Fret no more! Here is the precious exam guidance complemented with ideal time table:

Reverse Engineering

CAT preparation generally takes 9 months and of course, it may take a month or two less or more than this quoted figure. You thus never exactly know when you have started preparing for CAT but you will definitely know that it ends the day you give your CAT.

If you give your CAT on November 22nd (say), your preparation should ideally end on November 20th (say). Studying till the nth minute will undoubtedly drain your energy. This results in fatigue. As CAT is generally conducted on Sunday, it is a recommended advice to stop preparing for exam on Friday evening. So, your deadline is November 20th (say). Now that you have a deadline, it is time to work on the test preparation strategy.

Quantitative Aptitude

Let us take 9 months as the ideal preparation duration which means, your preparation should ideally start from March.

In the first five months, you have to keep yourself abreast with all fundamental concepts. Quantitative Aptitude demands a lot of practice.

As the saying goes, there is no substitute for the practice, keep practicing and solving problems from reputed books such as

  • Quantum CAT by Arihant experts.
  • Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Disha publishers.
  • The Pearson Guide for Quantitative Aptitude by Nishit K Sinha etc. You may just grab any one of these books and jumpstart your preparation.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Data Interpretation is all about interpreting the data. However, it is easier said than done. It is important to analyze the questions first and check if the questions demand unreasonable efforts.

Take a look at the options and check if the question has been asked for relative value or an actual value. If the options are relative with a range of possible values, it is best to approximate the data and proceed to the calculations part. If it is for otherwise, it is imperative to use absolute values. Try to decipher those reports.

  • Grab a copy of Arun Sharma’s book on Data Interpretation. Solve every nook and corner of the book. Acquaint yourself with all the shortcuts mentioned in the book.

Logical Reasoning questions asked in CAT are tricky if not difficult. The key is to exercise your grey cells.

  • To tickle your grey cells to the fullest extent, it is imperative to solve the book – Puzzles by George Summers. Simultaneously, acquaint yourself with various puzzles that have been asked in Google and Microsoft interviews.

The interview puzzles are intellectually challenging and thought-provoking. Logical Reasoning section is a make or mar section for many. So, aspirants should show some spine in acing the same.

Verbal Ability

Reading Comprehension occupies a good chunk of this section. You have to be acutely aware of the nuances mentioned in the comprehension passages. To get a vice like grip on this section, read the editorial page of popular newspapers such as The Hindu, The Economic Times etc. Apart from this, it is recommended to watch Hollywood movies and TED Talks. Read novels such as The Alchemist, Catch 22, 1984 etc. It is recommended to read non-fiction as well. You may hedge your bets on novels such as Breakout Nations – In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, Future Shock, and Algebra of infinite justice to name a few.

To improve your vocabulary, start reading Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis from the Day 1. This will improve your fluency as well and will do a world of good in Group Discussions and Personal Interviews.

Suggested Timetable

Suggested study-time duration: 3 hours.

Day 1

  • Word List – 0.5 hours
  • Reading Comprehension – 45 minutes
  • Quantitative Aptitude – 1 hr 15 minutes

Day 2

  • Logical reasoning – 1 hour
  • Data Interpretation – 1 hour
  • Reading – 45 minutes
  • Tips and Tricks – 15 minutes

Mock Tests

Keep repeating this schedule every two days. In the sixth and seventh months of your preparation i.e., August and September, enroll yourself in a test series and start giving sectional tests and chapter-wise tests. Analyze your tests and learn from your mistakes. Try to complete the sectional tests and chapter-wise tests by the end of September. At the same time, start giving two mock CATs every week. Ensure that you have a gap of two-days between two full-length mocks. Thus, by the end of September, you should be able to give at-least 8 mocks.

October and November months are all about revising and giving as many mocks as possible. However, do not strain yourself by giving too many mocks. Just give two or three mocks every week and by the end of November first week, you should be able to complete 14 mocks. Remember, it is imperative to analyze and learn from your mistakes.

Three days Before CAT

Utilize these days to revise all the concepts. Do not experiment on anything. Sleep well and eat well. Believe in yourself and ace the CAT. All the best!

Samual Sam
Samual Sam

Learning faster. Every day.