CAT is one of the toughest and most reputed entrance exams for post graduate business administration programs in India and every year around 2 lakh candidates appear in the exam. Various experienced professionals and fresh graduates take up this exam. Thus it is indispensible for all CAT aspirants to prepare really well for CAT, which will help them to get admission in top IIM.
To get a proper CAT preparation, it is always advisable to prepare a proper routine, have an effective time management strategy and a clear plan of action. Unlike many other mentors, we suggest that a preparation of 6 months to 1 year with proper guidance is sufficient to crack the exam. What the candidate needs to ensure is that a suitable and efficient CAT preparation plan is in place and he/she is following the plan to the best of his/her ability.
If someone is planning to start CAT preparation today, then he/she should invest 6-8 hours per day depending on his/her preparation level and capability. There are three segments in CAT, VARC, DILR and QA. Therefore, one should first equally distribute time for each segment every day. During week days, one should invest 1.5- 2 hours for every segment and the rest of the time the candidate should focus on attempting mock tests. In the weekend it is advisable to refresh themselves and invest 2-3 hours for complete revision.
CAT Preparation Strategy
Complete CAT Preparation can be divided into four phases:
Learning of fundamentals:
Before starting rigorous practice candidates should invest few weeks in understanding the basic concepts of Verbal Ability & Reading comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical reasoning and Quantitative Aptitude.
Recognizing Strengths and Weaknesses:
After obtaining a clear knowledge about the required concepts of all the segments, candidates are recommended to identify their strengths and weaknesses in the entire syllabus. Then the candidates can divide the topics accordingly and make an effective plan.
Emphasizing most important topics:
Although a candidate should be prepared to encounter unexpected and tricky questions in CAT every year, there is still some continuity in case of concepts to be tested. RC questions cover around 70% of the VARC section and DI & LR questions are almost equally distributed in the DILR section. In QA, Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry are the most important topics. These are the points every CAT aspirant should remember while preparing for CAT exam.
Mock tests are the most crucial part of the CAT preparation. Because it keeps track of the candidate’s preparation and also give the candidate opportunity to understand his/her weaknesses and rectify them. Also by giving mock tests a candidate understands about how to solve problems in time.
How to Prepare for VARC section in CAT
The key point of VARC preparation is to improve the reading speed. A better and accurate reading ability saves a lot of time in the CAT exam since the candidate is expected to read at least 4-5 passages apart from 8-10 Verbal ability questions. Ideally one should invest at least 1 hour daily for VARC preparation. Out of that one hour, one should devote 40-45 minutes in reading 4-5 RC passages. The remaining 15-20 minutes should be dedicated in attempting at least 10 Verbal Ability questions.
How to Prepare for DILR section in CAT
In the same way a candidate should invest at least 2 hours daily for solving DILR questions. Within one hour session, a candidate should try to finish at least two sets of Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning questions. Recently CAT is emphasizing more on questions which combine both DI and LR. Therefore, one should focus more on DILR Questions as much as possible.
By attempting 2 LR and 2 DI sets per day, candidates should be able to complete 4 sets of LR and DI questions. After a certain point candidate needs to accelerate his/her practice rate in order to match the level of CAT exam. This is to ensure that the candidate has completed 100-150 DILR sets before CAT excluding mocks tests.
How to Prepare for QA in CAT
In order to cross the 99 percentile barrier candidate needs to improve the accuracy. According to CAT 2019, one needs to answer 23 questions out of 34 with high accuracy to achieve 99 percentile. For revised version of CAT 2020, one needs to attempt 12-15 questions with high accuracy to breach the 99 percentile barrier.
It is evident from the past several years of questions that algebra and arithmetic questions cover almost 1/3 rd of the QA section. Therefore, to excel in this section, candidate should put his/her core focus on Arithmetic, Numbers, and Algebra. Also candidates should keep in mind that CAT is known for surprising candidates and thus through study of Geometry and Modern Math should also be done carefully.
Once a candidate decides to prepare for CAT, it is important to improve his/her speed of problem solving. It has been observed that most of the candidates have the ability to solve the problems in the CAT exam, but they are not been able to solve the problems in time. So the speed of solving questions makes the difference between the toppers and other candidates.