CAT preparation tips

Have you decided to pursue MBA but are not sure how to start your CAT Preparation?

Here are some essential tips on how to start preparing for CAT 2019:

Know the important dates and timelines

  1. CAT 2019 will be conducted in late November, 2019.

  2. The official CAT 2019 notification was released on the last week of July 2019.

  3. CAT 2019 online application shall remain open tentatively from second week of August to fourth week of September 2019.

  4. CAT 2019 results shall be declared in the second or third week of January, 2020.

  5. College interviews shall be conducted between February-March 2020.

  6. Final CAT 2019 Results shall be declared in April-May, 2020.

  7. College sessions shall begin in June-July, 2020.

Know all about CAT 2019 important dates here

Know about all the top B-schools

Not all IIMs are equal in stature. Currently, there are 20 IIMs which can be categorized in the following order of general preference:

  • IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, and Kozhikode were established in the last century. Among these, IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, and Lucknow have a longer heritage than Kozhikode and Indore which leads to most candidates prefer the former over the latter.
  • IIM Shillong, established in 2007, has also created a niche for itself.
  • IIM Rohtak, Ranchi, Raipur, Tiruchirapalli, Kashipur, and Udaipur are all relative new IIMs established in 2010-11. They are also a good choice for students who couldn’t make it to the other IIMs mentioned above.
  • Finally, IIM Nagpur, Vishakhapatnam, Bodh Gaya, Amritsar, Sambalpur, Sirmaur, and Jammu were established in 2015-16. Their intake is comparatively on the lower side and they are yet to make a mark for themselves.

A general misconception among the beginners is that it is not worth doing an MBA if not from IIMs. They couldn’t be more wrong. There are many reputable B-schools (even more so than some of the new IIMs) that also accept CAT scores. Some of them are:

  • Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi
  • SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), Mumbai
  • Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon
  •  National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai

Note that several IITs including IIT Bombay, Delhi, and Kharagpur offer MBA programs that are considered to be better than the newer IIMs.

Know more about all the top B-schools in India here

Find your target B-school(s)

Your CAT score will only shortlist you for the successive round of the admission process. Every top B-school has a different admission process and a complex selection criterion evolved over the past decades. Reading about each of them and finding out which B-school would be best for you can be a tedious process but will ultimately hold you in good stead.

Keeping this in mind, we have developed an AI-based tool called MBA Profilizer which factors in the complex selection criteria of top B-schools, matches it with your academic and profile details, and tells you how much you need to score in CAT to be shortlisted for the second round of the admission process. With your personalized MBA Profilizer report, you can then narrow down to a select few B-schools and target them accordingly.

What’s more? It’s absolutely free. So, why not take it for a spin?.

Find your target B-school with IIM Profilizer

Apply for other MBA exams besides CAT

CAT is just one of the MBA entrance exams whose score is used by B-schools to shortlist candidates for their programs. Some of the other reputed exams are:

1. XAT: It is conducted by XLRI and opens the doors to prominent B-Schools such as XLRI, XIMB, GIM, XIME and several other good B-schools.

2. IIFT: The entrance exam for IIFT is conducted by the governing institute to select candidates for their three branches in Delhi, Kolkata, and Kakinada.

3. TISSNET: TISSNET scores are used by Tata Institute of Social Sciences for their MBA programs.

4. SNAP: SNAP scores are used by the Symbiosis group for their B-schools. Some decent colleges under SNAP are SIBM, SCMHRD, and SIIB.

5. NMAT: NMAT score is accepted by NMIMS, which is a reputed B-school. Beside that, they are also accepted by a bunch of Tier 2 B-schools.

Since your preparation for CAT would be adjacent to the syllabus for all these aptitude tests, you should apply for them to make the most of your preparation.

Know the costs involved

It’s largely known that doing an MBA is a costly matter. An MBA program from a top B-school can cost anywhere between 15 -20 lakhs. While the IIMs are government institutes and offer a number of scholarships and quite a bit of financial aid, you must focus on cutting down your costs as much as possible.

One way to do it is to apply only to a select few B-schools which would be suitable for you. Each attempted test or college application costs anywhere from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000. This implies that if you do not plan ahead and end up attempting 5 tests and applying to 20 B-schools, it could cost you around Rs. 50,000 just in application fees.

Keeping this in mind, we offer a feature called MBA Advisory on, our e-learning platform, which guides students on which applications to fill based on their profiles and aspirations.

It can be accessed with a free account on, which includes features such as exam news and notifications, mock tests with performance analysis tools, current affairs, vocabulary quizzes, and other helpful educational features.

Register now for your free account

Additionally, you can also download our free MBA Beginner’s Guide to follow a structured approach in your CAT preparation.

CAT preparation tips:  How to start preparing for CAT

If you’re a working professional, you’ll need to follow a dedicated study plan to make the most of your time and give it your best CAT attempt this year. Here are some relevant CAT preparation tips for working professionals:

1. Master the basics

Identify topics you are not comfortable with and then focus your time on them when beginning your CAT preparation. If you do not clear your basics in the initial stages of your preparation, it might come back to haunt you at the worst possible time, during the CAT 2019 Exam. So, use this time to work on the basics of all the sections of the CAT syllabus, especially Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability. This is the time when you should have all the formulas and concepts for Quant at your fingertips and have completed the reading of all recommended books for VARC according to your CAT Preparation plan. For DILR, you can work on your calculation and improve your speed. Ensure that you work on some calculation-intensive questions regularly to reduce the question-solving time and achieve all the CAT Preparation milestones that are set according to your CAT Preparation plan. A lot of the concepts involved in Logical Reasoning, Data Interpretation, and Reading Comprehension are majorly dependent on your practice.

2.  Practice to develop confidence

A lot of working professionals lose track of their CAT Preparation by not practicing enough. Attempting a select few questions or sifting through a couple of chapters and thinking that’d be enough is the biggest and most common mistake most working professionals do.  You should practice as much as you can and then some more, especially to improve in your weaker areas. This helps in developing confidence to solve any question that may appear in the actual exam. So, identify your weak areas and improve upon them. Before moving in to the testing stage, you should gain enough confidence to face easy questions from all topics of CAT syllabus.

3.  Test, analyse, and repeat

Attempting mocks is an essential stage in your CAT preparation. It helps your CAT preparation in several ways.

  • It helps you Identify strong and weak areas. This in turn, helps you understand and manage your time better.
  • It sets realistic performance expectations and allows you to check and improve it with each mock you attempt. You should attempt at least 20-25 mock exams before the real one.

In the last two months of CAT preparation, you should aim at attempting at least 1 mock every week. Simply, attempting mocks is not enough though. Ensure that you analyze your mocks thoroughly. It is quite beneficial to spend more time on analysing your mock performance than it took to attempt it. Remember, your goal is not to attempt as many questions but to comprehensively improve your preparation. Once this is done, you’ll have a narrowed down vision on what you need to work and how to go about it in the rest of the week.     

CAT preparation tips for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Despite most questions from the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section having no negative marks in the CAT exam, most aspirants fail to optimize their CAT Preparation Plan to improve their overall score. It is of utmost importance to have a proper study pattern and an effective CAT preparation strategy to crack VARC.

CAT Preparation Tips for Verbal Ability

Preparation for Verbal Ability should involve regular practice and the fundamentals of the contextual usage of Grammar and Vocabulary should be well understood before the exam.

  • Know that some of the 10 questions in the Verbal Ability section will be in non-MCQ format and thus, would not involve negative marking.
  • Practice Para Summary and Para Jumbles questions as these could be expected to comprise a significant part of the VA section.
  • There could appear 3 Para Summary questions with small paragraphs of 60-70 words. 4 alternative summary options might be given for you to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Dedicate time to solve crossword puzzles.  This will help you gain experience in solving jumbled sentences and paragraphs.

CAT preparation tips for Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension passages constitute the majority of the VARC section of CAT which makes them essential for CAT Preparation. They are usually followed with questions that involve your critical reasoning skills. Here are some tips you can use to bolster your performance in the Reading Comprehension questions.

  • Increase your reading speed: A good reading speed will help you read the RC passages and attempt the questions in a short period of time. Do not read aloud or move your lips while reading as it slows down your speed. You can also use a pen when reading the passage as it helps maintain coordination between your hands, eyes, and brain.
  • Manage time efficiently: Regardless of your level of CAT preparation, time management will play a crucial factor in your performance. Simply understanding the summary won’t help. You should focus on keywords to skim and scan a passage, and remove irrelevant words, phrases and sections from consideration.
  • Read newspapers daily: This cannot be emphasized enough. Never get complacent; continue the habit of reading newspapers even in the last month.
  • Attempt online RC questions: Begin practicing reading comprehension online. This will accustom you reading a passage followed by attempting the questions online.

CAT preparation tips for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Once you have got your fundamentals in place and know how to solve basic questions, you should follow these tips to improve your performance in DILR section of the CAT exam:

  • Increase your calculation speed: Candidates attempting CAT 2019 can expect questions based on data arranged in tables, graphs, diagrams, charts, logical games, calendars, case studies, etc. When faced with complex questions, it is important that you’re not heavily reliant on calculators for small tasks. Memorize all the formulas related to roots, squares, cubes, percentages, etc. and focus on improving your mental calculations.
  • Focus on arrangements and puzzles: Develop a strong base in find logic,  identifying linkages and key attributes in order to decipher arrangements, puzzles, and variations so no questions seems too unfamiliar.
  • Select questions smartly: The questions you select will play a major role in your performance. Make sure that you read each question thoroughly and make a smart choice; this will help immensely in scoring high marks. This should be tested out when attempting mocks so that by the time you attempt the exam, you have a fair sense of what you should and should not attempt.
  • Focus on accuracy: While time management is an important aspect to work on, you should not forget to focus on improving your accuracy. To score a good percentile, it is not important to answer maximum number of questions but to answer them correctly. It is better to attempt fewer questions with great accuracy than attempting a large number of questions incorrectly as negative marking could terribly affect your score. While the negative marking for MCQs is 1 mark, every wrong answer effectively means a loss of 4 marks from the total. Therefore it is extremely important to maintain your accuracy at a high level and find the happy medium between the number of questions attempted and the accuracy of solving them.
  • Attempt difficult questions first: One of the common strategies that most aspirants follow is attempting easy questions first and then moving on to the difficult ones. A smarter way to approach is to dedicate a time frame for difficult questions and complete them off first. However, you should not spend more than the dedicated time on difficult questions or you might be left with little time in the end to attempt simple ones.
  • Scan each question: Since most DI questions comprise numbers, diagrams, and statistics, they might appear intimidating, but in reality be quite easy to solve. If you don’t scan a question and skip to the next one after a mere glance, you might miss out on scoring on a question that is actually easy to solve.

CAT preparation tips for Quantitative Ability

Most candidates, especially those from a non-engineering background, are quite intimidated when it comes to the CAT Preparation for the Quantitative Ability section. Here are some essential CAT preparation tips for the Quant section of CAT:

  • Strengthen your mental calculator: The problem with an on-screen calculator is that you end up wasting more time on simple calculations which you could do as, if not more, quickly mentally. Ensure that you spend time each day developing your mental math skills while you practice. It might seem like a lengthy process but it is an essential part of your CAT Preparation since it can save a significant amount of time in the CAT 2019 Exam.

  • Memorize formulas with flashcards: Note down formulas and related problems on flashcards to have them handy. With ample reference, you’ll be able to recall them soon enough.

  • Know your strategies: By the time the official exam date comes around, you should have your Quant strategy all set. How many questions should you attempt and on which topic? Which questions should you prioritise based on your strengths and weaknesses? Your CAT Preparation should allow you to answer all such questions at least one week before the exam.

  • Think mathematically: How good are you at spotting patterns or applying formulas? Thinking mathematically is something that you can and should inculcate by practicing regularly before attempting Quant on the exam day

  • Improve your problem-solving speed: To improve the time spent in attempting a question, begin with a set of 10 practice questions. Time your attempt and take a note of that. Subsequently, use a stopwatch and set a time frame a few seconds less than your initial time. Continue doing it while maintaining the same accuracy and within a few weeks, you'll be able to see positive results.

CAT preparation tips for beginners

If you're appearing for CAT for the first time and have just started your CAT preparation, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on your graduation marks: A lot of MBA aspirants start their CAT preparation in their final or pre-final year of graduation. If you are in a similar situation, please understand that your overall score in graduation is a pertinent factor for your selection in all major B-schools.

So, if you still have a few semesters to go, focus on increasing your graduation scores. It will be of a significant importance in the long run.

  • Understand the differences between CAT and college exams: Note that CAT and other MBA entrance exams are very different from your college exams. Understand the difference between scores and percentiles. Engage with seniors who have attempted CAT in the previous years and learn first-hand from their experiences.
  • Apply for internships during breaks: Make optimum use of your vacations and breaks by gaining some work experience. It will help you get an edge over other competitors.

CAT preparation tips for working professionals

If you’re a working professional attempting CAT this year, read on to learn some significant tips that will help improve your CAT preparation.

  • Don’t quit your job: While you may find yourself quite stressed initially trying to maintain a balance between your performance at work and your CAT preparation, resist the temptation to quit. With time, as you develop your strategies, you might be able to manage it better. Besides, the work experience gained up to CAT might prove to be quite beneficial in your selection.
  • Manage your time effectively: Time management is the most crucial factor for working professionals. Develop an effective CAT preparation strategy based on your strengths and weaknesses, and explore effective time management strategies such as the Pomodoro technique
  • Make it convenient:  Ensure that whatever preparation resources you’re investing in are available 24*7 so that you are able to study anytime and anywhere.

All the best!


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