CAT Preparation 2024: Section-wise & Month-wise Strategy

Updated on 25th January 2024 | 3:17 pm | #CATPreparation2024

Every CAT aspirant wishes to learn the tips and tricks to ace CAT and get into one of the top B-schools. To achieve this feat, the first step is to decide on a concrete CAT 2024 preparation strategy. The basics to be covered in the CAT preparation 2024 include:

  • Understanding the exam pattern and syllabus
  • Establishing the fundamental concepts
  • Giving time to each section individually
  • Creating a study plan and following it through
  • Attempting mock tests and analyzing them
  • Reviewing past years’ papers

While this is not an exhaustive list of preparation tips to be followed, it allows you to begin preparing and mold your preparation strategy accordingly.

Also breakdown your study plan into month-wise and section-wise preparation strategies that you follow to the t. Set these as the milestones of your CAT preparation for 2024 that will help you stay on track and motivated.

Get the CAT 2024 Study Plan

CAT 2024 Preparation Strategy: Overview

  • Familiarize yourself with the syllabus: Go through the topics that are covered in Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Aptitude. 
  • Focus on your strong and weak points: Once you have reviewed the entire CAT 2024 syllabus, begin the division of topics into your strong and weak areas to dedicate preparation time accordingly. 
  • Prioritize the most important topics: Almost every year CAT throws surprise questions but the basics remain the same every year. RC covers approx. 70% of the VARC section while DILR has questions fairly distributed between data interpretation and logical reasoning. The quant section largely contains questions of algebra, arithmetic, and geometry. So, it is imperative to prioritize these topics to crack the CAT 2024 exam. 
  • Mock tests for the right preparation: The most important step for CAT 2024 preparation is attempting and analyzing mock tests. You must take mocks after completing the syllabus to improve your test-taking ability in a specified time of two hours.

CAT Preparation Tips 2024: Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Owing to the pandemic, the CAT exam has seen various changes in the exam pattern. Thus, the initial step toward cracking CAT 2024 is to understand the exam pattern and syllabus. CAT 2024 is expected to be on the same lines as CAT 2023. The number of questions has remained consistent for the past two years and so has the time duration of the exam. So it is imperative to analyze the pattern and syllabus to attempt the paper accurately. 

Given below is the exam pattern and syllabus for guidance.


No. of Questions

Time Allotted

Main Topics

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)


40 minutes

RC passages, Inferences, Summary, Para jumbles, etc.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)


40 minutes

Graphs, charts, syllogism, arrangements, etc.

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)


40 minutes

Algebra, arithmetic, trigonometry, probability, etc.

CAT Preparation Tips 2024: Choose Your Plan

As a CAT aspirant, the choice of self-preparing for the exam or enrolling in an online coaching program should be made with your requirements and objectives in mind. The CAT exam requires diligence, commitment, and discipline to achieve a good percentile and get into one of the IIMs. Candidates must develop their fundamentals well, practice on a daily basis, study from correct material, and give mocks regularly. CAT preparation is no easy feat but can be achieved by mastering your skills be it by self-study or guidance.

CAT Preparation Strategy: Coaching Programs

Preparing for the CAT exam should be a long-term plan with atleast nine to 10 months for preparations. Even if a candidate does not have that much time, coaching classes can help speed up the process and get candidates to their desired level of skill.

  • Studying at a coaching institute can reinstate confidence in the candidate, help polish existing skills, and establish the remaining ones.
  • Candidates will also garner guidance on the best ways to attempt the CAT exam and the number of questions to attempt.
  • Based on the previous paper analysis, coaching institutes also outline the most important topics, the possible paper pattern, and the best ways for each candidate to get the best percentile.
  • Alongside, candidates will also have direct access to the best coaching material in the form of books, teachers and videos along with mock tests.

All in all, a coaching institute can make it easy for candidates to study and prepare in the right direction. All the focus of the candidate can be on preparations without worrying about the best resources or updates regarding the exam.

CAT Preparation Strategy: Self-Studying

Studying and preparing for the CAT exam all by yourself gives a lot of liberty. Candidates can choose their own strategies and timelines to best suit their needs. The CAT preparation is self-paced and focused on personal requirements when studying individually.

  • Candidates can choose the best timetable suited for them and personalize their preparation strategy based on their weaknesses and strengths.
  • The focus of the preparation is often open to various study materials and resources from all across the internet.
  • There is no commitment for the candidate towards any fixed classes. Though it is recommended that the candidate remains consistent. Timings are often flexible based on present circumstances.
  • When working by themself, the candidate can understand and identify the areas that require more work and identify the strengths.

Thus, if a candidate chooses to self-study, they can practice by themself without any pressure of competing with others. However, studying without coaching classes will require the candidate to do all the analysis, review and implement plans by themselves. So to save time the aspirants can consider opting for a blend of self-study and coaching programs.

Section-wise CAT Preparation: VARC

Following the exam pattern for CAT 2023, CAT 2024 is expected to consist of 24 questions in VARC with 16 questions of Reading Comprehension and 8 of Verbal Ability. The RC section will comprise 4 passages of 4 questions each while VA can consist of questions on parajumbles, paracompletion, odd one out, or para summary. To score well in this section, you must have a strong grasp of your English skills including grammar and vocabulary. Here are a few tips to prepare for VARC:

  • Improve your grammar and vocabulary:

    Getting into the habit of reading regularly, be it magazines, novels, or newspapers. It will allow you to expand your vocabulary and help improve your reading speed. Thus, your skills in both the RC section and the VA section will be improved.

  • Learn to understand the underlying meaning:

    CAT requires speed and accuracy to score well. So instead of reading each passage of RC carefully, practice briefly reading the passage and identifying the gist.

  • Earmark one mock every week:

    It is advisable to earmark one topic-wise mock for verbal ability and one VARC sectional mock every week to give substance to your preparation and revise the concepts consistently.

  • Choosing the right study material:

    It is essential to select the appropriate reading material that would enlighten you with the basics of the VA section. As VA is highly grammar and verbal reasoning influenced, you would need the material that would be a culmination of these two major segments and which also contains detailed explanatory answers for every question.

  • Practice for 4-5 RC questions per day:

    It is all about taking on challenges and successfully testing your power to extract the correct meaning from passages. Practicing a good number of RC questions every day will strengthen your command of the section and boost your confidence in the main CAT examination.

Section-wise CAT Preparation: DILR

CAT 2024 is expected to resemble CAT 2023 in terms of the exam pattern. The 20 questions asked in this section are divided into 4 sets of 5 questions each. It is important to understand the syllabus when it comes to DILR preparation. The DILR section commonly has questions related to linear and matrix arrangements, blood relations, family tree, directions, coding-decoding, sequence and series, syllogisms, and analogy. Given below is the list of steps that will help you prepare for DILR:

  • Identify the Easiest Sets:

    On reaching the DILR section, spend 5-7 minutes reviewing the sets and identifying the easiest set and the most difficult set. Leave the difficult set and begin answering the remaining sets in increasing order of difficulty.

  • Do Not Attempt the Entire DILR Section:

    The focus of DILR is not to attempt the entire section but to answer atleast 2 out of the 4 given sets with a high level of accuracy to get into the 99%ile. So, candidates can focus on answering the easiest sets first.

  • Practice Mock Tests:

    Candidates should practice mock tests regularly to evaluate their speed and accuracy in attempting the DILR section, So, similar to the VARC section, candidates should attempt one topic-wise mock for DILR atleast once a week.

  • Build your Strategy for DILR:

    When picking the easiest sets from the section, there is no guarantee that the questions of the set will also be easy. So, know where to leave questions and move to the next set. The reverse is also true, i.e. that if you select a difficult set, answer the easiest questions.

  • Work on Speed and Accuracy:

    DILR is a section that relies on your speed at answering questions and also the accuracy with which you respond. Practice questions and revise the syllabus regularly to improve speed and accuracy. The analysis of your mock tests will also help you identify your weaknesses and strengths.

Read in detail: How to prepare for CAT DILR

Section-wise CAT Preparation: QA

The QA section is focused on Mathematics, so candidates must practice questions extensively and memorize the basic equations that are required in this section. Based on CAT 2023, this section covers topics such as number system, percentages, profit and loss, probability and mensuration etc.

CAT 2024 is also expected to have 22 questions in this section and the expected pattern will be dominated by algebra and arithmetic along with questions from geometry, number system etc. Here is how you can ace the CAT 2024 QA section:

  • Strengthen your Base:

    As the section is focused on the mathematical capabilities of the candidate, the focus should be on memorizing the equations and mathematical formulas that are relevant to the QA syllabus. A strong foundation of equations and formulae will allow you to work through the section in an easier manner.

  • Work on Shortcuts:

    Identifying and memorizing shortcuts to conclude the final answer will help faster calculations and allow you to move quickly from one question to the other. Shortcut techniques will also ensure accuracy in the shortest time possible.

  • Time your Sectional Responses:

    To build speed in the section, while practicing questions you should note the time you take to solve the questions and consistently work towards reducing the time. Time can be reduced with more practice and also by applying shorter methods and strategies.

  • Practice with Mock Tests:

    While giving mock tests, analyze the number of questions you are able to answer, the accuracy of your response and your weak areas. The mock tests will allow you to improve your performance with a focus on the weaker sections and the places that require more focus.

  • Study from QA-focussed Study Materials:

    To establish proficiency and practice for the section, you can take up accurate study materials that will prepare you with a focus on the most recent exam pattern. It will allow you to familiarise yourself with the pattern of the section and the focus on various topics in the section.

Read in detail: How to prepare for CAT QA

Month-wise CAT Preparation Strategy

Breaking down the preparation strategy month-wise will allow you to focus on the syllabus at hand and help cover the CAT syllabus systematically. It will also function as a milestone to observe and mark your progress throughout the months leading to CAT.

CAT Preparation from February to May 

The first leg of the journey is identifying the syllabus and marking the most important topics frequently asked in the exam. You can start with your weak areas and build the foundation for the basics. Devote time to each section throughout the week. 

  • In QA, clear your fundamental concepts for algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and trigonometry. You can start by studying from the NCERT Books of class 10. Practice is key to reinforcing the formulae, and revising them.
  • For VARC, the focus in the initial months should be on getting into the habit of reading. Start by reading newspaper articles, editorials, novels, and magazines. It will help polish your comprehension skills, improve your reading speed, and expand your vocabulary.
  • DILR is a section that proves to be a challenge for many. Understand the basics of percentages, ratios, tables, squares, cubes, and reciprocals. Start practicing by solving puzzles in magazines, newspapers, etc. Also, attempt the questions from the previous year and mocks.

CAT Preparation in June and July

For candidates just beginning their CAT preparation or looking to strengthen it, the months of June and July will focus on going over the basic concepts of each section and identifying weak areas.

You will attempt and analyze one full-length mock which will help you work better on the areas that require improvement. Overall, you should divide the days into section-based revisions and preparation. Ensure that you dedicate individual time to each section every week.

CAT Preparation in August and September 

The objective in these two months would be to gain complete familiarity with the areas, topics, concepts, and types of questions in CAT. This can be achieved through a simple method called C.A.T Funda i.e. Concepts, Application & Tests

  • Concepts: Learn all the basic concepts and formulae for each topic and subject
  • Application: Solve exercises to apply the concepts learned during the preparation
  • Tests: Take topic-wise tests to assess your speed and strategy. Also, begin attempting mocks more regularly.

CAT Preparation in October

There are 3 basic things that one needs to do in October: 

  • Work on your strategy: This is the time to identify and experiment with your exam strategy and its effectiveness
  • Revise your concepts: For a second revision, take topic-wise tests and section-wise tests
  • Continue taking CAT mocks: Use them to hone your strategy and revise the concepts according to CAT

CAT Preparation in November

The last few days before CAT should be used for the final assessment on the exam preparation. Here one has to take up selective revision, take additional sectional tests, write original CAT papers, and finalize the exam strategy.

After every mock, a thorough analysis of each of the sections, zeroing in on the problem areas, working towards eliminating these problem areas, and most importantly strengthening the mental ability to crack this exam would be the main requirements in November.

Personalize your CAT Preparation Strategy

In the end, the best way to prepare for CAT is to formulate your own strategy. Anyone can share the strategy they follow with you but it is a necessity for you to stay in your own element and think of it as an aptitude screening, not a class/college examination. The final lap of your preparations should revolve around giving continuous mocks and improving your performance. Rely on your rigor and believe that you can do it. Believe in yourself and start preparing right away.

Also Read: How to improve your percentile in CAT mocks?


The first step to starting your preparation for CAT is to decide whether you wish to take CAT classes or prepare by yourself. Then you devise a study plan, work on the fundamentals and begin practising with mock tests.

Many coaching institutes and CAT experts offer advice and guidance on their Youtube channels. You can click here to get guidance through Career Launchers’ channel.

Preparing for CAT without coaching is possible. However, it requires a lot of self-discipline, time, and commitment to develop a study plan, identify the best study material, and constantly monitor your progress.

Irrespective of your weakest or strongest section in CAT, if you clear the sectional and overall CAT cut-off along with the following admission rounds, you can get admission to a college of your choice.

To improve your performance in the quants section, you can follow the given steps:

  • Review previous papers and understand the paper pattern and syllabus.
  • Mark the most frequently asked type of questions and topics.
  • Cover your syllabus in that order to maximize progress and minimize effort.
  • You can start with arithmetic, to begin with, then move on to algebra and geometry in this order.

People who score the 99th percentile or aim for it, have an exam strategy set out for them which they consistently modify and change based on their preparation. For candidates who wish to reach the 99th percentile, here is a strategy that can be implemented:

  • Understand the exam pattern and identify the syllabus
  • Give mocks regularly and analyze them diligently
  • For Quant, polish your basics for arithmetic and practise regularly
  • Reading newspapers, books and magazines will improve vocabulary
  • Get into the habit of solving puzzles similar to those in CAT
  • Study daily for at least 2-3 hours consistently

Suggested Readings

Top B-Schools Discounted Application Forms Live Start Now