How to Start Preparing for CAT?

Updated on 6th June 2023 | 2:19 pm | #StartCATPrep

For students aspiring to make a full-fledged career in business and corporate administration, how to start preparing for the CAT exam is an essential query that requires a systematic plan of action. The CAT exam is an aptitude screening test that qualifies a candidate for MBA admissions in more than 1200 management schools in the country, including top B-schools ranked at elite positions by global publishers like Financial Times, MHRD NIRF, etc.

The CAT question paper is set by the Indian Institutes of Management that assess a candidate's caliber to grasp business education. Along with cracking CAT, candidates are further assessed in the rounds of WAT, GD, and PI as well.  Candidates pondering how to start preparing for CAT need to lay the proper groundwork for it. Focused handwork and consistency are the two most important weapons of CAT Preparation inflicting a strong conceptual foundation and great accuracy.

Now the question arises, with numerous CAT preparation strategies floating on the internet, how do you know which one to follow? To make it easier for you, this article comprises some fundamental steps listed by CL experts.

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How to Start Preparing for CAT: Pre-Preparation Checks

Here are some preparatory measures which would help you bell the CAT in the best possible way!

  • Familiarize yourself with CAT Building Blocks: You cannot participate in the CAT race unless you develop an understanding of the CAT Exam Pattern and CAT Exam Syllabus. This will help you familiarize yourself with the exam, types of questions, and various sections. Clarity of the syllabus will allow you to prepare according to the most relevant subjects and topics.

  • Assess your current level of knowledge: Knowing how to start preparing for CAT requires an understanding of where you stand at present. Your base preparation will help you establish whether or not you need coaching classes, which subjects you must focus on, and which topics are your strength. You can determine your proficiency level in the CAT by taking the CAT Readiness Test.

  • Develop a conceptual foundation: The most fundamental requirements to score well in CAT are speed and accuracy. Both of these cannot be attained without having a strong conceptual foundation. Hence, the next step is to strengthen your concepts. This can be achieved by going over the theoretical understanding of concepts and then practising as a way of reinforcement.

  • Make mocks a habit: Take at least one mock per week months in advance. As you get closer to the exam date start taking at least 2 mocks per week. Writing mocks will help you understand the paper pattern, benchmark your performance across test takers, familiarise you with the test-taking environment, and prepare you for D-day.

  • Solve Previous Year CAT Papers: Reviewing and solving past year papers as a final step will reinforce all you have learned for CAT and also give you an idea of how you are likely to perform in the real CAT exam. You will also be able to identify the commonly asked questions and topics and test your exam-taking strategy.

How to Start Preparing for CAT: The VARC Section

Here are some tips regarding CAT VARC which will help you get a hold of this section:

  • The Role of Reading: This might sound very boring and procrastination-worthy. But honestly, reading increases your power of visualization and impact.

  • Listen to your Mentor: In case you are going for cat online classes, make it a point to listen to all that your teachers say. This would help you cement your base and develop accuracy sooner than you expected.

  • Crispen your vocabulary: You should be at least acquainted with 2500–3000 difficult words and around 500 idioms before you walk in to give your CAT exam.

  • Read about Social Issues: Also, try to spend some time reading your favorite magazines or articles and excerpts from the editorial section of newspapers like Indian Express, The Tribune, The Hindu, etc.

  • Get a Grammar Manual: This is the most efficient way of improving your grammar. A high-quality grammar manual can help you improve your grammar skills by offering various exercises and practice questions.

  • Practice Critical Reasoning: The basic components of critical reasoning questions are fact, inference, assumption, and conclusion. You should understand and answer the questions with respect to the relevant factual information present in the question. You often need to identify unstated assumptions and inferences from the questions and evaluate the present arguments.

  • Practice the elimination technique for RC passages: While solving an RC passage, try to make use of the “elimination strategy” i.e. eliminating answer options that are not relevant to the passage.

Get a detailed understanding of the VARC section by clicking here

How to Start Preparing for CAT: The DILR Section

DILR proves to be the trickiest question of CAT owing to the unpredictability of the questions and lack of syllabus. The section requires practice and familiarization with puzzles, graphs, and data-based questions. As per CAT 2022 analysis, the DILR section was slightly more difficult as compared to CAT 2021, while CAT 2020 analysis shows that it was difficult as compared to the other two sections.

Here are some effective steps to kickstart your DILR preparation:

  • Identify the Level of Difficulty: The candidate must identify the easiest set of questions and the hardest in the first few minutes. Sparing these few minutes will allow the candidate to attempt easier questions first, saving time and improving the accuracy of the attempts.
  • Understand the Question: Identify the most appropriate way to present the information given to answer the question. Candidates should not assume any information which is not present in the data set.
  • Focus on the Syllabus: Most of the logical reasoning questions would be on the arrangement topics, so candidates should prepare the topic well. Another aspect is practicing caselets, bar graphs, different types of charts (line, pie, radar), and table-based data interpretation sets.
  • Solve Previous Papers: Preparing with the help of the previous year's papers will allow candidates to grasp various types of questions and garner an understanding of the expectations this section has from candidates.
  • Work on Speed and Accuracy: When preparing the candidate must focus on steadily improving their speed and accuracy. You can achieve this by setting timers for practice sets and slowly decreasing the time.

To get tips for CAT DILR by GP sir, click here

How to Start Preparing for CAT: The QA Section

The Quantitative Ability section is the "make or break section" of the CAT examination. Most of the CAT QA questions are application-oriented and evaluate your hold on concepts of algebra, arithmetic, geometry and sometimes a combination of topics.

  • Memorise the Formulae: Revise the basic concepts and memorize all the essential equations of topics such as geometry, menstruation, and profit & loss. It will reduce time and improve speed when attempting questions.
  • Understand the Types of Questions: Many a time, a question can involve two or more concepts and appears to be technical or difficult. You must be quickly able to identify these topics and correlations to attempt the question. This will be achieved after memorizing and understanding the basic concepts.
  • Practice Questions: Pick up books that cover the syllabus of school mathematics and begin practicing the questions. This will allow you to strengthen your understanding of various concepts and formulae. It will also help you build on speed and accuracy.
  • Mock Tests: While mock tests must be practiced for each section, the mock tests help build a better understanding of the level of the QA section and your preparation. When you start preparing for CAT, it will also help you identify the level you are at present and where you need to reach.

How to Start Preparing for CAT: Mock Test

Mock simulations can be your holy grail when it comes to practicing for the competitive entrance. It will help you manage your time and develop a test-taking strategy. They will not only help you keep your preparation in check but also will help you efficiently manage your time and increase your self-motivation. Here are some mock tests that will help you prepare for CAT, section-wise and as a whole, free of cost.


By focusing on the key points mentioned in this article you will be able to keep your CAT preparation in the right direction. You must keep in mind that acing the CAT exam requires you to utilize the time available competently, make full use of the resources available to you, and keep yourself motivated throughout the journey. Are you ready to take the first step in your journey to your dream B-School?


Ideally, CAT preparation should begin 10 to 12 months in advance. However, even with less time, it is possible to ace CAT with the right preparation strategy, study material, and focus.

There is no limit to the number of attempts you can make for CAT as there is no upper age limit.

You can begin your CAT preparation by following the given tips:

  • Assess the syllabus and exam pattern
  • Identify the weak and strong topics
  • Prepare a study plan and follow it
  • Take mock tests regularly & analyze them
  • Attempt past papers to familiarize with the actual paper

DILR is often considered the trickiest section of CAT. This is due to the fact that DILR is the most unfamiliar section as VARC and QA comprise English and math which are covered in schools.

With the right strategy and preparation candidates can crack CAT in the first attempt and get admission to IIMs and other top B-schools. However, to achieve this goal, a lot of dedication, commitment and hardwork are required.

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