CAT Preparation Tips: How to Prepare for CAT?

Updated on 17th August 2023 | 2:36 pm | #CATpreparationtips

Have you decided to pursue an MBA degree but are not sure how to begin your CAT preparations? The fastest way to begin preparing is by laying down a CAT preparation strategy that can function on focus points including devising a study plan, outlining the syllabus, and enrolling in a program, if necessary.

 If you are serious about acing CAT, then you need to work your way up with a planned approach and keep in mind how to prepare for CAT 2023 thoroughly. There are a few guidelines that must be kept in mind when it comes to the paper pattern for CAT this year. The guidelines are as follows:

  • CAT 2023 will be conducted in online mode and be divided into three sessions in a day i.e morning session, afternoon session, and evening session
  • The exam will be held for a duration of 120 minutes.
  • Multiple choice questions (MCQ) and Type in the Answer (TITA) will be asked in the paper.
  • Each question will carry 3 marks.
  • 1 mark will be deducted for each wrong answer. There is no negative marking for TITA

Essential Tips for DILR & QA Prep by Experts

CAT Preparation Tips 2023: 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 2023 is to understand the exam pattern and syllabus. CAT 2023 is expected to be on the same lines as CAT 2022. 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

Algenra, arithmetic, trigonometry, probability, etc.

CAT Preparation Tips 2023: Know the Timeline

  • CAT 2023 will be conducted on 26th November 2023.
  • The official CAT 2023 notification has been released on 30th July 2023.
  • Registrations are open from 2nd August to 13th September 2023.
  • CAT 2023 results shall be declared tentatively in the First Week of January 2024.
  • College interviews shall be conducted between February-March 2023.

CAT Preparation Tips 2023: 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 objective 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 in the best ways to attempt the CAT exam and the number of questions to attempt.
  • Based on previous paper analysis, coaching institutes also outline the most important topics, the possible paper pattern and 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 focussed 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 reains 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, reviews and implement plans by themselves. So to save time the aspirants can consider opting for a blend of self-study and coaching programs.

CAT Preparation Strategy: Sectional Composition

CAT 2023 Sectional Composition can be expected along the lines of CAT 2022. Here is a brief overview of CAT 2023 sectional comparison:


Total Number of Questions

Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension (VARC)


Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)


Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation




Ultimate Mantra to Achieve 99%ile in CAT!

  • To achieve 99%ile, candidates need to strategize their approach in their own defined manner. This would help them to be comfortable during the examination and hence increase accuracy.
  • CAT is all about breaking down its three contributing sections till the last particle. Once you conquer the three sections, there is nothing left to stop you from achieving your goal.
  • 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 analyzing 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 vision of what you need to work on and how to go about it for the rest of the week.

CAT Preparation: 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. The fundamentals of the contextual usage of grammar and vocabulary should be well understood before the exam.

  • Know that some of the questions in the Verbal Ability section will be in a non-MCQ format and thus, would not involve negative marking.
  • Practice Para Summary and Para Jumble questions as these could be expected to comprise a significant part of the VA section.
  • There could appear 3 to 4 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 by 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 to reading a passage followed by attempting the questions online.
  • Dedicate time to solve crossword puzzles. This will help you gain experience in solving jumbled sentences and paragraphs.
  • Earmark weekly sectional mock tests: Review your performance every week by appearing in sectional mock tests. Practicing through sectional mocks is a wise way to accelerate your preparation while solving CAT-level questions.

CAT Preparation: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Once you have 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 2023 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 finding logic, identifying linkages and key attributes in order to decipher arrangements, puzzles, and variations so no question 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 as it will help immensely in scoring high marks. This should be tested out when attempting mocks so that by the time you sit for 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 a maximum number of questions but to answer them correctly. 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 balance between the number of questions attempted and the accuracy of solving them.
  • Attempt difficult questions first: One of the common strategies that 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 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 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 easy to solve.
  • Earmark sectional mocks: Taking DILR sectional mocks would enable you to understand which exact topics you need to master to ace this section. Take 1-2 sectional mocks on the weekends and then analyze the mocks.

CAT Preparation: 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 calculations: The problem with an on-screen calculator is that you end up wasting more time on simple calculations which you could do 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 2023 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 strategy all set. How many questions should you attempt and on which topic? Which questions should you prioritize 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 this section 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 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.

  • Take sectional mocks regularly: Sectional mocks can help you foster mathematical concepts better. Make it a habit to at least learn one concept at a time and review your understanding of the same through a sectional QA mock which consists of 15-20 questions.

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:

  • Understand the exam pattern and syllabus: It is essential for beginners to understand the exam pattern and syllabus. As there is no official syllabus and the exam pattern focuses on attempting questions strategically, candidates must identify and understand the fundamentals of all major topics which are frequently asked in the paper.
  • Decide you mode of study: Candidates can choose to prepare by themselves or take the assistance of coaching institutes. Based on your confidence, requirements and goals beginners must decide what plan works best for them.
  • Prepare a study plan: Candidates should frame a preparation strategy that best suits their daily schedule. Make it a point to devote at least 2 useful hours every day towards the CAT preparation and focus on analyzing performance on an honest note. Make it a point to stick with the study plan and be disciplined.
  • Improve the speed and accuracy of attempts: There should be a balance between the speed at which the paper is attempted and the accuracy of the answers. Candidates must practice regularly to improve their speed and their accuracy through mock and timed attempts of sections.
  • Choose the correct resources and preparation aterial: The resources that a candidate uses will make all the difference when attempting the CAT exam. To establish fundamentals, candidates can utilize the school books while CAT books can be used alongside to understand the paper.
  • Practice Mock Exams: Beginners must focus on mck exams once they are confident in their preparations. They will help identify the weak points and areas of improvements. Candidates will also get an accurate iddea of their speed and accuracy.

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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.

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Find your target B-school(s)

Your CAT score will only shortlist you for the successive rounds 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 it 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?

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:

  • 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.
  • IIFT: IIFT will not be conducted for the academic year 2024-26. Admission to any IIFT campus will be based on CAT 2023.
  • TISSNET: TISSNET scores are used by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences for their MBA programs.
  • SNAP: SNAP scores are used by the Symbiosis group for their B-schools. Some decent colleges under SNAP are SIBM, SCMHRD, and SIIB.
  • NMAT: NMAT score is accepted by NMIMS Mumbai, which is a reputed B-school. Besides, 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.

CAT Preparation Tips 2023: About B-school Costs

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.

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Even if you choose to study from home, you can enroll yourself in online classes, join study groups, or self-study with materials available online.

The number of hours that are required for CAT preparation on a daily basis is subjective and depends on multiple factors such as the level of preparation, your daily schedule, available hours to study, etc. Ideally, candidates should try studying for atleast 2 hours daily to prepare well for CAT.

The syllabus for CAT is divided into three broad sections, i.e. VARC, DILR, and QA. VARC covers school-level English while QA focuses on grade 10th mathematics. DILR is a section focused on diagrams, graphs, tables, and puzzles. To understand the detailed syllabus of CAT, click here.

If you wish to ace CAT you should focus on the following points

  • Understand the exam pattern and syllabus well
  • Pick the right study material
  • Fix a study schedule and follow it diligently
  • Practice mocks and analyze them
  • Review the past year papers

As final-year students are eligible to appear for CAT, students begin their preparation at the start of their final year.

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