How to prepare for CAT has been a prominent question for candidates who aspire to take CAT. CAT (Common Admission Test) is an aptitude screening exam for MBA admission across 160 b-schools (including the IIMs) in the country. It is a 3-hour paper held every year in online CBT (Computer based) mode. The paper is organized Jointly by one of the major IIMs (Indian Institute of Management) and TCS (Tata Consultancy Services). The number of total students who apply for CAT crosses the “2-lakh" mark every year who compete for a few thousand IIM seats. Premier B schools like FMS New Delhi, MDI Gurgaon, IMT Ghaziabad and SP Jain Mumbai also accept CAT Scores as a major qualifying criterion. Serious aspirants always want to know how to prepare for CAT at least a year before appearing for the exam to give substance to their preparation, as the exam is fierce in terms of competition.
CAT notification is likely to be announced by the second week of August every year and the examination isconducted by the final week of November 2021 (tentatively). Hence, if you are serious about making a breakthrough in the field of management and business education by pursuing MBA from the best b-school in the country, now is the right time to start preparing for CAT. The admission process of the b-schools may include WAT (Written Ability Test), GD (Group Discussion) and PI (Personal interview). Before filling the application form, candidates should make sure that they fulfill the admission requirements and the eligibility criteria of the institutes they want to go to. If the information provided by you is incomplete or incorrect at any stage, you will be exempted from taking the examination or scores will be considered invalid. Candidates can only give the paper online where a computer system will be allotted to them with a specific number as mentioned next to their roll numbers in a list put up on a bulletin in the examination center. In this article, we will learn more about how to prepare for CAT 2021 based on the expected CAT exam pattern and expected CAT exam syllabus
The CAT pattern has remained the same in the last 5 years, with some minor modifications made each year. Each section of CAT will be of 60-minute time duration. The total time frame for the examination is 180 minutes I.e 3 hours.
The CAT Exam consists of 100 Questions spread across three sections:
Based on the last year's Exam Pattern, here is what we expect from this year's CAT Exam Pattern.
|Section||Number of questions||Maximum marks||Duration||Marking Scheme||Difficulty Level|
|DILR||32||96||60 minutes||+3/-1||Moderate to difficult|
More info will be available here
You need to prepare the major topics pertaining to major CAT sections in order to ace CAT with good marks. The syllabus for CAT is more likely to consist the following topics:
|Verbal ability and reading comprehension||Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning||Quantitative ability|
|Reading comprehension||Blood Relations||Equations (Linear, Special, Quadratic)|
|English grammar and usage||Direction sense||Geometry|
|fill in the blanks||Seating arrangement (linear and circular)||Number system|
|Sentence correction||Coding Decoding||Arithmetic Progression and Geometric progression|
|cloze test||Sequence and series||simple and compound interest|
|word-meaning||Case lets, pie chart, line graph||Profit and loss, pipes and cisterns|
|Analogy||Clocks and calendars||Averages. Percentages|
|vocabulary based questions||Venn Diagrams||Time and work|
|Para Jumble||Binary logic||Allegations and mixtures|
More info will be available here
Ideally, CAT preparation requires 10-12 months' time duration I.e. 45-54 weeks of preparation. You should focus on dividing your CAT preparation into various phases for an even graph and optimize your strategy according to the time left to sharpen your speed and accuracy. You can refer to the following table to get a rough idea on how to structure your CAT preparation:
|Phase 1(0-16 weeks)||Phase 2 (16-32 weeks)||Phase 3 (32-54 weeks)|
|Knowing the basic concepts and CAT 2021 Exam pattern||Practicing the concepts without taking mocks||Start giving full length mocks starting 2-3 for each week|
|Take CAT 2021 Open Mock to learn more about the exam pattern and the syllabus.||Focusing on reading more of newspapers, editorials and RC passages and more and practice at least 4-5 RC questions in a day.||Focus on solving questions related to VARC, DILR and QA all mixed up, to test your concepts.|
|Taking a full-length mock test||Focusing on “concept review” questions for weak areas.||Alternate between easy and difficult questions|
|Figuring out the mode of preparation||Timing yourself while solving each question||Solve mainly using Process of Elimination technique to save up on time.|
|Preparing a time-schedule||Using a calculator to save time during difficult DI or QA problems.||Practice last 5 year’s CAT question papers.|
|Setting a daily target for every day.||Learning new words every day and understanding the usage of the words in context of the passage.||Prepare a cheat sheet of all different formulas and identities.|
|Strengthening brain calculations||Revisit each concept at least 2-3 times to develop lifetime familiarity with them.||Decrease the frequency of taking mocks and research about other important questions online. Stay updated with the examination day checks and download your admit card.|
Verbal ability is a section most of the students find to be a bit more complex than other sections. This section is designed to assess your oral as well as written communication skills in detail. Here is how you can prepare for this section:
Also check: Best Books for CAT preparation
DILR has been continuously termed as an almost complex section of CAT since the past 2 years. Due to the absence of an exact DILR syllabus, preparing for this section can be a bit challenging. However, consistent practice can turn you into an avid solver for DILR questions.
Generic Preparation Tips for DILR section:
For the QA section, candidates need to follow a smart approach and understand basic concepts effectively. You would get a decent score in the QA section even if you solve half the number of questions correctly. The main difference lies in learning how exactly to prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude and assuming the section to be difficult and unsolvable. Here are a few tips for solving QA questions:
Read in detail: How to ace CAT DILR?
Read in detail: How to ace CAT Quantitative Aptitude
If you happen to take CAT mocks with a grain of salt during your prepping phase, you will always doubt the accuracy of your CAT preparation strategy. CAT mocks help you understand the practical usage of all the concepts you have studied so far along with building your stamina to win-over a 3-hour fatiguing examination. As the CAT exam is the first priority of every MBA aspirant, chances are that you might succumb to the peer-pressure. CAT mocks ensure that with this increasing pressure, you don’t lose your accuracy in solving questions related to qualitative CAT-centric topics. CAT mocks tweak your preparation plan in a way cream rises to the top in coffee or tea. If you are able to secure well in CAT mocks, you are all set to join the CAT 99%ilers club or even CAT 100%ilers club without a doubt!
Also check out: How to improve my CAT Mock percentile?