CAT Preparation Strategy: How to Prepare for CAT in 8 months

With just 8 months to go for CAT 2019, every serious MBA aspirant should follow an effective preparation strategy to optimize their score and give it their best CAT attempt this year. After all, the CAT preparation strategy that is put in place today will dictate the actions over the next 8 months. It is extremely important for the aspirant to ascertain exactly where they stand in each of the sections. The mocks given during the prior CAT Preparation should help in this regard.

Once the introspection about the CAT preparation is done, a detailed plan on how to prepare for CAT in 8 months has to be set in place. In this article, we bring you a detailed study plan on how to prepare for CAT 2019 with insights on how much time you should dedicate per day and every week to each section for a comprehensive preparation.

How to Prepare for CAT? What is the right strategy?

This question has no right answer. If you have already done your CAT Preparation before and have written the CAT exam, then about 6 to 7 hours per week till July and then increasing the studying hours should be sufficient.

 

However, if you are beginning your CAT preparation today, you should dedicate close to 20 hours per week depending on your level of preparation. At this point in your CAT Preparation, focusing on the Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension should be the priority. The reason for this is that practicing in these sections is most likely to increase your score in the exam.

How you decide to distribute these 20 hours in a week depends on how much time you can dedicate on weekdays and weekends. However, they should be equally divided between each section i.e. 6 hours each for VARC, DILR, and Quant with additional two hours distributed between the categories which require the most help.

 

How many questions should you attempt from each section?

As we have seen earlier, scoring close to 180 will get you around 99 percentile. Given this, if you attempt just 60 questions out of 100 with accuracy, you should be able to get into some of the top IIMs. Let's break down these 60 questions into the respective sections ensuring that we clear sectional cut-off as well.

Section

Questions

Attempted Qs

Score

VARC

34

22

66

DILR

32

15

45

Quant

34

23

69

The exact number of questions that you wish to attempt will depend on your comfort level with the sections. The above table only shows how someone who has prepared for CAT with equal weightage to each section would attempt.

Another thing to be kept in mind is that this table shows the score assuming 100% accuracy which is not very practical in an exam scenario. All this table wishes to convey is that scoring high marks in CAT is very achievable with a good strategy on how to prepare for CAT.

More detailed plans on how to prepare for CAT sections is given below:

How to Prepare for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

Over the past decade, the weightage of the Reading Comprehension section has increased significantly, constituting up to 70% of the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section.

One of the most important ways of preparing for the VARC section is by reading as much as possible. Reading Speed plays a vital role in this section since the aspirant is expected to read and answer 5 passages apart from the 10 Verbal Ability Question. Hence increasing your reading speed such that you can complete the RC section in 40 minutes with 20 minutes for the VA section would allow you to attempt as many questions as possible with a reasonable accuracy.

You should ideally dedicate one hour daily to VARC section.

Out of the 1 hour dedicated daily, 40-45 minutes should be spent on attempting 4 Reading Comprehension (RC) passages. This means attempting 24 RC questions per week. Practice is the only way to ensure success and so by attempting more questions will get you a 99 percentile in CAT and your preparation will be on the right track. It will also ensure that you have attempted 700 RCs before CAT excluding mocks which on increases the comfort you have with passages of different types.

In the remaining 15-20 minutes, you should attempt a set 8-10 questions of Verbal Ability. Given consistent practice, this should be ample preparation for the section. Apart from this, the analysis of the mocks will allow the candidates to identify the types of questions that he/she is most comfortable with. These are the questions that the aspirant should jump to if they are short on time.

How to Prepare for CAT Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)

Similarly, if you are looking at attempting 15-16 questions of DILR in CAT 2018 (see table 1.1) with high accuracy, you should be able to score a good percentile.

Like for VARC, you should dedicate 1 hour daily for DILR. Within 1hour, you should try to complete 2 sets each of Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation questions.

Sometimes a lot of DI questions require logical thinking and it becomes confusing to differentiate between the two types, but that calls for a separate explanation in itself.

By attempting 2 Logical Reasoning and 2 Data Interpretation sets per day, you'll be completing 12 sets of LR and DI questions each within a week.

Likewise, this will ensure that you have attempted 700 DILR sets before CAT excluding mocks!

The image below shows the ratio in which most students attempt their DILR section (12 questions in LR and 4 questions in DI). This is purely indicative and aspirants who are more comfortable with DI can attempt more questions in DI than in LR.

It is important to go through both sections since the section would have 1 DI and 1 LR at least which are easy to solve. Identifying and Solving these questions is a must if the candidates wishes to score


How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)

Let's take a look at Table 1.1 again. As per the table, 23 out of 34 questions should get us a 99 percentile and similarly, as we suggested for the other two sections, you should look at attempting over 23 questions per week.

After studying the CAT Exam papers for the past 4 years, one thing that stands out is the concentration of questions from algebra and arithmetic. These cover 1/3rd of the portion but 70% of the questions.

Thus your core focus should be on Arithmetic, Numbers, and Algebra. You should prioritize numbers because between 40-50% of your basic concepts of Numbers will help you in Algebra.

This however does not mean that you focus only on these topics because CAT is known to surprise candidates every once in a while. Thus Geometry and Modern Math should also be thoroughly studied so that you are able to attempt every question in the paper.

Once you decide on how to prepare for CAT, the important thing is to improve your speed of solving. Most candidates have the ability to solve almost all the questions in the paper. The difference between the toppers and the have-beens is that toppers practice enough to increase their speed such that they can solve these questions within the time frame.

When should you start writing mocks?

There is no better time to start writing mocks than now. Even if you attempt a mock and merely get a handful of questions right that should give you enough confidence and perspective on what you need to focus on next. Another factor in favor giving as many mocks as possible is that it imparts time management skills which is quite difficult to inculcate from any other method. It also builds the candidate's stamina to function at a high level throughout the 3 hour exam.

Attempting mocks followed by an in-depth analysis would help you measure your level of preparation unlike any other preparation strategy.

From April to June, you should attempt at least 3 full-length mocks of 3 hours each and spend another 5 hours understanding its analysis. This implies spending 8 hours per fortnight in a mock. From July onwards, as you’d have covered most of your basics, you should begin to take a mock every week. This will not only help you keep your preparation in check but will also help you efficiently manage your time and develop a personalized test-taking strategy.

As time passes and CAT nears, the number of mocks should be increased so that the candidate is able to ensure that they are able to direct the final leg of their CAT preparation as effectively as possible.

Our proctored and non-proctored CAT Test Series is now available for all MBA aspirants. Now you can attempt 30+ mocks based on the latest exam pattern and improve your performance with Overall Performance Analysis, Drill-down analysis, and Time Wasted analysis tools which shared your detailed performance report.

Summary

CAT Preparation is something that needs to be given utmost importance by all serious candidates. In order to properly decide on how to prepare for CAT, the candidate needs to build his/her own time table. This time table has to not only cover all the topics but should also include the time spent on tests and revision. Once the time table is made, the aspirant has to stick to it religiously in order to ensure that the CAT Preparation is done properly.

If you dedicate 6 hours per week on your VARC, DILR and Quant concepts, and test them every week by taking a mock test (3 hours) and understand its analysis (5 hours), you'll be right on track to score more than 99 percentile in CAT.

This was all about how to prepare for CAT in 8 months. Stay tuned as we bring more detailed exam strategy pages so that you can maximize your potential and stay on the right track to ace the CAT 2018 exam. All the best!

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