75 Days Preparation Plan For CAT 2016

  • I am getting less than 100 in the Mock CATs, do I have a chance to make it to the IIMs?
  • My Verbal Scores are just NOT improving, what should I do?
  • I am good at Quant but my DILR section is going for a toss, is there a remedy?
  • My scores are very erratic; I am losing confidence with each passing day! What do I do?
  • How do I start getting 150+ scores in the Mock CATs?
  • I want to get a 100 percentile, how do I get that?
  • Are 75 days enough if I have just started preparing?

These are some of the obvious questions that students have at this juncture. This article aims to address these and give a road map for preparation and cracking the CAT 2016 exam!

The acing of CAT requires two parallel distinctive approaches. One aimed at ensuring the utilization of 3 hours fully in the exam, the other aims at ensuring the maximum returns for the hours invested prior to the exam (read preparation).

Strategy for CAT 2016

However good one may be in solving problems of QA or DILR or good in vocabulary and grammar, the exam requires a special approach. It is much like adapting oneself to various formats of a cricket game (Test, ODI, T20) even though one may be excellent in batting or bowling!

The basic purpose of strategy is to ensure the following:

  • Read all questions in a section/set
  • Identify and solve the easy and medium level difficulty questions
  • Identify and avoid difficulty OR lengthy questions
  • Have a cutoff time (stop loss) for every question/every set
  • Maximize attempts
  • Get emotion out of the window while attempting the exam
  • Being systematic and clinical in approach!

To achieve the above, each student may have to hit upon a different idea/plan/strategy for attempting the exam.


Preparation for the NEXT 40 days!

While the strategy may be in place, your marks will improve only if there is a concerted preparation plan over the next few weeks (we have 11 weeks to go for the CAT exam!)

For a person who is starting the prep OR for someone who has finished one round of solving all areas, the plan below should give a good overview of the task ahead.


Quantitative Ability (QA)

Since we have exactly 11 weeks to go, the following timetable can be used

Week First Round Revision Topics
Week 1 Numbers (Nos), Equations Ratios (ERPV), Percentages, Profit & Loss (PPL)
Week 2 Averages (AMA), SICI, Geometry/Mensuration Numbers, PPL, ERPV
Week 3 Geometry/Mensuration (GM), Quadratic Equations (QE), Progressions (Prog), Time & Work (T&W) GM, AMA, SICI
Week 4 Time & Distance (T&D), Permutations & Combinations (P&C), GM, QE, Prog, T&W
Week 5 Functions & Graphs (F&G), Inequalities, Indices and Logs (ILS) T&D, P&C
Week 6 Miscellaneous F&G, ILS, Numbers


The idea at this stage is to ensure that you go through every topic twice more in the next 6 weeks and gear up for the final 5 weeks of the exam.

As can be seen, the first week will have some of the most important topics for QA and also useful for Data Interpretation too!

The handouts of VistaMind would be a starting point for taking up any topic.

After the first week, one has to add new topics while revising the topics of the previous week. In the revision plan, one should write down all the basics, concepts, formulae of that particular topic and solve the questions from the SmartCATs (that are done) for that particular topic.


Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

One lament that almost every student has is this : My marks in VARC are not improving!

But, how would they? It is funny to think that just by writing MOCK after MOCK the scores would increase. This is the thinking of many students. The only thing that becomes better by writing MOCK CATs (SmartCATs of VistaMind) is that the strategy and discipline of writing the exam may improve, that too, only if the student diligently plans and executes the test strategy.

Here is a simple remedy.

Read 20 minutes of Editorials from The Mint, ET, TOI, Hindu or any other paper one gets hold of (including online)

Solve 4 passages of RC. Take them as a test every day and analyze each and every question after that. Of these 4 passages, for 2 of the passages give about 7 to 8 minutes to solve and for 2 others about 10 to 11 minutes to solve. The idea is to check out the various levels of accuracy as against the speed with which one takes up the RC passage. Over the next five weeks, the above strategy to be changed to improve accuracy. If one does this diligently, then one can hope to attempt about 100 passages in 30 days and have a rich understanding of topics as well as understand the reasons why one is going wrong in identifying the correct answers!

For improving marks in Verbal Ability, one needs to continue to work on improving the vocabulary and solve the types of questions that come in CAT like Para Jumbles, Para Completion, Summary, Odd Para Jumbles, Critical Reasoning and of course Grammar!

I suggest that one should solve about 10 to 15 questions every 2 days.

Data Interpretation/Logical Reasoning (DILR)

The DI and LR areas are NOT very hard to tackle. Unlike QA and VARC, DILR area requires much more practice than any other area.

In the next 30 days, one should aim to finish the various models of sets/questions that come in CAT. A ready reckoner as to what needs to be done for the two areas is given in the table below.

Data Interpretation Logical Reasoning
Simple Tables with Numbers Syllogisms and Connectives
Tables with Percentages and Numbers Arrangement (Linear and Circular)
Line Graphs Distribution
Bar Graphs (Normal, Stacked and others) Ranking and Order Sequencing
PI Charts (Single, Double, Four etc.) Selection
Spider Graphs, Networks and Routes
Games and Tournaments Binary Logic
Scatter Plots and Misc. Graphs Venn Diagrams
Combination of More than One Graphs Cubes

The topics given above can comfortably be done from the VistaMind handouts (9 of DI and 10 of LA) in the next 30 days working on DI and LR on alternate days.

Every set in SmartCATs (10 mocks are done, which means there are about 40 sets each of DI and LR at the least) should be solved once again without seeing the solution!

SmartCATs every Week

While the preparation will continue at its pace, it is extremely important that one take one SmartCATs every week without fail. In fact, if there is any possibility to take the test on a Sunday, the same should be done diligently. After each Mock, a thorough analysis is to be done to ensure that the strategy is honed.

An article to analyze a SmartCAT is given here http://cat.vistamind.com/analyse-smartcats-score/

75 days are more than enough to be able to crack CAT even if one starts preparing at this juncture, but in right earnest. Apart from sincere work, self-confidence is required to ace the CAT exam.

In the next article, we will discuss on how to maximize the scores in the MOCK CATs!


ARKS Srinivas

ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.