‘To Attempt Or Not To Attempt’ – Last Minute CAT Prep Tips

As the batch of 2017 gears up to take on Common Admission Test, one of the biggest management entrance test in India, it is natural to have various questions on how one should approach this test. To start with, the basic structure of CAT comprises of Multiple Choice Questions and “Type in the answer” (TITA) questions in which the MCQs are subjected to negative marking while the TITAs are not, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that TITAs are must attempts since there is no risk of losing marks.

For those who need validation from numbers: *

Composite Score Will Vary by School 140+ 150-170+
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Questions Attempted 17-18 at 80% accuracy 23-24 at 80% accuracy 28-30 at 80% accuracy
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Questions Attempted 10-11 at 90% accuracy 16-17 at 90% accuracy 24-26 at 90% accuracy
Quantitative Ability Questions Attempted 14-15 at 85% accuracy 19-20 at 85% accuracy 32 at 90% accuracy

*This is in reference to the average of previous 2-3 years. Reference.


The following was my strategy for the exam:


  • Verbal ability and Reading comprehension

Attempt the TITAs you are sure about and then move on to the ones which do not  seem solvable in the first glance. Eliminate unlikely answers one by one to settle on the most appropriate answer.

  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning:

Look for data type TITA questions which may or may not have options. If options are provided use the same elimination strategy and if not, then spend your time wisely on them after solving the easier MCQ questions.

  • Quantitative ability:

Options may not be provided, hence do not waste much time on such questions. It is advisable to solve the easier MCQs before you move on to TITA section.



Coming to the multiple choice questions, it is advisable to follow a basic three step process.

  • Start with the one liners and answer them only if you are completely sure about them. These questions are the ones which you must have solved during your practice sessions. Each question in this round should not take more than 15-20 seconds.
  • In the second round go for the longer questions. These questions generally test the preparation levels of the candidate.
  • The third round is for economic guess work on the familiar questions. This means that you need to attempt the questions only if there is a choice between 2 options, anything above that is a risk not worthy enough to be taken.

By taking at least three practice exams before attempting the official test, you will have a much better chance of understanding how many questions you should attempt. Particularly if you’re consistently short of time, this can help you master the CAT. On the other hand, don’t limit yourself! As you take the official CAT exam, the best thing to do is answer all the questions in subject areas in which you’re comfortable. In the official exam, answer as many questions as you can, as accurately as you can. Do your best, and you’ll see exactly how your practice has paid off!