The first few days of starting your preparation for CAT are most important. CAT preparation is like signing up for a Gym. Everyone wants a very good figure and hence would join a Gym but very few continue going to Gym after for the first few days. CAT, much like a Gym, attracts everyone who wants to get into an IIM (and or want to get out of their miserable jobs!), but alas not too many continue the prep!
The first three months of the CAT preparation are crucial for a top percentile finish in the exam. In the First Part of the Article, I have given the broad plan for the preparation for CAT. Let’s understand the importance of the first 100 days and then look at a detailed plan of preparing for each area/section of the CAT paper. Please note that once you prepare for CAT, the prep for IIFT, XAT, SNAP and NMAT is almost done too!
Plan for the next 100 days
The objective in these 100 odd days would be to gain complete familiarity in the areas, topics, concepts and type of questions that the CAT exam has.
In the months of April, May, June and July, the concentrate should be on going through all the topics in all areas of CAT viz QA, DILR and VARC. However, the preparation for each would be different and the way to improve in each area is given in the next article. Suffice it to say that these four months (a student may have three or two months only until July depending on when one starts preparing), the expectation is that all topics are covered at least once (First Round of Work).
Funda of CAT [Concepts, Application & Tests]
- Basics in terms of Concepts are formulae to be revised for each topic
- Exercises to be solved to understand Application of Concept
- Topic wise Tests to be taken to get know the level and one’s speed
To make the best use of the first 100 days of your prep, you have to look at each area/section separately.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Most students think that there is NOTHING to prepare in VA and RC. Of all the classes that the students attend in coaching classes, the least importance is given to VARC as they think that there is nothing one can teach. They are mistaken.
However, for one to understand what is getting taught in the classes, certain fundamentals have to be in place to make the best out of the teaching/coaching!
For VARC section, there are three distinct areas one has to improve.
- Reading Speed and Comprehension
Vocabulary Building: For this, I recommend that one start with ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis. There are 47 sessions to be done and one can finish these in about 60 days. Each session may take anywhere between 30 min to 1 hour. However, once that is done, the student would be richer by a huge vocabulary. Those who wish to continue adding words to their diction, I recommend ‘All About Words’ by Rosenblum and Nurenberg.
Apart from the above, one needs to read the Newspaper daily AND Not ‘News in Shorts’! Any Newspaper is fine, really! As long as you do that!
There are multiple Apps available on Android, Windows and iOS platforms these days. One can do use them too and add 5 words a day to improve one’s vocabulary.
The aim for the first 100 days of your prep should be to add 500 words to your vocabulary!
Grammar: There is no point buying the ‘Wren and Martin’ book on grammar. However, I do recommend that all the classes of grammar that your coaching institute gives should be attended. At VistaMind, we have a set of 8 classes for grammar and they should be more than sufficient to give a complete overview of what needs to be learnt. Along with your daily reading and vocabulary, one can improve grammar automatically!
Reading Speed and Comprehension: A whole article can be written on how to improve speed and comprehension (which will anyway be done). But, for now, suffice it to say that the only way one can improve reading speeds or comprehension is by reading!
Reading editorials of Mint, TOI, Hindu, ET or any such English daily makes it a habit. You will not only increase your speed of reading but also gain the knowledge on current affairs.
I also recommend that you have to have a goal of completing at least ONE NOVEL a month, the more the merrier though. In that way, you would have completed at least 6 novels and probably 9 or 10 by the time you get into Interviews. It would be of great use at the time of Interviews when one can say that reading is also a hobby!
As can be seen above, I have not even discussed Para Jumbles, Odd Para Jumbles, Sentence Completion Or Critical Reasoning. The reason is obvious, once the building blocks for Verbal and RC is in place getting marks in that section becomes much easy. Attending the classes on the relevant topics of VA & RC can help you to strategize your approach to that type of question (s).
Quantitative Ability (QA)
To prepare for QA, one has to understand what the areas in Quant are. Since we have a lot of time for CAT, one has to plan to go through every topic that is expected in the exam and not leaves out any area or topic undone.
A snapshot of what constitutes the QA area is given below.
*ERPV – Equations, Ratios Proportions & Variations ; P&L – Profit & Loss ; SICI – Simple Interest & Compound Interest ; AMA – Averages Mixtures & Alligations ; T&W – Time & Work ; TSD – Time Speed & Distance ; QE (Quadratic Equations) ; CG – Coordinate Geometry ; P&C – Permutations & Combinations.
There are about 20 odd topics to be done in the first 100 days. On an average one has to do about 5 days per 1 topic! As can be seen, one can actually do the entire Quant area twice in the next 100 days!
Apart from the above, Quant Foundation and Speed Math is essential for becoming good at Math/Quant! Here is a quick list of what needs to be done in the above areas.
- Classification of numbers (Even, Odd, Real, Rational, Prime, Co-Prime, Composite)
- Basic Functions and Polynomials
- Tables up to 19
- Squared up to 30 and Cubes up to 12.
- Fractions from 1/2 to 11/12
- Speed Addition & Subtraction
- Conversion of fractions into percentages and vice versa!
At the end of 100 days, one has to be have the confidence to identify any question and should have an idea as to how to solve the same!
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Data Interpretation can be divided into Traditional and Modern DI.
- Tables, Pie Charts, Line Graphs, Bar Charts
- Stacked Bars
- Spider graphs
- Scatter Plots
- Combination of these graphs
Similarly, the Logical Reasoning and Ability area can be divided into Symbolic Logic, Analytical Reasoning and other areas.
- Logical Connectives & Deductions
- Arrangements (Straight, Circular, Distribution)
- Selection, Ranking/Order
- Networks, Binary Logic
- Venn Diagrams
To be good at DI, you will need to be good at Speed Math. Hence, the work that one puts in for DI would not only be useful for Quant but also for DI.
The target for the next 100 days would be to solve examples for each of the type of DI sets or LR sets and within that solve the different types of questions. This is a continuous practice exercise and the more one practices, the better one gets at it. It is almost like playing badminton or TT. Once again, it is imperative to remind students that if you don’t practice these areas, you will fall behind in the speed.
At VistaMind we give 9 classes of DI and 10 classes of Logical Ability which ensure that the student has a complete overview of what she can expect in a CAT exam.
Apart from solving these, one has to take 30-minute tests in these areas on a regular basis.
At various intervals of time (preferably starting in mid-June), one has to take Full Length Mock tests (SmartCATs from VistaMind) so that one can understand one’s progress. In a series of other articles we would come up with strategies for each of the areas as well as detailed plans for each section for the CAT exam.
About the Author:
The CEO of VistaMind Education, ARKS Srinivas, who is an alumnus if IIM Calcutta and been training students for CAT for the last 17 years has taken an ONLINE Class on precisely this topic. Please go through the Video https://youtu.be/5AiG374VZ-U (which is an hour long video) and it is very much sure to give you the impetus for your Preparation.
VistaMind Education is a pioneer in ONLINE CAT and GMAT training and has been successfully conducting the LIVE ONLINE Classes for CAT and GMAT prep for the last four years. CAT 2017 Online program covers all the areas of CAT including 80+ Classes, 20 Workshops, 20 SmartCATs (Mocks), 200+ Online Tests, Mocks for XAT/NMAT/SNAP/IIFT/CMAT and TISS and the entire GDPI preparation.
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