How To Crack CAT – By A 99.24 Percentiler And An IIM Kozhikode Student

Disclaimer – I am a chartered accountant and scored 99.24 percentile in CAT 2016. I am no expert on CAT. However, as a student who has gone through the process, I know how to approach the exam. Here are my 2 cents.


Let us divide the prep into 3 parts –

A) First aspect – Books. I would recommend Arun Sharma. His books are undoubtedly the most comprehensive and relevant.

B) Second Aspect – Classes – Video lectures from Handa ka Funda would be great. Or if you prefer classroom training, I would suggest Career Launcher. Superb faculty, always willing to help.

C) Third Aspect – Test series – Career Launcher AND IMS

Let us go subject wise here.

1. Quant – Being a non-engineer, Quant did not come as naturally to me. For me, the most difficult part of CAT was cracking quant. For quant, your entire focus should be on Arun Sharma’s textbook. It is self-explanatory. Once you are done with the concepts, it contains LOD-1, LOD-2 and LOD-3 type of practice questions. (LOD – Level of Difficulty. 1 being easy and 3 being impossible)

IGNORE LOD-3. If you are a mathematician and enjoy challenges, awesome. Otherwise, stick to LOD-1 and LOD-2. So you must be wondering “Do LOD-3 type questions come in the exam?” YES. 3 to 5 questions can be expected. However, these are the questions you have to LEAVE in the exam and utilize the time thus saved on other questions. Accuracy is of utmost importance in quants. I attempted only 19 questions (out of 34) in CAT 2016, yet scored 98.86 percentile.

Keep practising from the Arun Sharma book and be comfortable with every LOD-1 and LOD-2 sums in the book. After that, keep giving sectional tests. Knowing the concept is one thing, solving it in the time given is another. Speed is what matters.

2. LRDI – The beauty of LRDI is that on the exam day, the questions will be completely different. How much ever you practice you would be in for a surprise. I would suggest for LRDI, practice as much material as you can. Try to understand the basics. When you start LRDI, ignore the time you are taking and focus only on attempting the question correctly. Slowly with practice, your speed will improve automatically (Its magic). As per the recent trend, an attempt of 16 questions is good enough for a high score. 16 questions in 1 hour. More than 3.5 minutes per question. So basically, not speed, keeping your composure and cracking the question is most important here. Also for LRDI, I would suggest you go through TIME material. IMS and Career Launcher are not good enough. They lag behind as far as the difficulty level is concerned.

3. Verbal Ability – CAT 2016 had 24 RC questions and 10 verbal ability questions. So naturally, it all boils down to how good your RC is. Generally, you can break up the VARC section into –

RC – 24 questions

Para jumbles – 5 questions

Summary/Inference – 3 questions

Word usage/ Sentence Correction – 2 questions

As you can see, the most important parts are RC and para jumbles. For RC, read as much as you can. The more you practice RC, the stronger it will get, and trust me, it can be aced with practice. Easiest to score of all the CAT questions. The next 10 verbal ability questions do not have options. That makes getting Para jumbles correct really tough. Accuracy levels can really dip. You have to correctly sequence 5 sentences. Basically, your chance is 1/120. (There is a higher probability that you get into IIM ABCLKI than getting an RC right!!). So, as a thumb rule, I used to do these in the end. My focus was on RC and the other 5 questions.

Basically, the plan of action for CAT preparation should be –

1. Start studies ASAP.

2. Buy Arun Sharma books and enrol in the desired class. Stay in touch with your books.

3. Give your first mock in April, once you have glanced through the entire portion

4. Use the mock experience, to understand your strengths and weaknesses and keep practicing

5. Give your next mock after 2 weeks and see if any progress is made

6. Follow this cycle of 1 mock in 2 weeks. However, this does not mean you can chill for next 13 days. Analyse the mock, and understand your weakness. Then kill that weakness.

7. By September, come to 1 mock per week

8. For November, 2 mocks per week for the 1st 2 weeks.

9. Last week before exam, stop giving mocks. Revise concepts and chill. By this time you have given 20+ mocks and have mastered the portion. This is the time to relax and be calm.

10. Perform exceptionally well in CAT. Remember to thank those who guided you even a wee bit. (I mean, me).


Best of luck. Bell the CAT. Hoping to welcome few of you to God’s own Kampus 😀

Akshaykumar Sirsalewala

Akshaykumar Sirsalewala is a Chartered Accountant and has cleared all levels of CFA and FRM. He is currently a student of IIM Kozhikode 2018-2020 batch, where he is pursuing MBA finance. When he is not studying, he is either guiding young minds or writing on Quora for CA aspirants.


One comment


Nice Post. I have a query ☺
I’m at 3rd year of BBA & giving CAT’18. Will it be better to plan for CAT’19 with CFA level-1 in the next year?
I have average academics and no concrete qualifying factors in mu profile. So will doing that increse my potential for selection?