How To Crack CAT – A 5 Step Strategy Designed By An IIM Ahmedabad Student

With CAT 2018 just a few months away what shall you do now to score well in the exam? Searching here and there will fetch you fragmented suggestions but this article aims to provide a holistic approach to crack CAT. You will come across multiple blogs which will though share some ideal steps to prepare but will be difficult to follow because there is so much to do in so less time. At this point, it is very important to utilize your time effectively, spend your time in the right direction and define your priorities.

There are 5 realistic things that you all should do. This article might go a bit longer but this comprehensive approach will definitely help you to score better. So, let’s begin.

Step 1: Define an appropriate study plan

Firstly, note down a detailed list of Quant & DI/LR topics and to get comfortable with the absolute basics of these topics, explore the CAT material of any coaching institute (TIME or Career Launcher). Secondly, by this time of the year, it is very important to join a test series and I would suggest you to go with either TIME or Career Launcher. Choose the mock test slot wisely so as to utilize your weekend effectively (I always chose the slots on Sundays and on Saturdays, I used to revise all the concepts for my exam the next day). Also, try to take the slot as per the real CAT schedule. On Monday/Tuesday, you will usually get your test analysis and performance. Analyze your mistakes, weak topics from the test and work on these weak topics by giving the sectional tests before your next mock test.

Assume these Mock tests as your real CAT exam, follow the rules with full dedication and avoid taking breaks in between the test. If you are not aware, I must tell you that in CAT exam you don’t get even a 2 minutes break and you are not allowed to pause the exam or leave the examination hall under any circumstances.

Further, you will see many students joining 2 test series but in my opinion, anyone test series should suffice. Joining multiple test series reduces your analysis time and gives you too much material to handle. Always remember, it is quality that matters not the quantity.

DO NOT MISS YOUR MOCK TESTS. Mock tests will help you best to improve your performance.

Step 2: Analyze the Mock Tests

Please note, it is very important to conduct an honest assessment of your performance in the mock test. Analyze each and every question of the test you give and keep the track of the section-wise mock test performance in an excel sheet. Identify your weak areas, strong areas, areas of improvement (speed/accuracy etc.) and aim to avoid these mistakes in the next test. As I mentioned, work towards your weakest topics by giving sectional tests for that particular section which will help you master every topic by the end. Below are the excel templates that I maintained –

CAT Mock Analysis

CAT Mock Analysis

 

Step 3: Maintain your concepts notebook

This is the most important step. Maintain a notebook where you will write the question and the solution of all the good questions/concepts (I did this for Quant and DI/LR) you come across in the mock tests or sectional tests. In every mock test, you will have at least 10-12 questions to write which I know will be very time consuming but this notebook will help you a lot in last 1 month of CAT when you will be able to revise all the mock tests/sectional tests in only 3-4 hours. Follow this approach till your last test before the CAT exam.

Step 4: Sectional Advice 

1. Quantitative Ability – Mock tests are more than sufficient to score well in Quant. In CAT exam, the concepts are relatively easier than the mock tests. You need to improve your speed and accuracy in Quant and for that reason, you need to solve more and more questions in a given time. Most of the questions in CAT will be direct formula based so learn the formulae and shortcuts well. In mock tests, even if your answer is correct, browse through the solution once to check if there is any shortcut available to solve the same question.

2. Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability– In RC, again speed matters a lot. Multiple people will suggest you to read blogs and articles on regular basis, yes that helps a lot but when so less time is left it becomes difficult to follow this approach. So, I would suggest that regular mock tests are sufficient. Along with that, try to solve at least one RC every day. Time your RC. Try to solve a 3-questioned RC in 10-12 minutes while the 6-questioned RC in 14-16 minutes. Reading comprehension in real CAT exam will be much simpler to solve than in the mock tests.

I could never solve VA so I have no strategy to solve VA 😛 But I have few suggestions to target this section. Look for the odd one out questions in the coherence questions, they have a higher probability to be correct than other VA questions.

Secondly, although there were no direct vocabulary based questions in last 2 years, but do learn the 300 intermediate words from the Maghoosh App. It will help you in both VA and RC.

3. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning– This is the only section where the real CAT exam is much more difficult than the mock tests. But still the only strategy to score better in this is by solving more and more mock tests so that you are at least thorough with the basic techniques. The key to this section is to develop the ability to identify the difficulty level of the set.

Step 5: Other key suggestions

1. The most important advice – Don’t get disheartened when you score less in any mock test. Everyone scores 85 percentile once or twice in the Mock tests. Do not give up rather push yourself harder and harder.

2. Working professionals should try to see atleast 4-5 quant questions in office. For that reason, you can join a Facebook group where you will come across good questions every day (I joined iQuanta).

3. In your last week before the CAT exam, try to give Mock CATs and sectionals, keep revising your concept notebook, revise the Maghoosh words and be calm even if you are not scoring upto the mark.

Once you have done all this, you will definitely perform well. Forget how many months are remaining, rather design weekly plans and plan each day. This is all you need to do!

Hope this outline helps. Wish you all the very best!

Aditi Singhal

Aditi Singhal had scored 99.88%ile in CAT 2017. She will be joining IIM Ahmedabad this year. She likes swimming and painting.

Comments

32 comments

Aditi Singhal

Definitely you can. But as far as I know, difficulty level of questions in IMS study material is lower than TIME or Career Launcher. Until you solve difficult questions, you will not develop a good speed for easy questions.

Vijay Chauhan

Which test series is best? TIME Or CL. I am a Hindi medium background student; that’s why I am facing a huge problem in VA-RC section. what should I do to perform well in this section?

Aditi Singhal

I had joined TIME for test series. But I gave few CL open tests as well. Both are equally good.
Only solution to improve VARC is to practice more and more RC of varied topics so that you are familiar with different topics. Give sectional tests for RC. I had the video solutions to all the mock tests so watching the videos for VA really helps as it explains you the detailed approach to do the same.

gates21

hello ma’am……. is it possible to get above 99 percentile within 5 months, if u r starting now and now u r beginning stage……..

gates21

yes ma’am……….and thank u so much ma’am…………….and ma’am, tons tons of good wishes for ur upcoming life events………thank u…….

Akshay Vijayvargiya

Thanks a ton mam..
This is like the most organised preparation strategy for aspirants like us.
Help me in one thing mam..
I am mostly having issues in RCs and got stuck between like two options..
What should I do to overcome that..?

Aditi Singhal

Trust me ! You will definitely face similar issues in CAT as well. Passages are not difficult in CAT but the options are.
To solve such questions, try to avoid the option where there is some assumption made. Never choose the option where any assumption is made.
Or, leave such confusing questions.

Anukriti Pareek

Hi ma’am I wanted to ask should I go for cat 2018 or not based on my profile …I belong to general female category , from Jaipur Rajasthan , my acads are X 8.2 xii 75.4 grad b.sc honors psychology 69.86 with credits 2017 pass out, I have done certificate course in mass communication , and in business communication , worked for helpinghand virtual marketing internship and received certificate for it , currently working for hamari pahchan NGO as 2 month internship , I have attended national conference of psychology , etc. Should I stand a chance for good colleges , how should I go about it .

Aditya Singh

Hello Mam,
Your article is a real help. I have a query:
In the last 2 AIMCATs I scored approx 75%ile, w/o the revision of QA formulas. One section that is creeping me out is VARC- It took me nearly 45 minutes to read 3 RCs (2L + 1S) in in the mock with an accuracy of 65%. I am ok in QA, I know with revision & proper strategy I can pull it out. DILr, is also fine just accuracy is beating me over there, which can done thru practice only. I am really concerned about the VaRC section. I am looking for nothing less than 99%ile. I am gonna follow your methodology and I believe that I will achieve my goal. Any special advice from on VARC as per my situation could make things better. Any?

Aditi Singhal

You need to be thorough with the basic sets of DILR with good speed and accuracy because DIRL in CAT is much more difficult than the mock tests. RC will improve if you start practicing everyday on varied topics. VA as I mentioned, I have no particular strategy. Chances to get VA questions correct are very less but still it is not advised to just rely on RC. Luckily in CAT 2017, RC was much simpler than VA and I had attempted all the passages and no VA question. But this changes every year.

Aditya Singh

Thank you replying Mam. I have 3 more queries:
1. What source is suitable to practice for DILR?
2. What habits from now on should I adopt to prepare for GDPIWAT? I am working executive.

Aditi Singhal

So, the mock tests will have set types of DILR while CAT has various practical applications and complicated DILR. I am unaware of the source where CAT level DILR is available but yes practicing the conventional DILR will definitely improve your performance.
I would suggest you focus on CAT currently. At max, you can read newspaper and editorial.

Aditya Singh

Thank you Mam, for all the advice that you have given. One more grey area where most of the students are perplexed is appropriate test taking strategies- Like how to tackle each section. Could you please write an article about the same?

Yash Dave

Firstly congratulations to you ma’am..Thanks a lot..this will help me very much..I want to ask about RC that after go through with coaching material..any outside effective material Is there..which is essential for CAT and any other exams ??

Arjun Chaudhary

I am currently working for 8-10 Hours. Is it possible to start preparation for CAT now through self study ?
As I do not have time to attend the classes. But I have some real 2 hours free in office while reporting .
I think i can work on it during my working hours easily. Even I need some time to arrange CAT preparation material . So what would you suggest ? Should I start now ?

DivyaS

Hello Mam! Thanks for the strategy. For my preparation, I wish to complete basics by July end or Aug mid and from then on religiously take mocks. I study newspaper daily solve an RC daily but I am too afraid of LRDI.. what can I do on daily basis to improve mam? I really need your input. I am scoring like 65 percentile as of now in mocks and that makes me scared even more. What should I do from now on to improve and not lose motivation in between the prep? Thanks in advance!

Aditi Singhal

Start practicing mocks from now onwards only. Some GRE/GMAT books (RC99, Manhattan etc.) have real good techniques to solve RC, you can refer that.
For LRDI, you should definitely score above 85 percentile in mocks because these are very easy as compared to CAT.
LRDI is something which improves by practising and you should develop te skill to select easy questions.

Aditi Singhal

For LRDI, you should definitely score above 85 percentile in mocks because these are very easy as compared to CAT.
LRDI is something which improves by practising and you should develop te skill to select easy questions.

Jenith Ten

Congrats Ma’am..one question- you said you solved only RCs in CAT means you attempted only 24 questions in CAT 17 and that too from RCs only…is this true or I am misinterpreted it…and would you please tell your sectional attempt with respective raw score and percentile in CAT 17