How To Crack Different Sections In CAT – Tips By A Former Aspirant

There is no one fit size for all the CAT Aspirants. It is based on the individual’s strengths, weakness. Following are the tips, which may be useful for the Aspirants.

CAT is the entrance exam for the top-notch b-schools in India. This exam tests one’s aptitude, comprehending and language skills. However, the preparation phase tests the one’s Commitment and Attitude. That’s why I call it “Commitment and Attitude Till Exam” instead of “Common Aptitude Test”. It’s your commitment and Attitude during the preparation phase is going to decide your fate on the D-Day.

Now, let’s go straight to the point. CAT has 3 sections: VARC, DILR, QA. One cannot skip one section for other because each section has equal weightage and cutoff for the 2nd round (Interview round) and each section has a unique way of the preparation. I’ll cover the answer section wise:

  • VARC:  This section tests your Comprehensions and Language skills. Generally, this section has 24 RC questions and 10 VA questions. If you have a reading habit then you only need to solve T.I.M.E booklets and you can also go for the VARC Book of Arun Sharma (This is optional for all the aspirants)If you are not a regular reader then you have to develop a reading habit. For this, you can start by reading a Newspaper daily (My Favorite is The Hindu). This will not only enhance your reading speed/skills but also keep you in touch with the Current Affairs, which very much required for the Next Stage of the selection process and you need not prepare separately for the current affairs during the 2nd stage. This also prepares you for the various kinds of topics like politics, Technology and others. You preparation schedule must have 1-2 hours daily for the reading (other than the regular 3 section preparation).  Non-reader must follow the above-mentioned booklets and book. Here I would say Regular reading is the key for this section.
  • DILR: This is the Make’n’Break section for everyone. This section generally comprising 8 sets, 4 questions per set and 5 correct set can fetch you 99+ in this section. This section has its own unique advantage unlike the other sections in this sections 15-16 correct attempt can fetch you a very good percentile. This is the most difficult section for everyone since last few years and there is no defined methodology to master this section. In this section, there is no straightforward DI Sets. Generally, DI sets appear in the form of LR sets. One needs to practice various kind of sets to master this section. You can refer the DILR book of Arun Sharma along with the T.I.M.E. study material. On the D-Day, one needs to select the correct sets and if you are stuck with some sets then let it go, proceed for the next because you need only 15-16 correct attempt for the required percentile. Here I would say Selection of the sets is the key for this section.
  • QA: This is an interesting section in CAT and turns out to be the easy section (comparatively to other two) for the Engineers and similar background students but others can also make this section as their strongest one. This section tests your mathematical skills. Generally, this section has 34 Questions covering various topics and few like Geometry, Number System have a higher percentage in the paper. This is the only section in which the defined preparation methodology can help you. One needs to practice Methods/Shortcuts to master this section. You can refer the QA book of Arun Sharma along with the T.I.M.E. study material. TIME booklets have enough shortcuts to master this section. Regular revision of the Formulas, Shortcuts and New Methods is very useful. Therefore, the Aspirants need to maintain a separate notebook and need to regularly update with the new methods and shortcuts. You can revise this once in a month. Here I would say Practice is the key for this section. The most important pillar of the preparation stage “Mock Test”, because “Regular and Guided practice is the key of Success”.
  • Mock Test: This is the application of your knowledge and this gives you an idea where do you stand and which area needs improvement, what changes you require in the preparation strategy, which are the Strong and Weak areas for you? All these will be answered by Mock Test. This will prepare you to handle the D-Day or consider it as a practice match before the Final. During your preparation, you may not always score the desired percentile but do not get demotivated, properly analysis your test, learn from the mistakes and move on. Moreover, do not repeat the same mistake twice and do not make. Remember one thing – do not compare your performance with others. Mock test analysis is the most important part of the preparation phase. To ace the CAT one needs to properly analysis the Mock test. For Mock analysis, I recommend you to re-attempt the all unattempted question, and go for the solution of the correct questions and note down if any different approach followed for the questions. To track your performance you must maintain an excel sheet in which you can record your performance in various tests and note down things like Attempted/Unattempted Questions, Correct/Incorrect Questions etc. In addition, you have to maintain another excel for the performance in your strong and weak areas, in this, you can include the productive time per section (correct attempt against the total time). Your aim must be to maximize the productive time. You can opt the Career launcher test Series. The CL tests are very similar to the actual CAT exam. They have a very good analysis of the Mock test and have the videos of a real attempt of the few tests by the faculty, so you can also learn from the strategy adopted by the faculty for the tests. Here I would say Your attitude to handle failure or success will define your future.
  • Timeline and General Tips: Ideally Aspirants must finish the T.I.M.E. booklets and Arun Sharma books until July and one needs to regularly attempt the Mock test from the July onwards. Once you complete the study material, you can move to the sectional test for the regular practice and concentrate more on the weak areas.  You have to study 3-4 hours daily and maximize during the weekdays (at least 8 hours).
  • Concluding Remarks: CAT preparation is all about your Commitment and Attitude. Do not get demotivated by the preparation phase outcomes. To keep you motivated throughout the preparation phase you can also follow the any motivational Speaker. No recommendation for the motivational speaker J and remember CAT is “Commitment and Attitude Till Exam”. “When you get a setback do not sit back only step back to bounce back”. All the best!!

Ramraj Nagar

Ramraj Nagar IIM-L PGP 2018-20


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