Date for CAT 2018 has been announced - 25th Nov 2018. So there are effectively 6 months to prepare for it. With this article, I would try to give you a perspective on preparation within 6 months and on how to make most of this time.
1. Understanding the basic tenets of CAT
CAT has 3 sections mainly; Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation (DILR).
These sections further have subtopics. QA Constitutes of Number System, Percentages, Profit and Loss, Ratio and Proportion, Time and Work, Time Speed and Distance, Algebra, Sets and Logic, Geometry.
VARC comprises of Reading Comprehension, Para Jumbles, Para Completion, Critical Reasoning etc.
DILR comprises of Calculation and Logic Based DI, Arrangement Based LR, Game and Tournament based LR.
There may be some topics missing from the above list. Do remember that not every topic has the same weightage, so some topics have their greater share of the question.
2. Coaching or No Coaching?
First of all, try to solve 1 or 2 questions from all the topics by yourself; you would get a hang of the syllabus well. If you are confident about self-preparation and discipline needed to do so; then don’t join any coaching, just buy relevant material and start. I had used TIME’s material to prepare for my basics.
Whatever it is, decide fast. If you are going to join coaching, this is the time to do so.
3. Building the Basics
The month of May, June and half of July; 2.5 months approx. to solve all the basic materials. Divide your available time topic-wise. Maintain an excel to track your progress. Solve all the different type of questions from the material.
For VARC, apart from solving material, one can pick up good novels and news editorials to make preparation less monotonous. If you don’t have good verbal skills, then books and news editorials are almost mandatory. I was bad at VARC initially, couldn’t get meaning of many words and sentences; started noting down everything I couldn’t understand.
By the end of July, you should be able to solve questions in the basics material with 80% accuracy.
4. Sectional and the Mock Tests
August-Mid November, this is the time for taking the preparation to its pinnacle. Once done with basics, start with sectional tests of the all the topics. You’ll witness a sudden increase in difficulty to solve questions, as you would be doing it in time-bound manner for the first time. Don’t get disheartened, this is your time to know the reality.
When you would attempt your first full-length mock test, you might feel tired by sitting for 3 hours continuously. Remember this, ‘The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war’. Many aspirants find mock tests to be difficult, they get questions wrong in areas where they aced in basics; Stay motivated, this is your test. Maintain an excel to track questions and topics where you make mistakes in mocks, get back to drawing board after every mock and work hard, so that you don’t make these mistakes again.
Personal Observation - Over a period of time, CAT has reduced its difficulty level and it has become more speed oriented. Don’t take mock of classes which are very tough in nature. Try to solve questions which are similar to what is asked in CAT.
Try to solve Quant questions using different methods, this might help you in reducing the time taken per question. There is no fixed formula for solving questions in Verbal Section, people tend to better with time and hard-work in it. For LRDI, one must have done all the type of sets at least once.
5. 15 Nov to D-Day
Don’t put too much of stress on yourself. Use this time to revise well, memorize formulae etc. This time can also be utilized for working on pain-points.
Good luck! Bell the CAT!