How To Maximise Your Score For CAT In The Last 40 Days

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There are hardly 40 days for CAT.

The above emotion is something which a student, serious about CAT, would be going through overwhelmingly! However, I would like one to believe that

  • There are FORTY days for CAT.

Once you establish that you are going to work towards the CAT exam and not worry about the number of days that exist, it would be much easier to plan!

There are also a lot of questions that one has (FAQs actually), which I plan to answer before we begin the plan for the next 40 days!

1. Should I do only Mock CATs now that we have only 40 days?

2. The objective of writing should be to get a complete rhythm in writing the CAT paper.  The analysis of the exam should include as to how well you have executed the plan that you have set out for that particular exam.

In addition, the Mocks should be used to check out your weaknesses (and strengths) and use the Mocks as a revision base too!

  1. Should I leave some of the topics that I am weak in?
  2. For the next 15 to 20 days, you can concentrate still on some of the weaknesses you have (in topics and areas). But, once we get to November, it is much more useful when you stick to your strengths!
  3. My scores in two sections are good, but I am not scoring well in one section!
  4. This is very typical for many students. The causes can be many. However, if the issue is with just one section, then one has to put in twice the time in that section (for prep) as with the other two.

However, if there is no discernible pattern as to which section is going wrong, the analysis of your moods during the writing of the exam and trying to adjust them through a clinical approach in attempting the sections would be the need of the hour.

  1. My scores are very erratic; I am losing confidence with each passing day! What do I do?
  2. It is very natural that the scores will be a bit erratic. Understanding this itself will give you a good boost. Remember that if you have scored well in any section (Mock), then it means your basic potential clearly exists. How you harness this ability without succumbing to emotions is the only challenge that you have. So stop worrying about the erratic scores and concentrate on the process of writing the exam. 

There are too many concerns the students are saddled with. But, the answer to almost all questions is the same.

Concentrate on what can be done rather than on what cannot be!

I reproduce below an excerpt from the article I wrote on  ‘Need for Strategy’ for CAT. Following which we discuss as to how to utilise the next 40 days!

The acing of CAT requires two parallel distinctive approaches. One aimed at ensuring the utilisation of 3 hours fully in the exam, the other aims at ensuring the maximum returns for the hours invested prior to the exam (read preparation).

Strategy for CAT 2017

However good one may be in solving problems of QA or DILR or good in vocabulary and grammar, the exam requires a special approach. It is much like adapting oneself to various formats of a cricket game (Test, ODI, T20) even though one may be excellent in batting or bowling!

The basic purpose of strategy is to ensure the following –

  • Read all questions in a section/set
  • Identify and solve the easy and medium level difficulty questions
  • Identify and avoid difficulty OR lengthy questions
  • Have a cutoff time (stop loss) for every question/every set
  • Maximise attempts
  • Get emotion out of the window while attempting the exam
  • Being systematic and clinical in approach!


To achieve the above, each student may have to hit upon a different idea/plan/strategy for attempting the exam.


  • Decide on the time limits you would give within each section
  • Stick to the game plan
  • Possible break-up of time-limits
  • QA – Do it two rounds (35 min and 25 min)
  • Or 6 questions in 10 min
  • Or 8/9 questins in 15 min
  • DI – 30 min (7.5 min for each set)


– Or in each 15 minutes slot, check two sets and choose ONE!

  • LA – 30 min  (7.5 min for each set)

– Or in each 15 minutes slot, check two sets and choose ONE!

  • RC – 45 min  (8 min for each passage)
  • VA – 12-15 min (Doing all non-Parajumble questions)
  • In every section, sticking to the time limits is sacrosanct.
  • Within each set of Say DI/LR or RC – doing all questions is NOT the objective. Reading and trying to attempt is!


Preparation for the NEXT 40 days!

This is the time to forget all the books and concentrate ONLY on Mock CATs and original CAT papers.

If required, one may take up some sectional tests. However, there is really no point going back to the basics often and or solving tons of questions from each chapter/area.

In this last leg of preparation, writing the Mocks to finalise one’s strategy becomes imperative. At the same time, writing ONLY Mocks and doing nothing to improve one’s capability of solving more questions/different types of questions would be counter-productive. Writing only Mocks will set in fatigue in a few days and it will affect the actual exam.

Plan for Mocks

Take 5 to 8 tests in the remaining 40 days. One a week is also more than sufficient. However, your friends and seniors will tell you that you need to write more mocks. No harm in that except there is only so much time to do anything. Writing Mocks alone won’t improve your marks. Hence, use the time judiciously. Take One Mock in 4 to 7 days (as per your convenience) and then utilise the intervening days, i.e. the days between the Mocks for improving the marks in each of the areas.

Here is what I recommend for each of the sections.

Quantitative Ability

  • Important Topics
    • Arithmetic    6 to 8 questions
    • QE/Polynomials/Inequalities/Logs- 8 to 10 questions
    • Numbers 5 to 6 questions
    • Geometry/CG/Mensuration 5 to 7 questions
  • Pick 4 subtopics for every 4/5 days of work (between mocks)
  • For these subtopics – solve about 10 questions in each (From SmartCATs you have already done)

Data Interpretation

  • Divide DI into the seven types of questions
  • For each of the 4/5 days in between mocks, solve about 10 sets in each such type of questions
    • Tables & its variants
    • Bar Chart
    • Line Graphs
    • Pie Charts
    • Tournament & Games
    • Max/Minima & Venn Diagram
    • Miscellaneous – Spider, Triangle, Scatter Diagram etc.

Logical Reasoning/Logical Ability

  • Divided LR into the following
    • Arrangements (Linear and Circular)
    • Selection
    • Networks & Routes
    • Order Sequencing & Ranking
    • Binary Logic
    • Cubes & Venn Diagrams
    • Other puzzles
  • Every day Solve 3 sets
  • At the end of 40 days you should have solved close to 120 sets of LR

Reading Comprehension

  • Solve 3 RCs a day for the next 40 days.
  • Check every answer – wrong ones as well as the ones you get right!
  • For every wrong answer – give yourself reasons why the same cannot be the answer
    • You will be developing the method of thinking

Verbal Ability

  • Areas to work on
    • Grammar – daily 10 questions
      • Try understanding the entire gamut of questions that can come
      • Subject-Verb; Parallelism; Phrasal Verbs; etc.
    • Para Jumbles: Every 3 days, solve around 15 questions
    • Critical Reasoning: Every 3 days, solve around 15 questions.
    • Para Completion/Summary/Others – 10 questions  
    • Words – From every Smart CAT, make sure that you know as many as words as possible along with its usage.

Final Word

  • 40 days can make a huge difference to your score
  • You can add a minimum of 60 marks more than you are currently getting.
  • That could mean jumping about 20 to 30 percentile in the final analysis.
  • If you are getting 90 percentile now, you can hope to touch 99 percentile with this approach OR 80 to 97 OR 70 to 95!
  • Work without worrying about results!
  • You can make it to the best b-schools

Career Launcher is here to help you achieve your goal.

ARKS Srinivas

ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.