This is Part 2 of Ravi Handa's study plan for CAT 2013. (You can read Part 1 here)
The three big questions, which nearly every aspirant wants to know the answer to, are:
a) In which order should I prepare?
b) How much should I cover and by what date?
c) When should I start taking mock tests?
The dates for the CAT 2013 exam (October 16 - November 11, 2013) were declared last week. There are a little over 5 months for you to prepare. The answers to the above questions are based upon that key information. I will not say that I know the perfect answers as they would vary from person to person. But I shall try to generalize.
In which order should I prepare?
The CAT syllabus could be divided into three broad areas:
- DI / LR
This can once again be classified into two broad categories:
- Reading Comprehension
- Verbal Usage & Reasoning
Preparation for Reading Comprehension is something that you should start from day 1. You can start by doing small passages and studying the kind of passages that you are comfortable with and gradually move up to tougher passages and questions.
For Verbal Usage & Reasoning, it is recommended that you start with vocabulary building, move on to grammar and prepare for Verbal Reasoning in the end. You should not spend too much time on Vocabulary and Grammar but it is a good starting point. Also, you need to have a good handle on things before you start topics in Verbal Reasoning. It would be difficult to do well in Verbal Reasoning unless you are confident in vocabulary and have decent grammar.
2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
This section does not follow a fixed pattern. The questions and question types vary every year. You can start off with the easy stuff like bar charts, pie charts, etc. and move on to advanced / difficult questions in the later part of your preparation.
It is probably the easiest part to structure in your preparation. It can be further classified into:
- Number Systems
- Modern Maths (Progressions, Permutation & Combination, Set Theory)
You should study them in the order that is mentioned above. A very common mistake that I have seen students make is that they spend too much time on Number Systems & Modern Maths whereas they spend too little time on Algebra & Geometry. I think it is because it is easy to get fascinated by concepts in those two topics while Geometry & Algebra are, for the lack of a better word, boring. But then – you are not writing the CAT for amusement. You have Robert Downey Jr. for that. Do not make this mistake and give importance to all parts of Quantitative Aptitude.
How much should I cover and by what date?
There is no correct date but some broad guidelines which should help.
- By end of July, you should have covered the basics of all topics and should be able to solve easy questions / sitters from all topics.
- August should be spent on analyzing and improving your weak areas. By end of August, you should be able to reach your peak understanding in all topics.
- September should be spent solely on improving your speed and performance in tests.
When should I start taking mock tests?
An ideal scheduling for mock-CATs would be:
2 in June
2 in July
3 in August
3 in September
Now some of you might be wondering that this is just 10 mock-CATs. Too few? I don’t think so. Ten tests are more than enough if you can analyze and improve your performance via these. You might have read on various forums and a lot of experts tell you to write as many mock tests as possible and that is the best way to prepare. I do not belong to that school of thought. I believe that attempting 10 mock-CATs and analyzing them is more than good enough for any aspirant.
Having said that, if you are someone who has written the CAT before and scored a 95+ percentile, you can go in for a higher number of mocks as the time you would need to spend on preparation is going to be much less.
I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any queries / suggestions for future posts, use the comment section.
- Ravi Handa
(Ravi Handa, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, has been working in the CAT Prep sector for the past 7 years. He currently offers online CAT coaching and preparation for CAT 2015)
Other articles by Ravi Handa can be found here