Study Plan for CAT 2013: Part 2

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:

  1. Verbal
  2. DI / LR
  3. Quant.

1. Verbal

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.

3. Quant.

It is probably the easiest part to structure in your preparation. It can be further classified into:

  • Number Systems
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • 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

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I tend to forget what I've learnt in the previous section when I move to the next section in quant. Any sugestions to improve that ??
Thanks in advance.

Ravi Handa

@sowmya – I think a good idea for you would be to first cover the basics of all sections separately and then start giving full length tests. That way – you would keep in touch with all types of questions.


sir, i have given CAT in previous years and have scored badly. But, still i think the CAT is easily crackable. I’ve become more comfortable with certain topics of CAT and i m able to answer any level of difficulty from those topics. But, some topics like functions and graph, geometry,P&C haunt me….D.I .. i donno how to approach some of the questions…. and in verbal… i’m pretty much more than good in reading comp… i rarely make mistakes in these but when it comes to grammar , i lose marks in every way possible on earth.. would you be kind enough to help me??? can you help me with the way to overcome these???
P.S : i’m jobless and have not joined any coaching institutes.. so i have whole 100 days at my expense.

Ravi Handa

@ talentedreamer – It is good that you have identified your weak areas. I would suggest that you spend more time on those. I would suggest the following steps:
1 – Clarify your basics in those topics. For this purpose you can try out a coaching institute, online coaching like mine (Use the code KIRA15 and get an additional 15% off) or free tutorials on youtube and other websites.
2. Practice some easy questions from
3. Practice some more questions from coaching institute material (IMS / CL) or books (Nishit Sinha, Quantum CAT, Arun Sharma, etc.)

Just ensure that wherever you get stuck in the above 3 steps – figure out the reason behind it and try and resolve that doubt.

Also, and I might be completely wrong about this, you sound a little demotivated from your message. I don’t think that should be the case. You have enough time to reach your peak performance.


Please answer a very simple question which is haunting me, can I get into IIM without a coaching institute if I study by myself…..I really need an answer to this.