CAT Preparation Books: Section Wise Books for QA, VARC, DILR and Topper Recommendations

    Anam Shams Anam Shams
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    Common Admission Test or CAT is one of the most fierce management entrance test opted by more than 2 lakh candidates every year. If you are planning to prepare for CAT 2020 the very first step is pinning down on Best Preparation Books and resources. Sorting down books will help devise a CAT Preparation Plan. Collegedunia analysed recommended books by accomplished authors like Arun Sharma, Nishit K Sinha. Along with section wise resources and topper tips. 

    A lot of CAT preparation books which are available in the market are based on previous year CAT Exam Pattern. Hence, here is an important point to note that the books which are conversant with the updated pattern and difficulty level are good books for preparation.

    If you are targeting to gain admission in reputed IIMs and other top B Schools prepare for CAT is now. During the lockdown across the nation due to Covid-19, this time can be best utilized for CAT preparation. It can turn out to be a great strategy and will help you when the exam is near.

    Before we get into the recommendation of books, let us try to quickly run through CAT paper pattern.

    • CAT syllabus is divided into three sections namely VARC, DILR and Quant. The questions include both MCQs and non-MCQs type. 

    • There are a total of 100 questions carrying 300 marks in total. VARC section had 34 questions carrying 102 marks. 

    • DILR section has a total of 32 questions carrying 96 marks. Quants section has 34 questions carrying 102 marks. The exam is conducted in 2 slots.

    As the competition is cut throat, aspirants need to analyse what mode of preparation they want to opt: Get coaching from some MBA coaching institute or self-study.

    CAT preparation through coaching institute: Aspirants who decide to join an institute for preparation, they are guided by the professional coaches and mentors. The institute also provides CAT study material and mock test series. The questions are solved and tricks and tips are given for each topic. However, this requires dedication and 6-8 hours of daily preparation.

    Check Online CAT Preparation Resources and Tips

    CAT preparation through self-study: The aspirants who don’t have the bandwidth to attend daily classes should opt for self-study. There are many examples of toppers who have cracked the exam without any coaching. The aspirants who opt for self-study should do the following:

    • They can join online study groups on social media like Facebook, Youtube, Quora etc.

    • They can download MBA entrance exam preparation apps.

    • Can buy reference CAT preparation books.

    • Test series from TIME, Career Launcher, IMS, etc. can be obtained.

    • Should prepare a month-wise CAT preparation strategy.

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    CAT Preparation Books Selection Factors

    Factors to Consider While Selecting Books for CAT Preparation

    With a lot of CAT preparation books and materials flooding the market, it is difficult and confusing to choose the best and most relevant material for the exam. The very first step in journey is making a wise choice on the subject wise books. By adopting a good strategy and with the best CAT preparation books, one can get into the top B-Schools in the country like IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow and other non-IIMs like FMS, SPJMIR, MDI etc.

    • If you want to get the best books for CAT preparation, you will have to find the most relevant and updated books for CAT preparation. 

    • You will have to select the book which has the latest CAT pattern, syllabus along with the comprehensive topic-wise details. 

    • The books should also contain topic-wise solved and unsolved questions for practice. We will help you with the guidelines on how to choose the best books for CAT preparation.

    Recommended Books from Arun Sharma and Nishit K Sinha

    CAT Preparation Books by Arun Sharma

    Arun Sharma books for CAT preparation are one of the best CAT preparation books available in the market. Majorly because his books are available for all three sections that form part of CAT exam pattern. Here are some of the key features of CAT preparation books by Arun Sharma:

    • Arun Sharma books consists of present and past pattern of CAT along with the key changes marked.

    • The book is constantly updated with new chapters, topics, exercises and the replica questions along with the approach to answering these questions.

    • There is a conceptual clarity on each topic along with fundamentals explained. All the books by Arun Sharma include topic-wise quizzes and practice questions.

    • There are separate books available for each VARC, DILR and Quant so that student can focus on the weak topics individually.

    • All the books also previous year topic-wise CAT questions for practice and better understanding.

    Following are the books available by Arun Sharma for CAT preparation:

    VARCHow to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CATArun Sharma & Meenakshi UpadhyayMcGraw Hill Publication
    DILRHow to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CATArun SharmaMcGraw Hill Publication
    DILRHow to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CATArun SharmaMcGraw Hill Publication
    QuantHow to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CATArun SharmaMcGraw Hill Publication

    CAT Preparation Books by Nishit K. Sinha

    Books from Nishit K Sinha are also quite popular among CAT aspirants. The book is available for each of three sections. It also has up-to-date CAT pattern and questions. 

    • Previous year questions along with detailed answers are present. 
    • The speciality of the books by Nishit K. Sinha is that each book focuses on conceptual clarity. The questions and the solutions are well explained in detail. 
    • Students can find a lot of practice questions which may help them to get an understanding of a variety of questions
    VARCVerbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CATNishit K. SinhaPearson Publication
    DILRLogical Reasoning & Data Interpretation for CATNishit K. SinhaPearson Publication
    QuantQuantitative Aptitude for CATNishit K. SinhaPearson Publication

    CAT Topper Tips on Preparation Books

    CAT Topper Tips on selection of CAT Preparation Books

    Previous year CAT toppers have also recommended the best books for preparation. Before the suggestion, the toppers advised on the following books:

    • Always get to the conceptual depth on every topic of CAT.
    • You should have only one or two good CAT preparation books.
    • Don’t forget to solve the exercises, practice questions are given after each topic in the preparation books. Also, give mock tests regularly.
    • Do focus on the weak areas and try to solve as many questions on those topics.

    CAT topper, Akshay Mehndiratta, who is currently at IIM Ahmedabad and other students in IIM Calcutta with 99+ percentile like Shivam Shrivastava, Anjali Sam, Nikita Choudhary etc. recommend the following books and strategy for the exam. The recommendations from CAT toppers on CAT preparation books are:

    • Read the articles and editorials in the newspaper regularly. It will help improve your RC skills.
    • Keep focusing on your weak areas and solve more practice questions and mocks.
    • Keep the fundamentals clear.
    • The books that are recommended for CAT preparation are the books by Arun Sharma and Nishit K. Sinha.
    • Always go for the latest edition of CAT preparation books.
    • DILR section is practice-based. Hence, solve a lot of practice questions in this section.
    • If you are taking coaching, use CAT preparation material provided by the institute.
    • If you are stuck on a particular topic in a book, don’t waste time on it. Move on and solve other questions.

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    Best Books for CAT VARC Section

    Recommended Books for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

    1. How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT

    AuthorArun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
    PublisherMcGraw Hill Education
    Latest EditionEighth Edition

    Book Analysis

    • This book not just helps in VARC preparation for CAT, but also is a one-step solution for other MBA exams like XAT, IIFT, CMAT etc.
    • The latest CAT pattern is followed and is updated regularly.
    • The book is full of practise tests with detailed solutions.
    • Proper analysis is done for the past year papers.
    • It is written in a lucid manner along with topic-wise segregation.

    2. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT

    AuthorNishit K. Sinha
    Latest EditionThird Edition

    Book Analysis

    • This book is one of the recommended books by experts for CAT preparation.
    • There is a hierarchical order of difficulty in practice exercise which helps the student to test his preparation level. It also helps recognize the weak areas that need attention.
    • It is counted among the best CAT prep books. It is a comprehensive book for aspirants aiming for CAT, XAT, SNAP and IIFT.
    • The book is presented in a crisp, clear and compact manner.
    • Test papers of other exams are also provided with an extensive solution.

    3. Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

    AuthorAjay Singh
    Latest EditionEleventh Edition

    Book Analysis

    • The book includes all types of questions with detailed solutions as per the latest exam pattern of all the MBA entrance exams.
    • It contains the management entrance solved papers from 2016 onwards for MAT, CAT, IIFT, SNAP, XAT and others
    • The book is comprehensive and will help the student improve performance in English Language Section for all MBA exams.
    • It has more than 200 passages for extensive practice.

    Best Books for CAT DILR Section

    Recommended Books for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

    1. How to prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT

    AuthorArun Sharma
    PublisherMcGraw Hill Education
    Latest EditionSixth Edition

    Book Analysis

    • The book is written according to the latest CAT pattern and syllabus.
    • It is a one-stop solution for all other MBA entrance exams like XAT, IIFT, SNAP etc.
    • The exercises are designed in a manner which boosts thinking in a logical manner.
    • All the new chapters are included. It also has the latest mock test papers for extensive practice.
    • Shortcut, tips and tricks are present to solve each type of questions.
    • Questions on Data Sufficiency are one of the best explained in this book. It contains a variety of questions in this area.

    2. How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT

    AuthorArun Sharma
    PublisherMcGraw Hill Education
    Latest EditionFifth Edition

    Book Analysis

    • It offers a simple and well-defined approach to get an idea of LR topics.
    • It is one of the best CAT prep books which has a lot of exercises and different types of questions in each topic.
    • The best thing about this book is that it has the concept of Reaction tracker which helps us to solve a particular LR problem.
    • There are practice questions with varying difficulty as per revised CAT exam pattern.
    • This book also has reasoning questions from IIFT and XAT with detailed solutions.

    3. Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT

    AuthorNishit K. Sinha
    Latest EditionSixth Edition

    Book Analysis

    • It is one of the books suggested by toppers which covers both LR and DI parts of CAT.
    • The book has all the fundamental and advanced DI topics along with detailed cases.
    • Each chapter is followed by exercise which provides clarity on the concepts.
    • The book is self-sufficient for other MBA exams like XAT, SNAP, IIFT etc.
    • The book also contains 5 section tests in a CD for practice.
    • There are more than 2500 solved DILR questions with varying difficulty.

    Best Books for CAT Quants Section

    Recommended Books for CAT Quantitative Aptitude

    1. How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT

    AuthorArun Sharma
    PublisherMcGraw Hill Education
    Latest EditionEighth Edition

    Book Analysis

    • Among all CAT prep books by Arun Sharma, this book is the best for Quantitative Aptitude and is highly recommended by toppers and experts.
    • The book clarifies on fundamentals and also guides to the approach towards questions of higher difficulty level. The detailed explanation is easy to understand.
    • It has the latest trends of questions which are useful for all MBA entrance exams.
    • One of the best parts is that the author explains how to use the elimination process for a quick answer to save time.
    • Mock test papers are available with extensive solutions.

    2. Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT

    AuthorSarvesh K. Varma
    Latest EditionTenth Edition

    Book Analysis

    • Among the Arihant CAT books, Quantum CAT is one of the most popular and recommended books. The book has more than 300 concepts of quant section explained.
    • The book is rated as one of the best books for Quantitative aptitude. The latest edition has more than 4000 solved questions.
    • The book gives an easy approach to the problems and is recommended by many toppers.
    • The book contains the tips and shortcuts to approach CAT questions for all the topics.

    3. Quantitative Aptitude for CAT

    AuthorNishit K. Sinha
    Latest EditionFourth Edition

    Book Analysis

    • The book has all the major topics of CAT syllabus explained in detail. It also has some tips and strategies along with analysis of each problem.
    • This book has a huge question bank for practice.
    • The difficulty of the questions varies in each topic for benchmarking. The new edition is one of the best and recommended by toppers.
    • The book also contains a CD with 5 online tests for practice.

    NCERT Books to Refer for CAT Preparation

    NCERT books are a good way to start CAT preparation if you need to clear your basic concepts. The NCERT mathematics class 6-10 books may help you to learn some useful basics. But remember that only start your preparation from NCERT books if you have a lot of time in hand before the exam. It may be useful to brush up some concepts to go ahead with the advanced problems. If you have limited time to study, it is recommended that you should go ahead with other publications books as mentioned.

    Newspapers to Refer for CAT Preparation

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    Newspapers to Refer for CAT Preparation

    It is also recommended that aspirants should read newspapers and journals to improve reading comprehension skills. Reading these materials will help to get a strong command over the English language which in turn will help in the VARC section. Also, reading journals and newspapers will increase your knowledge which will help you with other exams like MAT which has a current affairs section. Apart from this, the knowledge will be helpful while preparing for the writing ability test (WAT), group discussion (GD) and personal interviews (PI).

    • One of the recommended newspaper is ‘The Hindu’. The editorials of this newspaper will help to increase the reading skills and vocabulary. It covers international and political issues which will help for GD and PI also. 
    • A lot of other newspapers like Mint and The Economic Times will help you understand the economic status of the country and the world. They will help you learn the current happenings in the business world.
    • Also, reading journals will help you to think about current issues and make opinions. It will help you form an unbiased view on different domains like politics, sports, business & economics, social etc. 
    • It is important to note here that the WAT and GD topics generally revolve around the current topics and happenings in the country or the world. Similarly, several questions will also be asked in the interview. Reading newspapers and similar journals will sail you through these steps and will land you in the college of your dreams.

    If you are a fresher, make sure you are thorough with your technical subjects. The interviews will revolve around the subjects you studied in under graduation. The aspirants should brush-up their technical knowledge. There are high chances of the interviewer asking your favourite subject and starts asking the questions on the same.

     If you are an experienced candidate, have full knowledge of the work that you did, the company you worked in and the industry. Any latest news or the current market status of the organization can also be asked. All the aspirants should also be thorough with their CVs. Anything related to your CV can be asked in an interview.

    CAT Preparation Books FAQs 

    Ques: What are the best books recommended for CAT?

    Ans: Some of the best books for CAT preparation are by Arun Sharma and Nishit K Sinha. All three books by Arun Sharma for VARC, DILR and QA are highly recommended.

    Ques: Should I take up coaching for CAT preparation?

    Ans: No. It is not necessary to take coaching. There is enough material available for CAT preparation like reference books, online material and test series if candidates are willing to prepare via self study.

    Ques: Is study material provided by coaching centre necessary while preparing for CAT?

    Ans: No. You can refer to other material like books from different authors. These books can be a great source for preparation.

    Ques: Which are the other sources for CAT preparation?

    Ans: There is a lot of material online available which is also free. Apart from this, online test series for mocks is a great way of learning. Other paid online coaching may also be helpful.

    Ques: How much time do I need for CAT preparation?

    Ans: There is no definite answer to that. The time depends on your current knowledge of CAT concepts. However, a good 7-8 months of preparation can help you get great results.

    Ques: What are some of the best colleges to target after writing CAT?

    Ans: Some of the top IIMs which accept CAT score are IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, etc. Some other top colleges are FMS, SP Jain, MDI also accept CAT score.

    Ques: What is the CAT fee structure?

    Ans: For the past three years, the fee for CAT is Rs 1700/- (general category) and Rs 850/- (reserved category). The application mode is online.

    Ques: Is there General Awareness section in CAT?

    Ans: XAT, IIFT, SNAP, TISSNET, CMAT, MAT exams have GK section. CAT does not have a GK section mentioned in the exam pattern it only covers Qunats, DILR and VARC. But candidates are judged on their awareness skills during WAT/PI rounds.

    Ques: Is a calculator allowed in CAT?

    Ans: No, you cannot bring your own calculator. However, one on-screen calculator is present in CAT exam.

    Ques: Is there any age restriction for giving CAT?

    Ans: No, there is no age limit for giving the CAT, candidates fulfilling academic eligibilitycriteria can appear for the exam.

    Ques: When does the CAT take place?

    Ans: CAT is generally scheduled in the 3rd week of November every year by any one of the third generation IIM asa convening body. It is conducted online by TCS group.

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College

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