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How to Prepare for CAT 2018? CAT 2018 Preparation Tips

Updated On - June 27th 2018

CAT Preparation Tips 2018: CAT is one of the most competitive exams in our country. More than 2.4 lakh candidates compete for 4000 seats in 20 IIMs. The number of applicants increases each year and the IIMs have also started diversifying their intake pool. Adding to the above factors, a candidate needs to score really high in CAT to get a call from any IIM. Thus, an extensive CAT preparation is of primary importance.

Before going through the article, let us first look at the revised exam pattern of CAT. Listed below is a brief of the management pattern:

CAT Exam Pattern
No. of Sections3
Exam duration3 hrs. (1 hr./ section)
Exam ModeOnline
Total Questions100
Ques. with Negative Marking75 (MCQs)
Ques. w/o Negative Marking25 (non-MCQs)
Correct Answer+3 marks
Wrong Answer-1 mark
CAT SyllabusTips for CAT QA SectionCAT Sample PapersTips for CAT DILR Section

After having a brief idea about the paper pattern, one must be well aware with the syllabus as well. It is important for the management aspirants to have a rough idea about the exam, its pattern and syllabus. The following article informs the same. CAT is not a test of intellect but of management. It tests the following skills in a candidate-

  • Time management
  • Balance between speed and accuracy
  • Presence of mind
  • Focus and concentration
  • Ability to deliver high performance under stress

These skills can only be acquired by regular practice for an appropriate amount of time. Hence, we have curated some expert CAT Preparation Tips to help you crack the exam like a pro.

Read more CAT Preparation Tips for Working Professionals.

When to Start Preparing for CAT?

CAT requires between 8-18 months for an effective preparation. Time framed required for CAT is as follows-

  • Learning concepts and laying the foundation- 2- 4 months
  • Practice without seriously attempting mocks tests- 3-8 months
  • Giving mocks and revising the entire course-3- 6 months.

To assess oneself in each field thoroughly and master the basics of every topic takes time. Identifying ones strong and weak areas needs studying each topic as well. Therefore, you need ample time to prepare for CAT well.

How to start CAT Preparation?

  • Go through the exam pattern of CAT
  • Check the syllabus available @CAT Syllabus
  • List down your strong and weak topics and areas in all the sections.
  • Gather all the preparation material, apps and books for CAT Preparation. Check Here
  • Take as many mock tests so as to analyse your weak and strong areas.
  • For VARC, read as many novels/ articles/ newspapers/ conversing with people in English/ watching English channels as possible. Know more

Exclusive CAT 2018 Timetable

Collegedunia provides an exclusive timetable for all CAT 2018 aspirants. It talks about the section-wise time allotment, as per the important topics.

Number of Days required prepare CAT 2018 topics

Here is a comprehensive table enlisting the number of days you need to study each topic in the first phase of CAT 2018 preparation. You must invest 2-3 months in going through each topic and learning it at its very basic.

Verbal Ability & Reading ComprehensionData Interpretation & Logical ReasoningQuantitative Ability
TopicNumber of DaysTopicNumber of DaysTopicNumber of Days
English Usage/Grammar5Arrangements8Number System10
Sentence correction5Venn Diagrams4Averages4
Fill in the blanks5Set theory5Percentages3
Para completion10Selections & Ordering7Profit, loss & discount4
Jumbled paragraph10Networks & Routes3Simple & compound interest3
Odd sentence out10Games & Tournaments5TSD4
Para summary10DI based reasoning5Time & work2
Verbal reasoning4Tables5Mixtures & alligation2
Critical Reasoning4Graphs12Ratio & proportion2
Reading Comprehension14Charts9Linear equations2
--Caselets5Quadratic equations4
--Data Sufficiency4Logarithm2
----Surds & Indices2
----Coordinate geometry2

Time required for each subject

The given time table can be modified and accommodated as per a candidate’s day to day scehdule. One needs to invest minimum 3-4 hours daily for CAT 2018 preparation.  

Day2 hours1-2 hours1 hour
SaturdayTake a Full-length Mock (3 Hours)
SundayMock Analysis( 2-3 Hours) and retaking the same mock (3 Hours) 

CAT 2018 Preparation Strategy

  1. The first step is collect all the relevant study material. Join a coaching center, as they can help immensely. Also, enroll in some test series.
  2. Start by learning the concepts of each topic. CAT syllabus includes Class X and XII level mathematics, logical reasoning, and English.
  3. Practise with a timer and do not use calculator, especially while practicing Data Interpretation. 
  4. Practise each topic properly. This will help in assessing your strengths and weakness.
  5. Instead of solving 20 questions of one type, solve 4 questions of 5 types from each topic.
  6. Make a list of your strong and weak areas. In the initial stage, put emphasis strengthening your weak areas.
  7. Start taking mocks as early as possible. Don’t be disheartened if you score less. Mocks are for you to recognize the areas you need to put more efforts in.
  8. Analyse each mock you take. The more mocks you take the better strategy you will be able to form. It is recommended to take minimum 1 and maximum 3 mocks in a week.
  9. Once you finish the entire syllabus, focus primarily on mocks and sectional tests.
  10. In the final 2 months, do not prepare for any new topics. Work on strengthening the ones you are good at.
  11. Attempt previous years’ CAT question papers. Question papers from 1990-2008 are easily available for the purpose.
  12. Take adequate breaks, and get enough sleep while preparing for CAT.

Read CAT Preparation Tips 2018

CAT 2018 Preparation Tips for Quantitative Ability

Quantitative Ability covers the following areas of mathematics:

  • Algebra
  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Mensuration
  • Modern Mathematics

While preparing for QA, you can follow the tips mentioned below:

  1. Lay the foundation and brush up the concepts. If you don’t know the basics of any topic, you cannot solve for complex questions.
  2. Learn time-saving techniques like tables till 40, squares upto 30, cubes upto 20 and percentage equivalent of fractions till 25.
  3. Maintain a formula book. Note down all the important and direct formulas and go through them regularly.
  4. Practice solving questions within 2 minutes. This is the average time you get to spend on each question in Quant.
  5. When you attempt QA in mocks, break the entire section into three parts as per the difficulty level of the question- easy, moderate, and difficult.
  6. You need to solve more questions in less time. It is better to solve 3 easy questions than 1 difficult question.
  7. Lastly, practice a lot. Only practice can help you master this section.

CheckQA Paper Analysis of CAT 

CAT 2018 Preparation Tips for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

For past two years, DI/LR has proved to be the most difficult of three sections. Absence of a set syllabus, makes preparing for this section difficult. Practice is the only way to ace this section. You can follow the tips mentioned below:

  1. Get familiar with all kinds of graphs and charts in DI and puzzles in LR.
  2. Practice quick calculation. Learn percentage equivalent of fractions. They are a big time saver
  3. Learn to compare fractions in DI. This will help in you massive calculations
  4. Solve puzzles like Sudoku and crossword to sharpen your grey cells.
  5. Attempt 20 questions or 4 sets each of DI and LR daily. Each sets usually takes 10-15 minutes to solve. Try to solve them within 8-12 minutes.

CheckDILR Paper Analysis of CAT

CAT 2018 Preparation Tips for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension is the section that scares a lot of aspirants. The section is designed to test your English skills in depth. It consists of the following types of questions-

  • Critical Reasoning      
  • Grammar & Usage
  • Sentence Correction   
  • Word usage
  • Fill in the blanks         
  • Para Jumble
  • Para completion         
  • Para Summary
  • Idioms

Tips for VA/RC Section

  1. You need to read to get better at this section. Read fiction and non-fiction novels, newspapers, business magazines, etc.
  2. Learn the basics of grammar like articles, adjectives, tenses, modifiers, etc. and practice them as well.
  3. Prepare cue cards. Put down all the new words, you come across, along with its meaning. Revise these cards regularly.
  4. Get in a habit of reading questions first instead of passages. Just give a quick glance to these questions and get an idea of the difficulty level.
  5. Then sweep through the passage quickly and assess how easily you understand it.
  6. Make a combination of both. Attempt the ones with easier questions first.
CAT Sample Papers, CAT Practice Papers

Resources to Prepare for CAT 2018

  • The best material to prepare for CAT 2018 is the one provided by coaching centers.
  • These can be acquired online on sites like OLX and Quikr. They contain all the relevant and topic focused questions for practice.
  • For QA, it is recommended to prepare from Class X and XII NCERT books.
  • Best source to prepare for VA/RC is your daily reading material like novels, newspapers, magazines etc. 
  • Go through the pages of dictionary at random. This helps in learning new words.

Given below are additional reference material for each section of CAT:

Reference Books and preparation Material for Quantitative Ability

  1. How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma, Publisher- Tata Mcgraw Hill.
  2. Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation for CAT by Nishit Sinha, Publisher- Pearson.
  3. Quantum CAT: Quantitative Aptitude Common Admission Test for Admission into IIMs by Sarvesh K Verma, Publisher- Arihant
  4. Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examination Tips, Techniques, and Short-cut Methods by Abhijit Guha.
  5. NCERT Mathematics books for class 8th, 9th, 10th and 10+2.

Read Top 5 Online Forums for CAT 2018 Preparation

Reference Books and Preparation Material for Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation

  1. Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning for CAT by Nishit Sinha, Publisher- Pearson.
  2. How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for the CAT by Arun Sharma, Publisher- Tata Mcgraw Hill.
  3. How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for the CAT by Arun Sharma, Publisher- Tata Mcgraw Hill.

Reference Books and Preparation Material for Verbal and Reading Comprehension

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension by Ajay Singh, Publisher – Arihant.
  2. 3o Days to More Powerful Vocabulary by Wilfred Funk & Norman Lewis, Publisher- Simon & Schuster.
  3. Wren and Martin English Grammar
  4. Business English and Communication by Clark Zimmer, Publisher- Mcgraw Hill Ryerson.

ReadBest Books for CAT Preparation 2017

CAT Mock Test 2018

The official mock test is released by the conducting IIM is an outline of the pattern of the exam. Do not rely solely on it and take mock tests from the beginning of your preparation.

  • It is important to join a good test series for mocks. They are available with coaching centers like T.I.M.E, Career Launcher, etc. as well as online on site like HundakaFunda, Pagalguy, etc.
  • Mocks tests help in eliminating most of the surprise elements.
  • The more mocks are attempted, the better speed and accuracy get.
  • CAT Mock Test help in identifying areas of strength and weakness.
  • They also help in accustoming your body to sit for a 3 hour long test.

CAT is difficult to crack due to its level of competition. If you practice well and prepare smart, you can easily score high percentile in the test. Good luck!

CAT Preparation Tips FAQS

Ques. What is the basic key to crack CAT?

Ans. The first step to prepare for almost any exam is to UNDERSTAND THE SYLLABUS of the paper very attentively before starting. Understanding what is going to be the part of exam and the sources of preparation, will help covering syllabus fruitfully.

Ques. What are the factors that affect the preparation of a student?

Ans. There are factors which include mental health and the level of dedication to crack the exam which affects your preparation. Be sure to be free from any mental pressure when you sit to study for the exam.

Ques. How does Time Management help in making studies more easy and effective?

Ans. Time Management is one key which you necessarily require to excel. Keep your focus on solving one thing at a time and keep your goals time bound and realistic. Decide the amount of time you need to cover the syllabus and adhere to the schedule without failing.

Ques. Is there a limit on the number of attempts for CAT exam?

Ans. No, there are no limits to how many time a candidate can give the exam.

Ques. Is it required to have 5 to 7 books to study from when you sit to prepare for CAT?

Ans. Having a pile of books and a bunch of notes in addition to it will not help you. You can decide which book suits you best as a complete guide to all the sections will be enough. You can also have a book separately for each section but try to keep the number low as to 2 or 3 books to prepare.

Ques. Is joining a Coaching Center a great investment in studies for CAT?

Ans. Joining a coaching center depends upon the time that you can put into the preparation of CAT exam. Full time course or a crash course can be always beneficiary as coaching centers give you extra guidance to prepare well.

Ques. Is the Study Material provided by the coaching center reliable?

Ans. Study Material which is prepared by the coaching centers is prepared on the past data of the exam and can be very useful. Although there is no harm in referring to an extra book if you have time.

Ques. How can reading prove to be helpful in studying for CAT exam?

Ans. It is well noted that candidates who can easily ace the quantitative ability lack in verbal ability. It is advised to constantly read and cultivate a habit of reading to become more avid in English. This will help getting verbal ability section well in grasp.

Ques. How does a series of tests help ace CAT?

Ans. Taking a series of tests should be a ritual for preparing for CAT exam. Writing at least 15-20 tests before giving the final exam will give you an idea of the level of questions and the way to solve them. Also, subscribing to a series of Mock Tests is helpful as it provides you an edge over the actual exam.

Ques. How does having a great deal of General Knowledge helps in CAT exam?

Ans. General Knowledge might not be the part of exam but is still useful for you in Personal Interviews. Also, good G.K. helps build confidence in a person to face people and converse.

Ques. Does having a full-time job affects preparing for CAT exam?

Ans. Having a full-time job can affect your preparation but not to a great extent. CAT preparation can be done parallel to your work. But, you must build a schedule and stick to it so as to devote required time for the preparation. Prior experience added in your CV can only benefit to get the admission.

Ques. Can preparing 2 sections of the exam thoroughly give an edge over the paper?

Ans. If you really want to score well in your CAT exam, you need to prepare well enough for all the three sections of the paper. CAT score comprises of sectional cut-off which doesn’t leave you with much options.

Ques. How many hours of study is enough for a candidate to prepare for CAT?

Ans. Candidates are advised to study for at least 2 to 3 hours daily for good preparation. This schedule will suit in the cases where candidate has enough time to prepare for CAT. It also depends upon the study habits of the candidate and the study hours can always go up relating to every individual’s study habits

Ques. How do problem solving methods help to prepare for the exam?

Ans. Candidates should make note of the fact that they should constantly try solving the questions through more than one method with accuracy. Depending on their own method of solving and mastering is more helpful than following tips from outside.

Ques. What preparation pattern should a candidate follow to score well in the exam?

Ans. Starting with the most difficult sections, candidates must pay more attention towards concept building. Afterwards, easy concepts can be considered as they will take lesser amount of time.
Or, it is also advised that a candidate should try to study 2 topics simultaneously with 1 easy topic and the other difficult which will save a lot of time for other topics.

Ques. Is preparing for CAT for candidates who are in their final year of graduation a difficult task?

Ans. Candidates can divide their study time and utilize them in the best possible way. It is advised to constantly prepare for the CAT exam while completing the graduation.

Ques. How long should a candidate study in a day so as to get good grades in the entrance exam?

Ans. It is more important for candidates to focus on regularity rather than several hours to study for while preparing for the exam. A candidate should not over pressurize himself by studying for many hours, but the practice should be constant.

Ques. What should a candidate do in case he/she has left mathematics as a subject in their 12th standard and is pursuing graduation in some other course?

Ans. Candidates in such case are advised to polish their 10th grade mathematics as the basic concepts asked in CAT are up to 10th grade only. With a thorough revision of previous math questions can help them prepare well for the paper.

Ques. Is CAT a very difficult exam to crack?

Ans. CAT is not difficult, it is just competitive. If you have your concepts clear and practice mocks regularly, you can easily score 90+ percentile in CAT.

Ques. What is the syllabus for LR/DI? How do I prepare for it?

Ans. There is no fixed syllabus for LR/DI. You can prepare for it by practicing previous year question papers and following the type of questions that came in LR/DI section.

Ques. I am scared of Maths. How do I prepare for Quant?

Ans. The maths asked in CAT is of school level. Prepare your basics well and practice as much as you can.

Ques. My English is not very good. Can I still take CAT?

Ans. CAT requires one to have a decent level of command on English. You can strengthen your English skills by reading books and watching grammar lectures on youtube and such sources.

*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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