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Are You a Non-Engineer? Read 10 Exclusive Preparation Tips for CAT 2017

Last Updated - September 20, 2017

How can non-engineers ace the CAT Exam? This is an unfeigned query of nearly 40% of candidates who belong to the non-engineering background. But if we believe the experts, there is no significant difference in the preparation strategies of candidates from engineering/statistics/maths/mathematical science background. 

The last date for CAT Nov 2017 Registration is Sept 20. Apply now at

Although looking at the history, it is evident that majority of the seats in IIMs and other top colleges of the country are occupied by students from an engineering background. Take a look at the picture below, which shows the Batch Profile of PGP 2017-19 at IIM B –

CAT preparation tip

Due to the above-stated situation, there prevails a very popular notion that CAT exam has more students from engineering background than other streams. This is mainly because most of the engineers study Mathematics in their graduation, which is assumed to be the most dreadful section of CAT.

However, this is certainly not true. There are many candidates who do not belong to Engineering background and are still studying at IIMs. So, assuming that one is not an engineer and can never crack CAT, is definitely incorrect to say. Interestingly, each year, IIMs try to bring in as much diversity in the classes as possible. 

The only way a candidate clears CAT is with his practice and fresh ideas. Hence, while breaking the myth that engineers gain better marks in the exam, a non-engineer has an equivalent chance of acing CAT. It is rightly said that 'Faith can move mountains. Doubt can create them.' Believe in yourself and work hard.

This year, the Common Admission Test (CAT 2017) is scheduled on November 26. It is the most accepted management entrance exam in our country 

For all of you from a non-engineering background aspiring to clear CAT 2017, we are at your rescue. Here are 10 exclusive preparation tips that can help you crack CAT like a pro. Read on.

  1. Devote equal time to all 3 sections

CAT Weightage


One of the biggest mistakes that non- engineers do is that they put a whole lot of effort of Quantitative Aptitude section and give comparatively lower time to other two sections.

CAT Exam Pattern gives equal weightage to all three sections. So what is the point of focusing on only one section? You may need a little extra effort on Mathematics as it may not be your forte, but don’t let other two sections hamper your overall result. The key is to prepare in a way that you get a balanced score in all 3 sections.

  1. Make short-term plans

CAT Short time Plans

Many ambitious candidates tend to make a long-term plan like I will solve 300 LRDI sets till the exam date or I will solve 500 QA questions this month. Well, these targets do look fancy and attractive, but this is probably not the right way to go.

Rather you should make weekly plans, or even daily targets if we say so. Long-term plans are not easy to execute and can lead to panic and de-motivation, if not completed. Therefore, rather than looking at your destination, keep an eye on one milestone.

So, at the start, it is not bad to have a long-term goal of reaching an IIM, but while executing, short-term plans sit nearest to success.

  1. Take regular mock tests

CAT regular Mock Test

If you read the success story any student with 99 percentile in CAT, you will find one common thing in almost all of these, which is Mock Tests. Practicing CAT Sample Papers holds an equal importance during your preparation period.

Mocks provide you an actual exam-like situation and introduce you with your weaknesses and strength. We suggest you take approx. 30 mocks so as to stay calm and composed on the exam day.

  1. Be good at basics

CAT basic Knowledge

It is important to understand that one need not be an expert to crack CAT 2017. The exam tests your basic knowledge and smart applicationof these basics. Also, you do need to do all the questions to crack CAT, a score of 160 or 170 out of 300 can easily fetch you a 99+ percentile. So, the key is to be thorough with basics, rather than wasting time on high level theorems and formulae.

  1. Prepare a formula sheet and keep on revising it

CAT Formula sheet

Many people, especially non-engineers, tend to forget the required formulae and tricks. So, one thing that you should definitely do is that you can make a formula sheet.

Gather all the necessary formulae and keep them stored in one notebook. Also, if you see any useful trick that you didn’t know, write it in that notebook. Keep this sheet a concise one and do not flood it with a lot of formulae.

We suggest you revisit this formula sheet every week for so that all important formulae are always fresh in your mind.                    

  1. Practice makes a man perfect

CAT Practice Papers

It is understandable that CAT Syllabus is difficult and one needs to cover all important topics in very less time. But more than studying, CAT is an exam where your performance depends upon your practice.

So, do make sure that you have done enough amount of practice to face any kind of question. Also, try to practice from a diverse set of sources to gain familiarity. Ideally, 3 to 4 RCs, 10-15 VA Questions, 4 LRDI sets and 30-40 QA questions should be done daily. And of course, if you can do more than this, it would be great for you.

  1. DI/LR will make it or break it


You know Quantitative Aptitude is your weakness, but you should also know that many non-engineers are not good at it. That is why DILR has been made a separate section.

A non-engineer is generally better at VARC section and works hard on QA section, but what about DILR? Ignoring DILR section can be a huge mistake as it demands a lot of practice. Also, DILR has remained the toughest section of CAT from last two years. So, understand that DILR is equal for all the candidates and you definitely stand a chance to score high in it. Buckle up and practice this section with all your dedication!

ReadHow to Prepare Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning for CAT?

  1. RCs are your best friends

CAT RCs for friends

RCs occupy 24% weightage in CAT exam and no one can ace the exam without getting hold of the Reading Comprehension. Imagine how easy it is to get an excellent CAT Result with just performing well in the RC section!

Non-engineers have an advantage here since they are generally good at reading. Make RCs your best friends, because once you start getting marks in RCs, much of your tension gets removed as they help you gain a better score.

  1. The dominance of Arithmetic

Equations, Graphs, Functions, Modulus and Inequalities, these are some topics that are enough to de-motivate a non-engineer. These are an important part of CAT’s QA syllabus. But thankfully, from last two years, the QA section of CAT has been dominated by the Arithmetic part.

This includes Ratios, Percentages, Averages, Time and Work, Profit and Loss and Interest along with one or two other topics. At least 10-12 questions have been seen coming from these chapters, and the trend is very likely to continue. So, rather than wasting time on Algebra, which is generally hard to understand, get your grip tight on Arithmetic part first. Once you start getting these questions right, then move to others.

Here is the topic-wise break up of CAT 2016 QA section –

CAT Dominance of arthmetic
  1. You do not need a 100th percentile

An important thing to know is that to get in an IIM, you do need to score a 100th percentile. IIMs are looking to promoting diversity in their classrooms and non-engineers are what they are looking for.

So, being a commerce student with 99.2 or 99.3 with normal academics can get you a call from IIM A. For people with a very good academic record can get a call at 99. And if you are from Humanities background, the percentile for you can go as low as an 89. Yes, last year a candidate from Humanities background bagged a seat at IIM A with only 89 percentile in CAT.

CAT required Percentile

So, the learning is to target a realistic percentile for yourself. IIMs do give extra marks non-engineers in their selection process.

We believe that Non-engineering students need to focus more upon the evaluating factors in CAT, that is, optimization of speed and accuracy. Prepare for the exam by dividing your time equally for VA, LRDI and Quant sections.

How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma9352602242
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit K Sinha9332570019
How to prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT by Arun Sharma9352606949
How to prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma9352606930
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT by Nishit K Sinha933257121X
Verbal Ability for CAT by Sujit Kumar8131761614
How to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay9352602269
Previous Year CAT solved papers by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay9352602277

We hope to have made the preparation better for all non-engineers aspiring to clear CAT 2017. These are some of the most recommended preparation tips that you need to refer to. CAT 2017 is scheduled on November 26. We wish you all the luck!



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