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CAT Preparation Techniques for Arts Students

Last Updated - August 29, 2018

Common Admission Test, popularly known as CAT, is the most popular MBA exam in the country. If you want to get admission in IIMs or many other top business school of the country, CAT is probably the first option you need to look for. CAT 2018 is scheduled for November 25, 2018 (Sunday) and the registration has started from August 8 and will continue till September 19, 2018

Thankfully, MBA is a Post Graduate program which is not limited to any single stream. Students from engineering, medical, arts, science, commerce or any other stream can pursue a MBA degree.

CAT RegistrationCAT EligibilityCAT Syllabus

For a fact Arts stream students do not majorly go for CAT. This is probably because many students either don’t opt for MBA, or they find it difficult to clear the entrance exams. But CAT is not that tough of an exam as it looks. With consistency and practice, this exam can surely be cracked. One of the finest examples of Arts stream student who mastered the exam is Saurabh who scored 99.4 percentile in CAT 2011. He studied BBA from ISBM Kolkata and cracked CAT in his second attempt only. So, it is not the stream that matters but your hold on various sections asked in the exam. On the other side, English being the savior for Arts students can help during personal interviews and inter personal skills assessment.

So to help you out, we bring you some tips exclusively for Arts students for CAT. But before jumping on to the, let us look at a comparison between you (the arts student) and an engineer. So here it is –

Arts Students vs Engineers

Although engineers are a majority in the candidates who score more than 99th percentile in CAT, but it does not mean that Arts students cannot do. The thing that goes in favor of Engineers is that they have got used to solve mathematics problems. This is because they have been studying mathematics in their graduation and thus it is not a fear for them. But on the other hand, Arts and Commerce students’ biggest worry is mathematics. Since most of you have not touched mathematics book after your class 10, coping up with Quantitative Aptitude’s difficult questions becomes a tedious task for you.

On the other hand, many engineers find the VARC section difficult, but it is your strength. Engineers who do not have the habit of reading novels or newspapers usually find it difficult to read and comprehend such difficult RC passages. But Arts students are generally good at English, which means RC and VA becomes your strength. The section that is left is LRDI, which you can say is a fair call. This section is probably equally difficult for both the categories.

Also check CAT Exam Pattern

So all in all, QA is a worry for most of the candidates. And if you are from a vernacular background, then the problem increases manifolds. QA is 1 of the three sections, but its syllabus is probably more than the other two sections combined.

It is understandable that CAT is bit difficult for Arts students. But a certainty is that it is not impossible. Just a little bit of extra effort and a good CAT percentile round the corner. So let us take a look at the things that you need to do, to score a high percentile in CAT –

Start at the right time

As an arts student, if you were not studying Mathematics in your graduation, you will find QA to be the most difficult section. However, it does not really matter that which subjects you have studied in your graduation, the fact is that to ace this exam, you will need to start a bit earlier. So the ideal time for you to start preparing for CAT is between February to April. This will give you a time of 8 to 10 months for CAT which is probably enough. But if you could not start in this period, make sure that you do not let it go beyond June. If you study consistently in this period, a good CAT percentile is surely achievable.

Here is table that will show how you should use these 8 to 10 months to your benefit –

PeriodActivities to be done
February and MarchStart learning basic concepts, lay focus on speeding up calculation, building the habit of reading
April, May and JuneTarget is to complete syllabus till June. Get familiar with all the concepts with basic practice (you can also start taking mocks)
July, August and SeptemberStart taking weekly mocks (if not started already). The focus in this period is on practice. 25-30 QA questions, 4 LRDI sets, 3 RCs and 10 verbal ability questions are a must.
October and NovemberRaise the level of practice. Do a higher number of questions with higher level of difficulty. Take two mocks every week (if possible). If you had not solved past year CAT papers earlier, solve them now.
The CAT exam dayStay calm and relaxed. Get enough sleep. Do your best

Get comfortable with basic calculations

Since you have not been doing mathematics for a long time, your calculation speed could have reduced a lot. Without a good calculation speed, a question that takes 1 minute may take much higher time for you. If you are using pen and paper to find the square of 17, then cracking CAT would become rather difficult. So what you need to do is that first learn Tables upto 20 (20*20), Square of Numbers upto 30, Cubes of Numbers upto 20. Also learn the fraction to percentage conversion (eg – 1/3 = 33%, 1/7 = 14.28%). Apart from this, you may refer to some Vedic Maths tricks for doing faster multiplication.  

As an art student, you may have the habit of reading history, political science, geography, economics or some other subjects. But the writing style of textbooks or syllabus books is generally very simple and is easily understandable. Also, you may not have read topics like biology, sciences, psychology etc. So if you think that you have been reading all your life and you do not need lessons on reading comprehension, then that is a mistake. Passages in CAT are written in a totally different way from textbooks and are of higher difficulty level. So to get acquainted with CAT like passages, you need to read the article on different topics (as mentioned above) daily. Refer to a National Level newspaper like The Hindu for editorials or you may use websites like Aldaily or Project Syndicate.

Books you should prefer

There are a lot of books available in the market for CAT Preparation. You may get a lot of Material in almost all the books but the important part is how good the explanation of questions is in the book. So before buying a book, take reviews of the book from any friend or senior that has used them. However, we bring you the most useful list of books which you should go for, for your CAT preparation. Take a look at the table below –

Purpose/ConditionBooks to be preferred
For Quantitative Aptitude Basics and Practice (choose any one)How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude by Arun Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit K Sinha
For LRDI BasicsHow to prepare for Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
For Reading Comprehension Basics and PracticeReading Comprehension for CAT by Sujit Kumar
For Verbal Ability Basics and PracticeVerbal Ability for CAT by Sujit Kumar
If you do have a good vocabularyWord Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
If your Reading Speed is not goodHow to read better and faster by Normal Lewis

Strategy for QA that you should adopt

QA syllabus can be divided into 5 parts – Algebra, Arithmetic, Numbers, Geometry and Modern Mathematics. All of these topics look scary to a non-math background student. But with proper strategy you can still score a very healthy percentile in the QA section. What you need to do is that you should start with Arithmetic section first. Problems like Ratios, Percentages, Average , Profit and Loss are much simpler that Algebra and these carry a high weightage in CAT. If you start getting answers to questions on these topics, you have easily earned at least 25 marks out of 100. So starting with these topics will give you that first head start that you need in QA. Next two topics to target are geometry and numbers. Within these three topics, you can easily expect 21-22 questions out of 34 in QA section. And remember that a score of 60 out of 100 can easily fetch you a very high percentile (98.5 at least, can expect 99+ also). Therefore, prioritize the topics in a proper manner and act accordingly. Once you have done these three heads properly, then move to the most scariest part, which is Algebra and Modern Mathematics.

Also check CAT Paper Analysis for QA

Take advantage of online resources

There are a lot of online resources available which can be of immense help. Since you are starting early, you can use them for your advantage. Some of these resources are CAT-specific, while other are not made only for CAT students, but do help you a lot in CAT preparation. Here is a list of online resources that you can use for CAT preparation –

PurposeResource to be used
Boosting up calculation
Learning CAT Specific conceptsYoutube Channels of Takshzila, Dinesh Miglani, Unacademy and GP ka funda
Apps that provide free contentCracku, Byju’s
For practicing high level

Do not get stuck on very tough questions

An ideal CAT attempt for an art student is he/she must attempt all the easy questions and most of the medium level questions. Questions of very high level of difficulty are not a major part of CAT. In CAT 2016, around 25 questions in Verbal Ability were of easy and medium level and around 20 in QA were of easy to medium level, and unfortunately, DILR was a tough nut to crack. Which means by doing only easy and medium level questions, you can get 130-140 marks which means a 96+ percentile (as per CAT 2016 statistics). So when you know that you can ensure a 96 percentile by doing only easy and medium level questions, then doing too much of high-level questions is not that fruitful. Do not avoid them completely, but when you have taken 20 minutes on a QA questions and are still not able to solve it, then moving forward is the ideal option.

Focus on Conceptual Learning instead of Tricks and Shortcuts

Shortcuts, tricks and formulae do seem very attractive as they can help solving questions faster. Yes they do, but they also come with many limitations. Like a shortcut may work on only one type of question, and not on other. If you go for these, till CAT you will have more than 300 or 350 formulae which you will need to remember. And remembering such a large number of tricks may not be easy, and if you forget them, they are of no use. So rather than going for tricks and shortcuts, focus on concepts. Having strong basics is most important for CAT, so focus on basics rather than tricks.

Check CAT Sample Papers 

Stay confident

There will be times when you will see people solving questions in seconds, and you would not be able to even understand that questions. You may also encounter a situation where your score in a mock test is 80 or 90 and people are scoring 200s. Seeing such a situation, please do not lost confidence and don’t even think of quitting. Just remember that you still have time and you can also reach that level with practice. Remember that half of the battle is won just by staying in the game. So be there, and enjoy your journey.

Some basic things that you shouldn’t forget

Now there are some things which do apply to all kinds of candidates, so you will also need to take care of them. These are – Solving past CAT papers is a must, Do time-based practice, Balance preparation level of all 3 sections, do take at least 30-35 mocks, make a notebook of all the concepts and keep on revising in periodically. If you follow all the tips listed above and these tips, it is sure that you will crack CAT. Good Luck!



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