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How to Prepare for CAT 2017 - Preparation Tips by Rohit Kumar

Last Updated - August 22, 2017

Rohit Kumar appeared for CAT 2004 and cleared it with 96.3 percentile score. He pursued his MBA from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. In the interview, Rohit told us about CAT Preparation tips, his interview experiences, preparation strategies, his success mantra, thought on books and all the hardships he went through during the preparation of CAT 2004. Here is the questionnaire which we had with him:

CAT Preparation

Ques. How did you manage CAT preparation schedule along with graduation studies/working hours?

Ans. It is actually quite difficult to cope with the studies along with hectic work routine. But to tackle this challenge, I made a daily planner, scheduling all my daily activities, managing time and preparing a chart for each hour activity to buck up with CAT Syllabus. I prepared a complete plan and followed this time table which helped me a lot. I gave at least three hours everyday towards preparation.

Ques. The institutes that offered you admission?     

Ans. Out of the CAT Participating institutes, IIM Indore, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Shillong, IIM Ranchi, IIM Rohtak,  IIM Raipur, IIM Trichy, Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai, Institute of Management Technology, Nagpur, KJ Somaiya Institute of Management and Research Mumbai, University Business School, Panjab University, Chandigarh and 50+ others offered me admission.

Ques. Apart from CAT, which exams did you appear for?   


Ques. What were your strong and weak areas? How did you prepare and what special efforts did you put for improving your weak areas? 

Ans. My preparation strategy was to mainly focus on Quant as that was my weakness. I started my preparation in September and prepared a timetable of what topics I would complete every week and stuck to it. Breaking the portion into manageable chunks and then knocking them off one at a time makes it more manageable. This is how I improved my weak area Quant. Also, I was told for most engineers the Quant concepts are pretty simple, which means that it all comes down to practice. Therefore, all I did was a practice which went on and on. My strong area was Verbal and my weak area was Quant. Another benefit of solving a lot of sums is that getting it right gives your confidence a boost.

Ques. List the name of books you followed for Verbal Ability. 

Ans. I practiced CAT Practice Papers. It helped me a lot. because of practicing them, I was able to solve similar questions easily CAT exam. 

Ques. What was your mode of preparation?

Ans. Self Study

Ques. Review the coaching institutes and what was their role in your story?   

Ans. Frankly speaking, TIME was not much of a help for me apart from the mock papers that I got. But nowadays coaching classes are necessary because they help a student to grasp topics faster and in a better way, which is not possible in every school. Yes of course if a student thinks that he/she can do well without them, please go on. My advice would don't solely depend on them because my coaching was not much of a help to me. It was self-study and practice and only practice.

Ques. What is your five-point rule to excel CAT 2017?     

Ans. No restricted five-point rule but from my end, I will share my own experience which when inculcated will surely help one. Prepare a timetable (I did the same) of how you plan on to complete your preparation and work hard. Try to spend a few hours of the week enjoying yourself to make sure you don’t feel burdened as the exam approaches. Finally stay confident and relaxed during the exam. If you can handle the pressure, you will enjoy taking the CAT.

Ques. What mock papers did you take?  

Ans. I had taken at least 50 mock tests. TIME AIMCATs was definitely the best as far as Quant/DI/DS/LR are concerned. This year VA/RC have been better. But nowhere near what CAT VA/RC are like. IMS Sim CATs/ACT/MCT/FCT - very good VA/RC papers. DI and QA were calculation heavy and sometimes meters away from what CAT tests. Overall, decent papers. CL Mock CATs/FLTs - decent English, QA and DI. Sometimes, brilliant DI and no doubt one of the cheapest packages available in the market. I got some 30 tests for 2000 if I remember and was therefore able to score well in CAT Result.

Ques. Name the Coaching Institute (online or classroom).

Ans. TIME, Bokaro. Well, I also subscribed to BW 3 year offer in a late second year. Then started reading Reader's Digest, India today and other books. In the morning, I used to attend the classes from 6 to 8 daily. Apart from the regular TIME Material, I had taken some IMS papers as well off and on.

Ques. How would you rate the following preparation strategy in terms of their efficiency in your story?

Coaching Classes

NCERT Text Books

Online Study Material

Coaching Printed Study Material

Mock & Sample Test Papers

Study Groups

Subject Wise Classes






Very High

Very High

Very High

Very High


Ques. What are the websites you followed regularly to practice free sample papers or to get updates?

Ans. Not any. Availability of internet was not much rampant as it is now.

Ques. What will be your prescription for students in the last phase of their preparation for CAT 2017?     

Ans. Plan preparation as per new CAT pattern. Remain updated about the past and prospective changes in CAT exam. Your preparation has to be on these updated lines to be able to clear CAT cut off.

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Quantitative Aptitude section.  

Ans. For Quantitative Ability, I tried to be generic and worked towards strengthening my basics. I also tried solving the problems with alternate possible solutions which help you a lot in analyzing each question with different aspects along with increasing the ability to answer the questions right and on time. I focused on the concepts of the Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation section. I feel that as long as your concepts are clear you can solve any question in the exam

Ques. List the name of books you followed for Data Interpretation section.   

Ans. Pearson guides by Nishit Sinha and TMH Books by Arun Sharma

Ques. Discuss Your strategy for Data Interpretation section.

Ans. For Data Interpretation, the key and strategy are to practice as much as you can.
I also followed the same and it supported me to make this area strong.

Ques. List the name of books you followed for Quant.

Ans. I still have these books and were of a good help. How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma
The Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Sinha. Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT.

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Logical Reasoning section.       

Ans. I did not really prepare for the Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning section apart from reading the newspaper.
However, I know many aspirants suggest reading books to improve your grasp of the language. For verbal ability and logical reasoning, the best is to focus on reading comprehensions and increasing vocabulary, which you can do by reading the newspapers, searching for difficult words and learning their meanings.

Ques. List the name of books you followed for Logical Reasoning section.      

Ans. How to prepare for logical reasoning for the CAT 1st Edition by Arun Sharma was the book given to me and I loved it.

Ques. Discuss Your Strategy for the Verbal Ability section.       

Ans. The short answer is this check-list:

  1. Don’t prepare for verbal like you would for quants!
  2. Read, Read, Read!!!
  3. Evaluate the answer options critically.
  4. Don’t worry about grammar and vocabulary. Approach systematically.

Ques. List the name of books you followed for Vocabulary and Grammar.              

Ans. Grammar, pick up Wren and Martin for now (we know it is very boring but sometimes you got to swallow the bitter pill). Read the part-1 of the book in about two months (that is more than sufficient time)

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the section for Vocabulary and Grammar section.   

Ans. I don’t know what to say for this section as I was pretty bad with grammar and vocabulary through my childhood. But to follow-up, one can focus on following types of questions from past CAT papers. Synonyms and Antonyms: It is not sufficient to know the meaning of the word in the question. You will have to know the meaning of all other words in the options too. You need to mug up all the words and sentence correction questions from these papers. In each paper identify the word and sentence correction that you have a problem remembering, mark these words and revise every week.

Ques. What should be the strategy for someone who is starting just two months before the exam? Share with them a piece of advice on how to prepare for CAT 2017.

Ans. The most important and crucial thing as of now is to take mock tests. Please mark my words carefully. Do take the mock tests as much as you can now and remember these points while practicing them.
Stick to time. If you are taking a 2-hour test, take it for 2 hours only. Be merciless, especially if you are taking them in your room/home. Don’t let anything disturb you in those 2 hours.
1. Use a watch and make it a habit.
2. Have a strategy in mind before you start the test. Take 2-3 mins to analyze the paper and say to yourself something like 'VA is verbal heavy, there are 4 reading comprehensions, quantitative aptitude. It has some diagrams and sets of questions, DI is lengthy, some Data Sufficiency questions were there, LR is absent, let me start with Verbal Ability and then move to Quant and at last Data Interpretation. Once you know the order of sections, stick to time limits within the section. Never let your ego come into the picture in those 2 hours. I used to feel like, “hmm.. Verbal Ability is tough, let me spend few mins more here”.  To avoid that, I have devised a new method. I used to give time limits as 35 mins for each section. And at the last, I used to visit the toughest/easiest section and make up for a good overall score.
3. Most importantly realize that you have to get most out of the test. Don’t be egoistic and solve a problem for 2-3 mins. If you get it in 1 min, it's ok, beyond that, learn to leave the questions. Try to read as many as possible and decide what to solve quickly. This knack for identifying so-called sitters comes from taking 30-40 mocks in a span of 3 months.
4. After the paper, don’t rush to the key. Take a break, relax for some time and start looking at the paper. Try to find out correct answers without the key. Analyze your answers and see if there is any fast/better method to solve the problems/questions. Try to reason out, why you have not attempted that RC or DI Set and cross-check whether that is really a tough one. Try to estimate your score before jumping to the key. This will help you in giving a better idea about your accuracy. After the analysis is over, then verify the answers with key and if needed go through the detailed answers. For me, most of the times, my mistakes used to come out in the analysis phase. Checking with the key was something like validating my analysis.
5. Always try to share your mock scores/analysis with others. This will give you a better overall picture and a good understanding of your relative standing. Use CAT Blogs for this purpose. For many people, these groups are for posting scores. But realize the fact that, they do not notice boards. Instead, try to analyze the paper and post that also. With that, you are helping no one else but yourself.
6. Always calculate accuracy/speed figures for individual sections and net. And try to maintain a stable figure of speed and accuracy. If there is an abrupt change, in those figures, try to investigate and find out the reasons. Ideally, 60% speed with 80% + accuracy will help you in getting good scores. But speed sometimes varies with the easiness of the paper. Identifying the trends of speed/accuracy in August/September will help you to find, tune your strategy before the D-day.

Consistent study: Key to success
Solve past papers: All papers have a certain style which they follow. Even after all the changes in format, there will be a core style which is hard to get rid of. By practicing the past questions you get a feel for the type of questions that can be expected. Often I have seen a certain type of questions making a return after 3-4 years. All the best guys. Do well. May the force be with you and wishing you a bright future ahead.

Ques. How was the interview? Share some of the questions asked to you.    

Ans. All basic open-ended questions. HR questions and questions related to thermodynamics, my engineering background questions.
Only one point and the most important of all which I would request all the aspirants to do is to do your homework.
Have well thought-out answers for questions such as "What are your strengths? Why are you right for that particular business school? Why is that particular program right for you?"
It shows organization and forethought if you know some specifics about the program to which you are applying and can explain why those features fit well with your career goals. For example, if you are applying to the Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI), through some simple research you will discover that they are strong in Human Resource Development. Perhaps, you have worked with a recruitment company or have been a trainer in an institute. Relate these in the interview. Most important because I have experienced this throughout life.




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