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"Time management is one of the crucial factors to succeed in CAT" - says CAT topper Prashant Sahu

Last Updated - August 23, 2017

Prashant Sahu cleared CAT with 98.83 in 2011. He was offered admission from almost every IIM and took admission in IIM Bangalore. He belongs to an engineering background and graduated in Electronics and Communication Engineering. He shares his practical insight of how to prepare for CAT 2017 and some of the best CAT preparation tips for aspirants.

Prashant says, “Follow the websites which provide online study materials and updates related to entrance exam as it helps a lot during preparation.” 

CAT preparation, CAT 2017, CAT

Ques. Name the institutes that offered you admission?    

Ans. I couldn't clear my interview at Indore, With that exception, I have got calls from all the remaining IIMs. I was also offered admission from DU, BITS, IIFT, IFMR, and from B-schools like UBS, LBS, AMITY etc.

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

Ans. Appeared in Symbiosis (SNAP), Xavier’s (XAT), ATMA, FMS, and IBSAT.

Ques. What was your mode of preparation?       

Ans. Classroom coaching.

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

Ans. During my graduation pre-final year and final year vacation, I joined IBS to get good CAT Result. IBS is fairly a good institute with a fee of INR 9,500 for 3 months. I couldn't devote much time to practice because of the college after my coaching.
I couldn't clear any of the IIMs in my 2010 attempt with a percentile of 86.4. After completing my graduation I joined TIME, Hyderabad for CAT preparation. I managed my job in Vertices IT during the days and attended CAT classes in the evenings. TIME is one of the best coaching centers for CAT and respective examinations.

Faculty at TIME was so generous and were very friendly with students. Basically coaching institutes save time. During every session, they will provide us one workout sheet, which almost contains all the varieties of questions from CAT syllabus. They also give perfect guidance for GD and PI sessions they also arrange a mock GDs and Interviews.

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

Ans. Time management is one of the crucial factors to succeed in CAT. It is actually quite difficult to cope with your studies along with your hectic work routine. But the key to tackle this challenge is to make a daily planner, scheduling all your daily activities, managing time and preparing a chart for each hour activity. I prepared a complete plan and followed this time table which helped me allot at least three hours every day towards preparation.

Ques. What is your five point rule to excel CAT 2017? Which mock papers did you take?  

Ans. 1. Managing time is the key factor in cracking the CAT. If you manage your time well and solve all the questions within the time slot, half of the CAT 2017 exam is cracked. 

2. Along with that, it is vital to plan a pattern for answering questions. Allocate the considerable amount of time to select questions. 

3. Start with comfortable areas, don’t take more than 2 minutes for a question.
4. I solved questions in which I was more comfortable first and then went for the rest. Do not get stuck with any question, move on to next. During the exam, be calm and do not think about attempting any particular number of questions.
5. Focus on Accuracy- Joining a test series and regularly attempting mock tests is very important.

I took two online and two paper based test series. Online tests from WhizIQ and Career Launcher. Offline tests from TIME and IMS. These series and mock tests helped me clear my basics, focus on practice and made me ready for the actual CAT exam. They helped me in the following ways
1. Analyze stronger and weaker areas
2. Time management
3. Continuity of exam practice
4. Makes you comfortable on the final date.
Take sectional mock tests to know the types of questions in each of the areas and also your strong and weak sections. preparing from CAT Practice Papers help a lot.

Ques. Rate the role of your coaching institutes (classroom or online both) in cracking CAT? 

Ans. Coaching institutes play an important role in CAT preparation. I give 10 rating to their role.

Ques. Name the coaching institute (online or classroom) which you joined.

Ans. I joined TIME and IBS.

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

Ans. I regularly followed many websites to gather material, books, pdfs and previous papers some of them include-
For online material:,,,, and
Free online coaching: and
For free tests: and
Discussion forums:,, and
For updates:, and

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the section Quantitative Aptitude.   

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 practiced a more vivid range of problems, to get used to all the difficult ones.

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

Ans. Arun Sharma- Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation book for beginners
Nishit Sinha - The Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation for the CAT-- To enhance strengths
TIME Data interpretation and Logical Reasoning for checking out the type of questions which are normally asked. Test Fundas’ Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation Module.

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Data Interpretation section      

Ans. For me, the DI section can be divided into two key areas:
1. Data Interpretation asks you to scan and make sense of data given in various forms such as tables, charts, and graphs (pie charts, bar graphs et al). This section demands number crunching and computations from the test taker. The challenge to crack this type of questions is to swiftly identify the data, analyze and interpret the data.
2. Data Sufficiency: questions are in form of a logical puzzle. In this type of questions, a question statement is followed by two different statements. You don’t need to actually solve the problem – you need to determine whether the question can be solved using the two statements provided.
Prepare well for Data Interpretation: learn techniques for quick calculations, shortcuts etc. Tables, squares, and cubes should be at your fingertips. The more you practice, both in your concept preparation and in your practice tests, the higher will be your speed and accuracy in the actual CAT.

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

Ans.Arun Sharma– Highly recommended and since it is popular, it has its own thread on Pagalguy too.
SK Verma– Good for clearing basics, goes into much detail and may get a tad boring for those who are used to this section. Those who are brand new should buy this book over Arun Sharma as this one is more detailed than the former.
Nishit Sinha– A good book for MBA preparation but the above two shine above and beyond this one.
TIME material of Quant is very good.

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Logical Reasoning section.        

Ans. This was the toughest section for me. It will be same for most of the aspirants as this section completely consist of puzzles and logics. This section usually contains several statements which serve as clues to solve the problem. Proper selection of problem is really important to manage time as this section takes much of time for each problem if encounter any trivial ones.

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

Ans. 1. Shakuntala Devi Puzzles\for refreshment.
2. Arun Sharma Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation book for beginners.
3. Arihant Publications Analytical & Logical Reasoning for CAT & Other Management Entrance Tests, this is one of the best book having more number of practice questions.
4. RS Agarwal's A Modern Approach to Verbal And Non-Verbal Reasoning, For extensive practice this books is very useful.
5. TIME institute reasoning material is also good in providing a mini Notes on Logical Reasoning.

Ques. Discuss your strategy for the Verbal Ability section.        

Ans. Reaching Comprehension in the verbal ability section plays a pivotal role. RC is always a time-consuming section, it was always tough for me in the early period of my preparation to read and understand the massive passages against the running time.
Students who are voracious readers are excel in this section. My strategy for this section was to read a lot...What to read? Read any articles longer about 1000 words than the 500 words passages generally present in the CAT paper. Reading editorial columns in a newspaper like The Hindu or Economic Times will also help in improving vocabulary.
Practice faster reading also understands the reading and start analyzing and linking each point in the comprehension.
Practice more reading- don’t waste more than 5 minutes in reading, understanding and analyzing each comprehension. It won’t take more than 30 seconds to answer each question.

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

Ans. Normal Lewis Vocabulary book-- I found it with almost all of the aspirants.
Vocabulary Booster for the CAT: A Winning Approach by an IIM Alumnus by Siddarth Balakrishna-- This book also contains supporting stories of the toppers.
CAT Vocabulary Builder by Franklin International-- This book is a complete high standard book. Better go through if you have more leisure time.

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

Ans. For the questions in the vocabulary and grammar section, it is important to know the incorrect answers too. For this scenario, it is a must to be accurate with an answer. I have focused on learning vocabulary along with my reading comprehension. Do not casual read, always read with full of concentration and note the words for which you cannot understand the meaning.

Also learn both synonyms and antonyms at least 2 for each, for every new unknown word you encounter. Make it in a hand book and glance through in your leisure time.

Ques. What should be the strategy for someone who is starting just two months before the exam?

Ans. 1. Students must know CAT Exam Pattern in detail.

  1. Consolidate your preparation, Revise your basics regularly,
  2. Make extensive practice,
  3. Take more and more mocks, analyze super strong and ultra-weak areas, try to avoid touching the weaker ones to save time.
  4. Take every test as a final CAT itself, do not lose your concentration by thinking it as just a trial.
  5. Avoid time pass means, relax through peaceful means
  6. Care health as well, ultimately your brain is your master, you shouldn't ill treat your body which ultimately affects your master.

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

Coaching ClassesNCERT Text BooksOnline Study MaterialCoaching Printed Study MaterialMock & Sample Test PapersStudy GroupsSubject Wise ClassesSelf-Study
Very HighVery LowHighVery HighVery HighVery HighVery HighVery High

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

Ans. 1. Avoid new topics
2. Revise formulae and basics
3. Be updated with the short-cuts and tricks
4. Recreational activities are a must for every student who is preparing for an entrance exam, as it keeps your mind feels fresh and relaxed when you indulge in these activities.

Ques. How was the interview? Share some of the questions.      

Ans. I was the 3rd guy to be called for the interview. I was waiting for my turn. A professor came out, shaken hands with me. They started with some personal questions about my bio data, background, Why I opt management?, strengths and weaknesses?, Where you want to be in next 5 years? etc., after that

Some other Important questions as:
1. Some from my background (B.E ECE)
2. How does an LCD work?
3. How does an LED work?
4. How to design a bipolar transistor?
5. Find the percent change in volume of a sphere if the radius is increased by 20%
Some questions were about my work experience
1. Why you opted a soft-Techie after completing Electronics?
2. Write a program for implementing touch screen feature
3. About some of the projects I handled.
Some questions about business trends
1. What is a recession in your view and how can a country get over it?
2. What is NIFTY?
3. How BSE works?
Some current and news topics
1. What is the current news item you have been following?
2. Who is the agricultural minister of India?
3. What is the contribution of the agro sector to the Indian economy?

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

Ans. I followed Arun Sharma-- How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT A fundamental book and is very useful for reading comprehensions. You can also practice many exercises.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT Paperback – by D.K. Sinha-- A good book for practicing RC. I also preferred Verbal Ability & Comprehension for CAT and all other exams by Bharat Patoudi-- this book will help you in all other exams like XAT/GMAT/IIFT/CMAT/MAT/Bank PO/SSC.
Other than those, News Articles, essays, Blog reading are very helpful.



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