CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners


In the ever-growing highly competitive world, everyone is trying to leave their mark. Everyone wants to do something different and impacting. The world is moving forward with high pace and to be ahead of it, one has to do something that makes him/ her heard in this world. For an ambitious crowd like this, a few tough entrance exams should not really be an obstacle.

One such highly competitive exam is the CAT Exam. Cracking CAT ensures admission into prestigious Universities across the country for MBA and PGDM. Just the mention of the exam has the ability to make everyone nervous and stressed mainly due to the various misconceptions surrounding it. CAT exam is not invincible. With a smart preparation and systematic approach, one can easily clear this exam.

With the CAT 2019 Exam right around the corner, I am sure many of you are already panicking. This article will help you. All your questions, “How to Crack CAT?” “How to get a good CAT Percentile?” “How much time does it take to prepare for CAT?” “What are the subjects in CAT?” are answered below.

CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners - Table of Content

  1. CAT 2019
  2. How to Prepare for CAT?
  3. CAT Preparation tip for beginners
  4. Alternatives for CET
  5. Conclusion

CAT 2019

Let us first understand what the exam is all about, the importance of the exam and what to expect.

Common Admission Test (CAT) was introduced by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) as part of their candidate selection process for their management programs. In the years that followed, other educational institutions such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) started accepting CAT Scores for their management programs.

The IIMs conduct the exam every year on a rotational basis. CAT 2019 is expected to be held in the fourth week of November 2019 (dates will be updated once the circular is released by the authorities). The CAT exam mainly tests the candidates on Quantitative and Verbal Ability. The exam has 5 sections. i.e., Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability, Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation, and Logical Reasoning.

CAT Exam is conducted once every year and around 2.5 lakh candidates appear for the exam. Now that you have a rough idea of what the exam is about and what are your odds of making it into the top management institutes in India, let us discuss how to prepare for CAT.

What is the purpose of conducting CAT?

CAT exam is conducted by Indian Institute of Management. It is a computer-based, national level exam conducted in order to admit the students to management programs to top business schools in India.

What all are the topics covered in CAT?

CAT test the candidates on their ability on their quantitative and verbal ability. The exam consists of 5 sections such as Quantitative ability, Verbal ability, Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation, and Logical Reasoning.

How to Prepare for CAT?

Here is the breakdown of CAT preparation tips for beginners.

Before you start preparing for any competitive exams, kindly let go of all that you have heard about the exam, the good and the bad, that is, in fact, someone else’s experience and not your own. You are bound to have a unique experience.

I am sure every one of you has heard that CAT is one of the toughest exams to crack, it needs years and years of preparation and not everyone can do it. All of these are completely overhyped false statements. Yes, it is a tough competitive exam and yes it needs a lot of preparation, but anyone with a determination to crack the exam can do so without actually having a mental break down.

Complete your Graduation

One of the main criteria for admission into post-graduate courses is your graduation score. Hence, do not slack off, do not put your graduation on least priority and concentrate on CAT preparations. Maintain good grades throughout your graduation up until the last semester and then concentrate on CAT exam preparation.

Initial Process

If you ask any candidate who has already appeared for the CAT Exam, they would suggest that the first stage of preparation should start at home. Before you enrol yourself into any CAT Coaching Class, make sure you are clear with the whole exam. Revise the subjects that will be covered. This will ensure a faster understanding of what is being taught in a coaching class.

Preparing at home

The students always arise the question of How to prepare for CAT Exam at home?. Well, the answer would be to need a proper strategy to follow whilst your preparing. You have to learn the basic fundamentals by heart to take the learning to the next level. Every student needs to analyze the pattern of CAT exam by studying the previous question papers of CAT exam. After this stage, you need to have an understanding of the bifurcations of the exam.

CAT Preparation Books for beginners

The exam is divided into 3 sections namely Quantitative Ability [QA], Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension [VARC], Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning [DILR]. The students can focus on each section separately. Every student has a weak subject. The main key for this exam is that the focus should be on strengthening the strong subjects even more and reinforcement of the weak section in a way that the aspirant does enough to clear it.

There are many kinds of study materials available in the market which claim to be the best. But one should start with the basic level and gradually advance towards a higher level.

There are few books in the market which have a good study matter at par with the CAT exam. These CAT reference books are Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma, Quantitative Aptitude by Arun Sharma, Logical Reasoning by Arun Sharma, Data Interpretation by Arun Sharma, Verbal Reasoning by Nishit K. Sinha and many more. You can refer to these books to get yourself acquainted with the CAT level questions.

Another key thing is to work on the speed. The students can use a stopwatch to monitor the time taken to solve a particular question. An average time to solve each section quickly varies on the difficulty of the question. So, you should go for the easy questions first and leave the rest for the end. Don't waste any time to think long over the tricky questions as it may decrease the time available for other questions.

You can read English newspapers to increase your vocabulary and improve sentence formation. But the student should keep it in the mind that the newspapers he/ she reads are the best ones. The student should be very particular about the words meanings, their synonyms and their antonyms. The few newspapers that are recommended to the students are:

  • The Indian Express
  • The Hindu
  • The Economic Times
  • The Statesman

You can give the mock tests and download the test series which you find challenging. The students should ensure that the answer key of those mock tests is available to know the mistakes made in the test. Online mock tests are also available so, you can also register on it and appear for them. The mock tests should be time bound to ensure that you develop the habit to solve the questions within a time limit.

You have to stay patient while doing all of this. While preparing, it may seem that the preparations are going in vain. But, it will make a difference in the longer run. Keep practising hard and you will surely get the rewards.

CAT Preparation online for beginners

CAT Exam is one of the most competitive exams conducted in India. Apart from joining an institute or learning from home, the aspirants can make use of the various Online CAT Preparation Resources available on the internet and make use of them. the wide scope of CAT syllabus makes it imperative for students to prepare with CAT mock tests, online courses or questions papers to score good percentile.

Joining a Coaching Centre

If you find it difficult to get the right materials for the CAT preparation at home or you feel like you need a push, then you can join the coaching centres to get trained for the exam. The challenge is to find a good coaching institute. You should confirm that the faculty at the institute is an experienced one. They should provide a quality study material along with the test series. There are numerous good coaching institutes to choose from but we have compiled the best ones for you:

  • T.I.M.E.
  • IMS
  • Career Launcher 
  • PT Education
  • Byju's
  • Mindworkzz. ...
  • HitBullsEye.
  • Online.2iim.

Understanding the exam

Before appearing for the exam, you must clear yourself of any doubt regarding the exam itself, the following is a small checklist of the things you should be known as the back of your hand

  • CAT Exam Pattern – As a CAT aspirant you should be prepared for any surprises that may come your way. Familiarize yourself with the CAT Exam Pattern by going through the question papers from the past 10 years.

  • Exam Syllabus – The syllabus is the first thing that you would have probably gone through and it would be the first thing discussed in coaching classes. It should also be the last thing you go through before appearing for the exam. As the exam approaches, thoroughly go through the CAT Syllabus multiple times in order to avoid any last minute confusions.

  • Important Dates – Keep a list of CAT Important Dates handy at all times so as to avoid missing out any updates or any major event.

Post Exam Period

Think about what to do once the exam is done. IIMs, IITs and IISc are not the only Institutions that offer MBA/PGDM nor are they the only ones that accept CAT. A number of B-schools accept CAT throughout India, to name a few:

  • Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi

  • SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai

  • Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), Mumbai

  • Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon

  • Indian Institute of Management, [IIM] Bangalore

  • National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai

  • Xavier School of Management, [XLRI] Jamshedpur

Do a complete research on these universities, see which would be suitable for you. Keep in mind there is a whole list of colleges that are better than the new or the baby IIMs. 


CAT Preparation tips for Beginners

CAT is a comprehensive exam which doesn't test your knowledge but your presence of mind and it is best to have a top-notch strategy. For an effective preparation for the CAT Exam, the aspirants need a solid 18 months of hard work and determination and to assess oneself in each field of study thoroughly, it takes time and the aspirants have to prepare well for the CAT exam

The time frame required for CAT is as follows

  • 2 to 4 months to learn the concepts and lay the foundation
  • 3 to 8 months for a practice session
  • 3 to 6 months to take up mock tests and through revision

The CAT Exam consists of three sections and the preparation tips for every section is listed below

CAT Preparation tips for Quantitative Ability

Quantitative Aptitude - It is the arithmetic Ability test helps measure one's numerical ability, problem-solving and mathematical skills and this is an important section in the CAT Exam. The preparation tips for this section is given below

  • Gather the resources and lay the foundation for the concepts as the basic foundation is important for solving complex problems
  • Memorizing tables till 50 squares up to 30, cubes to 20, and fractions till 25 as time-saving techniques
  • Practice solving questions within 2 minutes as this will be the average time to spend on each question in quant
  • Practice a lot and this will help you to master this section.

CAT Preparation Tips for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

 Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning - Typical varieties of Data Interpretation include Tables, Line Charts, Pie Charts, Bar Charts, Mixed Charts or any other unusual but structured representation of data. One more variety which has maintained its presence in entrance test papers is Caselets. These are sets of paragraphs which include numerical data in them which, generally, need to be put in a structure to be understood easily and the tips for this section is given below

  • The practice is the only way to ace this section
  • Familiarize yourself with all kinds of graphs and charts in Data Interpretation and riddles, puzzles in Logical Reasoning
  • To save time effectively, practice quick calculations
  • Comparison of the fraction is a must in DI and this helps in massive calculations
  • Sudoku and Crossword puzzle can sharpen your grey cells
  • Take the time of 15-20 minutes to solve this section for 20 questions

CAT Preparation Tips for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension -75% of verbal accounts from this section and hence aspirants must prepare well for the topic. Reading novels or the genre you are comfortable with can improve your vocabulary skills and while reading try to keep in phase with the flow of the author without any interpretation. The tips for this section is mentioned below

  • Reading fiction and non-fiction novels, newspapers, business magazines will improve your vocabulary
  • Grammar is important and it is advisable to know basics like adjectives, tenses, voice etc and practice them as well
  • Have the habit to prepare cue cards for every new word you come around with its meaning

Alternatives for CET

If an MBA is what you want to do, there are many exams you can write, CAT is not your one-stop solution. In the process of preparing for CAT, you will be prepared to write any of the other exams.

Some of the exams you could appear for:

  • XAT

  • IIFT


  • SNAP

  • NMAT

  • MAT

 Conclusion on CAT preparation for beginners

CAT exam is one of the most reputed exams in India in the Management sector. All the reputed colleges and universities consider this test as the benchmark of quality of the student.

CAT exam is conducted around November month every year. The tentative date of the result declaration is around the month of January. The students can use a lot of media to prepare for CAT. It can be an online or an offline mode. You should keep the previous years' pattern in mind and prepare likewise.

As the CAT exam is held through an online mode and the clock keeps ticking, therefore you should speed up the solution of the exam. The sections are bound by the time limit. So, you can not go back to the section you have finished once the time runs out. Hence, the key is to finish attempt the questions that you think are the easy ones. Keep the tricky ones for the last. To save the calculations, you should memorize the common information like square roots, cube roots, squares, cubes and more.

To improve verbal English, you can read the newspapers, refer to internet or dictionaries for their synonyms, antonyms and correct meanings. To get the basics of grammar right, you can refer to the English grammar books of small classes. You should practice reading and imbibe the crux of the paragraphs swiftly to speed up the comprehension solving skills. For Reasoning section, one has to solve as many questions to master it. You can practice sequence and series questions, pattern identifying exercises and analyze blood relations.

So, the questions that come in the CAT exam are from simple categories but, the degree of difficulty of those questions is amplified manifolds. Hence, if you're well versed with the basics of every section then, solving these questions is not very difficult for you. With proper planning, measurement of every day's performance and daily target planning can surely make you efficient and make you pass this exam with bright colours.

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