The CAT exam is renowned in India for its competitiveness, attracting thousands of students seeking an MBA at elite IIMs. The CAT preparation comprises a systematic study plan, consistent chapter practice, and regular assessment.
The most common question is, “How can I prepare for the CAT to be considered for MBA admission to top universities?” The key is to follow an organised CAT 2023 study plan that covers critical topics.
Best CAT 2023 Preparation Strategy
CAT Preparation 2023 requires a 3-6 month preparation period. It includes aspirants regardless of being graduates or working professionals. Learning should be divided into phases, starting with essential knowledge and moving on to advanced tricks.
Section-wise CAT preparation: VARC
CAT 2023 is anticipated to include 24 questions in VARC, with 16 questions on reading comprehension and eight on verbal ability. The reading comprehension section will have four passages of four questions, each with a verbal ability component. Additionally, there will be questions on para completion, para jumbles, odd ones out, and para summaries. To perform well in this section, it is essential to possess strong English skills, including vocabulary and grammar.
Below are a few tips to help you prepare for VARC:
- Get to know the underlying meaning: CAT requires accuracy and speed to score well, rather than carefully focusing on each reading comprehension passage, practice reading it briefly and identifying the gist.
- Improve your vocabulary and grammar:Make a habit of reading regularly, whether it’s a novel, a magazine, or a newspaper. As a result, you can expand your vocabulary and improve your reading speed.
- Select the appropriate reading material: Choose suitable reading material to help you understand the basics of the verbal ability section. Your material should include grammar and verbal reasoning segments in VA and detailed explanations for every question.
- Practice at least 4-5 reading comprehension questions per day: Aspirants should practice as many as 4-5 reading comprehension questions daily. It will help you understand the section better and increase your confidence during the main CAT exam.
Section-wise CAT preparation: DILR
The 20 questions in this section are divided into four sets of five questions each. It is vital to understand DILR preparation when preparing for DILR. Linear and matrix arrangements, family trees, family relationships, coding-decoding, directions, sequence and series, analogy, and syllogisms are among the topics addressed in the DILR section.
- Practice mock tests:
The candidates should practice mock tests regularly to assess their speed and accuracy in attempting the DILR section. The candidates must attempt one topic-wise mock for DILR at least once a week.
2. Don’t attempt the entire DILR section:
Get into the 99%ile by answering 2 out of 4 given sets accurately. This will allow aspirants to focus on answering the most straightforward sets first. Do not focus on attempting the entire section of DILR.
- Develop a strategy for DILR:
Picking the easy set from the section does not guarantee that the questions will also be easy. You need to know where to leave questions and where to move on to the next set.
- Focus on accuracy and speed:
The DILR section depends on an aspirant’s speed and accuracy in answering questions. Revision and practice of the syllabus are essential to increasing speed and accuracy.
Section-wise CAT preparation: QA
The QA section consists primarily of mathematics questions, so candidates should practice thoroughly and memorise the basic equations required. This section includes topics like percentages, number systems, profit and loss, percentages, probability and mensuration. The exam pattern will likely have both geometry and arithmetic, along with questions on number systems and geometry in this section.
Below are a few ways in which you can excel at the CAT preparation 2023 QA section:
- Mock tests can be used to practice:
Attempt mock tests and analyse your ability to answer questions, accuracy, and weak points. Mocks can help you improve your performance by focusing on weak areas.
Study from QA-focused study material:
Choose accurate study material that will prepare you for the section and establish proficiency with a focus on the recent exam pattern. Besides, you will be able to become familiar with the section’s pattern and focus on various topics.
- Work on shortcuts:
Identify and memorise shortcuts to conclude the final answer. Doing this lets you calculate faster and move between questions more quickly. Shortcuts will ensure accuracy in the shortest time possible.
- Measure the time you take to answer your Sectional Responses:
While practising questions, note the time it takes to solve them and work towards reducing them. By practising more and applying short methods and strategies, time can be reduced.
- Study from QA-focused study material:
To establish proficiency and practice for the section, take up accurate study material that focuses on the most recent exam pattern. Besides, it will also allow you to familiarise yourself with the pattern of the section and focus on various topics in this section.
Month-wise CAT preparation strategy
Here is a month-wise CAT preparation strategy to help you focus on and cover the CAT syllabus systematically. This will also enable you to observe and mark your progress throughout the months leading up to the CAT.
CAT preparation in July
The focus of July will be on the basic concepts of each question and identifying weak areas. You will attempt and analyse one full-length mock exam to help you improve areas needing work.
CAT preparation in August and September
The purpose of these two months is to familiarise yourself with topics, topics areas, concepts, and types of questions in CAT. CAT fundas, such as applications, tests, and concepts, can help accomplish this.
Preparation of CAT in October
One should do three things in October, including revising your concepts, working on your strategy, and continuing to take CAT mocks.
- Identify your strategy and work on it: Identify your exam strategy and test its effectiveness.
- Revise your concepts: Take the topic-wise tests and section-wise tests for the second revision.
- Continue taking CAT mocks: Use CAT mocks to hone your strategy and revise concepts accordingly.
Preparation of CAT in November
After every mock, the month of November should be focused on identifying problem areas and eliminating them. Furthermore, one must strengthen their mental abilities to succeed in this exam.
Best Books for CAT Exams
The CAT exam preparation should include a comprehensive study plan, relevant books and study materials, a workable schedule, and mock tests. Below are the CAT exam preparation books with a well-planned strategy and the best books for the CAT exam.
- Best CAT books for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
1. Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT by Nishit K Sinha
2. How to prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma
3. How to prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT by Arun Sharma
- Best Books for CAT Quantitative Aptitude
- Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
- Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh K Varma
- Quantitative Aptitude by R.S Aggarwal
- Best books for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT by Arun Sharma
- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Nishit K Sinha
- Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension by Ajay Singh
How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT?
The quantitative aptitude QA) section focuses on the mathematics side of the syllabus. The below information pertains to CAT preparation for quantitative aptitude.
- Start by learning the basics: CAT is a speed test, and aspirants must improve the solving speed, including the calculation rate. Examine the tips and tricks that can be used in this stage to determine which ones work for the candidate and which ones to avoid.
- Practice questions: Review NCERT books from classes 10 to 12 for practice questions. Once you know the basics, this will help you boost your preparation. Before you move on to more advanced levels, practice these books and improve your speed.
- Utilise mocks: Use mock tests to identify his strengths and weaknesses in the section and give him a goal to work towards. One must be able to solve at least the basic questions within an acceptable timeframe.
- Increase the difficulty level: After completing the basic preparation, the intermediate level of questions should be attempted. Concepts must be clear, and accuracy must be maintained at this level. Having clear concepts, you should continue to practice until your speed increases and start practising again.
Topics covered in Quantitative Aptitude for CAT
- Geometry & Mensuration
Below are tips to help aspirants how to prepare for the Quantitative Aptitude for CAT (QA) section:
- Memorise and note all commonly used formulas like area, volume, etc.
- Symmetry should be considered when solving this section since it can sometimes reduce the solving time.
- Dimensions or values can be used to eliminate some options directly.
- Most questions on this topic have already been asked in previous CAT papers. It is possible to prepare directly for the mensuration topic from there.
- Alligations and Mixtures
This topic can be tested in combination with other topics, such as profit and loss. The topic of alligations and mixtures consists of two or more materials or items being mixed. It also includes the questions usually framed to ask how much of each should be added to a mixture to reach a particular ratio.
- Series and Sequences
The series and sequence is a topic that includes three essential topics comprising harmonic progression, arithmetic progression, and geometric progression. These topics are stand-alone questions or mixed with other topics.
There are many applications for trigonometry, including time, speed, geometry, and distance. Every CAT aspirant should know the trigonometry formulae because they are used often.
General tips on how to prepare for the QA section:
- Improve calculation speed via practice and other techniques like Vedic maths.
- Build a strategy based on your comfort level with the section to determine how many questions you should attempt.
- The main focus of the CAT exam must be on accuracy.
- Examine different strategies in mock exams to develop a final strategy for your final.
How to prepare for logical reasoning for CAT?
Logical reasoning consists of 60 marks for logical reasoning and data interpretation in the CAT examination. The test also tests a candidate’s ability to reason logically and mathematically.
Below are some tips for improving logical reasoning abilities that will help you understand and score well on the CAT exam:
- Observe the words:
The words like none, some, all, only, other than, and unless play a key role in determining the facts for a particular passage. Also, consider negative prefixes like dis-, un-, and non-.
- Make the most of your time:
If you are unsure of your selected answer or find it challenging to understand its logic, temporarily move on to the next question. Besides, you can always return to them after solving the other questions. This helps in utilising the time approximately but also maintains confidence in answering.
- Be careful not to assume information:
Carefully read the passage and problem statements, putting aside prejudices and prior knowledge. Take note of the problem statement for that particular passage and record the facts without considering secondary shades of meaning.
- Practice regularly:
Test your logical reasoning skills with sample reasoning questions from the past ten years. You will gain an understanding of why each choice is correct or incorrect. With enough practice, you’ll be able to identify them in real time during the CAT exam, improving your speed and accuracy.
CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners
The candidates who are appearing for CAT as beginners should prepare strategically. To get into IIMs, first-time CAT 2023 applicants need to know how to start preparing and score 99+ percentile.
Below are some tips that will help them follow and prepare for CAT 2023:
- Make a study strategy:
Candidates should make a study plan based on their ability to complete the chapters. As part of one’s preparation, one should also solve last year’s CAT question paper to understand the type and level of questions.
- Stay on top of current events:
Read news articles daily and note all critical events in your diary. Revise in your free time and stay up-to-date, as it is essential to ace the IIM interview round.
- Check the syllabus and paper pattern:
The candidates must be aware of the latest CAT exam pattern and syllabus to plan a study strategy. Note the sectional weighting and marks distribution for the CAT, and divide your time equally among all chapters. Additionally, knowing the paper pattern helps you understand the marking scheme.
4. Work on speed and accuracy:
There is a sectional time in the CAT exam. The aspirants must complete every exam section within 40 minutes, as there will be no extra time for them. Therefore, their first priority should be improving their time management skills.
- Attempt mock questions:
Make sure to attempt 2-3 CAT mock tests in a week. This will help them to know the exam structure.
Study plan for beginners
|CAT Preparation- Ideal Time||6-8 months|
|Daily Investment in Preparation||Minimum 6-7 hours of dedicated study|
|Topics to be covered in a week||At least 5-6 chapters. For better conceptual clarity, solve chapter-wise exercises.|
|Mock Tests to be attempted within a week||Try and complete 2-5 mock tests and track your preparation level|
CAT Exam Preparation Tips for Working Professionals
It can be challenging for working professionals to balance their work and CAT preparation. The right strategy can help you crack CAT despite long working hours and late-night studies.
Below is how one can strike a balance between work and studies while preparing for CAT:
- Enrol for coaching: Working professionals will have difficulty preparing for CAT or attending coaching classes regularly. Night classes and CAT preparation online coaching are, therefore, more convenient.
- Create a study plan: Organize your study plan in manageable groups to start your CAT preparation systematically. Maintaining a routine will enable you to track your progress and cover the syllabus quickly.
- Set priorities: Since you work most of the day, the time at hand is limited. Therefore, you need to divide your time according to the urgency of each task. Spend more time improving the areas that need improvement the most.
- Study on holidays and weekends: As a working professional, you will have the most time to prepare for the CAT during holidays and weekends. Take up more intensive topics on these days to catch up on missed study sessions.
- Finding a peer group: Peer groups can be beneficial for clarifying doubts, motivating, and tracking progress. CAT aspirants can discuss and exchange ideas here.
Working professionals: what not to do for CAT preparation?
Following are a few things you should avoid when preparing for the CAT exam
as a working professional.
- Avoid Delay: Start preparing for CAT early instead of delaying and studying more leisurely. You must manage your time effectively during the day to cover all the important topics.
- It’s not all about theory: You shouldn’t rely solely on study materials and theoretical knowledge. Practice with previous year’s question papers and mock tests will help you familiarise yourself with the exam pattern, syllabus and assess your progress.
- Prepare for CAT by staying on top of your work: Preparing for CAT is a priority which should not affect your performance in your job. Balance your work and exam preparation effectively by completing your responsibilities during work hours.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others: Never compare your preparation level and pace to someone else’s. Focus on your progress.
Mistakes to avoid while preparing for CAT
- Inadequate exam practice
Find the difference between active and passive learning. The candidates should not ignore the active learning phase to prepare for CAT 2023. Chapter-wise exercises and mock questions are essential for conceptual clarity about each chapter.
- Avoid abstract ideas and don’t ignore current affairs and exam structure:
Aspiring candidates should be aware of the latest test structure, as this is the most important to understand. Verbal comprehension passages require understanding the topics, so don’t waste time on abstract ideas. Make sure you read the newspaper every day.
- Create a balance between your weaknesses and strengths:
Answering the questions from the chapters in which you have good conceptual clarity is effortless and straightforward. To score well on the test, you must prepare well for chapters needing clear long-term objectives. Make sure you spend time on the chapters you are struggling with.
- Don’t start preparation before the exam date:
The candidates should start preparing as soon as possible and before the exam date. If dedicated and focused, CAT VARC can be prepared in 2-3 months. For CAT QA success, one needs to improve their mental calculation skills.
- Balance your strengths and weaknesses:
Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Prepare well for the chapters where you lack the clarity to achieve long-term objectives. Spend time working on chapters that you are struggling with.
How Long Does it Take to Prepare for CAT?
The time taken to prepare for CAT depends on the aspirant’s efficiency, conceptual clarity and understanding. As everyone aims to get a good percentile for admission to the top IIMs, the time required to prepare for CAT is one of the biggest questions. CAT preparation can take more than a year for an aspirant with a standard academic record. An aspirant with a stellar past scholastic record may take 6-8 months, while a student with a better-than-expected record may take 3-4 months.
How much time is required for CAT Preparation?
The ideal time required to prepare for CAT depends entirely on one’s capabilities. It depends on one’s ability to grasp the fundamental concepts, so there is no fixed amount of time to pass the CAT exam if one starts from scratch.
The time frame of two to three months is enough to finish the fundamentals of three sections for aspirants starting from scratch. On average, dedicated CAT preparation takes 6-7 months. If possible, spend two hours on weekdays and six to eight hours on weekends.
Time required for CAT VARC:
Candidates can cover VARC concepts in one and a half months. This section focuses primarily on reading comprehension. Developing a structured way of thinking begins with understanding the critical aspect of passages.
Time required for CAT DILR:
The fundamental concepts can be learned in 1-2 months, depending on how strong or weak one is in the section. The aspirants should spend at least 1-2 hours daily covering the DI/LR sections.
|L.R. Topics||No of Days|
|Arrangements (Linear, Circular, etc.)||4|
|Puzzles (Einstein Puzzles, constraint-based, etc.)||4|
|Networks, LR-based on picking coins||6|
|Games and tournaments, Scheduling, Cubes||10-12|
|Blood relations, truth-liar concept, family tree||6|
|Others (2-D space, LRs)||5-6|
|DI Topics||No.of Days|
|Line charts, bar graphs, pie charts, unconventional charts (Bubble charts, radar charts, etc.)||10|
|Others (Di-based on growth over the years, case lets, data sufficiency, etc.)||6-7|
Time required for CAT QA
When starting from scratch, it will take at least 2-3 months to cover all the fundamental concepts in Quant thoroughly. It is important to practice regularly and know the critical formulas. Make sure you know the application for each.
Below are the following quant topics:
|Topic||Number of Days|
|Percentages, Ratio and Proportion, Alligation, Averages, Profit, Loss and Discount, Simple Interest and Compound Interest||14-15|
|Speed and Distance, Time and Work, Time||6-7|
|Inequalities, Linear Equations and Quadratic Equations||9-10|
|Surds and Indices, Progressions and Series||5|
|Mensuration and Geometry||12-14|
|Basic Trigonometry, Co-ordinate Geometry||3-4|
|Probability, Set Theory and Permutations and Combinations||10|
CAT is widely considered to be the most prestigious management exam in the country and a gateway to top-ranked MBA programs at IIMs and other top-ranked MBA schools. This comprehensive guide to CAT preparation can help you ace the test. If you need more help, you can check out our CATapult Live 2023 and CATapult Classroom 2023 programs, designed to help you score >90%ile. Those looking to hone their skills and practise in exam-like conditions can opt for the CAT test series, which has 40+ SimCATs with detailed video solutions for each question.