How to Study for CAT?

How to Study for CAT?
How to Study for CAT?

How to Study for CAT?

Are you planning to take the Common Admission Test (CAT) soon? This standardized test is a gateway to some of India’s most prestigious management schools. Proper preparation is critical to achieving a high score and increasing your chances of getting into your desired institution. This article will discuss practical ways to study for CAT and boost your performance on test day.

Preparing for the CAT (Common Admission Test) exam requires a strategic approach, rigorous practice, and consistent review. Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing using previous years’ CAT exam papers:

1. Understand the CAT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Before diving deep into preparation, familiarize yourself with the exam’s pattern and syllabus.

  • Sections: Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR).
  • Total Questions: Typically around 100 (but can vary).
  • Duration: 3 hours, with each section getting 60 minutes.

2. Study Plan

  • Early Start: Ideally, begin your preparation 8-12 months before the exam.
  • Time Management: Allocate specific times for each section. Initially, focus more on understanding concepts. Closer to the exam, work on speed and accuracy.

3. Books and Study Materials

  • Quantitative Ability:
    • ‘How to Prepare for Quantitative Ability for the CAT’ by Arun Sharma
    • ‘Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT’ by Nishit Sinha
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension:
    • ‘How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
    • ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis for vocabulary.
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:
    • ‘How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma
    • ‘Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT’ by Nishit K. Sinha

4. Online Resources and Mock Tests

  • Websites like Career Launcher, Time4education, and 2IIM offer mock tests, topic-wise tests, and sectional tests.
  • Online Forums: Pagalguy and BeatTheCAT are popular forums where candidates discuss doubts, share resources, and give tips.

5. Self-Study vs Coaching

  • Self-Study: This can be effective if you’re disciplined and have a structured approach.
  • Coaching This can benefit those who need guidance, mock tests, and regular schedules.

6. Practice Regularly

  • Mocks: Start taking mock tests 5-6 months before the exam. After each mock, analyze your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Sectional Tests: Focus on individual sections to improve specific areas.

7. Stay Updated

  • Reading Daily: For VARC, make a habit of reading newspapers, especially the editorial section. This improves comprehension and vocabulary.
  • Current Affairs: Awareness of current events can help write ability tests and interviews that follow the CAT.

8. Health and Mindset

  • Stay Fit: Regular physical activity can help in reducing stress.
  • Meditation: Helps in maintaining focus and concentration.

9. Last-Minute Tips

  • Don’t pick up new topics in the last couple of weeks. Focus on revision.
  • Sleep well the night before the exam.
  • Keep all necessary documents ready in advance to avoid last-minute hassles.

10. Resources for Mock Analysis

  • Online Analysis: Many online coaching portals provide in-depth analysis for mock tests.
  • Peers and Mentors: Discussing mock test performances with peers can provide fresh perspectives.

CAT Study Material for Exam Preparation

Subject Book Author
Quantitative Aptitude How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT Arun Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude Quantitative Aptitude for CAT R.S. Aggarwal
Quantitative Aptitude CAT Quantitative Aptitude: A Complete Guide T.I.M.E.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension The Official Guide for the CAT IIM Ahmedabad
Verbal Ability Verbal Ability for CAT Disha Experts
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT Nishit Sinha
Data Interpretation Data Interpretation for CAT R.S. Aggarwal
CAT LR DI: A Complete Guide CAT LR DI: A Complete Guide T.I.M.E.

How to Prepare for CAT by Self-Study

  1. Start early. The CAT is a challenging exam, so it is essential to start preparing early. This will give you enough time to cover the syllabus and practice enough questions.
  2. Create a study plan. Once you have decided to start preparing for CAT, it is essential to create a study plan. This will help you stay on track and cover all the vital topics.
  3. Choose suitable study materials. There are many different study materials available for CAT preparation. Choosing materials aligned with the CAT syllabus and written in a style you can understand is essential.
  4. Practice regularly. The best way to improve your CAT score is to practice regularly. This will help you get used to the types of questions that are asked, and it will also help you improve your speed and accuracy.
  5. Take mock tests. Mock tests are a great way to assess your progress and identify weak areas. Taking mock tests regularly and analyzing your performance after each test is essential.
  6. Get help from a mentor or tutor. If you are struggling with a particular topic or need help creating a study plan, you can get help from a mentor or tutor. A mentor or tutor can provide you with guidance and support as you prepare for CAT.

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid During the Exam

During the CAT exam, candidates may make common mistakes that can affect their performance. Here are some errors to avoid during the exam:

  1. Not managing time effectively: Time management is critical in the CAT exam. Candidates should allocate enough time to each section and question. They should avoid spending too much time on a question or area, which may affect their performance.
  2. Not reading the instructions carefully: Candidates should read the instructions carefully before attempting the questions. They should understand the marking schemenegative marking, and other important details mentioned in the instructions.
  3. Not attempting easy questions first: Candidates should try the easy questions first to build confidence and score marks quickly. This will help them manage time effectively and try more questions overall.
  4. Not revising the answers: Candidates should revise before submitting the exam. This will help them identify any errors or mistakes and correct them before submitting.
  5. Getting stuck on a question: Candidates should avoid getting stuck on a particular question. If they cannot solve a question after a few attempts, they should move on to the next question and return to it later.
  6. Not keeping track of time: Candidates should keep track of time and ensure they complete the exam within the given time frame. They should avoid spending too much time on a single question or section and keep a watch or clock handy to monitor the time.

Strategies to Avoid Getting Stuck on a Question

Getting stuck on a question during the CAT exam can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience. Here are some strategies that can help you avoid getting stuck on a question:

  1. Understand the question: Read it carefully to understand what it asks for. Identify the key concepts and try to relate them to your studied topics.
  2. Break down the question: Break down the question into smaller parts and try to solve each piece separately. This will help you understand the question better and solve it more efficiently.
  3. Use elimination: Elimination is a valuable strategy to eliminate incorrect options. This will help narrow your choices and increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.
  4. Guess intelligently: If unsure about the answer, make an intelligent guess by eliminating the incorrect options. This will increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.
  5. Move on: If you cannot solve a question after a few attempts, move on to the next question. This will help you manage your time effectively and attempt more questions overall.
  6. Come back later: If you have time left at the section’s end, return to the question later. This will give you a fresh perspective and may help you solve the query more efficiently.


What are the eligibility criteria for CAT?

To be eligible for CAT, you must have a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50% marks or equivalent CGPA. The reserved category candidates require 45% marks.

How many times can I take the CAT exam?

You can take the CAT exam once every year.

Is there any negative marking in CAT?

Yes, there is a negative marking of one-third marks for every wrong answer.

How important is time management in CAT?

Time management is crucial in CAT, as you only have 60 minutes to complete each section.

What is the score range for CAT?

The score range for CAT is between 0 to 300.


Preparing for CAT requires dedication, hard work, and proper planning. With the right mindset and preparation, you can achieve a high score and enter your desired institution.

READ MORE | How to Study for Engineering?


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