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The Complete List Of Best Books For CAT Preparation

In this article, you will learn which books for CAT you should refer to, the syllabus for CAT and why the choice of book is so important for your preparation, a list compiled by IIM Skills- online CAT coaching



Many CAT aspirants are confused in their early days of preparation as to what books for CAT they should refer to. There are several choices and different people recommend different books. In their desperation aspirants often end up buying all of them and then in order to somehow use them, they end up ruining their study plan.


There is so much choice of books that it is not recommended to follow more than one unless you have too much time on your hands.

What candidates need to realize is that it is not your choice of books but how they study them that matters. All good books are almost similar in content.


What matters is how you use them. In this article, we provide you with a list of good books you can refer to apart from your study material. And some tips for how to approach and improve that section. This will help you optimize your time for CAT preparation.


The article is divided into these sections:


  1. Books for CAT
  2. Preparation tips for each section
  3. How to select good books for preparation, parameters
  4. Syllabus for CAT


CAT Books For Quantitative Ability:


  • NCERT Mathematics books (class 6-10)
    It’s a nice idea to spend some time on the good old NCERT books before starting your preparation full throttle. NCERT will ensure you get your basics right first. The possibility of problems with the basics would be eliminated. It should not take more than a few days. You can just go through the concepts and exercises quickly.
  • How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma
    This book by Arun Sharma is one of the most popular reference books among CAT aspirants and it’s really easy and simple to understand. This book has 3 levels of difficulty. You move up levels as you go. Just watch out for the wrong answers sometimes. Arun Sharma’s books are intended in such a way that they first focus on clearing the basics before raising the difficulty level. They are also helpful for other management entrance exams.
  • Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by Abhijit Guha
    This book by Abhijit Guha is quite intensive material is quite comprehensive for various competitive exams. However, some candidates think this book is better for developing speed rather than skills as it has fewer difficult questions. It can be good for CAT but also for exams like Bank PO.
  • Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma
    This is also a popular book among CAT aspirants. Its format contains the basic concepts at the start of a chapter after which follow questions of various difficulty levels. Students consider this an inclusive material that leaves no need to follow any other book.
  • Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Sinha
    This book’s author is an alumnus of IIM Lucknow. It contains many tips that have been proven successful time and again. The book explains concepts nicely but may not be the best option when explaining solutions to difficult problems, especially for students who are new to Quantitative aptitude.

Importance of Quantitative aptitude


An aptitude test is intended to assess the likelihood of success of the candidate in his career. In this way, CAT estimates the performance of a candidate in the management course.


The aptitude tests are also used as a practice in many companies to screen job applicants. Aptitude tests are a way of measuring your strengths and flaws on various topics. It is the best way to examine the analytical ability and knowledge of the candidate, in a written test.


Quantitative aptitude analyses the numerical problem-solving skills of applicants. It forms an important element of every competitive exam in India as well as abroad, such as CAT, XAT, MAT, CMAT, IIFT, GMAT, and so on.


An applicant with good Quantitative Capacity is expected to identify and process numerical to perform fundamental arithmetic procedures and make calculations. The candidate is also likely to be quick in investigating cases based on the available data and displays an extraordinary level of focus in solving problems.


A good score in the quantitative aptitude section will show that you are well-equipped in the following areas:

  • Mental alertness: Quantitative aptitude is a test of mental alertness. The corporate world is complicated and practical. You face several expected and unexpected hurdles. Businesses need to keep an eye on what the competition is doing and always need to be one step ahead. The managers need to recognize and be aware of new challenges and threats.
  • Problem-solving: Industries have a lot of operations such as revenue, strategy, employee relations, legal, etc. There are many difficulties in the business world every day. You need to be able to recognize, analyze and find solutions fast. A high Quantitative aptitude score shows that the candidate has a knack for thinking critically and removing complex obstacles. Therefore, quantitative aptitude is one of the sections in almost all competitive exams.
  • Analysis: One sign of being skilled in quantitative aptitude is great analytical abilities. Analysis forms the backbone of any organization’s operations in today’s digital world. It helps a corporation determine short-term and long-term actions necessary for growth and sustenance. A candidate with a powerful quantitative aptitude is extremely suited to examine and make judgments. Such a person will also be very comfortable with numbers. Therefore, quantitative aptitude is a great measure of a business executive’s capabilities.


Almost 70% of all tests in the world have a quantitative ability section. This is really important as recruitment is not only about the candidate’s and companies’ needs but also the suitability of the candidate in that role. Companies want to be careful that the recruit is the right person for the job and is going to be a valuable asset to the company.


An improper employee could be a waste of the company’s and their own time and money and other resources and also damage the reputation of the company in front of the clients and will be unsatisfied in that role.


Since colleges get a lot of applications for every job opening, and even more so with the bigger colleges, aptitude tests are an essential, cost-effective and easy way to rank and filter candidates and select the right person.


Verbal Ability Books For CAT:


  • How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
    This book is suitable for students who want to know the type of questions in the verbal and reading comprehension section of the CAT. It explains and has problems in three topics: reading comprehension, verbal ability, and verbal reasoning. It gives adequate practice questions and mock papers.
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension For The CAT by Nishit Sinha
    This book is published by Pearson. It provides a complete resource for the verbal ability section of CAT. It also has many tests as well as essential problem-solving techniques and tricks.
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
    This is a very popular book among CAT aspirants. But this is a book that focuses on increasing your vocabulary. This book is not essentially made for CAT aspirants. This is a large book and completing it will definitely increase your vocabulary to super-high levels but aspirants seldom ever complete it. It is good as a regular practice, not just for CAT preparation, but also for GD and PI. However, its effectiveness and return on time invested are debatable.
  • High School Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin
    Any Indian student studying English hardly grows up without reading this book. This book is synonymous with English grammar. The book is decades old but has had frequent revisions amidst evolving language. It is a must-have for every student, not just CAT aspirants.
  • Miscellaneous books for CAT from a different genre
    The ultimate solution to develop your verbal ability is to read broadly and from different styles and genres. You can learn all the vocabulary and all the grammar you want but unless you read and look at their usage in sentences you are not going to remember or make any use of them. Reading exposes you to different styles and subjects. It also improves your reading speed and comprehension skills. There is no other way to do that. There are a few books you can begin with, that are mentioned here:


    • The God of small things by Arundhati Roy
    • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ( very easy language and vocabulary. Good to begin with)
    • A brief history of time by Stephen Hawking
    • Cosmos by Carl Sagan
    • War and Peace by Tolstoy


Importance of Reading Comprehension and verbal ability in CAT


Although many people read, They have different levels of comprehension of whatever they are reading. Some people read over text while some read between the lines and understand the context and minor nuances from the phrasing, punctuation, and choice of words. Reading comprehension is the ability to read and process the material to reach a deeper understanding.


Reading comprehension requires more effort than just plain reading. Without decent comprehension skills, students will not understand what they read.


The purpose of reading is not just to make sounds connected with the words and letters but to understand and record important information.


By the act of reading, we gain important lessons, learn scientific principles, thoughts, and opinions, memories, and knowledge of new opportunities. For example, it is only through reading that we learned about gravity. It is by reading that we learn that there are many planets and stars.


Many parents in India make the error of considering Reading Comprehension is useful only for clearing competitive exams. But, comprehension is required for all subjects and improving the general quality of life. Through paragraphs and word problems, the necessity to understand what you read is everywhere from Math to History.


  • Science: We learn about many scientific facts in school. Proper reading comprehension skills help them to read and understand facts about animals, plants, the human body, outer space, and much more.
  • Math: Maths books for CAT have word problems where there is a lot of text. The questions are such that without understanding the text, you cannot know what the problem is asking from the student. Without reading comprehension, we will never be able to guess what the problem is asking from us.
  • History: There is so much to read and learn in history about notable people, important wars, movements, lessons, and much more. In order for learning history to be fruitful, students must understand what is being told. Reading Comprehension will help them understand and process knowledge in the passage.


How to Build Reading Comprehension

Comprehension is actually quite simple to develop. Though, it will require your regular, effective practice on the student’s side. It takes time to build it and you must have patience.


Daily Reading Practice: All students should spend at least 30 minutes reading any text of their choice every day.


Review for Understanding: Keep checking that you are not just skimming over text but also learning the meaning. It will also help you focus on the text and restrict your attention from wandering elsewhere.


Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Books For CAT:


  • A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning by R.S. Agarwal
    This book by R.S. Agarwal is a popular choice among many candidates writing many different exams that contain a section of logical reasoning. It contains the most basic to the advanced reasoning problem and has explanations and solutions that are quite easy to understand. It has many sections like logic, statements, inferences and arguments, assumptions, course of actions, logical puzzles, and many more.
  • How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT book by Arun Sharma
    This book is specially designed for CAT reasoning and is published by Tata McGraw Hill. It contains all topics in the syllabus for Logical Reasoning in CAT. Each topic contains solved examples followed by a collection of unsolved problems with varying difficulty levels from easy to tough. This book alone gives enough practice to master a chapter.
  • How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT book by Arun Sharma
    This book focuses on all areas of Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency, especially for the CAT exam. Similar to other books by Arun Sharma, this book provides sufficient practice for the DI section in CAT. It has solved and unsolved questions, previous years’ questions, and many sample question papers.


How can you improve your logical reasoning?


What is logical reasoning ability?

Logical thinking is the system of reviewing and analyzing a situation from all fronts and reaching a working and effective solution. Logical reasoning involves looking at challenges in an unbiased way and making reasonable conclusions. When you use the available data to measure a problem, you are practicing your logic skills.

Why is the logical reasoning ability required for CAT?

Logical reasoning skills are needed as they help you to think and assess important actions and their short and long-term consequences, tackle challenges, find out creative solutions and establish targets—all of which are crucial to the growth of your career. You will encounter various difficulties and complexities, in your work. The more robust you build your logical reasoning capabilities, the easier and faster it would be to arrive at a solution and advance your career.


How to develop logical reasoning ability?

There are many approaches to develop logical thinking in your daily work. Here are a few tips:


1. Develop unique creative hobbies: Drawing, writing, and music stimulate the creative portion of the person and develop logical thinking. They naturally help you become a better problem-solver.


2. Question everything: Regularly reviewing and questioning things you accept as normal, helps you notice the bigger picture, allowing you to find out-of-the-box solutions.


3. Socialize with others. Build relationships with people to expand your viewpoint and opinion. It helps you learn about various sorts of people and new things. When you find a new approach, it helps you address situations in ways you never did before. There are many styles of socializing, one of them is joining in fun activities and travel plans.


4. Learn a new skill: Learning a new skill like a musical instrument, can also help your logical thinking skills. You are more attentive and focused when learning a new skill. Learning stimulates the prefrontal cortex in the brain that is responsible for perception and reasoning. A simple act like taking a different road back home can stimulate your prefrontal cortex.


General knowledge for CAT


Competitive exams concentrate largely on current G.K. rather than a static one. You will soon understand why is it better.


Current G.K. Books for CAT


Current Gk refers to new and recent happenings. You can read the newspapers or any GK manual and get better at the current GK. Some of the recommended newspapers are The Hindu, Financial Express, and The Economist.


You can also read any yearbook (preferably Manorama) or Arihant Gk guides. There is good current affairs material from Made Easy too.


Static G.K. books for CAT


This section takes a much longer time and is really more of a habit. This habit is common with people who are naturally curious about everything. This is why it is considered hard for many candidates since there is so much to learn and there are so many materials to refer to.

Some good books for CAT for this Static General Knowledge by A.P. Bhardwaj and S. Chand’s Advanced Objective General Knowledge. These books are good, to begin with, but you must always focus more on the current GK if you are studying for a competitive exam.


What factors to consider while selecting books for CAT?


There are a few things you should consider and check before buying books for CAT:


Latest and Revised Edition – Selecting books with the latest edition or recently revised edition is always better since they have more previous years’ questions. This will help you become better acquainted with the recent changes in formats and requirements.


Rich in content – The book must have all the helpful content from theory to easy questions to difficult problems with solutions. It must also contain previous years’ questions and sample papers and mock tests. They should contain every topic in the syllabus of CAT.


Credible Author – You must learn about the author before purchasing the book. The author should preferably have years of experience and firsthand knowledge of CAT requirements. Try not to buy books from new authors unless they have been very well reviewed and recognized achievements.


Syllabus for CAT

Syllabus for Quantitative ability


Number Systems
Mean median mode (statistics)
Time and Work
Ratio and Proportion
Profit, Loss, and Discount
Speed, Time, and Distance
Quadratic Equations & Linear Equations
Complex Numbers
Simple and Compound Interest
Sequences and Series
Linear equations
Surds and Indices
Set Theory & Function
Permutation and Combination
Mixtures and Alligations
Coordinate Geometry

Syllabus for DILR

Letter Series
Symbol Series
Symbol based Logic
Number & Alphabet Analogies
Odd one out
Direction Sense
Blood Relations and Family Tree
Cryptarithmetic (Verbal Arithmetic)
Inequalities and Conclusions – Coded Inequalities
Data Sufficiency
Approximation of Values
Bar Graphs
Line Charts
Column Graphs
Venn Diagrams
Pie Chart
Number and Letter Series
Seating Arrangement
Binary Logic
Logical Matching
Logical Sequence

Syllabus for VARC

English Usage or Grammar
Vocabulary (Synonyms/ Antonyms)
Fill in the blanks
Sentence Correction
Jumbled Paragraph
Meaning-Usage Match
Analogies or Reverse Analogies
Summary Questions
Verbal Reasoning
Reading Comprehension
Categories of Passages
Writing Styles
Tone of Writing
Types of Questions
Reading Skills
The Articles – A, An, The
Grammar rules
Parts of Speech in English
Sentence Construction in English
Subject-Verb Agreement
Verbs Tenses
Word Usage
Verbal Reasoning
Logical Deduction
Statements & Assumptions
Courses of Action
Para jumbles (Basic Rules, Extra tips)
Para Completion
Sentence Exclusion
Fact Inference Judgment
Basic Assumption And Inference
Paragraph Summary
Method of Reasoning and Boldfaced
Flawed and Paradox
Parallel, Further Application, Evaluate
Strong Weak Arguments


You can find more useful articles on our IIM Skills online CAT blog.


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Gaurav is a Content Writer at IIM Skills. He has a B.Tech. degree but then he switched to the creative side by doing his master's in advertising and public relations. Gaurav is also a part-time blogger and graphic designer currently living in Mumbai

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