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How To Prepare For CAT: A Section-Wise Approach

In this article, you will learn about how you should plan and prepare for CAT. The plan given here is followed by most toppers and is designed by our experts at IIM Skills online CAT coaching


This article will help you learn how to prepare for CAT. But first, let’s talk about why you need to do what you are doing. Why CAT asks logical reasoning, verbal ability, and quantitative aptitude and why they are important for an MBA. This article has the following sections:


  1. Why MBA?
  2. Why CAT?
  3. How To Prepare For CAT Quantitative Aptitude section
  4. How to prepare for CAT logical reasoning section
  5. How to prepare for CAT verbal ability and reading comprehension section


Why MBA?


MBA is one of the most valuable degrees in the business world. An MBA from a top B-school is not just a degree. It is proof of your excellence and value, that you provide to the world around you. 


An MBA enhances your personality from all angles. 


  • It makes you more confident. As you keep doing and completing projects successfully, your confidence rises and you become more secure of your abilities.
  • You become a team player. You learn to share responsibilities and learn complementary skills.
  • All industries require an MBA to run their businesses. Be it manufacturing, IT, automobile, hospitals, construction, legal, political, advertising, and even sports. Your opportunities are limitless.
  • MBA also improves your strategic thinking. It is also a good skill for both personal as well as professional life.
  • Another benefit of doing an MBA is improved communication skills. Everyone knows that until you cannot explain properly, your skills and ideas are not worth anything.
  • Time management is one of the most valuable skills you learn in a management school. 
  • Perhaps the biggest asset you get in a business institution is the people and the network. Your worth is defined by the kind of personalities you surround yourself with.
  • You meet distinguished economists, policymakers, and industry leaders.
  • Doing an MBA also widens your outlook. Many MBA programs in India also give you a chance to study for one semester abroad.
  • The best management institutes also get you high pay packages. You can support a better lifestyle and a high standard of living for you and your family.
  • You will also get more respect in society as well as the business world.
  • Another benefit that is not recognized as much from an MBA is creative thinking. As a manager, you are going to come across many problems. To solve them, you will need to think innovatively. 


You may also be interested in Top CAT Coaching Institutes In Hyderabad


Why CAT?


An excellent percentile in CAT is the prerequisite to a reputable business school in India. CAT exam is intended to examine the candidates in particular domains and examine how proper and effective they will be as managers and CEOs. Almost all business establishments in India look at your CAT score before admissions. If you want to get an MBA degree, CAT is the exam you need to direct your efforts on.


CAT is an online test. The paper has 3 separate sections of 


  • Quantitative Ability (QA)
  • Logical Reasoning (LR) & Data Interpretation(DI) 
  • Verbal Ability (VA) & Reading Comprehension (RC)


The Quantitative Aptitude(QA)  part has puzzles in elementary math, based on 10 + 2 level. Problems come from various subjects such as Arithmetic, Algebra, trigonometry, statistics, Geometry, profit-loss, and interest. The intention of this part is to test a candidate’s ability to find a solution to real-world problems using elementary math.


In the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI-LR) part, a set of data is presented to you and you need to answer puzzles based on that. The data could be in any form like graphs, charts, or tables. This part tests your capacity for logical and reasoning ability to assess the available information to solve puzzles.


The Verbal Ability (VA)  part consists of puzzles on the correct practices of the English language and laws of grammar. VA puzzles test the candidate’s ability to organize paragraphs, finding the tone of statements, completing the sentences, etc. 


A candidate gets 3 marks for each right answer and each wrong answer causes a deduction of 1 mark. All test scores are neutralized since the CAT exam is conducted in several sets in different sessions.


A good score in CAT doesn’t ensure a seat, but it is a requirement for a seat in the best management institutes in India. To get to the best b-schools, you also are required to pass their group discussions and personal interview stages.


CAT is like a first gate to the best B-schools. We have already discussed why you must study in the best business school.


A great CAT record essentially raises the likelihood of a comprehensive learning environment. You get a vast corporate network too. You get a great beginning to your career. The best business schools also provide records of 100% placements. That’s how crucial a good CAT score is.


Check out our list of the top 10 CAT Coaching Institutes In Delhi 


How To Prepare For Cat Quantitative Aptitude Section


How to prepare for quantitative aptitude for CAT? This is could easily be one of the most commonly asked questions by candidates who do not have a technical background. In this section, we are going to provide you with some tips and techniques on how you can improve your quantitative aptitude skills and score high on the Quantitative Aptitude section. 


Contrary to popular belief, Quantitative Aptitude is not something to be afraid of. Many candidates who used to be bad at Quantitative Aptitude have actually developed it into their strengths through tried and tested techniques.


And if you think Quantitative Aptitude is your weak section, it is guaranteed that following these steps will make you at least as good as you are in other sections.


You just need some techniques and tricks and a lot of practice. You will need some lateral thinking too if you can not reach a solution in your first attempt.


Most students consider the Quantitative Aptitude (QA) part of CAT the most difficult. The reason for that is not that they can not solve it but they cannot solve it inside the stipulated time. Quantitative Aptitude (QA) questions take the most time of any candidate and if you do not have a plan to approach your paper, you will have a hard time with CAT.


The key is to never aim at solving all the questions. You must never give more time to the limit you have set for each question ie, 90-120 seconds.


Tips on How To Prepare For CAT Quantitative Aptitude section


  • Build your basics strong: Unless you have your basics strong and clear, you will keep having problems. In fact, without clear basics, you will not even understand the solutions. Go through the school textbooks and clear your concepts. Look over examples. You might think is useless but this is important to get a grasp on the basics. Do not jump to the next topic without getting a good grip on the current topic. Remember along with knowing how to solve a question, you also need speed. And for speed, you will need to practice as much as the time allows. 
  • Structured Preparation: Make a plan for your preparation and follow it meticulously. Devote an appropriate amount of time to every topic and don’t leave anything in the preparation stage. 
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses: The more questions and topics you cover, the more you will learn about strengths and weaknesses. This will come in handy during the final stages of preparation and mock tests as well as the CAT when you will need to give priority to questions that are your strengths. 
  • Shortcut techniques: It is true that you need to practice as much to build your QA skills but so does not shy away from also using shortcut techniques. CAT is an objective paper so it doesn’t really matter how you solve a question as long as you arrive at the correct answer. Because time is of the essence in CAT. You need to save as much time as possible and for that, you need to be fast and quick, which involves using shortcut techniques. Solve questions in both full as well as shortcut techniques. So that you build your concepts too and your speed too. You can refer to some good books for shortcut techniques.
  • Get the formulas in memory: You have to learn formulae as well as understand them properly. Otherwise, you may forget them later. You need to understand the connection between different concepts. It may take more time though. Solve more questions that use the formula to memorize it permanently.
  • The practice has no substitute: The more you practice, the more speed you build and the more concepts become clear. With practice, you make your concepts concrete. It is very hard to forget things then. Speed is another thing that improves as you practice. Speed is important in the CAT as every examiner can solve every question if given enough time. Speed becomes the differentiator between candidates and their percentiles.
  • Follow the Question: In a struggle to complete the exam within the specified time, many candidates hurriedly solve, without properly understanding the problem. Even a slight misunderstanding of a problem will lead to the wrong answer. In several moments, few problems are intentionally set in a twisted manner just to confuse the candidates.
  • Write your steps clearly: During practice, solve puzzles with one step in each line. Never go horizontally or in a random manner. It may take more paper and time, but you will be able to trail your steps much more swiftly when you get stuck trying to solve a question. Make a point to write all the techniques, tricks, and formulae you study somewhere you can see regularly. This will save time on revision and some things do not etch properly in the memory unless you see them many many times.
  • Make sure you do this:
    • Use memory retention techniques
    • Understand the formulae
    • Use different approaches to learn the formula
    • Revision
    • Time Management
  • Avoid Guesswork: CAT deducts points for the wrong answer. It is a wastage of effort since it cuts points from the questions you solved correctly. Make a target to solve a fixed percentage of questions and try to get them right. You can try the elimination method to increase your chances of a correct guess but do this at your own risk.


How to prepare for CAT logical reasoning section


What is logical reasoning?


Logical reasoning is the method of testing and examining a situation from all facets and reaching a rational solution. But logical reasoning involves looking at difficulties without bias and making sensible inferences. When you use the data available to analyze a problem, you are using your logical skills.


Why are logical reasoning skills necessary?


Logical reasoning skills are important as they aid you to think and consider important decisions, work out difficulties, generate innovative solutions, and set goals—all of which are pivotal to the growth of your career. You will come across various problems and complexities, no matter whether you are a fresher or a superior worker. The more powerful you develop your logical reasoning skills, the easier it would be to reach a solution that would serve you as well as the business.


How to build logical reasoning ability


There are many ways to grow logical thinking in your daily work. Here are a few methods and tips to strengthen your skills:


  1. Cultivate a few creative hobbies: Creative pursuits like drawing, painting, and music can stimulate the artistic part of the mind and helps logical thinking. Creative exercises naturally develop problem-solving abilities that help us become better problem-solver.


  1. Practice questioning everything. One of the most helpful ways to grow your logical reasoning skills is to ask questions about anything you typically take as a fact. Constantly investigating helps you see the bigger picture, enabling you to find out-of-the-box solutions.


  1. Socialize with others. Building relationships with several people to expand your perspective. It helps you learn about various sorts of people. It gives you more opportunities to grow your logical thinking skills. When you discover someone new and their perspective, it may benefit you to address problems at a job in a unique and unusual way. There are many methods in which you can strengthen relationships, like joining in new and enjoyable activities or just eating lunch in a group in the office. The more you practice issues at the workplace, the easier you will be able to climb in your profession.


  1. Learn a new skill. Learning a new skill can also aid your logical thinking skills. When you take every opportunity to learn as much as possible, you can apply an identical approach to your work. Learning a new instrument, for instance, stimulates the prefrontal cortex in the brain that is responsible for deep thinking and reasoning. The logical reasoning ability we grow in this process can help us focus on our work more, improving our ability to solve more difficulties more efficiently.


  1. Try to predict the results of your choices. It is helpful to examine the influence of your decisions in the future. The closer you pay attention to the pros and cons of your choices, the more your vision will develop.


To develop logical reasoning ability for CAT, here are the strategies you need to follow as part of how to prepare for CAT


  • Try to get the best study material and practice books. Ask your friends or just go with the most reviewed and used book. Do not buy too many books. When you are doing a topic, do all the questions from that topic in that book and if there is time, only then start another book. Although one book is enough.
  • Always read the question very carefully. Do not miss or misread anything. Do not hurry through the questions. Oftentimes, the question is phrased to intentionally trick the candidate.
  • Keep a time limit while you practice questions. This will keep you focused and adapt to the real-time limit in the CAT.
  • always try to visualize the problem. You can draw diagrams or tables to get a better understanding of the problem.
  • Practice as much as your schedule allows.
  • Solve mock tests regularly to keep track of your progress.


The most common topics in CAT are Arrangements (linear and circular), Distributions, Selections, and Cube-based problems. It’s better to start with these topics and get through with the fundamentals and try to practice as many problems as possible within the time allotted. 


You will need time to get familiar with the tricks, techniques, theories to make, and ways to solve. Also study binary logic, Venn-diagram, and Input-output as these are also common in most of the mock tests.


As you keep practicing and you have built up some pace, try to move to more difficult topics like games and tournaments, network and pipelines, and topics that you think are your weak areas. Your skill and pace will help in tackling difficult questions in a more encouraging way.


Also, try to attempt distribution problems. Try to get familiar and comfortable with different tricks to solve difficult questions. Focus not just on skill but also speed.


Once you finish the difficult topics, try to complete the remaining topics. You should be familiar with all the topics in your first stage and try not to leave any topic untouched. 


By this time your logical reasoning part should be almost complete. The only thing left after this is to revise and practice mock tests. Now all the questions you attempt must be under the time limit. You need to get acquainted with the pressure of the real exam. As said earlier, speed is as important as your ability to solve questions.


When taking mock tests, take sectional mock tests. This way, you can focus on every topic as required. Try to get solutions right instead of trying to solve as many questions as you can. 


This is also a way to find your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing them will help you select which questions to attempt first and which ones to leave for later. Since you can not solve every question in CAT, and you shouldn’t even try to. This will help you make a priority of which ones to pick first.


By now you should be comfortable with the logical reasoning part and if you followed all the instructions given here, you should have no problem with the logical reasoning section in CAT. Try to solve as many mock tests as possible and develop a strategy for scoring more. 


How to prepare for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 


The section of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension tests the candidate’s ability to correct usage of the English language and rules of grammar. 


It is important to get an assessment of the candidate’s language abilities. Since communication is an important part of being a manager. 


Effective communication is a necessary skill for everyone. Your intelligence and smartness are of no use if you cannot express your ideas and thoughts properly so everyone understands you. They are also important in order to persuade and convince people.


Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) in CAT is a confusing section and many candidates take it lightly and end up losing marks. One important tip is to get enough preparation for this section as options look similar to each other and it becomes difficult to choose which is correct and candidates end up with a wrong answer.


This section will not only help with how to prepare for CAT but also with the group discussions and personal interview stages that follow.


If you do enough preparation, this section will help you score high in a shorter time than other sections. Questions from VA and RC take much less time than questions from other sections. 


  1. Reading Comprehension: RCs form the bulk of the section. The problem that most people encounter in this section is reading comprehension of genres that they are not comfortable with. READ AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Make it a goal of doing at least 2 RCs daily. You should get totally comfortable with the RCs. RCs are not a mixture of arbitrary words, but a flow of ideas represented in the paper. So all you need to do is understand that flow. Even while having a discussion you have a definite thought process that you are communicating. The trick is understanding, understanding what is being conveyed is critical. Many aspirants start reading the passage but due to lack of attention and unknown area their mind strays, and they are unable to comprehend what they have read and they have to read it again.
  2. Para jumbles: Always use elimination. If you are stuck in Para jumbles make use of all information that is provided and no it’s not the sentences it’s the options. Always find the combination that you know will definitely come together and then use options to eliminate the ones that don’t have that combination together. Instead of finding the entire passage find groups of lines that will come together, this way you will have chunks of that passage, which will help you view the big picture faster.
  3. Summary Based questions: The points for this part are related to that for RCs with just a minor extension. While reading an article or a passage try summarizing it in your own words. Always look for at least two distinct ways to summarize the passage. Doing this exercise daily will help you improve this part.
  4. Sentence exclusion: Sentence exclusion is related to doing para jumbles. All you need to do is find which sentences can be grouped and which ones cannot. The second approach to these kinds of problems is taking the meaning of the passage the sentences would form and finding the sentence that does not fit that meaning.


Here are some general tips for how to prepare for the CAT RC section:


  • Do 2 RCs daily. Become comfortable with RCs. You have to manage your time in such a way that you give due attention to all the portions of CAT every day and not miss anything.
  • Never try to attempt all the questions in the mock tests. You should decide the goal of how many questions you are going to solve in the given time. Doing all the questions is a bad approach because nobody can solve all the questions in that given time and also it causes negative marking since it increases the possibility of wrong answers. Attempting 4 RCs is a good target.
  • Try speed reading.
  • Try to get the essence of the passage while reading it, it will assist in summary-based questions and descriptive statements.
  • Develop a healthy reading habit every day. It may be a novel or a newspaper. Recently CAT has moved its focus from asking direct grammar questions to paa=ssages that test your language skills. This is why it is important to develop a proper reading habit.
  • The VA RC section is more about eliminating the wrong answers rather than finding the right answers. Try to practice this approach in your practice sessions.


This was a general guide for how to prepare for CAT with suggestions for every part of CAT.


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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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