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Strategy and Tips for Crack CAT Exam in First Attempt

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The Strategy:

Step 1: Go through the previous year's CAT papers

Before you start your full preparation, you need to know what and how to prepare. Get a feel for the pattern and your strengths and weaknesses.

CAT'15 was divided into three sections:

1. Verbal Ability (34 questions)

2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (32 questions)

3. Quantitative Ability (34 questions)

Duration: 3 hours ( 1 hour for each section ).
Please note that there will be some questions in each section that will be without options.

Step 2: Take a mock test to check your current level of preparedness.

It should help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. It is crucial as your initial strategy should be to focus on your weak areas.

Step 3: Enroll for a mock test series.

Since you are opting for self-study, enrolling for a mock test series is essential. Mocks are crucial for CAT preparation. Self-analysis on a regular basis will help you understand the effectiveness of your development. Introspection will give you an opportunity to modify your strategy if required. Being flexible in your strategy is crucial.
Step 4: Prepare a time table.

So, I will give you an outlook as to how a timetable should look alike. You should modify it according to your strengths and weaknesses.
For this time table, I will assume that you are weak in Quant. One day of the week (Saturday or Sunday) should be given for mocks, and it’s analysis.
You should ideally practice
  1. Quaint : 4 weekdays + 1 weekend day a week (2 + 8 hrs a day) - 16 hrs / week
  2. Data Interpretation : twice a week (3 hrs a day) - 6 hrs / week
  3. Logical Reasoning : twice a week (3 hrs a day) - 6 hrs / week
  4. Verbal Ability : 4 days a week (2 hrs a day) - 8 hrs / week
  5. Reading Comprehension : twice a week (2 hrs a day) - 4 hrs / week
  6. Reading Ability : everyday (1 hr a day) - 7 hrs / week
  7. Mocks and its Analysis : once every two weeks (6 hrs a day) - 3 hrs / week
Total time : 50 hrs / week. (12 hrs on weekends and 5 hrs on weekdays)
There are approximately 20 topics in Quaint. We’ll prepare timetable accordingly. Considering 5 days (4+1) a week for Quaint.
  1. Number System : 10 days (Weeks 1 and 2)
  2. Averages : 2 days (Week 3)
  3. Percentages : 2 days (Week 3)
  4. Profit and Loss : 1 days (Week 3)
  5. Simple and Compound Interest : 1 day (Week 4)
  6. Ratio and Proportion : 2 days (Week 4)
  7. Time and Work : 3 days ( Weeks 4 and 5)
  8. Time, Speed and Distance : 4 days (Week 5)
  9. Geometry : 10 days (Weeks 6 and 7)
  10. Trigonometry and Mensuration : 5 days (Week 8)
  11. Linear and Quadratic Equations, and Inequalities : 7 days (Weeks 9 and 10)
  12. Logarithms : 3 days (Week 10)
  13. Surds and Indices : 3 days (Week 11)
  14. Progressions : 5 days (Weeks 11 and 12)
  15. Functions : 2 days (Week 12)
  16. Set Theory : 4 days (Week 13)
  17. Permutations and Combinations : 6 days (Weeks 13 and 14)
  18. Probability : 5 days (Week 15)
Don’t solve all questions on these topics. Just do enough to understand the concepts. Ensure that you don’t miss any sub-topic.
Data Interpretation:

There are approximately six topics on DI. We’ll prepare time table accordingly. Consider two days a week for every part in DI.
  1. Tables: 4 days (Weeks 1 and 2)
  2. Column and Bar Graphs: 4 days (Weeks 3 and 4)
  3. Line charts: 4 days (Weeks 5 and 6)
  4. Pie charts: 4 days (Weeks 7 and 8)
  5. Combination graphs: 8 days (Weeks 9,10,11 and 12)
  6. Data Sufficiency: 6 days (Weeks 13,14 and 15)
Try to mix things up in DI. Else it will get boring. Make sure that you time yourself while preparing for DI. It is essential.

Logical Reasoning:

There are approximately 7–8 topics on LR. We’ll prepare time table accordingly. Considering two days a week for LR.
  1. Arrangements (Linear, Circular, and Matrix): 8 days (Weeks 1–4)
  2. Venn Diagram: 4 days (Weeks 5 and 6)
  3. Cubes: 4 days (Weeks 7 and 8)
  4. Blood Relations: 3 days (Weeks 9 and 10)
  5. Family Tree: 3 days (Weeks 10 and 11)
  6. Puzzles: 6 days (Weeks 12-14)
Verbal Ability:
Verbal Ability is less about topics and more about reading. The more you read, the more you are comfortable with Verbal. Last year, almost 20–25 questions were on Reading Comprehension plus a few more on Para Jumbles and Para Completion. So, your focus should be primarily towards reading. And reading quality stuff. Not Chetan Bhagat masala novels (No offense!).
Considering four days a week for Verbal.
  1. Basic Grammar and Usage: 16 days (Weeks 1–4)
  2. Sentence Correction: 16 days (Weeks 5–8) (Use Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction)
  3. Para Completion and Para Jumbles: 12 days (Weeks 9–11)
  4. Critical Reasoning: 16 days (Weeks 12–15) (Use Manhattan GMAT Critical Reasoning)
Reading Comprehension:
Try to do 4–5 RC together, followed by analysis whenever you practice RCs. Also, time yourself when you do it.
It should be done at least twice a week and until November. There is only one mantra for success in RC: read and practice.


Start reading The Hindu every day (only pages 1,8, 10 and 15). Make it a habit of reading good novels. It is one of the safest ways to improve your verbal as well as building your personality for an interview or otherwise.

Week 16 onward: Revise your syllabus according to your strengths and weaknesses. Practice previous years’ CAT papers. Mocks will be crucial at this stage. Try to make your strategy for the exam : How you will approach it, How you are going to work on your weaknesses, etc.

Step 5: Always stay motivated.

It is the most important step. Never lose hope in your battle. I have seen people give up after a couple of mocks since they didn't perform well in those mocks. There will be ample opportunities to improve. It’s never over till it’s over. Always remember that.
I hope you can make a time table out of it. If you still need any support, you can always contact me.

   Thanks Hitanshu Malhotra

Strategy and Tips for Crack CAT Exam in First Attempt Strategy and Tips for Crack CAT Exam in First Attempt Reviewed by goCareer on Saturday, October 14, 2017 Rating: 5
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