Study Plan to prepare for CAT exam

Published on Sunday, September 01, 2013
CAT is one of the toughest exams of the world. Every year about 2,00,000 candidates fights for 2883 seats in IIM. Unlike any other exam, most of the candidates in this exam are well prepared which makes it difficult to crack. Most of the candidates fail to get success because of wrong strategies and bad time management. It is really easy to reach 90%ile score with just 3 months preparations. To reach 95%tile+ range you need to have high speed with accuracy.

Many people won't agree with my thoughts as I am strongly against the teaching methods at various national level "Commercial Coaching Institutes". I used the word "Commercial" instead of "Professional" because their main goal of these institutes is to sell their product. Quality of teachers is bad at most of these institutes, many time teachers and students appear for the same exam and student
scores higher than the teacher. This happened to me, I knew that my teacher was really bad at Data interpretation. In 2011 more weightage given to DI questions which was my strength.

So if you want to score high, read following tips which I learnt through my 2 years experience.

Study material 

It is a well known fact that study material of various institutes concentrates on basics and doesn't even touch advance level questions. They teach fundamentals and then starts mock test series. Most of the students end up scoring very low scores. Institutes does this intentionally to cut costs so that even a newbie teacher can teach.

You should download study material online. Various international tests such GMAT have same syllabus, so you can download its study material. International publishers such as Kaplan and Manhattan provides high quality study material. You can download study material from CAT notes section.

There are few high quality books available in the market. Check my previous post about best CAT books. I don't recommend Arun Sharma's books as books from other authors such as Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Kumar and Nishit Sinha's Quantitative Aptitude are providing advanced level questions with solutions. For example in Quantitative aptitude book of Arun sharma, most of the questions are unsolved.

Learn shortcuts 

Solving 120 questions in 140 minutes by using traditional methods is not possible. Most of the successful candidates in CAT test used some techniques which they discovered themselves and they stick to same technique throughout the exam. For example taking 100 as base in every question or using a variable. 

It is useless to learn endless formulae, learn basic formulae and mix them with your technique as in CAT exam two or more topics are merged to make a question.

I gave CAT exam twice. I wrote some good tricks for my readers. Please find all tricks in Quantitative aptitude section.

Grip on fundamentals

One of the major reason behind most failures in CAT exam is that they become panic while learning fundamentals. Every student has his own speed but due to coaching classes culture they rush to complete syllabus. Without even knowing basics they try to solve tough questions in test series. This is the story of students below 70%tile.

I have never seen any student with strong hold on basics scoring below 85%tile. Strong hold on fundamentals increases speed as well as accuracy. It is foolish to solve mock tests again and again without even knowing basics. 

  • Start with NCERT books
  • Follow some basic books like R.S. Aggarwal
  • Get Nishit Sinha or Sarvesh Kumar ( I personally don't recommend Arun Sharma )
  • Appear for at least 10 mock tests
  • Review all the mock tests
  • GET book links here

Read ebooks

Right now I need to sit in front of my monitor for at least 12 hours a day. Then another 2 hours on my tablet to read books. Further an hour to chat on whatsapp. It was so easy to spend 140 minutes in front of a screen and solve questions at same speed.

Many people face problem while solving questions in an online test. I admit that I can't read a book continuously for 3 hours but I can read an ebook on my tablet for even 6 hours. So if you are one those people who don't even use Facebook or never read any ebook then start reading some good books online. There are many free titles available on Android Play store. Further you can improve your grammar and vocabulary by using interactive various tools such as Paperrater. I personally use Paperrater for this blog too. 

Use approximation and elimination trick

It is almost impossible to reach 90%tile range without using approximation and elimination trick. You heard it right, I named it as "Trick". No book teaches you this trick, even no teacher would recommend you to use approximation. 

There is a difference between "Approximation" and "Guessing". While in approximation we try to reach the answer. For example :-
Question - A can do a job in 8 days, B can do the same job in 16 days and C can do the same job in 80 days. In how many days they can complete the whole work working together ?

A) 5 Days
B) 5.5 Days 
C) 4.5 Days
D) 3 Days

Try to guess the answer without using paper. 

Answer - A efficiency = 1/8 = 12.5%
B's efficiency = 1/16 = 6.25%
C's efficiency = 1/80 = 1.25%
While in exam I won't go to these exact figures. I knew A's efficiency is 12.5%, B's approx half of it.

I simply take 12.5 + 6.2 + 1.2 = about 20% so they together can do the job in about 5 days.

In actual exam, calculations are much longer. Try to reach answer till you can eliminate all other options.

It clear from above that difficulty level same question  MCQ exam varies with the closeness of options. In the above question If  options are 4.9 days, 5 days, 5.2 days and 5.4 days then we need to solve this to the end. But in CAT exam at least 20% of the total questions are of beginner level so no need to afraid from it.

You can find similar techniques for time and work, alligations and profit and loss in my previous posts.

In case of any query, please comment below.

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ramandeep singh

Hey I am Ramandeep Singh. I am determined to help students preparing for RBI, SEBI, NABARD and IBPS exams. Do you want me to help you ?

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