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How to Crack CAT?

Learn from seasoned veterans the best strategy to bell the CAT


CAT is the most popular and competitive MBA entrance exam in our country. How can a student excel in this exam? This is essentially the question that pervades the mind of almost 2 lakh students every year. Does it have a simple one line answer? Not quite, but what you can do is follow an approach that simplifies your preparation and ensures that you are fully prepared for the exam. The following steps will help you devise a strategy for CAT:

Step-1: Analysis

The first step for acing CAT involves analyzing your strengths and weakness. CAT preparation is not about being perfect with each and every topic. In fact, it revolves around your ability to maximize your potential, and ensure that you are fully aware of your strengths areas, and maximize your potential in these. There are three major that are present in the CAT exam:

  • Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VRC)

First, for each of these sections, prepare a list of topics and sub-topics. Remember, that the best route to your conquest is the one you know. Second, carry out a quick analysis of all these topics and sub-topics, and classify them into three categories: strong, mediocre and weak. Though the above is a seemingly simple piece of advice, you will find that it is a lot harder to put into practice. It is easier said than done to identify your strong and weak areas, and we can make assumptions about these, which might not be true. The best way to go about this is to analyze your test data and identify which are the areas where you consistently score well. Add to this, your personal comfort level with a particular topic to arrive at your true skill levels in the area.

Step-2: Action

Once you are done with the analysis bit, you need to understand what you need to do for each topic. The strong areas require regular revision and test practice, the mediocre ones require a revisit of the concepts, and the weak areas need extra time and attention. Remember that simply solving tests would be of no use if you are not clear with the concepts.

As far as the individual sections are concerned, kindly keep the following in mind:

1. Quantitative Aptitude:

This section depends 100% on conceptual clarity. Ensure that your basic fundamentals for the subject are strong. Also, make sure you practice tests in a phased manner, progressing from easy to difficult problems.

2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning:

DI and Reasoning skills can be developed over a period of time. CAT Data Interpretation requires good calculation skills, ability to interpret and analyze data and identify traps in the question. Close inspection of the data given is required, coupled with the fact that you should have adequate practice of the various question types. This will help you understand the problems better. So, make sure you practice different types of sets and expose yourself to as much variety as possible.

For Logical Reasoning, you can start by solving puzzles. These help establish a certain familiarity with reasoning problems, and also provide you the different kinds of approaches and tricks used by question setters in the actual exam. For Puzzles, you can refer to our e-learning section: Puzzle Corner. As with Data Interpretation, you improve in Logical Reasoning with practice.

3. Verbal Ability:

This is the last section to be featured in this 'how to crack CAT' article but by no means this reflects the skill level required for this section. Verbal Ability is a tricky portion in CAT. It requires you to have an understanding of CAT grammar and CAT vocabulary question types, coupled with various forms of reasoning and in-depth understanding of comprehensions. But the evaluation does not stop at the questions itself. The exam actually wants you to adopt a holistic approach for the exam, and pay sufficient attention to the three parts that constitute any language: Reading, Grammar and Vocabulary. You would do well to come up with an action plan for each of these and pay individual attention to these sections.

Remember, one of the most central aspects of your preparation revolves around reading and you would do well to work on your reading skills. You can also refer to our Verbal Preparation Tips article for more insightful tips for this section of the exam.

Step-3: Regular Practice and Planning

The last step in your CAT preparation: Practice. This advice is clichéd, over-used, and repetitive in nature, but, it is something that is absolutely necessary. How do you practice? Do you dive into your CAT Preparation Books and study non-stop? Do you devote 10 to 12 hours every day to your CAT prep? No, you do not need to do any such thing. But you most definitely need to come up with a plan. You can plan your schedule monthly and weekly. The weekly plans are built keeping in the mind the monthly targets. For every week, make sure you have one target area in each subject that you want to improve in. Also, for each week, ensure you revise the concepts of at least one topic you have studied previously. Such a planned approach would ensure maximum possible learning, and would also help you convert your preparation into tangible targets.

Students can easily score well in CAT, with the help of this three-part action plan that provides the answer to the question that the article began with: How to Crack CAT? Along with the above, you are advised to take Mock Tests regularly. These would ensure that you have a detailed break-up of your performance, and you get an accurate idea of the areas you need to work on. This completes our round-up of tips for this article. Implement this plan and your scores would see a definite improvement.

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