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There's more to CAT than Math and English

November 08, 2004

Get Aheadinvited readers who have successfully cracked the CommonAdmission Test to share their tips/mantras for success. Select entries now form a series of reader-driven articles on how to ace CAT.

Most people think you should be very good in Math and English if you have to crack CAT.

If that is the case, post-graduates in Mathematics or English Literature should do very well in this exam.

Fact: Past results do not show any bias in favour of any particular educational stream.

In fact, the Math standard in CAT is pegged at the Class Xlevel to ensure a level playing field.

If that is the scene, what exactly does CAT test? Here are a few pointers:


It is a known fact that no one isable to answer all the 150-oddquestions posed in CAT.

In fact, most of those who take CAT get through attempting less than 90 questions.

Since all questions carry equal marks, it isimportantyouprioritise properly and take sound decisions on what questions to attempt and what questions to leave.

Ability to work under pressure

No amount of practice or simulation will prepare youthoroughlyfor the stress you faceduring CAT. This is something which can only be experienced, notexplained.

There are several factors that add to the pressure: Time, the standard of the questions, the unfamiliar setting, the quantity and quality of competition, etc.

CAT testsyour ability to work underpressure for 120 minutes.A particular section may be unusually tough, but that should not affect the rest of your performance.

For various reasons -- nervousness, your choice of questions, etc -- you may find yourself unable toanswer too many questions in the first half hour.Don't let this undermine therest of your performance.


The uniqueness of CAT lies in its unpredictability.

The number of questions, their standard and pattern,the packaging of the test are all unknown and vary from year to year.

There is no preset formula.

Which mean, you have to beflexible.

This is not to sayyou should go into the examination hallwithout a plan orstrategy. But the plan should be so designed that it can be adapted to unknown situations that may arise in the test.

Time management

It goes without saying that time management is very important.

The most precious resource, apart from yourintelligence, is time.

How to apportion time over sections and how much time to spend over each question is somethingyou have to decide and follow.

There is an added complexity in this decision-making: Youmust qualify in all sections.

In other words, you haveto clear sectional cut-offs-- which means that any lopsided portioning of time will lead to disastrous consequences.

The aim hereis to ensureyou manage to clear sectional cut-offs and maximise your score by working in your area of strength.


No one issuperhuman.

Every student has his strengths and weaknesses.

It is important that you realise this so that your expectations are pegged within realisable limits.

The challenge lies in being aware of your strengths and weaknesses and working in such a manner that your plan factors in your weaknesses while exploiting your strengths to the fullest to maximiseyour score.

The difference between people who crack CAT and those who don't is not academic brilliance, but the qualities mentioned above.

While it is important that you are thorough with the basic concepts, you should also take these factors into account if your are looking for a good result.

Kiran Joshi isdirector, PRIME, which offers long term class room training for competitive exams, inPune. He has trained students for CAT for the last six years.He placed 15 students from hiscentre at the various IIMsin CAT 2003.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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Share your comments

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 6

Sub: important....

hello there, am fahad ,doing my first year B.E. ELECTRONICS AND question is .....what i have to do if i want to write the ...

Posted by fahad

Sub: CAT is biased towards engineers

I disagree with the statement that your educational background does not matter. I have friends in IIMA who tell me that more than 75% of ...

Posted by Arun

Sub: Admit it, CAT's tough

Agreed that CAT is not about higher end Mathematics or English Literature, it is still a very very tough test of one's skills in Maths, ...

Posted by N.Parthasarathy


All this is just elementary. CAT does not test your Math or English. It tests your efficient use of resources and times etc to workout ...

Posted by RajeswaraRao

Sub: Math?

Or Maths? Last I heard in India it was still Maths? Or are we becoming the 52nd state of the Union?

Posted by chandrashekhar


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