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'Is it too late to start CAT 2008 preparation?'
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July 21, 2008

The CAT is one of the most competitive exams in India and also one of the most difficult, as well it should be considering it gains students entry into the illustrious IIMs. Preparation of this test takes months of practice, strategising and time management. So are you up to the CAT challenge? 

Do you know the subjects you should be brushing up on given your strengths and weaknesses? Are you having trouble coping with logical reasoning or data interpretation?

To address these doubts and many more, Vinayak Kudva, product head -- CAT at IMS Learning Resources, hosted a chat with GA readers on July 8.

For those of you who missed the chat, here's the unedited transcript:

Abhi asked, What should I do to improve my score. Last Year I got 97.64% in CAT but hadn't gone for any preparations seriously..

VinayakKudva answers, Abhi..can I know your break up in the three sections

sainath asked, what kind of questions r there in CAT examination

VinayakKudva answers, CAT has three sections, viz. Quantitative Aptitude, Verbal Aptitude and Data Interpretation

sujith asked, am preparing for cat but my scores sre fluctuating . can u tell me how to maximise scores in all sections

VinayakKudva answers, Your scores are probably fluctuating due to the fact that you are not improving in your areas of weaknesses. So as long as the paper is heavy on your areas of strengths, you will do well. But your performance will drop when more questions are from your areas of weakness.

sachin123 asked, how many hours of prep is reqd from now on .I get 80-85%ile in MCAT's but i am not able to score more than that what should i do to maximise my score

VinayakKudva answers, AT this point, 3-4 hours of preparation is advisable. Right now, focus on building a strong conceptual clarity in most of the areas tested in the CAT, if not all. And, the focus should shift to Test taking strategies in the last 2-3 months of your CAT preparation

Vishal.Shah asked, hello, can u tell us what do you expect the CAT pattern to be this year?

VinayakKudva answers, The most talked about feature of the CAT is that "CAT keeps changing". The last 5 years have seen a drop in the total number of questions from 150 to 75. An increase in the number of options from 4 to 5. An increase in the time duration of the test from 2 to 2.5. But the most important change that has happened is the increase in the reasoning-intensiveness of the questions across all three sections. So, the only thing that can be predicted about this year's CAT is that it will be reasoning intensive.

praveen asked, how to improve my score in Verbal. Last yr I appeared and scored 92%ile and 96%ile in DI and Quant.But performed very badly in Verbal(26%ile)

VinayakKudva answers, To improve in the Verbal section your need to have a grasp on the following: 1. Reading and comprehending ability: Comprehension is more important than speed of reading 2. Reasoning Skills: Improve your critical reasoning skills. This will not only help your solve the verbal reasoning questions but also the Reading Comprehensions questions 3. Grammar and usage

Anupam asked, hello sir. Could you please tell me what section in CAT we should start first?

VinayakKudva answers, Around 4500+ students who get a GD/PI call every year..and believe me every one will have their own test taking strategy. What works for one test-taker may not work for the others. One school of thought says that you should start with the section that you nare weakest in, as that's when you are fresh and can perform the best. Another line of thought is that you should start from your strongest section, as the feel good factor you get in the fiorst 1/2-1 hr is important for a good overall test. Try the various options in SimCATs and see what works for you the best.

sajal asked, hi vinayak. i m in a fix. wen i look at the CAT exam i have a phobia of competing against 3.5 lac aspirants, an attitude which is doing me no good. aand to be honest about myself, i m certain that i wont make it to the top colleges. but look at the paradox. i still want to write CAT. what shud be done with such a case

VinayakKudva answers, You will not be in the best state of mind to crack CAT if past failures/ inabilities in mathematics or Verbal continue to haunt you. As they say, it's okay to lose a couple of battles. Keep your eyes trained on the war.

Shridhar asked, How to strengthen maths concepts?

VinayakKudva answers, 'Divide and win' is the key; your preparation should be divided by topics and every topic should be further divided into sub-topics, type of questions, etc. Once you have a topic-centric roadmap of the entire Quant syllabus, carefully ration the time you want to devote to each section of quant per day.

hello asked, can i start cat preparation now? I mean Isnt it too late for cat 2008?

VinayakKudva answers, Not really..a lot of successful IIM aspirants attribute their success to the efforts put in the last 4-6 months befor the CAT. Take the Preliminary test at any of the IMS centres to know where you stand with respect to the CAT takers of 2007. This can then be used as a base to start your preparation for this year(or to decide otherwise)

tiru asked, IIMS boast about young MBA's...Is there any demerits of losing out because of Age factor.I m 30 now but still dreaming to do MBA but the student profile statsistic is dicouraging..

VinayakKudva answers, I dont think so. Do you have a work experience of more than 5 years. If yes, then you should consider the PGPX programs offered by the IIMs.

jayant asked, what should i do to improve my score last year i got TOT 98.79%ile , (1)QA - 29% (93.79%ile) (2) DI/LR (46.88 %age, 95.07 % ile ) (3) VERB-36% (96%ile) & 95.07%age

VinayakKudva answers, Hi Jayant, You seemed to have performed very well last year But you missed by a very narrow margin. Keep up the good work. Work on your conceptual weaknesses, if any. More importantly, take all the SimCATs and ensure that you analyse your performance in each of the tests. This will ensure that you will improve your performance in the CAT.

abhishek_4053 asked, How should I work on DI/LR? i am falling short by 5-6 marks from Cut-off. I have finished my IMS BRMs. What type of resources do u suggest for practising DI/LR in the present circumstances??

VinayakKudva answers, Practice is the key to succeeding in the DI and LR sections. One DI set and one LR set should be solved every day. You will get enough practice material in the form of Workshops, Section tests and Comprehensive Tests. Ensure that you solve all of them rigorously, and more importantly learn from your mistakes.

abir asked, What is the Minimum score to get through CAT ?

VinayakKudva answers, Last year, a score of about 118+ overall with 29+ in Verbal, 32+ in Quant and 46+ in DI would have ensured a call from all the 6 IIMs.

ASPIRE asked, Sir, I'm working with a leading IT Co. I usually get only abt 2 hrs for study, Is this sufficient. Pls suggest a better way to get good scores under such conditions.

VinayakKudva answers, Hi, You need to first evaluate your present standing w.r.t the CAT taking population. I suggest that you take the Preliminart Test at any of the IMS centers. This will not only help you to know where you stand as of now, but will also help you to plan your future preparation. The 2 hours can then be utilized in the most efficient way towards achieving the final goal: A seat in the IIMs

chaitanya asked, Does GMAT preparation helps to clear verbal section in CAT also?

VinayakKudva answers, Not really..the GMAT is a very structured test with only three question types in the Verbal section. In the CAT, the skills testes are more or less the same, but you need to have a hands on experience of solving many more question types.

Sumod asked, Is there any age limit or number of tries for CAT

VinayakKudva answers, No, you can take the CAT all your life..but I suggest that you try to crack it in your first attempt. The only constraint is that you should either be in your final year of graduation or should be a graduate while taking the CAT.

Shweta asked, Can u pls tell me how to work on quants i find it really tough.

VinayakKudva answers, Ability in Maths is one of the most important in management entrance tests. If one considers Data Interpretation as part of maths, then the quantitative portion is 2/3rd of the paper. However, much of the maths is logical maths and does not require mugging up complicated formulae. People who are weak in maths need not fear since a logical approach will help clear this section quite easily. It is important to know the maths of the level of class 10. Topics like number systems, percentages, profit and loss, time and distance, must be thoroughly done. A large part of the paper has algebra too, so the student must have complete knowledge of quadratic equations, functions, logs and the like. Questions on geometry and co-ordinate geometry are also asked.

toms asked, im working for an MNC so not getting much time to prepare.. I got 81 % last year ..wot shud b my strategy ?

VinayakKudva answers, Ideally, you shouldn't spend more than four hours a day on studying for the CAT. The manner in which those four hours are utilised depends on the individual student's strengths and weaknesses. Some may prefer to spend more time on verbal while other on DI. Ultimately, you must ensure that your progress in each section is equal. This holds greater relevance if you are aiming only for the IIMs because at these institutes, cut-offs matter. Organise your day in such a way that the hours spent studying are those when your brain is most alert. Working professionals for example, shouldn't study at night after a hard day's work. Preparing for this test is not like preparing for school and college, where you need to spend long hours memorising.

Sumod asked, My age is 31...I have 7 years experience in IT....Is there a suitable course for us...and what will be the level of competition for the same

VinayakKudva answers, You should explore the PGPX programs at the IIMs. For further details, contact us at to know more about such programs.

YeppieNadal asked, Is it enough if i practice only past 5 year CAT papers and give it a try?

VinayakKudva answers, I think, solving the last five years papers can only give you a flavour of the CAT and not prepare you for the CAT. But if you happen to do wll in those tests in the first go, then you surely stand a good chance this year.

kaka asked, Last year, I had considerable improvement in Simcats..But in CAT, I became nervous and so could not do many questions. Is it natural as it was my 1st attempt. I ended with just 87%ile. Suggest a solution.

VinayakKudva answers, You cant win the battles and lose the war. You need to focus on the job at hand.

abhishek_4053 asked, How should I work on the RC sections? I am reading the editorial sections of 3 news papers including Times of India and Economics Times.But SIMCAT passages are appearing to be "heavier". what type of Resources do you suggest??

VinayakKudva answers, Reading is important but your ability to Summarize correctly after you read an article/passage is also very vital. Work on this ability and I am sure you will be able to improve your SimCAT scores in this section.(Remember understanding a passage correctly is more important than reading it faster)

VinayakKudva says, OK..Guys and gals..All the best to all of you out there for your CAT preparation..May the best succeed!!!

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