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CAT 2008: Are SIMCATs necessary for a good score?
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July 31, 2008

There's just over three months to go for the CAT 2008, and it's time to make sure your preparation and strategies are focussed and well-planned.

But at this stage how many hours should you be spending on practise?

Is it necessary to take SIMCATs to score well in the paper?

What are the online and offline resources you should be refering to to better your score?

To answer these and related CAT questions, Gejo Sreenivasan, general manager at IMS Learning Resources, hosted a chat with readers on July 30, 2008.

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

Gejo Sreenivasan says, Hi, Gejo here! I would now welcome questions from your end. I will try and answer them (truthfully!) to the best of my abilities

Vivek asked, what should be the pattern for preparation at this point of time, only practice or someother ting??

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, 
Remember that CAT is a set of questions and therefore to crack the CAT you must be able to solve individual questions. The tendency at this point in time is to take test after test. You must understand that a test like SimCAT is a 'mirror' �V a reflection of your level of preparedness. Unless one does not work to improve scores between two tests, the scores will not improve just like how you cannot improve your looks just by looking at the mirror! Your scores would fluctuate depending on your 'comfort level question type' in the test. So as to ensure that your scores improve, after every test, before looking at the explanatory answers, re-take the test without time limit. This will help you understand your 'knowledge gap'. Identify the areas that you should work on; work on the same and then take the next test.

sachinkul asked, what is more important speed or accuracy?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Well.. both are improtant.. but speed without accuracy is completely useless. 50% accuracy would mean than 50% of the time you have been getting wrong answers, that is 1 hr & 15 mts! Because of negative marking of 1/3rd you will waste 20 minutes of your productive 1hr and 15 mts.. net you effective time becomes 1 hr only and you would have wasted close to 1 and a half hr.. So accuracy is very important...

Jazz asked, whats the expected pattern this year?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, 
What you and I know is that it will have 3 sections [mentioned in the bulletin in the min. criteria stated by IIM A & C, page 32 second para of the bulletin]. You and I also know that CAT is going to test your verbal, quantitative, logical and data interpretative abilities. These two are for sure. Now, the rest is a guess! What we surely can deduct going by the changes in the CAT is that the questions would be reasoning intensive and you would need to get your logical cells active.

Pushkar asked, Hi recently I passed CFA level I. Will there be any problem if I apply to IIMA ABM and IIML ABM ? Should I apply

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, 
The ICFAI CFA is not recognised as a professional course by the IIMs.. CA/ICWA/CS are recognised as a professional course. So you may not be able to use your CFA to your advantage. However, if you satisfy the elgibility criteria of the CAT, you can apply.. there will be no problem

meet asked, what are the common problem areas stuents encounter in quant?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, We have always learned Math as a subject where we need to apply formula and we assume that for every problem there is a standard formula. This approach is the biggest hurdle. You basically need to have strong conceptual clarity (it does not mean knowing all the formula). After reading a question, think for a moment as to what the question is asking you to do, the constraints and the data available to arrive at the solution. Then you 'logically' solve the problem. In my blog in I have given few examples. You can have a look at the same -  

shruti asked, is simcat really like the real cat exam?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, SimCAT is a simulated test conducted by IMS to help students understand where they stand and also to give a feel of the CAT.. The questions are in the lines of the CAT... Of course, it is not the real CAT :)

Abhu asked, hii...will it have adverse effect in GD-PI if i have scored badly(65%) in my engg??

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, There are students who have made it to IIM with low graduation marks. So long as you can convince the panel that you would be an asset to the institute, thre would not be a problem.. anyways, i though 65% is decent

Gupta asked, score varies greatly when the same simcat is given at home and at center.. why is it so?? how it can be avoided??

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, In the centre, the test taking atomsphere will have a slight impact.. you need not worry about this because this will happen for everyone.. what you need to do is to keep the focus on the test while taking the test in any conditions

lina asked, maths and quant are problem areas for me.. any suggestion son how to improve accuarcy... how many hrs of practice is required daily to get a good score?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, I have answered a similar question.. you can have a look at that.. with respect to the no. of hrs, around 3 hrs would be ideal.. you should spend more than that.. it will not be effective

future47 asked, I have just started prep for CAT...I know that it's late ... which topic is consider as good (in scoring point of view) ?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Unfortunately, in the CAT, there is no such thing as important areas. Yes, you can be sure that there will be DI & RC! But you just cannot be sure whether a certain topic in Quant will be there on not. What if you left functions and 30% of the paper was from that topic. You are doomed. What you need to focus on is to develop your logical cells. During your prep(even at this point in time) make it a point to never to look at the explanatory answers. Try, try & try and if you still can't solve, only then you look at the explanatory answers. Its like solving puzzles �V when you know the answer you will feel it is simple, but the process of solving is not necessarily simple! Therefore, you try, try & try on one question, your brain is working and that is what is going to develop the 'logical cells'. As far as the concepts are concerned, go through all chapters, understand the basic concepts really well since you only require basic concepts to solve CAT questions �V rest is application & logic. You still have good 3 months.. spend August in building fundamentals.. 30 chapters.. 1 chapter a day... Also take 4 comprehensive tests to see the improvement

lina asked, can u suggest good prep books for quant pl?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, IMS material is more than sufficient. If you feel (which you need not) the need for any additional resources, following could be used: 10th std Math Book; for permutations, combinations, probability, Functions & Quadratic you can have a look at class 11 Books; Quantitative skills builder (available at all IMS Centres), Tata McGrawHill Arun Sharma etc.

dddd asked, suggest some good books for R.c preparration in cat exam perspective ???

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, For reading comprehension, you must understand that your comprehension would differ from topic to topic depending on your comfort level.. the key would be get hold of as many topics as possible and read them... Net is your source.. there is no special books that I would suggest apart from your regular material

Biswa asked, main problem with me is my failure to increase the no. of attempts in the simcat papers. also, functions, graphs, permutn. and do i cope with these problems.

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, the topics that you mentioned is best solvd without formula!! it should solved using logic.. i suggest that u revise these chapters and while doing so never look at the explanatory answers.. these topics are like puzzles.. if you know the answer u will feel u could have solved them.. However, the process of solving need to be developed.. The key to solve faster is to read the question slowly with the objective of understanding the question.. then think for a moment and then solve.

Amar Mundu asked, where can i get free study material online for CAT??

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, there are lot of resources available but it may not be organised.. join one of the forums(there are many popular once) and you will easily find the answer to your problem

sumit asked, can u tell me what is the minimum requirement in graduation for obc candidates

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, It is same as open candidates.. if you belong to obc non creamy layer, you will compete for the 27% reserved seats among other obc non creamy layer candidates and you will have benefits post admission...

deep asked, why the time duration for each question is more in that accuracy the only criteria...the iim's are looking for ?? Even for the past two years the pattern is not changed why ..?? is there any surprises this year...?? any guesses??

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, The CAT in the recent years have become more reasoning intensive.. the objective of the CAT is to weave out the 4000 students from the 2.5 lacs.. CAT does not want you to mug and attempt the test.. that is why it is application and logic based... since more and more such questions come in the CAT, they have give you more time.. With respect to the prediction, i have already posted that

ashmech asked, Hi. I m currently studying in IITB and appearing fr CAT 08. I have given few simcats and found DI and quant decent barring number system and logical reasoning. What i wanted to ask was is it better to focus on my strong areas and perfect them or to pay attention to numbers and reasoning to improve. Since i m in my final yr, time is precious. Please suggest..

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, You must not leave anything to chance eventhough you have less time.. at least at this point get your weak areas in place.. if an area is strong, it logically means that you have already perfected them!

sumit asked, if i start preparation for cat 08 from today can i go through from the challenge

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Of course you can... it depends on your current level of aptitude.. take a preliminary test and take it up from there..

Nagaraj asked, Can I give up LR questions in DI as I am strong at Calculations based questions?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, what is CAT2008 does not have DI and it only has LR questions! or all the DI questions are logic based.. Nagaraj, unfortunately you have no choice.. you must not give up yet... solve one set every day without looking at the explanatory answers... try, try & try and if you still cant solve then look at the explanatory answers.. Trust me, you will improve

Prem asked, HI,I have completed B.Com and working with ad agency want to appear for cat this year,Am i too late for cat as i am weak in all 3 section as i have tested myself? or should i go for 1 year batch for cat preparation?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Firstly assess yourself by taking a preliminary test.. you will where you stand and you can judge the extend of ffort required.. you an then make a decision logically.. You could try for other exams even.. XAT, FMS etc. for which you have lose to 5 to 6 months..

kunnal asked, hi, well i am totally confused in between cat and gmat as i am not able to crack cat and the Gmat fees is too high

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Why do you want to do an MBA - MOney Why dont you want to do an MBA - MOney Just leave money out of the equation, all you need to assess is the ROI.. depending on your profile, assess the schools that you can target and then prepare for the test... CAT or GMAT are only a selection process.. finally what is important is the institute that you join

Namrata asked, Hi Gejo,I have given Gmat and scored 670 can I get into ISB ,I have work experience of 4 years

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Hi Namrata, u definitely hav a gr8 chance...but we'll need 2 evaluate the case seperately...y don't u write to us at we'll surely help...also let me tell u tht with ur profile, u'll find a lot of good instis abroad..provided u r nt averse to goin abroad..

gandhisk asked, pls tell me with work ex of over 12 yrs , can i expext a regular course at iims? i am repeating my qs

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, no...IIMs may not add the necessary value to you - u need to evaluate certain specific b schools...hope u r open to going abroad...write to'll surely help you...n sorry for missing out ur ques the 1st time..:)

Pradipta asked, Sir which section do u predict is going to be toughest in cat 08 ?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, the section tht u r least prepared for...on a more serious note, CAT nvr sets tough depends upon hw the test taker prepares..

nishu asked, hello u suggest how i can improve my english results are not upto d mark in dis section... and plzz suggest some sites from where i can get papes of others exams like XAT,IIFT,FMS,SNAP.JMET

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, for english, u need to read a lot and speak a english that is...CAT tests the contextual usage of the u need to be using it regularly....u can do a google search for papers..but hw will they I dont know - none of these tests follow a predictable pattern or use the same ques twice...

luckyyu asked,  HI GEJO, I am taking too much time in comprehending the question and then working out, in the process finding myself in loosing out questions,time and hence accuracy and marks in all three sections... My scores are very low.I am very optimistic that I can pull it off on D day... what do you think I should do for answer quickly.practise again??

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, ur issue is speed - read more, time urself...see if u can improve on time...even 1 minute is a good improvement...see if u take more time for topics u r not comfy in...then u'll kno which ones to pick first...

Neha asked, I have done BDS and now giving CAT but finding hard to tackle maths.Even at times find paragraphs in english quite difficult,I don't understand from where to start?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, start from basics...its lik building a house...or for that matter lik every dentist tells me - brush ur teeth after every easy but we can nvr follow can we??? start from basics...once they r in place solving sums would be easy...or visit the nearest IMS Centre for a study to the Centre Manager...

Neha asked, I have done BDS and now giving CAT but finding hard to tackle maths.Even at times find paragraphs in english quite difficult,I don't understand from where to start?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, start from basics...its lik building a house...or for that matter lik every dentist tells me - brush ur teeth after every easy but we can nvr follow can we??? start from basics...once they r in place solving sums would be easy...or visit the nearest IMS Centre for a study to the Centre Manager...

deeps asked, Hi, I'm all interested in cracking FMS. Can u pls tell me on what areas do I really need to focus so as to be able to crack this entrance with good percentile and which coaching institute would you suggest that could help be prepare for FMS? I'm a second year student and would be appearing for CAT 2009.

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, no specific areas...note tht FMS is more difficult than CAT - not literally but relatively since the no. of seats is even less...u need to do well overall...for every improvement overall has to be equal improvement in each section...


Gejo Sreenivasan answers, it is necessary to measure urself before u make the final that u know whether u shd jump at all, if yes, how much is the distance to cross... what a simcat can bring is the percentile score... Percentage Score = You vs Test, Percentile Score = You vs Rest. The relationship between the percentile & percentage score is what you need to understand. A score of 0 will fetch you around 20%ile to 25%ile. This means if you do not solve a single question, you have beaten around 50,000 test takers!! The percentage score movement is pretty slow till about 85%ile to 90%ile. Basically, if you want to jump your percentile from 50 to 75 or from 75 to 85, then the improvement required in the score is not very high. The real fight starts from 90%ile onwards. So if you are currently anywhere less than 85%ile, don't lose hope. Focus on improving your score a bit in each test.. a couple of questions more on each section.. keep small target. If you currently are in 90%ile bracket, then you must work on your weak areas, only this can push your score. Work on them in the month of August. If you are currently in 95%ile+ bracket, then don't be over confident but ensure that your morale is always kept high. A couple of falls in some tests should not hamper that. For everyone, finally what matters is on 16th November. Trust that it will be your day!

shanky42 asked, Hi Gejo, if I start my preparation in Aug, would I be able to get good score in CAT

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Whether the period is short or long depends on your current level of aptitude. This can be assessed by taking a preliminary test or a diagnostic test. Once you understand the gap, you will come to know the extent of effort that needs to be done. In any case, you can give a good shot at CAT in 3 months �V what you basically need is an effective preparation plan. Alternatively, you can join a workshop based program which targets those crucial areas of the CAT. If you wish to get the help of IMS, you can join its CAT Intensive program which is a workshop based short duration program.

vishu asked, Hi Gejo. What is the best way to prepare for DI section ?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, Firstly, the CAT DI questions are not calculation intensive. The crux is to solve DI questions logically. For the same, the key is to read the caselet /data very carefully with the objective of understanding what needs to be done. Then move on to each question and solve them. While selecting questions on DI, do not go with the pre-conceived notion of selecting sets. There are 4 possibilities �V a]set easy-question difficult b]set difficult �V question easy c] seat difficult - question easy d] set difficult �V question difficult. In every set, it is not necessary that all the questions are easy or all the questions are difficult �V it would be a combination of both. Bottom line, don't leave any set, you might lose on easy questions. The best is to solve more and more DI caselets...after taking the SimCATs ensure that u solve all the DI @ home..

gandhisk asked, mam I had work ex more than 12 years. will it be advantage or disadvantge in joining regular at IIM

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, You must look at the 1 year full time MBA programs offered by the IIMs. A] you will get your MBA in an year's time & B] your fellow peers would be professionals with similar work experience. You might not be able to extract much from a regular 2 year program since the profile of the class is either fresher or professionals with moderate work experience. Also, you have the entire global MBA programs open for you. Many are opting for this option. You can have a look at a few of the IMS students who had opted for this option 

desires asked, Hi i a lil weak in voc so whats the soltuion for it

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, CAT doesnt ask for gr8 vocab either even if u kno abt 1500 words, it is dont worry...go thru the BRM WOrd lists given..

as asked, Hi ! I have a work ex of 3 years ( 1 at Infosys [Get Quote] BPO)- 2 years in a Business Research firm ( market research/business research/competitive intelligence firm)- am an Electronics Engineer ( Rank Holder)- School Topper throughout- decent extra curriculars- I wanted to know that if I have a budget of 12-15- lakhs- is there a possibility of getting a VERY GOOD scholarship for pursuing an MBA from ASIA/USA- because i cannot pt money beyond 15 lakhs- Thanks -ALso What about top 20 MBA colleges in India ? collges like Great Lakes and SP JAIN Dubai?- Can I get your email Id? -Thanks aga in

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, If u score very well in the GMAT, u might save that 15 lakhs dont worry, u can write to us at  though u'll find most of the data on our website...but understand tht it is specific to a lot of conditions and we need to sit and analyse before concluding...write to us..

Eshita asked, I am a law student in my final year and i intend to take CAT this year. Can u please refer me courses from my home considering that i would not be able to attend coaching classes?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, we do offer correspondence programs...if u have a decent level of conceptual clarity & can put in disciplined effort everyday, u can crack it from home...there are many who have done so...

test asked, how to apply for colleges that come under cat...?? was that to be done after the cat results are announced or before..?? please tell me...i am little bit confused with this...

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, ok...u need to apply seperately...all these institutes will come out wit their notifications on all major newspapers...keep watching for them...we also put out these notifications on checking..

rohitsingh asked, i m depressed..i hv scored badly in mock despite my best DI,i m not able to get d pulse of the question...give me d solution..

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, no point getting depressed dude, start fighting...dont give up... analyse why & where u hav lost marks...try redoing those concepts if u r weak in them...or see if u missed on any simple to the Centre Manager of the nearest IMS Centre - s/he'll be able to help you out specifically... dont give upp...

abhishek asked, hi, i m in my CA finals which is due next it judicious of me to appear for cat this year...n wat r the topics in quants where we can score well

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, u hav already put in so much efforts - cracking the CA is not an easy task and congrats on tht...but nw tht u hav cracked it, get maximum benefits out of it...I suggest u work for 2-3 years and then think of an MBA...tht ways, u'll also have a strong application for a top B School...

vroom asked, verbal is an area of strength for me - i consistently do well - well enough to clear the cut off comfortably bu spendinf minimim time itself - say 20 min. but over the last 2 CAT's verbal has been a let down completely despite my allocation more time to it! can you see any particular reason y? this is pretty demoralising actually!

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, ur percentile has also gone down? if yes, then ur have misjudged it as a strength...dont hav unnecessary strategies...If you ask me, the best strategy for the CAT is to have no strategy! Sorry for being a spoilsport. CAT is after all a set of questions. Your score in the CAT depends on how you answer these individual questions. Logically, you must not leave any question that you could have solved & you must not get stuck on a question that you cannot solve. As simple as that! Keep it simple �V give equal time to every section (any additional time given to a section is after having spent 50 minutes in that particular section. How much can you actually solve in the extra 5 or 10 minutes! If you solve a couple of questions in the extra 10 minutes, you would have solved 10 questions in the first 50 minutes �V that is 40 marks!). Secondly, always read a question before you select or reject it. Never leave a question without reading it.(looks are deceiving)! In my blog at, I have written an article on the same �V you can have a look at them  

Kavish asked, What should one do get 100 percentile in quants?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, strong basics, even stronger application skills....

niels asked, Hi,i had started giving mockcats before completing basics however due to this i am underperforming and getting in the 85- 90 percentile it fine to focus only on basics till end of august and then conectrate on Mocks?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, as mentioned in one of my replies, the real game starts post 90%ile...bcoz frm here on, to improve ur %ile, u need a decent jump in scores..this cannot happen only thru test it only refletcs ur levelof prepared ness...what is impt is to identify the areas tht u r nt able 2 score & work on them...wit each area tht iu wrk on, u wil jump atleast 5%in score...thereby moing ur percentile up...

Gejo Sreenivasan asked,  Hi Gejo, Could you please suggest a good book for preparing DI questions? This section has been my real weakness. Could you please suggest a good study material for DI?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, unfortunately, u'll nt find books for CAT level DI ques..since these are reasoning intensive & not calculation intensive...the material by any training inst shd be case u need more, pick up business mags & try to create ur own ques...doin this as a group activity will help..

luckyyu asked, Gejo ,how do you think should I practice quant? I am just not scoring in it and neither able to work on it...should I give time span for it for 2hrs and work?how should i proceed? i am ready to give more than 100% but no process in place.

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, it is nt only impt tht u climb the ladeder fast, but is impt tht the ladder is against the right wall...w.r.t d quant in CAT all u need is basic concepts & a lot of logic...wht u need to develop are ur logical skills...

ghosh_abi4u17 asked, gejo...i m currently in 50-60percentile bracket in my last simcat....can u suggest something....

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, luk at where u r not able to on those is a simple game dude...I am sure u can do on the areas tht u r not able to score...

jaishankas agrawal asked, what was the cutoff last year for each of the three sections for the iims?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, u'll find a document called admission procedure on every IIM is better u read thru every one of them...gud question by the way...all the best..

deeps asked, Hi Gejo, pls tell me which coaching institute helps better prepare for the FMS exam?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, u wont find FMS Test focussed preparation tests the same areas as prepare for CAT, and take the FMS also... it'll also help u leverage ur efforts better...

kiran asked, my percentile was 93, but when i took aimcat it was 87. Is aimcat tougher ?

Gejo Sreenivasan answers, ��When you end up taking the CAT, your percentile would be higher than any simulated test. Does that mean CAT is an easier test? Percentile only says your relative position amongst the competition. If your rank is 100 and there are 1000 test takers, you would be at 90%ile, amongst 10000 students it would be 99%ile. Among 1 lac students it would be 99.9%ile. Don't worry if your percentile is moving up or down drastically between two tests of different training institutes. It is because of the fact that total no. of test takers in two different training institutes are different. Bottomline, stick to one set of simulated tests and track your score

Gejo Sreenivasan says, all the best guys...u can write to us at  or use the myIMS Forums to talk to us...I am sure u'll all do well, after all, u've taken so much effort to come here today & tht shows hw interested u r towards CAT...all the best...

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