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Your one-month CAT strategy
Sai Kumar Swamy
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October 22, 2008

The most frequently asked question by students at this point of time is "What should be done in terms of preparation for the next four weeks to crack CAT?" In this article we will discuss a strategy/plan that needs to be adopted to take the preparation to the next level in the coming days across each of the three sections that one has seen in CAT over the last few years.

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The Quantitative section is the one that most non-mathematics students fear not to mention the scores of engineers. A plan should involve the following:

• Students should revise the basics across all chapters. This is recommended because CAT has over the years tested students on their ability to comprehend basics rather than the ability to tackle advanced problems.
• The next two weeks should be spent on working out the advanced material from the study material given (Material given out by TIME to its full course students). The focus should not be on time taken to solve the question but rather on the understanding of the method used to solve and the principle involved.
• The remaining days in the run-up to CAT should be spent working out the questions from the Mocks that one has taken over the past few months. The Mocks have a standard of questions that is very close to the actual CAT and the learning that one can derive by working them out would be immense.

The Data Interpretation section is the one that requires the least amount of concepts to be learnt and practiced. The plan for this section should be as follows:

• The basic study material is to be quickly revised and elementary concepts of Speed Math to be revised (Conversion of fractions to percentages and vice versa, quick addition, percentages computation etc). This activity should be finished in about a week's time.
• The next stage would be to practice the sets given in the Mock CATs, which should go on until the week of the CAT. The emphasis here is more on identifying the approach that one should take after looking at the data rather than on the actual solving of the questions.
• Students should try and solve some puzzles from puzzle books which are readily available at all major book stores. This is so because CAT seems to be moving more towards the logical puzzles than anything else if the trend of the past few years is any indication.

The section that derailed the hopes of many a student in CAT 2006 was the Verbal/RC section and things might just be the same this year. A plan for this section should be:

• Allot atleast 1.5 hours everyday to reading practice. This could be from the mainstream newspapers, weekly magazines or from online sources. In this case it would be a great idea to avoid tabloid newspapers ie newspapers that revel in sensationalising news and not on the good old reporting. This activity should go on till the day of the CAT.
• Weeklies like the Frontline, India Today, Newsweek etc are good. Some good online websites with articles spanning the entire spectrum of topics given in CAT like www.magportal.com are excellent for this kind of preparation. The reading of articles helps one acclimatise to the different kinds of passages and thereby reduces the 'alien' factor in the exam.
• The other area to focus on would be Grammar as quite a few questions come from this. The good old grammar books like 'Wren & Martin' are still the best for this area and a quick revision is the key here.
• Some students are unduly perturbed by the questions on Vocabulary as they believe that preparing for it is like swimming across an ocean. At this point of time it is futile to try and improve on vocabulary. However as one reads an article on a daily basis, this activity itself could form the base for new words.

Students should understand that the time on hand is more than sufficient to crack CAT provided one follows the above guidelines.

Sai Kumar Swamy has a PGPM from IIM Bangalore and is the Course Director for CAT at the Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt Ltd (TIME)

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