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One day to CAT 2011: What to do, what to avoid

Last updated on: October 21, 2011 15:37 IST

One day to CAT 2011: What to do, what to avoid


In the first part of last minute CAT 2011 preparation series, ARKS Srinivas, an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and ex-Director at T.I.M.E, Mumbai, spoke about the mental strategy.

In the second part, he shared section-wise tips and strategies to cracking the CAT.

In the third and last part, here, he presents a low down on what to do one day before the exam. Read on.

All the serious contenders for the coveted IIM seats would be waiting with bated breadth for the morning of October 22, 2011 when the new saga of CAT for this year would begin.

You have a fair idea of the paper pattern, the various sections, and are battling anticipation as the stakes are high. Yet, there is something inexplicable about the CAT which makes it the exam it is!

Whatever marks you may have got in the Mock CATs and other exams till now DO NOT MATTER. The only thing that matters is what you do in those 140 minutes in the exam.

Like Shah Rukh Khan has said in Chak De, those "70 minutes" per section is all that matters! You have to forget that the world exists in those 140 minutes and realise that you are in front of an exam, which can make your life and career.

For such an important exam, you cannot get into the exam without a well thought out strategy. A strategy, which has contingency plans for the unforeseen, and unexpected!

Also read: 50 MOST important formulae for CAT 2011

Also read: The 10-point mental strategy for CAT 2011

Also read: Last minute tips from CAT 2010 toppers

Let's quickly look at what needs to be done for the exam as a whole and each section within the exam. Some important home truths are useful to reiterate.

Objective of the exam: Maximise Scores.

Importance of Cutoffs: DOES NOT MATTER. You would neither do less number of questions in a section if the cutoffs are going to be low nor suddenly would you be in any position to attempt more questions just because the cutoffs are expected to be high.

Recognising that cannot suddenly become a Sehwag if you were all along a Dravid makes eminent sense going into the exam.

You will play to your strengths.

Overall strategy

Anyone who is somebody who understands any entrance exam would say that there are only two ways in which you can maximize scores.

  • Increase Attempts
  • Reduce Mistakes

It is far easier to say that you should increase attempts and reduce mistakes than actually do it in the actual exam. Hence your strategy should try to give you the chance to do the above two.

Since the time limit for each section is fixed (70 minutes and 30 questions), there is no need to divide your time for the overall exam. The way to take this CAT is to consider that there are two halves of 70 minutes each.

Section I – Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation (30 questions�� minutes)

There are two ways in which you can attempt this section.

Strategy 1

  • Give 2/3 minutes to figure out the no of questions in each area viz QA and DI
  • Divide 65 minutes for the two areas depending on the no of questions in each
  • Care should be taken to give more time to your strength area to maximise score


Not leave out questions from either of the areas.

Strategy 2

  • Work in two rounds
  • Divide 65 minutes into 35 min and 30 min

First 35 min

  • Solve only easy questions (which take less than a 1 m or 1.5 min)
  • Book mark all questions which you can solve
  • Do not spend more than 1.5 minutes on any question in this round
  • 30 sec for reading a every question and 1.5 min for solving around 10/11 questions with some wastage

Next 30 minutes

  • Solve all the book marked questions
  • Chuck any question which takes more than 2.5 minutes
  • You should be able to solve around 10 questions even after sparing extra time


  • Going through every question
  • Solving only those questions that you can
  • Maximising chances of 'not kicking' yourself for missing easy questions!

Section II – Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning (30 questions-70 minutes)

Ideally use ONE Strategy

  • Give 2/3 minutes to find out no of questions in VA, RC, LR
  • Divide your time of 65 minutes into these three areas. (20, 30, 15) ; (25, 30, 10) ; (20, 25, 20) etc
  • Maximise attempts
  • Avoid wild guesses (esp. in Grammar!)

CAT Essentials

  • Golden rule – Read EVERY question
  • Keep yourself a max time per question and MOVE. (Don't get bogged down)
  • Sticking to 'Time-limit' within the section is a MUST
  • Panic is the main reason people fail in CAT
  • Thinking of result while writing the exam is TABOO.


The author has been the All India CAT Course Director at T.I.M.E and has more than 15 years of experience in training students for CAT and other entrance exams. He is presently the Director at Vanguard Business School based out of Bangalore.