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This article was first published 9 years ago

How to crack the CAT in 3 months

August 18, 2014 11:44 IST

Image: The Common Admission Test is scheduled on November 16 and 22 this year.
Photographs: Rohit Gautam/Careers360

With less than 100 days to go for the biggest management entrance exam, here are some strategies that will help you succeed.

The Common Admission Test (CAT) 2014 will be held in four slots across two days -- Sunday, November 16, 2014 and Saturday, November 22, 2014.

Most MBA experts are of the opinion that, for a strong preparation, you need to invest a minimum of three months in order that you make it to one of the IIMs.

This means that you need to start your preparation soon.

These 10 tips should help you cruise through your CAT 2014 preparation.

Make sure you want to take CAT 2014

Before starting preparation, think through the prospects of taking and cracking the CAT.

Are you really interested in taking the test and see yourself in a top league business school in the next two years of your life?

If yes, waste no more time and chalk out a plan.

If not, look for the right career or higher study options accordingly.

This is important so that you make the most of the time available at hand.

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Tags: CAT , MBA

Coaching or self preparation

Image: When it comes to training and coaching, make sure you have a strategy in place.
Photographs: Reuters

Though cracking CAT seems to be an impossible task, with proper guidance or coaching, you can make a fair attempt cracking it.

If you follow a systematic and meticulous approach, cracking CAT would be an achievable task.

Most candidates who have taken CAT in the previous years had opted for self study.

If you decide to take coaching, then decide on the institute and the course for which you'll require additional coaching.

Make sure that the course suits your factors like timing, fee, distance to travel to name a few.

According to Pooja Pai, CAT 2013 topper with 99.89 percentile and a student at FMS, Delhi, "If an aspirant is willing to put in extra mile of effort without someone monitoring or teaching him how to go about it; it is not impossible from him or her to crack CAT 2014. However, if you are a person who needs constant guidance, then formal coaching is the way to go."

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Go through the syllabus and start with the basics

Image: Take a look at previous years' question papers to understand the format better.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Once you have decided to take the CAT, the first step of preparation is to go through the syllabus and start with the basic preparation.

This will include going through all the sections and topics which are most likely to be covered and understanding the difficulty level.

You can do that by going through past years' CAT questions and exam analysis.

Once you get the overall idea of 'what to study', it will be easier for you to plan 'how to study'.

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Tags: CAT

Know where you stand

Image: Taking a preliminary mock test will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Photographs: Kshitij Anand/Reuters

Before starting your CAT 2014 preparation, take a preliminary mock test on knowing about your current stand.

Taking the mock test will also help you identify with your strengths and weaknesses.

"The first step of CAT 2014 preparation is to identify your current level of preparation by taking a mock CAT in a proctored environment or at home. After taking the test, analyse your performance to identify where you stand," says Kamlesh Sajnani, managing director, IMS Learning Resources.

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Have a section-wise study plan

Image: Divide your study schedule into sections based on priority and importance.
Photographs: Reuters

There are two sections in CAT -- Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning.

Start with the basics of both the sections.

Don't have a mental block about a particular topic.

For the Section 1, know what the important topics are. These would include Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration and Higher Math to name a few.

For the second section, focus on grammar and vocabulary.

Once you get a good grip over these areas, solving Reading Comprehension passages would not be a problem.

As far as the Logical Reasoning part is concerned, practice is the key.

You can start by solving puzzles, Sudoku and past year's Logical Reasoning section of CAT etc.

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Take mock tests

Image: Start by attempting a full-length mock test.
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters

As you identify your strengths and weaknesses and complete the first round of basic preparation, you have to start taking mock tests.

Remember to take the mock tests in computer based mode and in section wise time bound manner.

This will help you in familiarising with the test environment.

The initial mock tests can be either sectional or full length.

Ideally, take full-length mock tests first followed by sectional ones to improve your weak areas.

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Tags: 1

Analyse your performance in mocks

Image: After each test, analyse your performance.
Photographs: Reuters

The whole point behind taking mock tests is to analyse your preparation.

The mock tests will give you the idea about your strengths and weaknesses.

You must be able to channelise your preparation accordingly.

Spend more time on your weak areas to strengthen them.

However, you should not be too confident or comfortable with your strong areas.

In fact, you must practice them more to make that your strength; solve questions of next level of difficulty.

Have a balanced approach so that you are able to get the requisite cut off in both the sections as skewed performance will hamper your chance of getting into IIMs or a top b-school in India. 

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Tags: India

Manage your time

Image: Set a deadline for each section.
Photographs: Rediff Archives

Time management is one of the most crucial factors of the CAT 2014 preparation.

It would be an important factor during the exam as well.

According to Sandeep Manudhane, chairman, PT Education, allocating four hours in a day for the preparation would be enough.

"CAT is an aptitude test where you should have conceptual clarity and know how to apply them. Hence you need not spend much time in memorising study material," he says.

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Do not ignore academics

Image: It is important to strike the perfect balance between academics and CAT preparation.
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/

If you are a final year graduation student and have decided to take CAT 2014, make sure that you do not compromise on your final year preparation as your academic records will be given high weightage in the IIM's admission procedure.

You need to plan your study schedule and accommodate appropriate time for both.

With nearly three months left for the exam, allocating three to four hours a day for CAT 2014 preparation would be sufficient.

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Tags: IIM

Tips for working professionals

Image: Working executives need to be disciplined about their study plan.
Photographs: Vincent West/Reuters

In CAT 2013, 34 per cent of the total registered candidates were working professionals.

Compared to students, it is tough for the working executives to prepare for CAT.

According to Kamlesh Sajnani, it is up to them to decide which time of the day to allocate for preparation.

Assuming that the working hours is in the day time, you may decide to study either at late night or early in the morning.

"Organise your day in such a way that the hours spent studying are those when your brain is most alert. Working professionals shouldn't study at night after a hard day's work," mentions Sajnani.

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