A Head Start to your CAT Preparation

Before you start your preparation, a small strategy needs to be scripted, keeping in mind the details of each step you need to take during your preparation journey. This article will help you do the same.

CAT exam

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC):

Your main focus should be on reading a lot. The two important aspects to ace this section are speed and comprehension, and reading gradually increases both of them. For reading sources, I depended mainly on the editorial section of newspapers such as The Indian Express and Mint. Reading editorials not only enhances comprehension skills and read speed but also prepares one for the upcoming GDPI season by providing perspective on current developments. Reading also assumes significance since around 24 (out of 34) questions in the VARC section are focused on reading comprehension. If time permits, you can read novels as well.

There is no need to actively develop vocabulary, as direct vocabulary questions are not explicitly asked in CAT. But if you just want to do that, Norman Lewis’s Word Power Made Simple is a go-to book.

Few pointers for this section:

  • You should try the RC passages first in order of comfort with the passages (45-50 minutes) and then have a go at VA questions (10-15 minutes).
  • It is completely alright to skip more than a few questions. When it comes to choosing between attempts and accuracy, you should always choose accuracy. This gives you more time to get the answers right and a little time to relax before the clock starts running for the DILR Section.
  • In the case of RC questions, your emphasis should be on eliminating the wrong options rather than choosing the correct one.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR):

There are some basic themes (circular arrangements, linear arrangements, bar graphs, Venn diagrams, etc. that will definitely give you guidance and a base for how to solve a set if you’re someone who’s completely clueless about DILR. You’d find these topics in almost every coaching material.

In my view, the best resource for practicing CAT level LRDI issues is Previous Year Mock tests of various institutes.

When it comes to taking mocks, you should spend the first 5 minutes scanning the DILR sets and marking them as: Do it now, do it later, leave it.

Quantitative Ability (QA):

You can start by solving Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Kumar Verma. This book will really help you in clearing the concepts and attempting questions in a better manner. You should also maintain a formula book for noting down important formulae and questions.

For mocks, I used to have a Three Scan Approach.

The Three Scan Approach

Scan 1: There will be around 8-10 sitters (questions that can be solved in less than 1 min). Sometimes they are placed towards the end (Ques. 25-34), and most people don’t get time to attempt because they get caught in lengthy questions at the beginning.
Mark for review the questions which you know how to solve but might take time.

Scan 2: Now solve the questions marked for Review in Scan 1.

Scan 3: Once you’re done with easy to medium questions, you can have a go at tough questions. If you’re able to crack a few of them, then it will boost your sectional score.


Focus on building basics initially. Only when your concepts are clear you will be able to attempt slightly twisted questions.

Once you cover around 70% of the syllabus, you can start taking mocks. I would strongly recommend subscribing to at least two test series. I took around 35-40 mocks.

Analysis of Mocks:

Try all the incorrect and unattempted questions again for VARC. Then go through every question’s solution, regardless of whether it was correct or wrong, to see the rationale behind why a particular option was right and whether your way of thinking was compatible with the reasoning behind the solution.

For DILR, the main focus should be on whether you chose the right sets (easy ones) during the test. If you didn’t, try to figure out why you left that particular set. Apart from that, try to solve all the unattempted sets and then go through the solution of all the sets to see if there are any shortcuts.

For QA, again, the main focus should be on whether you missed any sitter. Keep a tab on the time you took to solve the questions and the average time taken by the top 10 percentilers. This data is provided by almost all the premier coaching institutes.

For a headstart, you can enrol for iQuanta CAT 2021 course too.
In iQuanta, sessions start from the basic concept and eventually increase the difficulty level. They offer 24×7 doubt solving, which not only helps students in preparation but also creates a peer learning atmosphere. I believe the classes can add significant value to your preparation and can be a better option than any offline classes provided you regularly attend lectures!

CAT exam

Handy Pointers:

  • Stick to a schedule. It really helps to remain disciplined, which is necessary as CAT preparation is similar to running a marathon.
  • Don’t take mock scores seriously (good or bad) even when you sit down to actually evaluate the mocks.
  • Try different techniques for solving a question to see what works best for you.
  • You shouldn’t be hell-bent on solving a particular question because all the questions bear the same markings.
  • Pursue your hobbies. Don’t give CAT unnecessary importance.

All the best!