CAT Preparation For Beginners : Tips & Strategies

CAT Preparation For Beginners

We have compiled a list of CAT preparation tips for beginners that we believe will be useful for CAT aspirants. Now that you have decided to take a jab at CAT, half the battle is won. Just ensure you stay motivated every day till the D-Day.

At the outset, let’s understand that CAT is not a difficult exam. In fact, it is not even an exam that requires coaching. But yes, preparation for this exam requires great determination and discipline. It is an aptitude test, and all you need is a good understanding of English grammar, logical reasoning, and math. So no one is actually a beginner for CAT prep.

This article is tailor-made for students who are planning to appear for CAT for the first time. This means you are either in your final or pre-final year at your undergrad college. So, let us check the list below that you should do to prepare for the CAT exam, to crack it at the first attempt.

Graduation Percentage – A Criteria For CAT Eligibility

You are in your final or pre-final year of undergrad program. This is the best time to concentrate on scoring a high percentage in the final exams. Though the minimum percentage required for CAT eligibility is 50%, a higher percentage will help you later get through good MBA colleges and MBA placements.

To appear in CAT, you should have one of the following academic qualifications:

  • A graduate in any disciple with a minimum of 50% (general category) or 45% (reserved category) marks in bachelor degree.
  • Appearing in final year of graduation when preparing for CAT.

CAT Preparation – Exam Date, Pattern, Colleges


Every year, CAT registrations begin in the first week of August, with the release of official notification. When filling the form, remember to check:

  • CAT Eligibility Criteria (link above)
  • There is no limit to attempt CAT exam
  • Age no limit

The CAT exam is scheduled for the fourth week of November every year.

Deadline For Application Forms: Mid-September

Results Announced: January 2024


The CAT exam is conducted in 3 sections. To complete each section, you are given a time limit of 40 minutes.

Let’s look at the CAT Exam pattern.


The CAT exam is divided into 3 sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation, and Quantitative Aptitude.


Check out below for tips for preparing for each section of the CAT exam.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

Go through the list of a few topics you should cover under this section. Spend enough time to understand each topic. Do not rush thinking you know the topic unless your mock test proves so.

  • Critical reasoning
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Para completion and inference
  • Verbal logic
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Sentence completion
  • Syllogisms
  • Analogies
  • Idioms
  • Synonyms and antonyms
  • Clauses
  • Articles
  • Parts of speech
  • Errors in tenses
  • Sentence correction

No. of Verbal Ability Questions – 8

No. of Reading Comprehension Questions – 16

Books For VARC Preparation
Book Author
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT Ajay Singh

Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation (LRDI)

Start preparing for logical reasoning and data interpretation with the syllabus mentioned below.

Logical Reasoning

  • Clocks
  • Cubes
  • Series
  • Puzzles
  • Assumptions
  • Blood relations
  • Logical sequence
  • Seating arrangement
  • Critical reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Direction sense and decision-making
  • Linear and matrix arrangement

Data Interpretation

  • Graphs
  • Pie charts
  • Caslet based data
  • Data analysis and comparison

No. of Logical Reasoning Questions – 10

No. of Data Interpretation – 14

Books For LRDI Preparation
Book Author
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT Nishit K Sinha
A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning R.S. Aggarwal
How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT Arun Sharma

Quantitative Aptitude (QA)

QA carries the maximum weitage, and it is important to score well in this section. This is the toughest section and needs a well-versed preparation. Topics to cover under this section are:

  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Number system
  • Arithmetic
  • Mensuration
  • Trigonometry
  • Mean, mode, and median
  • Simple and compound interest
  • Percentages
  • Time and distance
  • Ratios and proportions
  • probability

No. of Quantitative Aptitude Questions – 22

Books For QA Preparation
Book Author
Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT Nishit K Sinha
A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning R.S. Aggarwal
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT Sarvesh K Verma


Students and aspirants who prepare for the CAT exam usually contemplate to get in the top 6 IIMs. A suggestion here is, if you score a good percentile but still do not get into the top 6 IIMs, there are still good options to consider.

List of Top 6 IIMs

  • Ahmedabad
  • Bangalore
  • Kolkata
  • Kozhikode
  • Indore
  • Lucknow

If CAT does not work out, or you feel it is getting difficult to crack CAT, look beyond it. Other options could be NMAT, IIFT, SNAP, XAT.

Moreover, if you are not able to get through any IIMs you aimed for, check out other private colleges with good management programs.

List of Private Colleges

  • FMS, Delhi
  • XLRI, Delhi
  • SPJIMR, Mumbai
  • MDI, Gurgaon
  • NMIMS, Mumbai
  • NITIE, Mumbai

There are 20 good private management institutes you can get through with a good percentile.

Reading Newspapers – An Essential For CAT Preparation

When preparing for a competitive exam, one cannot rule out the importance of reading newspapers. General knowledge, editorials, and opinions are important to crack group discussions and also to score in descriptive questions. Reading various business newspapers and magazines can help you learn new words, increase your vocabulary, and sharpen your thinking ability and reasoning. The preferred newspapers to read for CAT preparation are The Hindu and Indian Express. For staying ahead and updated in economic and financial news, read The Economic Times, Business Standard, and Financial Express.

Using On-Screen Calculator For CAT Exam

During the online CAT exam, the candidates will be required to use an on-screen calculator for basic calculations. Be well-versed with calculation tricks on the calculator to save time and solve the questions with more accuracy. Learn and practice the tips and tricks you can with the on-screen calculator as often as possible.

Create Smart Strategy Plan For CAT Preparation

CAT exam is not like school/college exams. The strategy we made for those exams, or the time we dedicated to prepare for such exams, will not be enough when preparing for the CAT exam. So how should you plan your weeks and months to get the desired percentile? Here are a few tips to design a smart strategy study for CAT.

  • Get a clear understanding of all the 3 sections – VARC, LRDI and QA.
  • Make a note of topics on the scale of easy, moderate and difficult.
  • Divide your study time accordingly, dedicating the first half of the day to learn difficult concepts, and the second half of the day for easy/moderate concepts.
  • Create weekly goal planners, measuring your daily activity. Try to accomplish your daily targets to stay on schedule.

This is just the beginning strategy. As months go by, and the D-Day is near, you will have to up your preparations and devote extra time for study, mock test, and analyze mock tests.

Importance of Mock Tests in CAT Preparation

Mock tests are a critical part of CAT preparations. But it is sad to see that more than 75% of CAT aspirants do not attempt mocks. They either think of it as a waste of time or are scared of the mock results. Mock test results often tend to be on the lower side of the score spectrum. That scares many aspirants as they start comparing it to the actual CAT exam. Understand, you have only just started preparing for CAT, and mock tests are essential to gauge your growth in each section. A less score in the mocks would help to study better, analyze your mistakes, and push you to practice more. Always attempt mock tests, starting with minimum two a fortnight and moving ahead with two to three mocks weekly. 

Section Wise CAT Preparation Strategy

It is essential to maintain a study balance to prepare all three sections thoroughly when preparing for CAT. Let’s understand the section wise CAT preparation strategy.

Quantitative Abilities 

  • Maximum focus should be on speed and accuracy. The course is basic 10th Math, but you need to be adept to apply it to various scenarios.
  • Identify your strong and weak areas according to the topics, and work on them.
  • Time management is the key here. Attempt the section in layers. Identify questions that are easy to solve. Finish those questions first, and return to the time-consuming questions later.


  • Read as much as you can. Make a list of books, business newspapers and magazines that you should read.
  • Enhance your vocabulary. Learn new words everyday by reading fiction books and business newspapers.
  • Get into a habit of reading one passage daily.
  • Track time and speed to evaluate time consumed reading a passage.
  • Attempt mock tests frequently.


  • Begin by solving the questions without working on speed or time limit. Once the concepts are clear, start increasing speed and practice within time limits.
  • Practice questions on basic topics like seating arrangements, rankings, games and tournaments, puzzles, quantitative reasoning, etc. Such questions are asked indirectly, but a lot of practice on these topics will help develop the logic to solve such questions.
  • Solve previous year’s question papers.
  • Attempt mock tests, analyze and practice more.  

Coaching Vs Self-Study For CAT Preparation

The first dilemma a student faces in the CAT preparation is whether to join coaching or self-study. These days, they are expensive, time-consuming (travel time) and can stretch to 8 hours on weekends. But thankfully, there is a better way. With iQuanta students can prepare online, sitting in the comfort of home or office at affordable prices. Throughout the years, iQuanta has been giving stellar results.

Check out the details here –

Staying Self-Motivated through CAT Exam Preparation

Preparing for the CAT exam can be stressful. There will be days you will procrastinate, overthink, or even think of giving up altogether. To keep the pressure from getting to your nerves, it is crucial to divide the study pressure into small, achievable goals. Once the pressure is reduced, an important step is to stay consistent and motivated.

Simple tips to keep you motivated through the CAT preparation journey:

  • Set daily targets and work to achieve them.
  • Give mocks and gauge your performance from the first mock test to the latest. Seeing your score graph go up, you will feel motivated to do better.
  • Keep your study area clean.
  • Watch motivational videos or videos of previous years CAT toppers to keep you going.
  • Take regular breaks between study time to reduce stress.

In the end, know that it is possible and that you can do it. Like I always say, keep reminding yourself why you are doing this in the first place – and that will keep you motivated!

All the best!


Latest articles

Related articles