1 month to CAT 2017 - 8 strategies to follow

1 month to CATWith less than 30 days left for CAT, it’s time to take the preparation to next gear. Along with the basic preparation, you need to focus on developing the exam strategy, revision and tackling your weaknesses and enhancing your strengths. So how should you spend these four weeks before appearing for one of the biggest competitive MBA entrance tests with around 2,31,000 applicants? Know what the experts and toppers have to say. This article of Careers360 brings to you tips on how to prepare for CAT 2017 in one month.

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According to the experts, the last 30 days to CAT 2017 should be strategically divided between, preparation, revision, taking mock tests, analysis and developing the exam-taking strategy. Here we bring to you eight strategies which are advised by the MBA experts and toppers to be followed in the last one month to CAT 2017 which is scheduled on November 26, 2017.

How to Prepare for CAT 2017 in one month


Brush up your basics – It is high time that you have clarity on the concepts. If you have brushed up your basics, you will be able to tackle any question, be it a straight or a tricky one. Now that you have less than 30 days, ensure that you prepare fully on the important topics. “Regularly practice and revise the formula, vocabulary and grammar rules, so that you don’t have to think hard on the exam day,” shares Arks Srinivas, CEO, VistaMind.


Take full-length mock tests – The aspirants must have been used to taking CAT mock tests by now. Along with taking the mocks, you should develop the patience to sit in front of the computer screen for three hours without hampering the focus and concentration. Emphasising on the importance of mock tests, Bhushan Baviskar, who secured 99.56 percentile in CAT 2016 and studying in IIM Shillong says, “In the end, I gave around 30 mock tests. Around 40 sectional tests for each section. From the month of October, I started taking one mock test per week. Then, in the last month, I took mock tests whenever I got time. I finished around 30 mock tests before the main exam.”


Develop a strategy – After taking regular mock tests and analysing them, you must have identified the strategy that suits you best. “Use the mocks to identify the time that will be required for each section at various difficulty levels. You need to understand that the time allocated needs to be increased or decreased based on the difficulty level of the paper,” mentions Manek Daruvala, Director, T.I.M.E.

Nikhil Raj Singh, another CAT  topper and IIM Shillong student says, “My basic strategy for the D-day was to attempt as many questions as possible. Even though there was a slight compromise with the strategy but it ended up attempting 90 per cent questions with around 70 per cent accuracy.”


Practice topic wise questions – Apart from taking regular mock tests, it is important to get conversant with all the question topics of a particular section or area. For this pick up a particular area, say Data Interpretation and solve questions from each topic. As Arks Srinivas suggests, “Solve only Pie Chart questions in a day, take up Line Graph questions on the next and move to other topics and sections in a similar way.”

He also suggests section wise test taking strategy to practice one month before CAT.

  • QA – Do it two rounds (35 minutes and 25 minutes)

    • Or six questions in 10 minutes

    • Or eight to nine questions in 15 minutes

    • DI – 30 minutes (7.5 minutes for each set)

- Or In each 15 minutes slot, check two sets and choose ONE!

  • LA – 30 minutes (7.5 minutes for each set)

- Or In each 15 minutes slot, check two sets and choose ONE!

    • RC – 45 minutes (8 minutes for each passage)

    • VA - 12-15 minutes (Doing all non-Parajumble questions)

  • In every section, sticking to the time limits is sacrosanct.

  • Within each set of Say DI/LR or RC – doing all questions is NOT the objective. Reading and trying to attempt is! 

Focus on your strengths – Now that only 30 days are left, it is time for you to focus on your strong areas. This will ensure that you get a higher score and boost your confidence. While starting the test with a section, scan the questions and choose the questions on your strength areas. “I focused on my strength which was QA and tried to solve as many questions. I also used to give 30-minute mock test for every topic so that I won’t make silly mistakes and can complete the test on time with decent accuracy. I normally studied five to six hours daily and dividing these hours into a smaller task, focusing on all sections equally.,” says Ankit Khandelwal, MDI Gurgaon student who secured 98.84 percentile in CAT 2016.

Tackle your weaknesses – The weak areas need to be tackled wisely. Do not spend too much time on these areas. Prepare them only if the topics bear high weight in the CAT paper. Go through the basics and practice as many types of questions as possible from your weak areas. “Analyse the mocks thoroughly and focus on the areas you’re weak in. Make a separate copy of your mistakes and try not to repeat them in future. Also, get all your doubts and questions clarified by your coaching institute mentor, no matter how silly it may seem,” says Kartikey Tiwari, a first-year IIM Kashipur student and CAT 2016 99.01 percentiler.

Do not start new topic – There is no point in starting a new topic at this stage. If you have left out a topic consciously, do not worry about it now. Rather, revise the topics which you have prepared so far. Vinayak Kudva, Product Head, IMS Learning says, “If you start a new topic now, you would not be able to grasp it completely and lose valuable time trying to do it. Hence I would suggest you not to prepare a new topic at this stage.”

Revise – Revision is the most important aspect of exam preparation. If you do not revise what you have learnt so far, you would not be able to perform as per expectation. As Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher states, “The importance of revision is often underestimated by the students. What they must keep in mind is that without revising, their learning would remain half baked. In this 1 month, keep a day exclusively for revision and take mock test the next day.”

One Month to CAT 2017 - FAQs answered by expert Arks Srinivas


Q. Should I do only Mock CATs now that we have only 30 days?

A. The objective of writing should be to get a complete rhythm in writing the CAT. The analysis of the exam should include as to how well you have executed the plan that you have set out for that particular exam. In addition, the Mocks should be used to check out your weaknesses (and strengths) and use the Mocks as a revision base too!


Q. Should I leave some of the topics that I am weak in?

A. For the next 15 to 20 days, you can concentrate still on some of the weaknesses you have (in topics and areas). But, once we get to November, it is much more useful when you stick to your strengths!


Q. My scores in two sections are good, but I am not scoring well in one section!

A. This is very typical for many students. The causes can be many. However, if the issue is with just one section, then one has to put in twice the time in that section for preparation as with the other two. However, if there is no discernible pattern as to which section is going wrong, the analysis of your moods during the writing of the exam and trying to adjust them through a clinical approach in attempting the sections would be the need of the hour.


Q. My scores are very erratic; I am losing confidence with each passing day! What do I do?

A. It is very natural that the scores will be a bit erratic. Understanding this itself will give you a good boost. Remember that if you have scored well in any section (Mock), then it means your basic potential clearly exists. How you harness this ability without succumbing to emotions is the only challenge that you have. So stop worrying about the erratic scores and concentrate on the process of writing the exam.


Q. What should be the Strategy for CAT 2017

The basic purpose of strategy is to ensure the following

  • Read all questions in a section/set

  • Identify and solve the easy and medium level difficulty questions

  • Identify and avoid difficulty OR lengthy questions

  • Have a cutoff time (stop loss) for every question/every set

  • Maximize attempts

  • Get emotion out of the window while attempting the exam

  • Being systematic and clinical in approach! 

Also Read

CAT Topper Interview

What if I don’t take coaching? Can I still crack CAT?

CAT: When and how to start preparations 

Must read books for CAT

Know CAT evolution over the years


Other B-school Features:

B-school Life @ Campus

B-school Placements Reports


Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more news and updates on CAT

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First Published On : 30 Oct 2015 05:59 PM IST

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Manisha Gupta Expert 31 minutes ago

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Madhu 5 hours ago

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