CAT 2018 Expert Interview - With only four months to go, the preparation for CAT 2018 must be in full swing by now for some, while some might still be waiting to start. The latter need not wait any longer as in the view of CAT experts, the right preparation strategy and time for CAT plays a key role in the outcome of the exam. Armed with the right CAT preparation strategy as discussed in this interview, the aspirants of CAT 2018 can now tackle the Common Admission Test (CAT). Careers360 brings to the expert interview of Manek Daruvala, Director and Founder of T.I.M.E. as shares the detailed section-wise preparation strategy for CAT.

Latest: Know Your Chances, Eligibility & Required Cut-offs for getting Calls from IIMs & other Top MBA Colleges through CAT 2019 - CAT Pathfinder - IIM & Non-IIM MBA Call Predictor


Apply to ITM Business School, Navi Mumbai

Applications Open Now
ITM Business School
Alliance School of Business
CAT 2018 Expert Interview: Identify strong and weak areas by giving full-length mocks early on, says Manek Daruvala, T.I.M.E. Director


According to Daruvala, consistently sticking to a prep-window is very important to keep the preparation going at a healthy rate. Students should start with their full-length mocks around six to seven months to CAT. For those starting their preparation having less than this amount of time on hand, he recommends that they start-off their preparation by taking a full-length mock. This will help them get better insights into their strengths and weaknesses. Also, take a look at the top books and study material by making use of which aspirants can ace CAT 2018. Read this expert interview to know more.

CAT Pathfinder - IIM & Non-IIM MBA Call Predictor

Know Your Calling Chances from IIMs & other Top MBA Colleges, Eligibility & Cut-offs

Start Now

Manek Daruvala“The first couple of months from now on should be dedicated to concept building and eliminating weak areas. The next month focus on improving the understanding and application levels of the concepts learned earlier and take a good number of mock tests. The last month should be spent on fine-tuning the test taking strategy. Focus on better question selection, spotting tough questions to veer away from them.”


Applications Open Now
Xavier Business School MBA Admissions 2020
MBA Admission 2020 Open | Highest CTC 12 LPA | Record Placements
Suryadatta Institute of Management, Pune
PGDM/MBA Admissions 2020 Open | Merit Scholarship Available

Excerpts from the interview:


Careers360: Is enrolling in a coaching institute a good idea for aspirants who have not started their preparation with just four months or less to go?

Manek Daruvala: For those who believe in themselves that they can put in serious preparation between now and the CAT, the time available is certainly adequate. However, they need to recognise that a lot of time and hard work needs to be put if they want to realise their dreams. Identifying strengths and weaknesses by taking a couple of full-length mocks early on and focusing on improving on the weak areas would be useful for this group of students.


Careers360: For the ones who have already started preparing on their own without coaching classes, please recommend a strategy for the next four months.

Manek Daruvala: In general, I would strongly recommend that students enrol in a classroom programme to ensure that they get a first-hand feel for the competition they are going to face. By joining such a course, they would also understand quicker and faster application of concepts to problems, test-taking strategies etc., which are very important for success in the CAT.


However, there would be some students who, for whatever reasons, can not/do not enrol in a classroom program. Such students should ensure that they enrol into a mock test series and take mocks regularly and analyse them. Inputs from the analysis should be used as pointers for the preparation ahead.


Careers360: What are the must prepare topics in each section which should not be avoided at any cost? Please share some preparation tips on those topics.

Manek Daruvala: While there are some areas from which questions do come frequently and some from which questions are relatively less frequent, given CAT's unpredictability, students should not avoid any topics and prepare on all of them with equal rigour.


Careers360: Please mention some top books and study materials to be referred by CAT aspirants.

Manek Daruvala: While the material issued by institutes like T.I.M.E. is self-sufficient in itself, some of the books that students can refer to are – How to improve your Reading Speed, and, Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis, Puzzles to Puzzle you by Shakuntala Devi etc.


Careers360: How should final year graduation students vis a vis working professionals balance their daily routine with CAT preparation?

Manek Daruvala: The big advantage that students who are studying have, over those who are working is that they have a more-or-less fixed academic calendar. This allows them to have a clear idea of the time available to them for CAT preparation. For those who are working, the work pressure/load at the office can, at times, play havoc with their CAT prep plans.


Allotting a fixed duration in a day for CAT preparation is strongly advisable for both the groups. Consistently sticking to this prep-window is very important to keep the preparation going at a healthy rate.


Working students, in particular should ensure that in spite of losing out on the prep-window on some days due to work pressure, they adhere to the window on the remaining days and see if they can extend it whenever possible to compensate for the losses that may have occurred earlier.


Careers360: When is the ideal time to start taking mock tests? Also, mention the frequency in which mocks should be taken.

Manek Daruvala: Students should start with their full-length mocks around six to seven months to CAT. For those starting their preparation having less than this amount of time on hand, it is advisable that they start-off their preparation by taking a full-length mock. This will help them get better insights into their strengths and weaknesses so that they can put-in focused preparation which will help them to utilise the time they have effectively. It is advisable to take one or two AIMCATs a week.


Careers360: How can one analyse their performance in mock tests? Please share some tips for analysis and the way forward.

Manek Daruvala: Students should spend about two hours analysing each section of the paper. This will undoubtedly help them extract the most out of the learnings that mocks have to offer them. It is an essential part of the preparation for CAT and students should not make the mistake of failing to analyse their performance in mock tests.


Things to do for analysis are as below.


Step-1: Attempt all those questions in that section that you left unattempted during the AIMCAT.


Step-2: Try solving questions that may still be left over. Only after giving all the questions a good try, check the answer key to find out which questions you could answer correctly and re-attempt all those questions that you answered wrongly. You would be able to learn a great deal from this step since you would actually be pushing yourself to think harder and find out where you have made mistakes. Do not look at the solutions until you are finished with this step.


Step-3: Refer to the solutions and compare your approach with that given in the solutions. You should keenly observe and learn anything new that you may find in the solutions. At the end of this stage of your analysis, you should try to categorise the questions into levels of difficulty based on the understanding required and the amount of time that you would take to solve each of them in an exam situation.


Step-4: Analyse the paper; Section-wise, Area-wise, Difficulty Level-wise.


Careers360: How should CAT aspirants balance their preparation with other entrance tests like XAT, IIFT, NMAT by GMAC, SNAP and CMAT?

Manek Daruvala: Most of the exam preparation for these tests gets covered through CAT preparation. There are some additional items like General Awareness (GA), Decision Making, some reasoning based topics like non-verbal reasoning etc., that students need to focus on for specific tests. GA is needed for personal interviews/GD/WAT also and is hence not a test specific activity. Getting better on GK is a long drawn process and it is recommended that students spend time on this right from the early days of their preparation.

For the other areas like Decision Making, Reasoning based topics etc., focusing on those after CAT would suffice as the exams testing students on these areas (XAT, SNAP etc) happen well after CAT.


Careers360: What can one expect from CAT 2018 in term of exam pattern and difficulty level?

Manek Daruvala: As CAT is known to spring surprises, one can use past trends only to understand the changes that the exam has been going through. One cannot predict anything about the pattern/difficulty-level as any such predictions can be rendered ineffective by the sudden turns that CAT may take. The CAT exam pattern has been stable for the last three CATs with no changes while the difficulty level in QA & VARC has been consistently on the moderate side. LRDI has been the tough section for the students in these CATs.


Careers360: What should be the exam day strategy in terms of time management, maintaining accuracy and fulfilling sectional cut-offs?

Manek Daruvala: Cut-offs are a function of the difficulty level of the section and the paper. Hence you should always be on the lookout to maximise the score in the given conditions of difficulty levels. If the sections are individually timed, as they are in CAT, you will have a fixed time to negotiate the section and hence the task on hand is clear. Sectional cut-offs need not be worried about as the time for each section is fixed.

For exams that have all the sections available throughout the test, the number of attempts per section should be decided during the test, based on the difficulty level of the sections. Targeting a certain number of questions to clear the cut-offs even before looking at the paper should not be done as this may not let you perform at the optimal level.


Also keep in mind that sectional cut-offs play a key role only for the schools in the top 30-40. Below this, schools focus only on the over-all cut-offs and not on sectional cut-offs. Hence it important that students should focus mainly on maximising the overall score.


Question selection plays a key role in maximising the score while also helping the students maintain a good accuracy which helps them extract optimum returns out of the time and efforts put in.


Stay away from blind guessing – CAT and all the other tests have negative marking. The negative marking is to deter students from attempting an extravagant number of questions even without solving them. Blind guessing almost always leads to a negative/low score and is hence to be avoided. However, if you are able to eliminate two/three choices (out of the four or five) on a proper basis, then, you may consider making an “educated guess”, based on what your instinct tells you. Keep in mind that your “instinct” will be able to guide you only if you have fed it well, i.e., if you have prepared well.


Careers360: Please share detailed preparation strategy for three months, two months and last month for CAT-takers.

Manek Daruvala: It will help immensely if you have a focused and measurable plan for the coming 3-4 months. For example, in the Verbal Ability area, one could target completing a pre-decided number of exercises in each of the areas every day. Or, a day each for the different question types on Paragraphs (Para formation, Para completion and Para summary), followed by three days of intensive grammar prep covering all the standard models of questions. You may include reading a few novels in your plan. You can take a call on Vocabulary, based on the level you are at currently. A targeted plan like this will help you track your progress on a real-time basis.


If you think your performance in any one of the areas is trailing that in other areas then you could begin with getting the weak area on par with the others areas. It will be important to devise a plan for each topic/question type within each subject and define targets for the same. Similarly, if you look at the QA area, you should apportion your time according to Arithmetic, Numbers, Geometry & Mensuration, Pure maths etc. Do a realistic analysis of your comfort level with each of these areas. For an area in which you are strong, you could just revise difficult/very difficult problems. For an area where you tend to skip/get most questions wrong, you should begin with the basic problems and go all the way to the very difficult problems.


The first couple of months from now on should be dedicated to concept building and eliminating weak areas. The month after that can be focused on improving the understanding and application levels of the concepts learned earlier by attempting higher level of questions and taking a good number of mock tests. The last month should be spent on fine-tuning the test taking strategy by focusing on better question selection, spotting tough questions so that one can veer away from them.

Applications Open Now

ITM Business School
ITM Business School
Alliance School of Business
Alliance School of Business
Delhi School of Business (VIPS-TC)
Delhi School of Business (VIP...
Amity University MBA Admissions, Gurugram
Amity University MBA Admissio...
FOSTIIMA Business School
FOSTIIMA Business School
NMIMS- MBA Family Business
NMIMS- MBA Family Business
View All Application Forms

Popular Degrees

788 Colleges
310 Colleges
33 Colleges
29 Colleges
17 Colleges

CAT Updates and Articles

Questions related to CAT

Showing 8327 out of 8327 Questions

10th -70% 12th -56% (Science) bcom - 80% (SC candidate), if I get 100 percentile in CAT, would have I got call from IIM A or C ??

ADIL KHAN Student Expert 7th Apr, 2020

Hii Biton,

Yes, there is a possibility for you as you belong to the SC category. But still there are  alot of factors taken into consideration while accessing your profile for giving a call for interviews bu top Business schools of India. You have a good chance provided you work on your communication skills and other skills. Also try doing internships and building your profile as these things will affect and may decide if you will be getting a call or not.

Hope it helps,



How to start preparing for CAT 2020 from basics? Which are the books to refer from? Will self study be enough? I need an answer that can clear all my doubts and motivate me to start my preparation. Each answer will be appreciated, thanks.

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 7th Apr, 2020
Almost all books available in the market are very similar in the nature of their content of study material but the important thing is what you make of it.

Here I can give you the list of books for each section that can help you accelerate your preparation to ace the tests.

CAT Books For Quantitative Ability:
1.NCERT mathematics books (from 6th to 10th class) ::
These books are a good way to start if one needs to clear their basics and concepts. NCERT books are best to start your CAT Preparation with only if you have a lot of time before your exam date and need to brush up on concepts before solving advanced problems.

2.How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT (by Arun Sharma)
(publisher: Tata McGraw Hill)
This is a very popular book among CAT aspirants and really easy and simple to understand. This book also focuses on the basics first and has different levels of difficulties step by step.

3.Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations (by Abhijit Guha)
This book is quite comprehensive for various competitive exams, for both MBA aspirants and for those seeking jobs who need to prepare for the aptitude tests.
4.Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma
It is an extensive book for students aspiring to go to IIMs. It has a very simple, lucid and tailor made content revolving around CAT.

5.Quantitative Aptitude for CAT (by Nishit Sinha)
This book by Pearson focuses on in depth understanding of core topics for basic and advanced applications.

Verbal Ability Books For CAT:

1.How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT( by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay)
This book is good to brush up your verbal and reading comprehension skills. It covers three important topics: reading comprehension, verbal ability and verbal reasoning. It provides sufficient practice and mock papers for self-assessment.

2.Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension For The CAT( by Nishit Sinha)
This book by Pearson provides not only an exhaustive resource for verbal ability. It also includes numerous tests as well as integral problem solving techniques and approaches.

3.Word Power Made Easy (by Norman Lewis)
This is the go-to book to improve your vocabulary. It is not a book to be read but a book to work with daily to enrich your vocabulary.

4.High School Grammar and Composition( by Wren and Martin)
It is a very good book for people who want to improve their grammar skills. It helps to understand and conceptualise different aspects of grammar and it is a must have book for anyone with poor grasp on verbal ability or who wants to make up with the basics of english.

Read books from different genres
The ultimate key to improve your verbal ability is to read extensively and to read books from different genres. This ensures that when the time for reading comprehension comes you are well acquainted with different writing styles and topics. Reading extensively also improves your reading speeding over a period of time. There are no shortcuts here.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Books For CAT:

1.A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning( by R.S. Agarwal)
This CAT book by R.S. Agarwal is to start with the most basic reasoning problem as it is quite simple to understand. It is segregated into different sections such as logic, statements, inferences and arguments, assumptions, conclusions, course of actions, logical puzzles, etc.

2.How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT book (by Arun Sharma)
This book by Tata McGraw Hill contains all topics to be considered under Logical Reasoning for CAT as well as other entrance exams. Each topic is explained with solved examples followed by a series of problems with varied difficulty levels to solve which gives an individual enough practice for this section.

3.How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT book (by Arun Sharma)
This book focuses on all areas of Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency. It provides and emphasizes on developing our calculations to get an edge with DI. This book also provides you with previous years questions, Model and Sample test papers.

4.Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT (by Nishit Sinha)
This book covers fundamental and advanced topics under the aforementioned section which are explained with the help of solved examples, case lets and exercises to do. It is useful for various other exams as well.

5.Data Interpretation (by Nishit Sinha)
Practice Book for CAT and Other MBA Entrance Examinations( by Nishit Sinha):
This book provides adequate practice and to sharpen the skills for Data Interpretation. It is also quite useful for other competitive exams like NMAT, GMAT, SNAP, XAT, CMAT, etc.

Another CAT Preparation material or book to be considered is Previous Years Solved CAT Paper:
This ensures that you are familiar with the kind of questions that are asked in CAT providing you an edge. They can be taken as mocks and the analysis of the same can provide you with great insights for your preparation.

It is always better to read newspaper for CURRENT G.K. than trying to grasp all info at once. Some of the newspaper sources which you can use to prepare this section are The Hindu, Financial Express, and The Economist.

In case, you dont like reading newspaper daily, you can go with Manorama Yearbook or Current Affairs Yearly by Arihant for General Knowledge which is published every year.

In order to prepare for STATIC G.K. section, you need to broaden your overall scope in following sections: Sports, Politics, Entertainment, Biographies, etc. So, for this, you can use Static General Knowledge by A.P. Bhardwaj and S. Chands Advanced Objective General Knowledge. These books are okay to start with if you are not someone with a newspaper reading habit from the past.

There are plenty of other books for these topics in the market, but these are by far the most popular as well as helpful books for anyone preparing for entrance exams.

if i obtain 80 marks in quantitative aptitude 80 marks in data interpection and 80 marks in verbal reasoning what is my total percentile of cat because my 10th and 12 marks is low ?

Ankit Dahiya Student Expert 6th Apr, 2020
Your CAT percentile has nothing to do with class X and XII marks.
The percentile indicates your performance relative to the other candidates. For example if you get 80 percentile it means your score is more than 80% of the appearing students.
The percentipe is calculated as:
P=(R/N) 100
where R=Rank of student and N=Number of students who appeared.

Follow this link for more information

Good luck

I have 96% in 10th 94 %in 12th and 7 3 cgpa in btech and around 18 months of work much do I need to score in CAT 2020 to get a call from IIMA/B /C or FMS ?

Prakarsh Kaushik 5th Apr, 2020


For getting in top B-schools of India like IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C, FMS Delhi etc. you need good marks not only in in CAT but also in Class 10th, 12th and your graduation. If you have some work experience then it gives you more advantages.

There is no specific cutoff of percentile on which you can get into top IIMs. Since your marks in 10th, 12th is above 90% and in graduation above 7 CGPA with work experience, you can expect a call from IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C if you have at least 99 percentile in CAT .

For FMS also you should aim for 99+ percentile in CAT and also keep in mind that if you score 95+ percentile in VARC Section it will increase your chances of getting in.

Click at this link to know more about CAT -

Hope this was helpful


which is the best book for cat self study to crack cat examination

KUNAL LANJEWAR 5th Apr, 2020


Given below are the best books to refer for preparing for CAT examination:

1. For Quantitative Aptitude:

  • How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma
  • Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Nishit K Sinha
  • Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT 2019 by Sarvesh K Sharma

2. For Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation :

  • How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma
  • Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT by Nishit K Sinha

3. For Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension :

  • Word Power made easy by Norman Lewis
  • Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT by Ajay Singh
  • How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay

Best Wishes.

The question have been saved in answer later, you can access it from your profile anytime. Access now

Download the Careers360 App on your Android phone

Regular exam updates, QnA, Predictors, College Applications & E-books now on your Mobile

Careers360 App
150M+ Students
24,000+ Colleges
500+ Exams
1500+ E-books