CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners
Ranjini Basu, 02 Aug 2018, #CAT
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CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners - The initial step towards management studies, one of the most rewarding degrees in India is none other than qualifying CAT. All MBA/PGDM aspirants start preparation for CAT in their final year or pre-final year. Ideally, this is the accurate time when most aspirants start thinking about MBA admissions. However, students should remain focused to complete their graduation by obtaining high scores as the academic performance carries weightage in most of the top-tier management institutes, leave alone the top IIMs. Also, it is imperative for all fresh aspirants to run through the CAT preparation tips for beginners to know how to ace the test.

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Arks Srinivas, National Head, MBA Prep, CL Educate Ltd says, “ If a candidate is in the Final Year or a Working Professional, clearly the pressure is high. However, the priority for any CAT taker is to clear the test and each one is expected to spend a minimum of three hours per day for at least 3 months.” In this article by Careers360, candidates would be able to obtain a guidance on CAT 2018 preparation tips for beginners especially.

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CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners: Concentrate on Graduation Scores


As per the IIM admission eligibility criteria, candidates who wish to appear for CAT 2018 must obtain a Bachelor’s Degree with at least 50 per cent marks (for General category/NC-OBC) and 45 per cent (for SC, ST and PWD category) or equivalent CGPA from any recognised university. So, one cannot avoid the graduation aggregate percentage in order to appear for the most coveted management entrance examination. However, when it comes to the selection procedure, there are other factors which gets counted as well such as candidates’ performance during the GD, PI/WAT rounds, their communication skills, participation in co-curricular activities and most importantly, marks obtained in CAT without which one cannot expect a call from the top management institutes.

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CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners: Tracking the Important Dates

CAT is conducted annually by the IIMs on the rotational basis. Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow conducted the CAT 2017 on November 26, 2017 and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta is going to conduct CAT 2018 on Sunday, November 25, 2018 in two slots. It is imperative for all the CAT aspirants to keep a track of the important dates. CAT preparation tips for beginners include tracking of important dates as well so that they do not miss any test related events.

Below given are the important dates of CAT 2018 for candidates’ perusal-


CAT 2018 Exam Dates



Notification of CAT 2018

July 29, 2018

CAT 2018 online application

August 8, 2018

CAT 2018 application deadline

September 19, 2018 (till 5 PM)

CAT 2018 correction window of application form

Fourth week of September 2018

Release of Admit Card

October 24, 2018

Release of CAT 2018 Mock Test

October 17, 2018

CAT 2018 Online Exam

November 25, 2018, Sunday (Two Slots)

Release of Answer Key

First week of December 2018

CAT 2018 Result Declaration

First week of January 2019

Selection Procedure of CAT 2018

April-June 2019

CAT 2018 Preparation Tips for Beginners: Know the Exam Pattern

Another vital aspect for candidates who would appear for CAT for the very first time; the beginners is to know the exam pattern of CAT 2018. Being well-versed with the pattern helps candidates to strategize their preparation plan; judge their strengths and weaknesses and prepare a study plan.

CAT exam pattern has evolved over the years; from two untimed sections to three timed sections, namely, VARC, DILR and QA. The complete duration of CAT 2018 is 3 hours or 180 minutes and the validity of the exam is one year.


CAT Exam Pattern 2018


No. of MCQs

No. of Non-MCQs


Total Marks

Time allotted (minutes)

VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension)






DI & LR (Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning)






QA (Quantitative Ability)












CAT Marking Scheme-

Scoring Structure


Number of Sections


Marks alloted per question


Negative marking for incorrect answer


CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners: Preparation Strategy

It is a noted fact that each test aspirant will have his/her own preparation strategy. However, CAT preparation for beginners can at times become challenging due to their work schedule or college hours. However, this can be mitigated easily if one has a constructive plan. Abhishek Mukherjee, currently pursuing PGPM in MDI, Gurgaon after securing 97.04 in CAT 2017 comments, “I used the lunch time in my office for solving quants and while travelling to and from work, I used to focus on Verbal. Weekends were fully devoted to mocks and I tried to take atleast 3 mocks per weekend. Tracing his words, it would be ideal to say that equal distribution of time among the three sections is important. Regular practice and self evaluation should be the integral part of the preparation plan. CAT 2017 Topper Chhavi Gupta (100 percentiler), presently a student at IIM Ahmedabad clearly states, “Sound knowledge of the basic concepts, controlling distractions, working through practice tests and critical self-analysis were the factors which led to my success.”


Quick guide to Sectional CAT Preparation

Quantitative Ability – Candidates need to refresh and practice various types of applications of standard 6-10 concepts. Focus on the topics that are their strengths and master these topics.

Verbal and Reading Comprehension – Candidatesshouldpractice RC sets of the commonly asked genres and try to read articles and books online to get comfortable with reading lengthy passages on the screen. They should also practice solving the verbal logic questions through selection and elimination method.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning – One need not solve all the sets. Just pick the ones that you are most comfortable with. Regular practice would help you identify the sets that would be suitable for you. Practice LR based DI sets as these are gaining more weightage as per the previous year exams.

Once the sectional preparation is completed, beginners can start taking the practice test. Saswat Gupta from FMS, Delhi obtained 99.91 percentile in CAT 2017. He says, “My preparation strategy involved preparing solely from Mock Full tests and Sectional tests.”


CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners: Time Management

The three-hour CAT might sound ‘long’ but the reality does not reflect the same inference! As all the 3 sections are timed, one cannot afford to run out of time. Moreover, it is advised that aspirants should keep some minutes in hand for selecting questions and revising their responses. So, not an easy task. The best way to manage the time is to practice keeping a clock in front, precisely to time each of the practice and the mock tests. Avinash Iyer, who bagged 99.61 percentile in CAT 2017 said, “Candidates should focus on speed over concepts during CAT preparation.”


How to manage the sectional time?

Data Interpretation

Six to ten minutes for a set of four questions.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Maximum eight minutes for reading a passage and 90 seconds to answer each question based on the passage

Quantitative Ability

Two-three minutes for each question

Logical Reasoning

Six to eight minutes for a set of four questions

CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners: Books to Refer

Following are the recommended books for CAT Preparation available in the markets. These books will not only act as a guide but assist candidates in taking practice tests-

  • QA- Arun Sharma’s ‘How to prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT’, published by Tata McGraw Hill- This book is most recommended for CAT aspirants to prepare for QA section.

  • How to Prepare for the CAT Common Admissions Testby Muhamed Muneer, published by Om Books, is another book that is simple and easy to understand, and has mock tests and solved CAT papers from previous years.

  • VARC- Nishit Sinha’s The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning (Pearson) covers a wide range of topics explained in an easy-to-understand manner.

  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis.

  • DILR- How to Prepare for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning for CAT (Tata McGraw-Hill) by Arun Sharma covers all the fundamental concepts of Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning.

  • Trishna's Verbal Ability And Logical Reasoning For The CAT And Other MBA Examinations by T.I.M.E. Publisher: Pearson

CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners: Mock Test
Aspiring test takers must ensure to take computer-based mock CAT so that they become familiar with the actual test environment. In order to do the same, one can also join any professional institute that offers CAT test series; also he/she can opt for a few CAT mock tests available online. Prospective test takers must take the previous year CAT sample paper and solve it to get the actual feel of the test. Shikhar Sachdeva, who had secured 99.98 percentile in CAT 2017 comments, "The best strategy for an aspirant would be to take 2 mock series from renowned institutes, 1 booklet series, and then make use of any one web course."


CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners: Aim High to Achieve

Whether a student or a working professional, all CAT aspirants should aim to secure 100 percentile and preparation should be aimed to become AIR 1. If one aims high, he/she will be able to score beyond expectations. Candidates should not compare their preparation status with their peers or other CAT examinees; this often leads to confusion resulting in low confidence level.


Also Read,

How to prepare for CAT 2018

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 7352 out of 7353 Questions

Good Mba colleges with cat cutoff 80 to 90 percentile

Mayank Chowdhary 17th Nov, 2019

Yes I'll enlist down some of the top institutes for MBA whose cutoffs are between 80 to 90 percentile.

  1. Tapmi Institute Manipal, CAT cutoff was 80 percentile.
  2. KJ Somaiya Institute of Management And research, Mumbai,, 85 was the cutoff percentile -
  3. IIM DELHI - cutoff percentile for cat exam was 90
  4. BIMM Pune - cutoff 80
  5. IIM Ghaziabad - cutoff 90

Thank-you. Best wishes.


how to calculate std10,12and CAT exam persantage/persantile rank for IIM entership?

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 16th Nov, 2019
IIMs shortlist candidates for the interview stage based on their own criteria, which may be independent of each other. The process may include Written Ability Test, Group Discussion, and Personal Interviews. Performance in the CAT examination is an important component in the admission process. IIMs may additionally use other factors such as the previous academic performance of the candidates, relevant work experience, gender and academic diversity and other similar inputs in shortlisting and ranking of candidates at various stages of the admission process. The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs. For example, IIM Ahmedabad folliws the following rating scale:

IIM Ahmedabad:


QA       DLR        VARC Overall
General: 70         70         70              80
NC-OBC/Trans: 65         65 65              75
SC: 60         60           60 70
ST: 50         50            50 60
PwD-UR,OBC,SC: 60         60   60            70
PwD: ST: 50         50          50             60

10th Rating:

Percent score        Rating Score

<= 55           1

> 55 and <= 60          2

> 60 and <= 70           3

> 70 and <= 80            5

> 80 and <= 90            8

> 90              10

The same rating score is used for 12th Science /Commerce Streams. For Arts/Humanities:

Percent score     Rating Score

<= 45         1
> 45 and <= 50        2
> 50 and <= 60         3
> 60 and <= 70         5
> 70 and <= 85         8
> 85        10
Minimum cut offs for Average percent of marks scores:
Stream in 12th UR NC- OBC/Trans SC ST PWD PWD -ST

Science 80            75 70 65   70 65

Commerce 77            72    67 62   67 62

Arts & Humanities 75       70 64  59    64 59

From each Academic sectors top 5% from each stream and each Category will be short listed. It might look like:

Category   Upper Limit

General   100

NC-OBC-cum-transgender   57

SC      32

ST    16

PwD    6

After shortlisting the Candidates, the selected Candidates will have to go through WAT and PI rounds. Selection at this stage will strictly be based on the shortlisting of the candidates done separately for each Category ) on the basis of their Final Composite Score. . The numbers selected in different reservation categories will be in proportions mandated by law.

Personal Interview Multiplication Factor (PIF) = 0.50

AWT Multiplication Factor (AWTF) = 0.10

CAT Score Multiplication Factor for Final Composite Score (CATF_FCS) = 0.25

Application Rating Multiplication Factor for Final Composite Score (ARF_FCS) = 0.15

After the AWT & PI round, admission offers are made by IIMA to successful candidates. The final selection is based on a diverse set of attributes which includes performance in CAT, performance in AWT & PI, academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular achievements, work experience, etc.


how to prepare for cat entrance examination

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 16th Nov, 2019
CAT is an online examination of 3 hours duration.The questions in the exam will be of MCQ and TITA type totaling 100 questions. MCQ are multiple choice questions, for which candidates get multiple answer choices. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark. However Type in the Answer questions are exempted from Negative Marking.

CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:

Quantitative Ability
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

The Verbal Ability section and Reading Comprehension has 34 Questions, Data interpretation-Logical Reasoning section has 32 MCQ questions and Quantitative Ability has 34 MCQ questions totalling up to 100 questions. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark.

First things first, know the syllabus. And go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections.Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months because even Rome wasnt built in a day.

NCERT books will sharpen your basics and you need strong basics for preparing for any entrance examination. Once your basics are in place, because the time period for preparation is quite less, your preparation should be extensive and thorough.

Quantitative Aptitude covers almost 30% of the CAT question paper. QA can be categorised into Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Advanced Mathematics. Practise chapter by chapter and develop mental calculations. Like practise more of basic summation, subtraction, fractions and tables. Numbers, Percentage, Profit and Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Partnership, Permutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression and Series, Line, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, Coordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry are few important topics.

Preparation tips:

Because this section involves mathematics and takes most of your time, your focus should be on solving the problems efficiently in the beginning. Even if it takes time, practise upto perfection. Practise as many questions as you can in the conventional way. As and when you get a grip on the subject, you can go for short cuts. Memorise tables, square roots, cube roots, conversion from percent to fraction, etc. Solve sample papers on Mathematics. In the beginning, do not worry about the time it takes. As you practise, you will get the hang of the subject and it will be easier for you.

In Verbal Ability session, command on your English, Grammar, Vocabulary, Understanding of the given paragraph are of more importance. Reading English NewsPaper will also help you in your preparation.

Preparation tips:

Read articles from time to time. Follow newspapers, magazines, and watch the news channels and browse the internet to keep yourself updated. You will need a lot of reading to help you in the comprehension section. You will need speed to help you in this section and you can achieve that only by thorough practise and reading. Take time to understand the question because most answers are interlinked.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning needs to be practised as much as possible. Comparison of data, Data Analysis, taking clues, interpreting missing data, coming to conclusions and making future projections will be covered under this Category. The questions here are interlinked and so if you get one formula correct, cracking the next few questions will be easy. So it's important to memorise and practise formulae. You should cover topics like Data tables, Data Charts, Bar Diagrams, Pie Charts, Graphs, Data Comparison and Analysis.

Preparation tips:

As this is the most tricky section, this needs a lot of practise. Solve as many sample papers as possible to get the hang of the section. Make notes when required. Regular practise can help you understand and solve the questions easily as time goes on.

Overall,once you know the syllabus, it's easier from there on.Go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections. Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months

We can recommend a few books for you:

NCERT books to cover the basics from 6th to 10th Class

Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Saxena

Quantitative Aptitude Quantum for CAT by Sarvesh Sharma

How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma

Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Exams by Abhijit Guha

You can also download free downloadable e books at:


unsoveld and soveld cat exam question mba

Aditya kumar Student Expert 16th Nov, 2019

Hello there!


You can get CAT previous year question papers by going through our page for which link is provided below :-

By solving  previous question papers of CAT, candidates like you will  know about the type of questions, topics covered in the exam and the pattern of the exam. By solving the CAT question papers, you will be able to understand the marking scheme of the exam, syllabus, exam duration, etc.

By going through above link you can download CAT sample papers as well.


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

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