CAT 2014 schedule has already been announced with two-day test window on November 16 and November 22.

In this CAT preparation column,Vinayak Kudva, Head- PG India & Mumbai Region, IMS Learning shares insights on CAT preparation and talks on success mantras to crack the Common Admission Test for admission to IIMs and other top B-schools. In this column below, he also suggests preparation strategies for last 3 month.

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Expert Column by Vinayak KUDVA, Head – PG India & Mumbai Region, IMS

“The last lap to CAT” requires you to leverage your strengths, hone your weaknesses and formulate a smart strategy to approach the test. The most important thing is not to lose heart or feel that it’s just too late. There have been others in your position and they have made it to the top through sheer focus and determination and more significantly, a strategic and disciplined approach to achieving set targets.  Read on to find how you should go about formulating your strategy for the final lap of your preparation.

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What does the CAT test you on?

The CAT is a test designed to filter out the “potential manager” from amongst a huge populace –  around 1.75 lakh students appeared for CAT 2013 and a more or less similar number is expected to take CAT this year. This year IIMs have announced drastic change in structure from last year. Accordingly, CAT will now have 100 questions to be solved in 170 minutes with equal questions across two sections based on Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning & Verbal Ability respectively. The sectional time-limits have been eliminated thereby giving the test-taker the flexibility to decide how much time one spends in either of the sections. The test will continue to have negative marking for incorrect responses, thereby placing a premium on accuracy. Further, to reduce the complications of equating test performances over an elaborate 21 day window, the IIMs have announced that the test will be conducted on just 2 days this year: Nov 16 and Nov 22.


However, the objective of the test remains intact – to identify candidates who have a potential and aptitude for management. What you need to appreciate is the fact that the test is not just a measure of your Mathematical and English language skills; but also a reflector of your management quotient.


Defining success in the CAT

Success in the CAT could be defined as the achievement of percentile required to get into your desired list of B-Schools. The first step therefore would be to find out the cut-off percentiles of various institutes that you are interested in applying to. Based on past data, we have observed that while a 95+ overall percentile (with equal competence across sections) can get you into the IIMs, you would need at least a 80+ overall percentile to get into some of the Top 100 B-schools in the country. It is therefore imperative that you define your success benchmark by first short-listing the B-Schools that you aspire to join.

vinayakInspite of the changes, the objective of CAT remains intact – to identify candidates who have a potential and aptitude for management. What you need to appreciate is the fact that the test is not just a measure of your Mathematical and English language skills; but also a reflector of your management quotient. Vinayak Kudva, Head, PG India & Mumbai region, IMS Learning

How do you succeed in the CAT?

Once you have defined your success benchmark, you should follow an effective and efficient study plan from here on to ensure that you meet your target CAT percentile. Based on the data collected from past CATs and IMS SimCATs, we have an analysis of the number of questions students must attempt and get correct to achieve certain percentiles:




Sectional Benchmarks 

# questions

# attempts

# correct

Minutes per Q

Stage 1






Stage 2






Stage 3






Stage 4






The objective is to reach your target percentiles in a stepwise manner by achieving the benchmark attempts and number of correct answers at each stage as per the above table.


The first step, therefore, is to identify your current level of performance by taking a simulated CAT in a proctored environment or at home.  After taking the test, analyse your performance to identify where you stand with respect to the above table. The remaining months from now until your actual test must be equally divided to improve your performance from one stage to the next.  So, if you are at Stage 1 (i.e. at 75 %ile) then the remaining 15 weeks should be divided into three periods of five weeks each to ensure that you reach stage 4 before taking your test. Within each period, target to achieve the stated benchmarks of the next stage by:

  1. Working on your conceptual and application skills and
  2. Fine-tuning your test-taking skills.

At the end of each period, take another simulated test and check your sectional performance. If your attempt and accuracy is greater than or equal to the benchmarked percentile, you are ready to move to the next stage. If on the other hand your attempts and accuracy are less than the benchmarked percentile, then analyse the test to find out where you need improvement. Use the explanatory answers provided to you with each test to aid this improvement.


You don’t need to spend the whole day studying for CAT!!

Ideally, you shouldn’t spend more than four hours a day on studying for the CAT. The manner in which those four hours are utilised depends on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. Some may prefer to spend more time on verbal while other on DI. Ultimately, you must ensure that your progress in each section is equal. This holds greater relevance if you are aiming only for the IIMs because at these institutes, cut-offs matter. Organise your day in such a way that the hours spent studying are those when your brain is most alert.  Working professionals for example, shouldn’t study at night after a hard day’s work. Preparing for this test is not like preparing for school and college, where you need to spend long hours memorising.

Don’t leave topics: you should be able to at least solve the easier questions across all topics

Students usually find topics such as Modern Math tough but you must remember that Modern Math questions in the CAT are not always tough nor are Arithmetic questions always easy. Your aim is to maximise your score in all sections, you can do that by solving all the easy questions. With 50 questions to a section, you cannot afford to leave questions out. If you leave out Modern Math entirely, you have narrowed your selection to only the easy questions in Arithmetic and Algebra.

Study with your Buddy:

Taking a test with a group of friends is immensely beneficial because people tend to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. With, say four friends, you will have four different approaches to solving a problem. When you analyse a test by yourself, you will probably come up with time saving approaches for about 5-6 problems because one person can come up with a limited number of perspectives. With a group however, you can be assured of multiple approaches to a sum. For example, some sums may not require you to use calculations; someone else might see that while it may not strike you.


Bottom line: Stay positive and be in control of your preparation in the last leg of your preparation. In the end, it’s not just about your strengths or weaknesses in each section or the number of attempts, etc. but also about your self-esteem and your belief in giving yourself a fighting chance.

Stay tuned to for more news and features on CAT.

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 8325 out of 8325 Questions

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.


how should I crack cat examination

sushmitha M 5th Apr, 2020


Preparing in the right direction is very important for any competetive exams and mainly inportant for CAT. Firstly you need to know the syllabus for CAT and practice the topics that you are not unsure about and put more strss on them and then solve as many mock papers as possible and also go through the previous years papers of CAT and prepare in the right direction.

For sample papers of CAT please visit:

Hope this helps


How much percentile would be good in CAT to get admission in MBA from IIT Delhi for a general category participant?

anurag khanna 5th Apr, 2020

Hello Aspirant,

Till now IIT Delhi has not released its cut-off for CAT for admission to MBA courses. According to last year's trend you should score more than 90 percentile if you belongs to general category and want to pursue MBA from IIT Delhi.

For more details about cut-off for MBA program in IIT Delhi you should read this article .

I hope this answer helps you.

Good Luck!!


Im doing BBA LLB after this should I prepare for judiciary exam ( civil judge ) or for CAT? Which one would be mire practical and easy to clear?

Manidipa Kundu Student Expert 5th Apr, 2020


see no exam is easier to crack if you dont have enough of preparation. to become eligible for judiciary exam you must completed  an LLB or equivalent degree from an institute that is recognized by the Bar Council of India. and for cat exam eligibility criteria is graduation in any discipline with 50% marks in graduation. cat exam is admission for mba courses in finance, human resource, business analytics and many more stream. now it depends on you , you need to think which of the path you want to go, see in both of the ways you can earn a handsome salary, but you need to really dedicated and hard working for that.

hope you may understand.

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