How to crack CAT is one of the most common question by aspirants of the coveted management entrance examination.  It often happens that despite knowing the pattern and the syllabus, the aspirants get confused about how to strategize the preparation in order to make the most of it.

With the Common Admission Test (CAT) around the corner, students need guidance and tips from those who have already been there and done that. And who can be a better teacher than the CAT toppers themselves who know exactly how to tackle the test. The toppers know how to prepare, what strategy to follow and how to approach the test in order to crack CAT with a high percentile and take admission in top B-schools.


In today’s article of this preparation series by Careers360, we bring to you the specific strategies of toppers which can guide you in this last crucial month before CAT 2015 exam day.

[Click here to Enroll Complete CAT 2015 Online Test Pack to get admission in Top IIM B-schools or call 011-40360360 to talk expert counsellors]


Zero Pressure


Nobody works better under pressure and if you appear in an exam with stress, the results are never favourable. This is the most important factor that contributes towards fulfilling of your goal of cracking CAT- Not taking any pressure.


Roshni. S followed this axiom and appeared in CAT 2014 with a strategy of Zero Pressure. She secured 98.4 percentile and took admission in one of a top B-school- XIMB Bhubaneswar.

Preparation: While preparing for the QA & DI section, Roshni solved as many sums as possible which let her discover new and faster ways to approach and tackle her weak section.

“It is important to practice solving harder questions as well so that one can increase the number of questions one can answer during the exam. Learning from others during classes helped me view DI & LR questions from different perspectives”.


Strategy: Roshni believes that appearing in the test under no pressure is one of the main reasons for her high percentile.  The key is to enjoy the process.

Read interview:


Mock Test


CAT 2014 Topper, Balkesh Narang, PGP Student at IIM Udaipur secured 96.39 percentile. Rather than focusing on clearing his concepts, Balkesh focused on ‘Strategy Building’. His mantra for cracking CAT was taking as many ‘Mock tests’ in a day as possible for about 6 to 8 hours.  An ex- engineer from TATA Motors, Balkesh practiced hard to overcome his weaknesses. For instance, he tackled his weakness of calculations by using approximations and vedic math tools and made his DI section strong by getting familiar with the versatile forms of data representation like pie chart, bar chart, line graph etc.


Praparation: Balkesh was focused preparing via mock tests, as they provide insights on every different type of question.


Sectional Time Management:


QA:  From Day 1 itself, I used the reverse strategy for it, took mock paper, tried to solve it with timer, and later analyzed it from solutions available. Hence, added the new concepts to my personal concept book.


DI& LR:  I focused the most on being familiar with versatile forms of data representation like pie chart, bar chart, line graph, piled bar chart, spider chart and complex combinations of these.


VA: I decided to focus only on those question types where comprehending the content was core requirement like Para-jumbles, RCs.


Suggestive Strategy: Spend minimum possible time in preparing on concepts and start taking mock tests on a regular basis. The pattern of exam has been changed this year, so get familiarized with the new format in best possible manner.


Read interview:


Improvise on Weak Areas


An engineering graduate, Aritra Chaudhuri, appeared for CAT and secured his admission in PGPM programme of IIM Trichy. His preparation strategy revolved around strengthening his fundamentals and improvising on his weak areas. This strategy made him secure a high percentile in CAT 2014, and let him pursue his dream of an MBA degree.


CAT Preparation Tips: Aritra shares that by practicing a wide variety of question via mock tests can strengthen the basics. As CAT 2015 will have sectional limit of 60 minutes, he suggests preparing extensively for each section from Top books for CAT 2015 preparations. It is also important for the aspirants to solve mock papers with focus on time, along with speed and accuracy.


Read interview:


Fast Calculation


The idea that a high score can be obtained in CAT only by engineering students is a myth. Commerce graduate, Surbhi Singhal, busted the myth with her striking performance in the coveted exam. Despite being weak in Quantitative Ability and Verbal Ability, she cracked CAT 2014 with 99.42 percentile and secured admission in IIM Lucknow, one of the most preferred IIMs for MBA aspirants.


Surbhi increased her speed of calculations and learned some mathematical tricks. She also increased vocabulary power to solve the entire paper within the given time. She further shares how she turned Quant, DI and Verbal areas into her strengths from weaknesses.


Suggestion for CAT 2015 aspirants:  Keep Calm and work sincerely. There is no shortcut to it, just find some smart ways to achieve success. If you are from a non-engineering background, be confident about yourself. If you want it, nothing can stop you from getting it.


Read interview:


Speed and Accuracy


Sarthak Nayak focussed on time management and accuracy from the beginning of his preparation schedule. His fine balance between Speed and Accuracy brought his 99.87 percentile in CAT 2014. Sarthak is currently pursuing his studies at Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management- IIT Bombay.


Preparation: I learnt the value of time management and accuracy right from the beginning of my preparations. I used to write a lot of mock tests so that I would easily find from the test analysis about the areas that needed more work. I used to give some amount of time to preparation daily without fail. To improve my accuracy and speed, I gave at least 2 mock tests per week, totaling over 50 tests in the new pattern, and my test results were quite consistent over the period.


Strategy for CAT:  Identify and work more on the areas you lack confidence. Your strong areas should require less work but don’t ignore them completely. Accuracy and time management are very important and cannot be compromised with. It is not necessary to attempt all questions, but you should not bluff about the answers and only attempt those which you are sure about. Negative marking should be avoided at any cost. Give some time daily to your preparations, even half an hour works miracles. And make sure to regularly evaluate yourself in mock tests and their analysis of your results. 


Read interview:


Turn CAT 2015 Changes as Advantage


‘Changes are good, they can be an advantage, all you need is positivity’, says Sanket Ramesh Bhamwari, who cracked CAT 2014 with 99.21 percentile and secured admission in SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.


Sanket, an engineer with over 3 years of experience with TCS, took advantage of the CAT 2014 changed pattern while preparing for the test. According to him, aspirants must treat the changes in exam pattern as an advantage for them and prepare with a calm and relaxed mind.


With the same approach, Sanket prepared for CAT and first learnt the basics completely. He suggests that while preparing from Mock test, attempt easy questions first and move to advance problems in the end.


In addition to mock tests and practice, Sanket used to follow a 30-second rule. If one cannot understand and approach a question within 30 seconds, it is time to move on to the next question. This helped him save time. 


CAT Strategy: while taking mock tests, it was important not to get bogged down by low scores. Over a period of time, as my basics strengthened, my scores started improving. The change in pattern seemed to be daunting, however, it just a matter of mere practice of taking mocks in the format. The key advantage was the freedom to move between sections without any constraints. In all, I took more than 30 mocks and hence I was pretty relaxed on D-day.

Read interview:


Time Management


Raghav Mishra, a post graduate programme (PGP) student at IIM Indore secured 98.2 percentile in CAT 2014. The exam was a different experience for him as the pattern was new and changed. Raghav focused on time management since there were 100 questions to be attempted in just 170 minutes. He valued the importance of time to crack CAT with a high percentile.

According to Raghav, to tackle CAT 2015 changed exam pattern and secure a good percentile one must work on time, speed and the concepts. He shares that Quant and Verbal are the key areas and having good hold over these sections would help the aspirants crack this highly competitive test. He also shares his preparation techniques for CAT 2015 and further GD-PI rounds.


Tips for CAT: For the CAT 2015 aspirants, time management must be the area to focus, as now there is sectional time limit. Students must focus on managing their time to attempt and revise the answers. According to me, they must divide time, as 5 minutes for analyzing all the questions, so they get to know which questions are easy. It is always better to attempt easy questions in the first 15 minutes, and later attempt the questions that require a bit of calculation. This should be the process for the CAT 2015 aspirants.


Read interview:


Attempt Easy Questions First


Ishaan Anokar, an engineer from Pune aspired to pursue MBA to enhance his knowledge and skills on Marketing and brand management. To follow his dreams, Ishaan appeared for CAT 2014 and obtained 99.39 percentile and secured admission in SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai to pursue post graduate diploma in management.


His preparation strategy focused on consolidating his strength in the Verbal Ability section and tackling his weakness. He owes his success to attempting easy questions first and saving time for the difficult ones.  


Preparation: For Verbal Ability, I just took ample mock tests. For LR and DI, I used to practice solving at least 3-4 sets with a time limit every day. This helped me get exposure to a diverse set of problems in both LR and DI areas. For the Quantitative section, which was my relatively weaker section, I initially focused on individual chapters and subsequently wrote ample full-length tests.


Suggested Strategy: Solve difficult questions first and then proceeded to the easy ones.  I had some time left which I spent reviewing my answers, and this helped me a lot. I found out several mistakes I had made earlier, and rectified them.


Read full interview:


Keep Buffer Time


Keeping Buffer Time keeps you ahead of your deadline. It lets you have a good amount of time to revise the test and correct mistakes if any. This strategy of keeping buffer time also helps in cracking top management entrance exams like CAT.


Rubal Bagde, a Computer Science engineer from Nagpur secured a high percentile in CAT 2014 and secured admission in IIM Trichy. In the series of ‘CAT Topper Strategies’ by Careers360, where toppers share strategies they followed to crack CAT 2015, Rubal shares her success mantra of becoming a topper.


Rubal’s strategy was to devote equal time to both sections keeping a minimum of 10 minutes of buffer time. According to her, keeping buffer time is the best time management approach for CAT. While preparing for CAT 2014, she devoted 2 to 3 hours every day after office for her preparations. During mock tests, she practiced by allocating equal time to both sections, keeping buffer time. This extra or back up time was kept for half solved questions, or to review the test. This strategy prepared Rubal for the D-day.


Preparation Tips:Increase in questions and timings along with the liberty to switch between sections were major changes which were introduced in the test. This was a test to check time management skills of the candidates. My strategy was to devote equal time to both sections, keeping 10 minutes of buffer time.


Message for CAT aspirants: Focus on basics and the various approaches to solve a question. Also, proper analysis of mocks should be done before final CAT 2015 exam day. Decide on your strategy while analysing the mocks. Time management has to be a priority. Rest, if you prepare well, then belling the CAT is not a difficult thing.


Also Check:

CAT 2016

CAT 2015- Features on Preparation Tips and Strategies

CAT 2015 Exam Pattern

Expert Interview on CAT 2015

CAT 2014 Topper Strategies

CAT 2015 pattern change: Why and how you need to tweak preparation strategy

Other Feature Stories on B-School and MBA:

Life @ B-School Campus

CAT Topper Interviews

MBA Internship Experience

B-School Placement Reports - 2014


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Questions related to CAT

Showing 8321 out of 8321 Questions

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.


Is it easy to prepare for both GMAT & CAT exam ?How can i prepare for both in online?

Ankita yadav 4th Apr, 2020
Hi aspirant
Both of them have same motive of doing MBA and somewhat there preparation is same. You have to Focus in 3 direction
Quantitative ability or maths ( it doesn't have that higher level you need to prepare till class 10th maths)
English ( this has to be done properly, in this a passage will come and you have to answer this requires a lot of practice and vocabulary)
Data interpretation and logical reasoning

Here is the link that will help you in preparation

My father is a government employee.If I get good percentile in CAT or MAT exam,does any b-schools offer scholarship to me?

Shiksha 4th Apr, 2020


Yes, there are many mba colleges through mat/cat those offers scholarships.

  • Iim Ahmedabad
  • Iim banglore
  • Iim lucknow
  • Welingkar mumbai/banglore
  • Tiss mumbai
  • Tapmi Manipal
  • Nmims mumbai
  • Nie mumbai
  • Mdi gurgaon
  • Isb hyderabad
  • Ifmr chennai & many more

Visit this link for more details:

I hope this helps.


my 10th % is 64 and 12th % is 54 in biology can i get the admission in govt. b school for mba through cat?

ADIL KHAN Student Expert 3rd Apr, 2020

Hii Gagan,

Yes, you can. You'll be benefiting from the diversity factor which is just because you are from Biology background in your undergraduation. Though you class 10th and 12th marks are below average but no problem the more you score in CAT the more will it help you in getting a call from a good IIM/B-school. Please prepare for CAT wholeheartedly and give your best shot to CAT. With a composite score percentile in CAT of around 95-98 you can definitely get a call from the CAP IIMs and maybe the old IIMs too.

Though there are many other factors which judge if you will get a call from top B-school or not like your work-ex, extracurriculars etc.

You can reach out to us for more help,



my 10th % is 64 and 12th % is 54 can i get iim or any govt. b school with the basis of cat score or what score i have get to admission in iim ?

Rehan Alam Student Expert 3rd Apr, 2020

Dear Aspirant,

With your profile you might not be able to get any top IIM or baby IIMs. You can expect a call in the baby IIMs like Amritsar, etc @99+ but converting the call will be very difficult.

Moreover, if you are an engineer, you might not get that as well. I suggest you should focus on other exams like IIFT which are the Institute of Foreign Trade and are very good colleges have campus in Delhi and Kolkata. They did not give any weightage to past academic performance and give call only on the basis of exam performance and admission on the performance in interview.

Hope this helps. Thank you.

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