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.


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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.


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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. 


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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 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.

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