How to prepare for CAT 2017 in 2 months - After the application process of CAT came to end on September 25, it was concluded that CAT 2017 has witnessed a slight dip from the previous year in its registration number. The numbers have slipped from 2,32,000 to approximately 2,31,000 lakh aspirants applying for around 3700 IIM seats and around 10,000 seats across top 100 B-schools. Needless to say, the competition in CAT is indeed going to be tough this year. With just two months left for the test day, it is high time that you shift the gear of preparation to the next level. Careers360 brings tips from experts and toppers to let you know how to prepare for CAT 2017 in 2 months.
CAT 2017 is scheduled to be conducted on November 26 in two slots across centres. As per the CAT exam pattern, the management test has a sectional time limit, you cannot plan which section to attempt first. Moreover, with the sectional cutoff across the 3 sections of the test, hence you may not be able to leave out certain topics or areas. Now the big question is how to take off the preparations within the 60 day period. In the CAT 2017 Expert Interview with Arks Srinivas, CEO, VistaMind, makes a valid point when he says, “Whether one is in the Final Year or a Working Professional, clearly the pressure is high. However, the priority for the CAT taker in the next 60 days has to be clear and each one is expected to spend a minimum of three hours per day. Ideally, it can go up for a Final Year student as he/she may be writing the CAT for the first time whereas a work-ex graduate may have already given CAT at least once!".
Like last year, you will not be given the liberty to choose the order of the section. The order of the section to be followed while attempting the test is given below:
Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
Section III: Quantitative Ability
How to prepare for CAT 2017 in 2 months - Section wise Strategy
Let us take a look at how to prepare for CAT 2017 in 2 months and it's section wise strategy to be followed.
Section I- Verbal Ability/Verbal and Reading Comprehension
This section is often considered as the weakest area for many aspirants who are confident enough to solve tough Quant problems but get petrified in reading a passage of 300 words and finding out the questions following it. But irrespective of your comfort level with the section, you have to prepare for it and the following points will give you the preparation strategy for Verbal and Reading Comprehension. This would be the first section of the exam.
Read a lot – Reading is the best strategy for dealing with Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning Section. It will not only improve your vocabulary but also your ability to understand and comprehend a lot faster. “One strategy that I had stuck with right from the beginning till the end was reading newspaper editorials and various blogs on the internet for about two to four hours every day.,” says CAT 2016 Topper Sreenath, a first-year SPJIMR student. Abhishake shares, “In Verbal, RCs is the most important section. With the changed format, there might be around 3-5 RC and there is no escaping them. I spent a lot of time reading working in RCs.”
Enrich your vocabulary – Vocabulary is an important aspect of the Verbal Ability section. Owing to the difficulty level of the exam, it can be very well expected that the words will not belong to the category of regular conversation. Follow the tried and tested methods of vocabulary learning include books such as Word Power, Barron’s etc. Writing down words and their meaning and utilizing them in sentences. Using Flash Cards for learning new words are also helpful. “I had to work a lot on the VA section because it was a weak area for me. The first task was to improve my vocabulary which I did through reading newspapers and following Norman Lewis’s Word Power Made Easy,” states Surbhi.
Focus on grammar – Grammar is a default topic in the Verbal Ability section. If you are a regular victim of grammar, it is time for you to go back to basics and face the problem. Wren & Martin is the best way to start with grammar basics. Take help from your mentors or seniors wherever you are getting stuck.
Practice – There’s no better way to gain a good grip over an area other than practice. Practice RC passages and other English Usage questions like Fill in the blanks, Para Jumble, Sentence Completion etc. Take sectional mock tests to get an overall practice regularly. “I was weak in Verbal Ability part because of not being a well-read person at all. Then I decided to focus only on those question types where comprehending the content was core requirement like Para-jumbles, RCs etc.,” mentions Balkesh.
Section II- Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning would be the second section to appear in the CAT 2017 exam. It is expected that there will be around 16 questions each in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning areas.
Be familiar with caselets – Be familiar with the topics and types of questions to expect in this section. The questions will be in the form of caselets, where each case will be followed by 3 to 4 questions. For DI, the questions will be in the form of line and bar graphs, pie charts etc. The LR questions will be mainly on arrangements, blood relations, family tree, venn diagrams etc. “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. There are certain problem types which require prior exposure because they involve a certain algorithm for solving which is time-consuming to decode on the spot. Practice for such problem-types is must,” says Balkesh Narang, IIM Udaipur student.
Be ready for calculation intensive questions – The DI questions for CAT are known for being calculation intensive. Utilize the on screen calculator to the fullest in this section. “The introduction of the calculator will definitely help students while performing calculations in Data Interpretation questions,” mentions Vinayak Kudva, Product Head, IMS. Knowing the fast calculation tricks is another strategy for solving the questions accurately without making it much time-consuming.
Solve previous years question papers – Prior to 2011, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning used to be a single section in the CAT paper. If you want to be familiar with the sections and the overall feel of the paper, solve the CAT question papers of past 10 years. As Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher suggests, “If one looks at the CAT 1999-2008 papers, most of which were similar to CAT pattern and I expect the similar questions would be asked in CAT 2017 also.”
Practice – The more you practice the questions from DI & LR, better will you perform. Since there is no theoretical aspect in this section, you can only practice excelling the areas.
Solve puzzles, riddles and play mental games to crack LR – Logical Reasoning is all about understanding the trick hidden in the question. Solve crossword puzzles, Sudoku, riddles on blood relations, family tree etc. “I have always been involved in some brainstorming activities like playing chess, minesweeper, Sudoku etc. Apart from these, I did not put any specific efforts to improve this section,” says Balkesh.
Section III- Quantitative Ability
Quantitative Ability or (QA) is the compulsory third section to be attempted in CAT 2017. The following points will help you prepare better in the days left for your CAT 2017 test day.
Know the areas well: As the first step of any preparation is to know the basics. Go through the past years’ analysis and question types to know which are the areas and topics with major weights. If you are not too strong with those topics, start with the basics. Don’t hesitate to go back to your old school or college books to learn the basics. To know the question types, solving the previous years’ question papers is the best solution. Sarthak Nayak, 99.87 percentiler in CAT and an SJMSOM-IIT Bombay student suggests, “My strategy for Quantitative Ability was to learn concepts, understand and workout on simple examples, then attempt difficult questions. By learning concepts and understanding them through examples, it was easy to understand and attempt difficult questions.”
Do not leave out important topics: Although it is not possible to prepare for each and every topic that has appeared in the CAT paper over the years, ensure that you do not leave out the important areas or chapters from your scheme of things. CAT 2016 Topper Konreddy Varun Kumar, 99.84 percentiler and MDI Gurgaon student explains, “QA was my strength and I didn’t have any strategy as such. One thing I followed was to stick to the two-minute rule. If you can’t solve a question within two minutes, move on to the next one. Practicing a lot of questions helps for Quant in the sense that it becomes easy to decide which question is doable and which one is not..”
However, there would be some areas, which by now you have realised is not your cup of tea. In that case, focus on your strength areas and leave out the others. Sohini Deb, an IIM Kozhikode student’s strategy will give you an idea on this. “As my Data Interpretation scores were not up to the mark, I made up a strategy to attend only one DI question and other questions from the quant section,” says Sohini. Since this year DI is not clubbed with QA, but with Logical Reasoning, you have to plan accordingly.
Focus on important chapters: As mentioned above, there are certain important areas in the Quantitative Ability section, which you must not leave out. But you must also take care that those areas or chapters get too much focus during preparation. Don’t be reluctant while preparing for important topics like Number System, Arithmetic, Modern Math or Geometry. Prepare in such a way that no matter how tricky the question is, you can crack the solving process within few minutes. Sharing her strategy, Rubal Bagde of IIM Trichy says, “Work the most on your strong topics and know the approaches for the weak topics. I focused on the topics of speed time distance, time and work, number systems and probability.”
Practice: Practice is the universal preparation strategy irrespective of sections. There is no substitute for regular practice, which includes taking mock tests and solving past years’ papers. This helps you ace your weaker areas and make the areas of strength even stronger. Take regular mock tests, whether full-length or sectional depending on your stage of preparation. “For QA, solving and practicing more sums helped me in discovering new and faster ways to approach problems. One can then easily tell which sums are easier to solve and focus on those during the paper. It is important, however, to practice solving harder questions as well so that one can increase the number of questions he/she can answer during the exam,” suggests Roshni S who obtained 98.4 percentile in CAT.
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