How To Crack CAT 2019 - The foremost step towards acing the most coveted entrance examination conducted by IIM to admit candidates to postgraduate management programmes is to analyse one’s strengths and weaknesses. It is imperative for all the prospective CAT candidates to prepare and plan their preparation strategy. CAT does not require intelligence; it calls for planning and perseverance! CAT preparation revolves around the ability to maximise candidates’ potential, ensuring that they are fully aware of their strong areas and utilise them in the best possible manner. In this article, Careers360 brings forth the techniques to crack CAT 2019 and smoothen the path for all the test takers in order to ace CAT on the day of the exam.
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How To Crack CAT 2019

How to crack CAT exam is the most engaging question posed by aspirants. Both CAT toppers and experts emphasize on the importance of planning, regular practice, time management, the accuracy of answers, and selection of questions in their guiding tips. The experts suggest ways to select the right questions, the number of questions to attempt in order to crack the test with a high percentile. The 10 strategies mentioned here pertaining to ‘How to crack CAT’ are all inter-connected with each other and render a cumulative effect if followed religiously.

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How To Crack CAT 2019- Top Tips

Regular Practice and Planning

What is meant by Regular Practice? Does it denote 12-14 hours of study or non-stop reading of CAT preparation books? This over-used statement implies nothing like this. It talks of ‘smart work’ over ‘hard work’. Candidates need to focus on the basic fundamentals, sharpen test-taking skills, and improve with the practice of the mock tests. This can only be executed with a proper weekly and monthly planning. The weekly plans should be built keeping in the mind the monthly targets in terms of completing the CAT 2019 syllabus.

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While preparing the weekly plan, candidates should ensure to focus on one target area in each subject that they want to improve on. The weekly task should also include revision of the already covered concepts (minimum one topic). Once, four to six concepts are completed, one should try taking as many mock test questions pertaining to those covered topics. This process should continue until he/she finishes the CAT syllabus 2019. Viraj Sheth, a 99.95 percentiler in CAT 2017 clearly stated, “I maintained a consistency of devoting 6 – 8 hours every day and believed in my abilities.”

A planned approach towards CAT preparation will not only help a test taker score well but also save a lot of time and energy to pursue his/her leisure time activities. Scoring well in CAT is not a difficult task if one ensures a perfect planning and execution. It is highly recommended that test takers should have a regular regime of study hours.

Time Management

Being the most vital aspect, time is the most valuable resource, not only for CAT 2019 but for all entrance tests/academic tests for that matter. In CAT, all the sections are time-bound, so one needs to manage his/her time thrice, as in three hours divided into three sections. Examinees can afford to devote 60 minutes for each section. The time management strategy is usually separate for each sub-section. For example, a candidate may choose to spend more time in English Usage area than the Reading Comprehension questions in the VARC section or spend more time analysing and solving the DI questions if he/she is not competent enough for the LR section.

Time management can be best planned by the test takers themselves as they are the best judge to decide how to utilise the one hour allotted to one section. Ideally, not more than two minutes should be spent per question as candidates should keep some spare time for question selection and revision. “I devoted five to seven minutes for selecting the questions. I had answered 24 questions in RC and spent 42-45 minutes as my accuracy level was very high,” Mentions Chhavi Gupta, a CAT 2017 Topper who secured 100 percentile and is currently pursuing MBA at IIM Ahmedabad.

Speed and Accuracy

Focus should not be on solving all 100 questions but on the level of accuracy. So one is expected to prioritise his/her questions based on their strengths and weaknesses. Test takers should first focus on completing questions from their strong areas, followed by the weak areas. Performance in the CAT 2019 is dependent much on candidates’ level of preparation and command over the topics of strength.

Owing to the negative marking pattern, test takers must be cautious while marking the answers. For each correct answer three marks would be awarded but for each wrong answer, one mark would be deducted. However, for the subjective type questions, there is no negative marking scheme attached with the incorrect responses. If one attains the 100 per cent accuracy level in the exam, there are high chances to secure a percentile more than 99+ even if he/she does not attempt all questions. If the questions are calculation intensive, cross-check the calculation and revise the answer more than once to attain accuracy. Avinash Iyer, who bagged 99.61 percentile in CAT 2017 said, “Candidates should focus on speed over concepts during CAT preparation.”

The supplementary aspect which tags along with accuracy is speed! CAT aspirants not only need to solve the questions accurately but solve them in minutes. Speed immensely matters to attain grip on CAT exam. In order to manage speed with accuracy, candidates need to make use of techniques, like rounding up fractions to estimate the answer faster or to write tests at such a speed, that they can complete the tests before the stipulated time.

Time Management Guidelines

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

Select the Right Questions

Right question is a relative term in itself. What is a ‘right question’? Each candidate should first spend some time selecting the questions that they are confident about. This action builds confidence in attempting the complete exam. Spending some time to scan through the questions carefully is definitely a smart way to counter the exam paper. Candidates, while beginning with a section, should mark the questions to be attempted first. Additionally, they should select some buffer questions as well, in case they find the selected set of questions difficult to solve or time-consuming.

Ensure Sectional Cutoffs

It is of utmost importance that aspirants should be aware of the selection criteria of top management institutes including IIMs and top B Schools, as they mostly require both overall and sectional cutoff for shortlisting students for the final admission. To keep up to the afore-mentioned selection condition, one needs to render equal priority to all three sections, Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR). If a candidate is a CAT aspirant, he/she must concentrate on improving the overall percentile by attempting more questions from their strong sections and minimal attempts from weak sections without compromising on the rate of accuracy.

Number of questions to Attempt

Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher shares his opinion on how to crack CAT, with special reference to the number of questions to be attempted per section and the net score required to obtain 99 percentile and above. The table mentioned below projects the same-

How To Crack CAT 2019 - Number of Attempts


Number of Questions to attempt

Net Score

Quantitative Ability

23 to 25 attempts

70 to 75

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

22 to 24 attempts

65 to 70

Verbal and Reading Comprehension

20 to 22 attempts

55 to 60



Section Wise Strategy

To the obvious question, how to crack CAT, Soumyajit Ghosh, 94.3 percentiler in CAT 2017 and IIM Bangalore student shared his experience on the section wise strategy during the exam -

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension: Verbal section was good. I skipped Para Jumble questions as per my strategy (because of the high probability of error and time consuming). I attempted all RCs but took enough time to revise.

  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning: The DILR section was quite tough. I kept my head cool and tried to solve the questions without error. I could answer 12-13 questions.

  • Quantitative Abilities: This section was quite easy to solve.

How To Crack CAT 2019- The most important areas of each section are as the following-



Data Interpretation

Logic and calculation based DI sets

Logical Reasoning

Arrangement based puzzles, Investment Betting, and Tournaments

Quantitative Ability

Geometry, Modern Mathematics and Arithmetic problems

Verbal and Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension, Jumble and Completion type questions.

Stay Calm and Begin with Comfortable Areas

It is always better to select and start attempting questions from the area of strength to boost one’s confidence. Comfortable questions prepare you for the entire tenure of the test and eventually help candidates to tackle the tricky, difficult questions as well. Moreover, comfortable questions let one save time as can be solved easily within a short span of time. Post completing the comfortable questions, test takers can delve into the tough questions, spend some extra time and try solving them accurately so that they do not lose out on any of the known questions.

Mock Tests

CAT Mock Test aids test aspirants to evaluate their preparation and also helps them to have a better understanding of the test and the technique required to be followed at the time of the test. One should ensure to strictly maintain the timeline that he/she has practised on stand-alone questions during the preparation. First-year MBA student of IIFT Delhi, Harrshit Kansal, whose IIFT percentile was 99.6, CAT percentile was 98.87 and NMAT by GMAC percentile was 99 clearly stated, “Initially, I was appearing in around one to two mocks every week. Later on, when a few months were left before CAT, I started appearing in three mocks per week on an average. I made sure that the analysis of the mocks in which I appeared was done in the same week only. In the last three weeks before CAT, I again decreased the frequency of mocks and spent more time in revising all previously studied concepts and the marked questions from old mock tests.”

Cross Check Answers

Revision of the answers filled should be done before the final submission. There are chances that test takers might commit some unwarranted/silly errors like forget to mark the correct option, a question left unanswered by mistake etc. Cross-checking the answer comes to rescue in such obvious situations. Candidates should keep some buffer time for each section for revising the questions before the sectional duration concludes. This strategy of keeping buffer time helps in cracking all management and other entrance exams. Re-visiting answered questions would yield aspirants maximum scope for scoring, and would immensely help in avoiding mistakes.

Last minute discussions at bay

Concentration and focus should be the mantra for the test day. Candidates are advised to be with their own selves and nobody should be able to distract them. It is a usual practice to discuss preparation with friends and peers; one should refrain from this practice to be at peace. One should be confident about his/her preparation and not indulge in the last minute preparation or discussions. This affects the state of mind of the test takers. Therefore, before appearing for CAT 2019, the focus should be on the test strategy and not in futile discussion. Self-reliance will help candidates convert their CAT preparation into manifest targets.

Also, Read

How to prepare for CAT 2019

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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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