When is the right time to start CAT preparation: Column by Deekshant Sahrawat, MBAGuru Founder
Updated on Feb 5, 2019 - 6:21 p.m. IST by Sreetama Datta
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MBA aspirants often wonder what is the right time to start preparing for CAT or other MBA entrance exams. Now that the admission process for 2019-21 at the top B-schools is underway, aspirants should plan their MBA admission preparation right now. At this moment, an aspirant has around eight to nine months for the exam. As per experts, the time is just right to start with the preparation. In this article, MBA expert Deekshant Sahrawat, Founder, MBAGuru guides the aspirants on when is the right time to start preparing for CAT.

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Read the column by Deekshant Sahrawat on the right time to start preparing for CAT.


CAT is one of the most competitive exams in the world. The race to secure a seat at one of the top IIMs is fierce and understandably so. While IIM Ahmedabad, for example, selects around 400 students from over two lakh CAT aspirants (~ 0.2 per cent success rate), the Harvard Business School selects around 1000 students from just 10,000 applicants (~10% success rate). Therefore, statistically speaking, it could be argued that making it to IIM Ahmedabad is nearly 50 times tougher than making it to the Harvard. That, though not entirely true, is indicative of how competitive an exam CAT is.

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However, not only does CAT open the doors of admission to the coveted IIMs, but the CAT scores are also accepted by nearly 150 other B-schools, including some very reputed ones such as FMS, MDI, SP Jain. Hence, the difficulty-in-admission factor goes down considerably with so many good colleges accepting the CAT score.

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What is the ideal time to start your preparation for CAT?

While there is no single answer to that, and it would vary according to your individual needs, there are ways for you to arrive at a close-to-ideal duration for yourself.

One of the first things to keep in mind is that an exam such as the CAT does not require you to sit and home and slog away mindlessly. You can prepare for CAT along with your college or your job. In fact, that generally works better not only from the interview angle but also because it allows your preparation to be more productive and positive. However, that scenario (of being in a college or in a job) does limit the number of hours you can invest into your daily CAT Preparation and therefore, has an impact on the ideal duration for which you need to prepare. A comprehensive preparation for CAT requires around 1000 hours on an average. This number could be a little higher in case you are weak in more than one of the areas (English, Quantitative Ability, DILR) being tested or a little lower if you are above a threshold level in terms of comfort and command over all these areas. So, depending upon the number of hours you can look to invest daily given your college/job schedule, you can estimate the ideal time for beginning your CAT Preparation.

The second factor to keep in mind is whether you are extremely weak or uncomfortable around numbers, logic or language. For example, if you are weak in an area such as English, which, being a language, takes more time to improve, a longer duration of preparation will give you a better shot at success. It is so because developing certain areas, or overcoming our fears, is not simply a function of the total number of hours. Language, for instance, seeps into us from all modes and directions, and a longer duration allows that to happen far more effectively. Similarly, if you have a phobia of Maths (Quantitative Ability), then you may need to spend additional time building the basics from sources such as the NCERT books of Grades 6 to 10 and overcoming your fear in the process.

The third factor to keep in mind is your intensity. If you are not a sincere CAT aspirant, either because CAT is just another option for you or you are preparing just because many around you are doing so, then you are unlikely to sustain your focus and intensity over a long period of time. In such a case, a shorter duration of say five to six months would perhaps be better suited to you. In that case, you have to be prepared to put in five to six hours daily in your CAT Prep unless you have an innate aptitude for the areas being tested. On the other hand, if CAT is a priority for you, and you want a better balance between your CAT preparation and your college/job requirements, a longer duration of 10 to 15 months (which would mean a daily investment of two to three hours) would be more suited to you.

Most of the students who succeed finally figure out duration and intensity that best suits them.

It is advisable to plan the duration of your CAT Preparation around these three factors: the daily time you can invest, weaker areas that you may need to develop comfort in, and your likelihood of maintaining intensity over the duration of your preparation.

There are several other factors, apart from the duration of your preparation, that would ultimately have a decisive influence on your chances of success. We will explore some of those in the next few articles.

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 8118 out of 8118 Questions

I am a CAT aspirant & have appeared for CAT, XAT,& SNAP & scored 90%ile. With acads 10th-7.4CGPA, 12th-82% & in graduation(2018)-64% with no work experience due to family problem. Would I able to secure a seat in good college? I have been shortlisted for TAPMI, FORE, IIMV for round one till now.

Manidipa Kundu Student Expert 17th Feb, 2020


its true that iims and some of other top ranked institute shortlisted candidates as per their academic record and  cat or any other management aptitude  test score. see right now which of institute name you have mentioned is also comes under tier 1 college. now you need to focus on your presentation skills, communication approach  to get shortlisted in final rounds. so keep calm and focus on your goal, I think you will surely crack it.


dear sir, I have 67 percentile bin cat, which colleges should I apply??

Shiksha 16th Feb, 2020


You can target a few average collges like IBS Hyderabad, mdi murshidabad, amity noida, NBS Ahmedabad, ITM navi mumbai (good colleges)

Others are: vit vellore, isbr pune, ndim delhi, pibm pune, aims banglore, mit pune, ims ghaziabad, etc

For more colleges visit below link:



tell me proper cat syllabus and full knowledge of mba colleges admissions

Ina 16th Feb, 2020

Hi aspirant,

Hope everything is going well.

The entrance exams through which candidates can get admission in MBA course are CAT (Common Admission Test), MAT (Management Aptitude test), XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test), CMAT (Common Management Admission Test), SNAP (Symbiosis National Aptitude Test)) and ATMA (AIMS Test for Management Admissions).

Specifically,  For your question,

CAT Syllabus will be prescribed by the exam conducting authority. CAT (Common Admission Test) will be managed by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), Kozhikode.
The CAT Syllabus divided into four sections: Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning.

Quantitative Ability or Mathematics: This section consists of 10+2 difficulty level & Fundamental mathematics. The topics are:

  • geometry
  • number system
  • interest
  • quadratic & linear equations
  • probability
  • trigonometry
  • time & work
  • percentages
  • profit & loss
  • algebra
  • LCM & HCF
  • averages
  • permutation
  • ratio & proportions
  • complex numbers, etc

Data Interpretation: In this section, student’s ability to solve problems accurately & understanding of the data are tested. Students can study the topic of:

  • graphs (line, area)
  • Interpretation and analysis of data based on text
  • Charts (Column, bar, pie)
  • tables
  • paragraph
  • venn diagram, etc.

Verbal Ability & English: This section contains the usage of Standard English grammar & questions on comprehension. The topics are:

  • verbal reasoning
  • antonyms and synonyms
  • sentence correction
  • fill in the blanks
  • critical reasoning
  • syllogisms
  • analogies
  • idioms, etc.

Logical reasoning: It includes:

  • Direction sense
  • clocks & calendars
  • puzzles
  • binary logic
  • seating arrangement
  • coding- decoding
  • blood relations
  • logical sequence
  • data structure
  • assumption
  • premise
  • conclusion
  • linear and matrix arrangement, etc.


general cat. lives in haryana percentile 86,any good college in india.

jishua thomas 16th Feb, 2020

hello aspirant..

for admission through the jee mains you need to qualify the examination. Which is know with the declaration of the cutoff for the examination. As per the expected cutoff for  this year it is about 89.75 for the general  category. Work hard and do well in the next session of the jee mains for getting admission in excellent colleges.

hope this information helps


Hi sir/mam, ive scored 81% in 10th, 68% in 12th, 7.48(CGPA) in b.pharm.,9.64(CGPA) in m.pharm.(i was awarded as best student)& ive 24 mon. of experience as a scientist in a pharma company. What score in CAT i need to pursue mba from SPJain colg, mumbai?

Shivika Tyagi 16th Feb, 2020
For getting a call from SP Jain, you must score around 95 percentile in Cat. Although you must set your target for 95+ only so that you surely get a call from them. And after that you have to perform really well in GD and PI process. SP jain gives benefit to students with strong profile and work experience. So, try to build your profile.
Hope it helps you. Good luck
The question have been saved in answer later, you can access it from your profile anytime. Access now

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