When is the right time to start CAT preparation: Column by Deekshant Sahrawat, MBAGuru Founder
Sreetama Datta, 05 Feb 2019, #CAT
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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 7198 out of 7199 Questions


Aditya kumar Student Expert 19th Oct, 2019

Hello there!


You can download cat 2016 and more past year cat question papers with answer key by going through the link below :




i have got 82 in 10th, 55 in 12th and 68 in graduation what should i score in cat to get good b with avg salary of 8,9lkhs

Rehan Alam Student Expert 18th Oct, 2019

Dear Aspirant,

You have to score a minimum of 99 percentile to get at least one good IIM call as your academics are not good. You could get a call from new IIMs if you score 99 percentile as the top tier IIMs will not give you a chance due to your poor acads.

Colleges you could look for are like IIM Nagpur, Kashipur, Shillong, etc. These colleges if you study well will provide you with a good package of 10-12 lpa.

Hope this helps. Thank you.


i have got 90 percentile in cat but my academic scores are quite low 80 percent in 10th,55 percent in 12 from bihar board and 65 percent in graduation from bihar board, would i get good clg

Rehan Alam Student Expert 18th Oct, 2019

Dear Aspirant,

You will not be able to get any good business school like top IIMs, MDI, IIFT, or FMS. However, you can still get a good MBA tier 3/4 college if you increase your percentile to 98 percentile.

However, according to your grads, you must not be disappointed if you don't get a call at 99 because your marks are not good.

Hope for the best. Thank you.


what is the syllabus of CAT exam ..is it stream wise ...? which stream students is eligible for CAT ?

Papeya Dubey Student Expert 18th Oct, 2019


Eligibility for CAT is graduate in any discipline from a recognized university with 50% aggregate, for SC/ST/PwD it's 45%.

So, people from any background can apply for CAT, provided they have required aggregate at their graduation level against their category.

Now, coming to the syllabus for CAT, there's no specific syllabus for CAT, one needs to rely on past years sample papers to get a fair idea about the pattern and weightage given to each topic and section.In general, questions are mostly from middle school level English and Mathematics.

There are mainly three sections in CAT-

Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation which includes topics such as Tables, Graphs, Data Caselets, Seating Arrangement, Blood Relation, Syllogism etc.

Quantitative Aptitude which includes topics such as Geometry, Algebra, Time and Work, Mensuration, Number System etc.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension which includes topics such as Sentence completion, Questions based on reading comprehension, Para-jumbles & para-summar, inferences etc.

To know the detailed topics, kindly go through the following link-



i got failed in ap eamcet.can i get a good percentage in cat now

Aditi Amrendra Student Expert 18th Oct, 2019

See if you have failed in past then its bot necessary that you will fail again or you might get a very good percentile this time.The only thing that is your hand and by which you can perform well in CAT is my preparing with determination and consistency.
All you need to do is just give you best in the studies and then you will surely perform well in CAT.

I hope this helps.
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