A concise CAT prep guide

A concise CAT prep guide

A concise CAT prep guide

As you embark on your journey to be one among the top corporate leaders who will be driving the Indian economy in the years to come, your place in a renowned business school is your first step in achieving your goal.

The examination season has started and you will be appearing for various entrance exams conducted across the country in the next two months. As you approach the date for Common Admission Test (CAT) 2016, let’s focus on the final touches for your preparation.

With over two lakh applicants striving to grab the coveted 10,000 seats in the top B-schools of India, it can be a weighing experience. However, all you require to champion the exam is a focused approach, a clear understanding of the pattern and most importantly, the spirit to succeed. Here’s a list of five key things you must focus on in the last two weeks before the exam:


Self-study is the best option  during the last few weeks before the exam while you invest heavily in practising a diverse range of topics from vocabulary, reading, grammar to algebra and arithmetic. Practise mock tests as much as you can to gauge the preparation status and analyse your scores. Take the mock test available at the official CAT website to familiarise yourself with the pattern. Solve previous year exam papers and time yourself; aim at improving your time management skills with every attempt.

There are certain questions in each section that are especially time consuming. Don’t overspend your time solving them. With every mock attempt, try to develop a strategy to tackle them so that you don’t lose out on time to answer the questions you know. Also, a good old Strength Weakness Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis will prove handy.

Don’t enterprise

Expanding on the lines of the point above, I would suggest you not to venture into learning new concepts, topics or tricks for attempting the exam in the last weeks. It will unnecessarily strain you and disturb your timings. Spend time revising and mastering what you already know. With negative marking in some sections, unnecessary attempting of answers must be avoided as a difference of a few marks can create a huge difference in percentiles. Although, it must be noted that the non-Multiple Choice Questions must surely be attempted as they do not bear negative marks. Focus on increasing your speed and reducing your errors.

Trust your strength

It is imperative that you have faith in your efforts. Be confident and stick to your strengths. Attempt mock papers to strengthen and develop command over stuff you already know, instead of mulling over your not-so-satisfactory performance in other sections.


Invest your time in reading. Read books you like, daily op-eds in newspapers, long form coverage of news on the internet to keep a check on your vocabulary. Reading comprehension passages in the exam is time consuming. Try to be self aware of your timings while you read, comprehend and answer the reading sections of the mock exams.

The IIMs are gradually increasing the number and complexity of the passages. So, if you spend too much time on one passage alone, you may lose out on some precious time.


Lastly and most importantly, stay calm and relax. Keep minimal distractions. Take study breaks and refresh yourself after each practice session. You have already put in the hard work. You have been preparing for a few months and you know what it will take for you to get through. So, calm your nerves and have faith in your preparation.

(The author is associate professor, IMI-New Delhi)

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