10 tips to ace CAT


Manage your time.

Balance speed with accuracy.

Analyse your mock CATs.

These are just few of the tips given to CAT aspirants by different organisations that help you prepare for the CAT exam.

The countdown to C Day (CAT Day, November 21) has begun. So have sleepless nights, nervous breakdowns and last minute revisions.

Remember, though, those who slog mindlessly for this test fail to acknowledge the inherent nature of the CAT examination.

As many of the articles we have carried earlier on Get Ahead have reiterated, CAT is a test of your managerial aptitude and managerial skill sets like:

~ Time management
~ How you handle pressure and uncertainty
~ Decision making

Remember, CAT is not about solving 150 questions in 120 minutes.

It is about solving 90 to 95 questions with 85 to 90 percent accuracy.

Here are a few tips that should fetch you a call from the best B-Schools in the country.

Tip 1: Handle pressure and uncertainty well. And reap the rewards!

Handling pressure and uncertainty is a crucial element of CAT. This is a vital skill that a manager requires in his/ her daily decision-making process.

The CAT examination spans 120 minutes, but if you are able to handle the pressure in the first 15 and last 10 minutes, your chances to excel increase.

Some pointers to help you excel at this stage are:

* Have a flexible strategy.
* Scan your question paper for the initial three to four minutes to locate easy questions.
* Attempt your favourite section first.
* Remember CAT is just another name for uncertainty. If it ain’t uncertain, it ain’t CAT! This year, you might get a paper based on Reasoning. Or you might have an additional section on Reasoning.

(The above prediction is based on the increasing emphasis on Reasoning in the last decade. Also, CAT patterns/formats are revamped every five years. The last time the pattern was changed was four or five years ago.)

Tip 2: Sequence and prioritise — your mantras for success

Sequencing and prioritising mean:

~ Deciding on the sequence in which you will attempt the various sections.
~ Allocating an approximate time to each section.
~ Prioritising questions within sections.

Deciding your sequence before entering the examination hall helps you methodically attempt CAT.

As a result, you don’t shuffle between sections and lose time. Once you have scanned the paper, allocate an additional five to 10 minutes to a tough section and take out five to 10 minutes from an easy section.

Let us assume that, before entering into the hall, your strategy was:

~ Scanning: 3-4 minutes
~ Quantitative Ability: 40 minutes
~ Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency: 35-40 minutes
~ Verbal Ability: 40 minutes

If, say, Quantitative Ability is tough and the other two sections are comparatively easy, your changed strategy may look something like:

~ Scanning: 3-4 minutes
~ Quantitative Ability: 45-50 minutes
~ Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency: 30 minutes
~ Verbal Ability: 30-35 minutes

By all means, attempt your favourite section first.

Those who have taken CAT, though, will advise you never to attempt Quantitative Ability in the end. QA utilises your core fundamentals and formulae; sometimes, they are difficult to recall under the twin pressures of time and mental fatigue.

The other two sections are primarily practise-based.

Here are some sequences you could adopt if you do not have a strategy yet:

Sequence I

1. Quantitative Ability
2. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency
3. Verbal Ability

Sequence II

1. Quantitative Ability
2. Verbal Ability
3. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency

Sequence III

1. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency
2. Quantitative Ability
3. Verbal Ability

Sequence IV

1. Verbal Ability
2. Quantitative Ability
3. Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency

Tip 3: Tame CAT by taming each section individually

Here are some specific section-related strategies:

Quantitative Ability

Attempt questions in three rounds.

Round 1

~ Attempt all one liners.
~ Attempt all two liners.
~ Attempt all four liners.

Round 2

Come back to the leftover questions of Round 1. Under pressure, you might just have left easy questions from Round 1 unattempted. Attempt them again

Round 3

If time permits, tackle the lengthier questions on your favourite topics.

There is a second school of thought which says lengthier questions are easier.

But remember: It takes just five to 10 seconds to decide whether you should attempt to answer one or two liner questions. Lengthier questions take more time to read, comprehend and crack, if at all you are able to do so.

Verbal Ability

~ Most students attempt English Usage or Reading and Comprehension questions first.
~ In Para Jumbles, look out for structural and logical connectors.
~ Before attempting Reading and Comprehension, scan the questions once.
~ Narrative RCs have generally proved students’ nemesis. Be careful.
~ Generally, students scan a poem before an RC. A poem is short and easy to read, thanks to fewer eye fixations. You will also come to know within a few seconds whether it should be attempted or not.
~ Grammar questions should be your forte.

Data Interpretation/ Data Sufficiency

~ Revise your percentages and approximations.
~ Data Sufficiency questions are independent of each other and should be attempted first. Try not to use external knowledge while answering Data Sufficiency questions.
~ Once you are done with the Data Sufficiency questions, attempt single graph questions followed by the double graph questions.
~ Questions based on logical games and long tables are generally attempted last.

Speed breakers

CAT also features speed breaker questions. Beware of them.

These questions constitute about two to five percent of the CAT paper and are best attempted by not attempting them.

They are also known as ‘take home’ questions.

Most important!

1. Relax.

2. Take two easy full-length tests on November 19 and November 20 from 11 am to 1 pm.

The test on November 20 should be a three-section test.

Try taking a four-section test on November 19 (Remember, CAT may have an additional section on Reasoning).

3. Do not over-burden yourself on November 20.

4. Revise your mathematics formulae.

5. Watch a war movie to pump up your adrenaline!

If you have questions, please ask below


  1. karan singh says:

    best books which covers the pattern of cat and mat

  2. archana gautam says:

    plzzzzzzzzzz….. suggest book for quant section which are good and simple in understanding….

  3. mukesh sharma says:

    i am doing btech so i want complete knowledge about cat entrance exam

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