16 Weeks to CAT – Tips and Strategies

With approximately 16 weeks to go for CAT, this article talks about key (and often ignored) strategies and tips/tricks to boost your chances of success significantly. This is especially useful for candidates who are beginning their preparation now or have recently started seriously with their preparation.

Vociferous reading outside your comfort zone

We are always able to easily understand and comprehend the articles/blogs/passages that lie within our areas of interest. But when we are asked to read and comprehend anything that is outside our comfort zone, we stumble. Even passages that are from a topic of interest but where the author has a different writing style and tone, can pose a major challenge, especially during an exam when the time available is limited.

The CAT exam (or even GMAT) would generally have passages (in the RC section) from a wide gamut of subjects, and hence it would greatly benefit the candidates if they start reading articles/blogs that are beyond their area of interest/comfort zone. Read as much as you can, read as quickly as you can. While reading, underline/identify the central ideas of all the paragraphs (as well as the overall passage).

Practice lots of sectionals

It is very important to achieve conceptual clarity as well as identify topic wise strengths and weaknesses around this time (especially for people starting their preparation). Since most test takers would also start practicing full length mock tests around this time, this time is very crucial for formulating and fine tuning the exam taking strategy. And a key step in doing this is to identify sectional strengths and weaknesses based on accuracy and time taken per question.

Sectional tests go a long way in providing comprehensive practice for each topic/domain and also help in identifying strengths and weaknesses (useful for attempting full length mock tests).

Analysis is the key – Know yourself

It is important to know where you are going wrong, why are you committing the mistakes that you are committing, how fast you are across various topics. Once you have this information you would be able to able to time and pace yourself in the mocks in a much better manner. In an exam like the CAT, smart preparation is needed and performance analysis is the first step towards that.

Special attention to DI and LR Sections

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning are not taught in a classroom. Neither can it be revised through concepts. And I have often seen that since the time it has been coupled with the Quantitative Ability section in the actual exam, Data Interpretation section languishes and is not given enough attention. Same is the case with the Logical Reasoning section. Comprehensive practice with a variety of questions (bar charts, pie charts, bar-pie combines, pie-data table combines, three way matches, four way matches, family trees etc.) is the key to acing this area. And this is the right time to start giving extra attention to Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (because these topics take 6-8 weeks to master and build speed in).

Set a daily and weekly schedule

Whether you join a coaching class or not is totally your personal choice – but the key to success in an exam like CAT is self study and self analysis. This can be achieved through discipline. Set a schedule for complete revision before the end of July. Also aim to achieve at least 50% accuracy in all topics through regular practice and in depth analysis. This should also be achieved by the end of July.

Deepak Nanwani is the co-founder of MyPrepMate.com, an online adaptive solution for GMAT and CAT preparation. An alumnus of IIT Guwahati and IIM Bangalore, he is a master strategist for all competitive exams. MyPrepMate focuses on performance analysis for faster improvements in test scores.