CAT 2020 Preparation Tips for Beginners – PaGaLGuY

CAT or Common Admission Test is one of the most popular tests aspirants take for getting admissions to the IIMs or other top colleges throughout the country.

Preparing for CAT has always been a question in their minds and when it comes to beginners, the confusions amongst them just doubles up as they are very new to understand the course, type of questions, syllabus, exam pattern etc. of the CAT.

Read this article to know preparation tips to tackle the CAT 2020 questions and sail across with flying colours.

CAT 2020 Exam Pattern

Section Expected No. of Questions Duration Marking Scheme
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) MCQs – 24

Non MCQs – 10

1 hour MCQs:

+3 for correct

-1 for incorrect

0 for un-attempted


+3 for correct

0 for incorrect

0 for un-attempted

Quantitative Ability (QA) MCQs – 24-26

Non MCQs – 8-10

1 hour
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) MCQs – 22-24

Non MCQs – 8-10

1 hour

The most important thing beginners need to do is to check out the syllabus for the CAT 2020 objectively and try to plan your actions accordingly. Also, it is very important to keep in mind the boundaries of what to study, so that you don’t waste your time on topics that are not important/required.

Here is the difficulty level of CAT 2017, 2018 & 2019 

Below you can check the section wise and overall difficulty level of CAT which was conducted in past three years in 2017, 2018 & 2019.

Sections No. of Qs 2017 2018 2019
VARC 34 (24 Qs RC, 10 VA) Moderate -Difficult Moderate-Difficult Difficult
DILR  32 (8 Sets, 4 Qs in each set) Moderate-Difficult Moderate- Difficult Moderate -Difficult
QA 34 Moderate Difficult Moderate
Overall 100 Qs Moderate Moderate to Difficult Moderate to difficult

Tips for preparing Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

Verbal Ability questions basically tests your knowledge about the English language, grammar, vocabulary etc. whereas, Reading Comprehension could be quite tricky but if anyone is aware of the tricks to go through the passage, he/she will probably have a higher chance to solve the comprehension -based questions much accurately and faster than others. Thus, while attempting the comprehension-based questions, one must keep in mind the following things:

  • Get the central idea of the passage as to what is the crux of the passage. It is very important to understand the exact meaning that the passage is trying to narrate as a story so that while solving the questions, it becomes easy for you to eliminate the wrong options.
  • Focus on the details as most of the questions are asked from the smallest of the details which might be small in nature but may have a huge impact in the story of the comprehension.
  • It is also important to understand the logical structure of the passage and arrange the things accordingly. So, a thorough reading of the passage once or twice will help you to understand that logical structure of the passage.
  • You have to plan what and when you have to study in English and nobody but you know the topics you’re weak at. So, it is very important to chalk-out a plan for your studies. 
  • Cultivate a habit to read an English magazine (INDIA TODAY, THE DIGEST etc.) or newspaper (preferably THE HINDU) on a daily basis as it will help improve your grammar, vocabulary (as it will help you in solving Verbal Ability questions) and general knowledge. Also make a daily list of about 20-25 words and search for the meaning over the internet and try to use those words in your day to day speeches/conversations.
  • Try to have conversations with your family/friends in English as much as possible. This will help you with your speech improvement and grammar.

Tips for Preparing Quantitative Ability

The Quantitative Analysis section is completely based on the topics which you must have studied until your 10th standard. So, preparing for this section doesn’t requires much efforts. However the most important requirement for acing in this section is your practice.

The more you will practice, the more accurately and quickly you will be able to solve the questions. You should:

  • Firstly, prepare a plan and give yourself enough time for those subjects in which you feel you’re weak at.
  • Practise, practise and only practise can improve your speed of solving questions. In such competitive exams, coming up with the right answer is not important, but coming up with the same right answer very quickly is very important. Only 60 minutes for 34 questions, which means less than two minutes for each question (105 seconds to be precise) which is quite less for even reading the question. So, nothing but reading fast and analysing even faster is the only key to score well in this section.
  • Make a habit to solve 30-35 questions daily so that you don’t go out of practice.

Tips for Preparing Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

We have jotted-down some tips to help you in preparing for Data interpretation & Logical Reasoning section of CAT 2020:

  • Choose a Good Book – Studying from a good source (books) is very important for any candidate as it will teach you the basics and also the tricks to solve questions correctly as well as quickly. 
  • Start From The Basics – Once you have picked up a good book, you should start from the beginning to study first the amateur level questions and then only go for higher level questions. In the beginning you will be able to bring out the right answer but you will take a lot of time to do that. Once you’re familiar with the chapter and have done good practice, bringing out the right answer will become even quicker for you, and this is what CAT 2020 requires, i.e., speed and accuracy.
  • Apply Short-Cut Methods – Once you understand the lengthy but most correct way to solve a reasoning question, you should search for the tricks to solve the same question in the least possible time. By using tricks, you will be able to solve the same question in less than half the time that you took while solving it with the long procedure.
  • Sharpen Your Skill by Practise – Once you’re done with any chapter, increase your speed in solving the questions by practicing the sample questions. Practice at least 30-35 questions daily so that your speed meets up with your accuracy to answer correctly.
  • Time Management – It is very important to manage time while solving such questions. You should not take more than 100 seconds in solving a question from this section.


Gradeup has launched a green card that covers the CAT and MBA exams. 

Unlimited Access to ALL Mock Tests

Get gradeup green card-click here

Thanks for reading

Prep Safe. Score Better. Go Gradeup..!

Stay connected with fellow students on PaGaLGuY for CAT Exam 2020 Discussion

Read Next