CAT Preparation

The Common Aptitude Test (CAT) is the most competitive management entrance exam in India. Lakhs of applicants appear for this exam every year but only 50 or 60 students manage to score a 99+ percentile in this exam. What sets the toppers aside from the rest of the candidates? Let us look at some of the tips and strategies used by toppers while preparing for CAT. If you are an aspirant preparing for CAT 2020, these tips can help you modify your methods of preparation.

CAT Exam Pattern

Sections Number of Questions
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 34
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) 32
Quantitative Ability (QA) 34
Total 100

VARC Tips and Preparation Strategies

There are 34 questions in this section which makes the VARC a pretty important section for CAT Exam. Eight out of every ten engineers fear this section of all because of the lack of reading habit. Let’s look at how the previous year CAT toppers prepare for VARC.

Jagesh Golwala, a 2018 topper with 100 CAT percentile, used to read a lot.  He advises the students to read newspapers daily. Some of the newspapers he suggested to develop reading habits are The Hindu, The Times of India and The Guardian.

Chhavi Gupta, one of the toppers of CAT 2017 with 100 percentile remarks that she used to analyse para jumble questions from the mock tests she was attempting.

Purav Gandhi, a 99.99 percentile scorer in CAT 2018, faced difficulty in the VARC section as well. The analysis of the mock tests by looking at the solutions helped him to improve this section.

Divyansh Gupta, one of the toppers of CAT 2018 with 99.92 percentile remarks that vocabulary building books brought improvement for this section. He read diverse topics and tried to read a lot.

Rickshesh Manchanda, who secured 100 percentile in CAT 2018, advises the candidates to understand their weakest sections. Mere reading of novels might not help some candidates so they should try to get feedback on topics where they are having doubts.

DILR Tips and Preparation Strategies

The DILR section is unique to the CAT. The difficulty level of this section usually remains from moderate to high and many applicants find this difficult to solve.

Meet Agarwal, a 100 percentile scorer in CAT 2017, remarks in his interview that perspective to look at a DILR question must change. For him, the DILR questions were pretty interesting to solve.

Divyansh Gupta notes that he took many sectional tests and attempted many sets as possible from this section.

Rickshesh advises the candidates to attempt easy sets at the beginning of the mock and CAT paper. It will give time to decide and mark the tougher sets.

CAT 2020 aspirants can also solve sudoku or puzzles in their free time.

QA Tips and Preparation Strategies

The Quantitative Ability is usually the strongest section of candidates with a technical, engineering or commerce background. With 34 questions, the QA section is also very important for candidates. Generally, most toppers remark that they focused on making their concepts of the section stronger.

Rahul Manglik, who obtained 100 percentile in CAT 2019, remarks, “I learnt some Vedic maths tricks to speed up my calculations. I think that that extra speed helped me gain an edge over and above the normal preparation.”

Rickshesh Manchanda advises the CAT aspirants to make the concepts strong as the concept of a Quant topic matters a lot.


The general advice of most candidates securing 99+ percentile is to attempt as many mocks as possible. After attempting mocks, analyse what questions went wrong for you. Identify your weak sections and devote your time to practice the questions.

Stay connected with fellow students on PaGaLGuY for CAT 2019 Discussion

Suggested Books by Toppers

QA:’How to Prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT’ by Arun Sharma. Publisher-Tata McGraw Hill.

DILR: ‘How to prepare for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning for CAT’ by Arun Sharma.

‘The Pearson Guide to Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation’ by Nishit K. Sinha. Publisher-Pearson.

VARC:’How to Prepare for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay. Publisher- Tata McGraw-Hill

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