Can working executives take the CAT 2021 without having to give up their jobs? Yes, aspirants may take the CAT and maintain their employment at the same time.

The Countdown To CAT 2021 has begun! IIM-A will be conducting the CAT this year in November (tentatively).

So, how does one prepare for CAT in just four months?

Cracking the CAT with a hundred or ninety-nine-plus percentile may not be a walk in the park, but it is not a baptism of fire either. Executives working nine hours, five days a week might wonder whether they must take a hiatus from work. However, executives can work with a plan and organize a strategy to sail through the test.

First, understand the test: What is the CAT?

  • Who conducts the CAT? IIMs
  • Frequency: Once a year
  • CAT yields: Admission into B-schools across India
  • Mode: Computer-based test
  • Number of sections: 3
  • Duration: 120 minutes (40 minutes for each section)
  • Number of questions: 76
  • 54 MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions) and 22 TITA (Type In The Answer)
  • Three marks for correct attempts and minus one for incorrect attempts for MCQs, and three marks with no negative marks for TITA

The three sections of the CAT are: 

Quantitative Ability (QA) (Answer twenty-six questions in forty minutes)

The QA section tests the basic math skills of the test taker.

The quant section covers problems related to:

  • Arithmetic
  • Number systems
  • Geometry
  • Menstruation
  • Algebra
  • Permutation and Combination

Eight of the QA questions are TITA. 

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI/LR) (Answer twenty-four questions in forty minutes)

We divide the section into

  • Data Interpretation
  • Logical Reasoning

 The section covers questions and sets on:

  • Games and Tournaments
  • Venn Diagrams
  • Cubes
  • Maximization and Minimization

Six of the DI/LR questions are TITA.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) (Answer twenty-six questions in forty minutes)

We divide the VA/RC section into:

  • Reading Comprehension (RC)
  • Verbal Ability

The RC section consists of passages followed by questions.

All the questions in the RC are MCQs.

The Verbal Ability comprises:

  • Paragraph questions
  • Critical Reasoning

The questions come as:

  • paragraph jumbles
  • Cloze Paragraph or para completion
  • Context Sentence or eliminating an irrelevant sentence

Eight of the paragraph questions are TITA. 

Critical Reasoning questions come as

  • Finding conclusions/inferences/assumptions
  • Finding flaws/weakening/strengthening of arguments
  • Passage summary


The first step is to get the concepts clear. One must understand the topics in each section and grasp the basics. One can look for books and web material covering the issues, several of which are available on the market.

Check this page for CAT-prep book suggestions:


The axiom – practice makes perfect is not overstated. Most books come with practice material too. Work on questions and exercises in all the topics to improve accuracy.


Answering the questions within a given time is of utmost importance in cracking the CAT. Most test-takers might be familiar with the topics and get the correct answers to almost all the questions. However, one does not get all day to answer the test.

Once the concepts are clear, practising with a timer to ensure timely responses is the key to topping the CAT.


Ask any CAT topper about their strategy. They would all swear by mock tests as the yardstick to measure preparedness.

One can access a few mock tests from some of the websites. However, joining a test series with proctored tests is crucial to getting a picture of where one stands in each section. Most trials also come with analyses that help in comprehending and improving one’s weak areas.

Aspirants must take full-length, sectional, and topic or chapter-wise tests as often as possible. While the mocks help improve the test taker’s speed, they also expose one’s weak areas. One could work on improving weak areas during the initial months.


Aspirants who are serious about cracking the CAT must prepare a schedule and follow it diligently. A weekly schedule is easy to follow.

The schedule must cover all the topics, including mocks and reading practice too. Another must-include at the end of the plan is a review. Reviewing the past week’s activities can help overcome the snags. The review can also aid in polishing the following week’s schedule.


Preparing a schedule is only the beginning. The schedule succeeds when one follows it assiduously.

Setting aside time

One may find it arduous to balance office work and test prep. Nevertheless, skilful allocation of activities can ease the strain. One can choose to read newspapers, articles, or books during the commute to work or set aside some time when one is relaxed.

Waking early and sleeping late for the next few months will give you extra time in the morning and evening for prep work. A six-hour sleep should suffice. Additional time during weekends comes as a bonus too.

A few commonly heard FAQs. 

  • Should I quit my job to prepare for CAT? We already know the answer to this. There is no need to forfeit one’s employment. Besides, many schools, including the IIMs, allot marks for work experience.
  • How many years of work experience is suitable for an IIM (A/B/C) seat? Three to five years of work experience is good enough for most schools.
  • How many hours a day should I set aside for practice? About four to five hours on weekdays (split between morning and evening) and eight to nine on weekends should suffice for the preparation.
  • Are mock tests necessary? Mock test-taking is the holy grail of CAT prep.

To get more guidance on How to prepare for CAT 2021, Join: CAT Exam 2020-21 Preparation, Exam Dates, Results & Discussion – PaGaLGuY

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