Originally I was going to title this “The average student’s guide to cracking the CAT” .Then I realized I wasn’t average. This could hardly be called a guide. And I hadn’t even cracked the CAT. So I modified the title. I was going to rip-off Five Point Someone s opening line and modify it to read “I am pretty sure lots of other people could write this better if only they’d get off their asses. They didn’t. I did. So sit up straight, press Ctrl+D and let’s move on.”

Before we go any further, remember that I am going to be giving a lot of examples based on my experience. What worked (or didn’t work) for me may not(or may) work for you. The important thing is, you have to decide what to do and be flexible about it. Lately, with the number of students appearing for CAT going up, the starting period of students preparing for the CAT seems to be getting more and more ridiculous. I’ve seen requests from kids in their first year of Engineering asking for tips/strategies to crack the CAT. So first off, if you are thinking about starting that early, forget it. There’s no point. Honestly speaking, the best time to start preparing for the CAT is in May of the year you are going to take the exam. Seven months is more than sufficient time. I know because I managed a 94.5 percentile in CAT 2k3 (I told you I didn’t crack the CAT. In my defense, the paper was leaked in this year and I had done a whole lot better in the leaked paper). Read this.

However, there is plenty you can do if you want to start early.

1) If you notice, more often than not, the Verbal section seems to be horror of most students. So, start reading. If you don’t already, there’s no time like now. Get rid of that vernacular paper. Take in The Hindu, on weekdays and the Economic Times on weekends. Read the editorials. Chuck that SportsStar in favour of a good B (Business for the uninitiated) magazine . Read the books mentioned in this. Read, Read and then Read some more. Did you know that PG himself read over 2000 books before his 12th. He exhausted his local library doing that. Believe me, it shows. How many of you even have a membership to a library??

2) Improve your academic performance. Now is never too late to start. Academics play an important role to some extent, so it helps.

3) Go out and make a difference. Join a social service community. Click here to know more

4) Do some all round improvement. Get into shape, work out, learn to play a musical instrument, improve your relationship with God/Parents/Family members/Friends……. When things get tough these are the people who’ll be there.

5) Make friends with Google.

6) Practice for Group Discussions and interviews. Improve your communication skills.

Its May and you’ve joined some institute. They’ve given you material and hopefully you’ve opened them and seen them. Now here’s the thing—when I was preparing for the CAT in 2k3, at one of the student meets, one of students asked a faculty member whether the material provided would be enough or whether they should look for more material from other places. The director replied that that particular institute provided 5000 pages of material, and in all his years of teachings, no one had ever gotten through it all. This is true. Most kids have so much material piled up at the end of year its ridiculous. That said, there are a few books I think you should get and go through. Vedic math, Arun Sharma/Guhati, last ten years CAT papers. Vedic mathematics maybe a lot of work on its own but can also be a lot of fun.


Discipline yourself. Pace yourself. Draw up a flexible timetable. Contrary to what most people think, a time-table needn’t bind you down. Instead it gives you the time to do what you really want without letting you take your eyes off your goal. For instance, when I started prep, I used to wake up at 4 in the morning, study till 5:40 or so and then get ready for class at 6:30. Class finished by 8 and I had to rush back home to grab my bag, a quick bite and run for the college bus. Now my college was an hour and a half away which I spent in sleeping. My classmate on the other had, spent his time reading the editorials which we would then discuss on the trip back home. My VA skills, if I may say so myself , are rather strong so we’d discuss the topic and I’d help him with grammar and correction of sentences. My friend’s QA was strong so he’d help me out with that

Form a study group. You are competing with over 1.5lakh students, so your group will just be a sample of what to expect. Make sure your group members are the serious sort– not the types who run off to watch a movie after every mock. Well ok, they needn’t be that serious too because it’s important to relax and enjoy the whole experience of preparing but its also important not to get carried away. A study group is very handy when it comes to taking sectional tests, mocks, FLT’s et al. Compare your scores with theirs. Find out what questions they attempted in QA that you didn’t and why they attempted them. Find out the approach and if there’s a way of doing them that you didn’t know about. Check those errors in VA. Find out what the easy sets in DI were.

Google has this project for which the tag-line is “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”. Given the competition, every little thing helps. Go ahead, find your Giants.

Majority of you who go for coaching will mostly go 3 times a week, say Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Right now, the mocks haven’t started yet, so that means you have 3-4 study sessions before the next class. STUDY!! Four sessions is a lot!!

Let’s say you were taught numbers on Monday morning. On Monday evening, study what you were taught and solve the problems from the material. Tuesday morning and evening, solve the problems from whichever book you’ve picked up. Wednesday morning, have a dekko at the topic that’s going to be taught (don’t most institute’s give you a schedule of sorts??). Above all, make sure you become really thorough with what you are studying. For e.g. all of us know the area of a triangle. Off the top of your head, can you tell me how many such formulae are there? Learn to analyse. It’ll be very helpful when it comes to D.I.

Whatcha waiting for?? Go crack that CAT

Neo2000 is a young 24 old who spends his weekdays pretending to code whereas he’s actually reading some novel on his computer or surfing PG under the guise of research for his latest project.He spends the weekends trying to study but can usually be found in front of his PC surfing PG or playing the fool. He’s met the CAT 3 times in a row and the CAT has been very kind to him, coming one day after, on the same day, and one day before his birthday respectively.

Only recently has he taken to writing about himself in the third person.

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