Preparation Strategy: How to Start CAT Preparation for 2018

If you want to take the CAT 2018 exam on November 25, to secure a spot in the best IIMs and other top-ranking MBA colleges in India, you need to start preparing for this exam well in time and in accordance with the latest exam pattern.

According to the toppers of this exam and other experts, a major ingredient of your strategy is the time you devote to preparing for the CAT exam. As the time for the exam nears, you should revise more intensely and repeatedly, so that your preparation is solid and you remember all that you learnt.

Once you get the time factor in place, you need to understand how to prepare for this exam at home by studying out of standard books and other preparation material. This will negate the need to go to coaching classes. After all, you can get all the much-needed preparation material for your exam free online, such as the CAT exam Quiz 2018 or the CAT Mock test 2018 which can sharpen your preparation that much more and prepare you better for the upcoming exam.

Changes in the CAT paper: As you begin preparing for the exam, you will realize that the paper has undergone several changes over the years. The recent changes are that the paper will comprise three major sections, and will span 100 questions. For each section, the time period is one hour. You need to get high individual scores to do well overall. It also means that the time allotted to each question has reduced now to 1.8 minutes per question.

How to prepare: Past toppers of this exam state that the best way of preparing for it is self-study. When one encounters any problems that cannot be solved, instead of getting depressed, one should contact one’s online mentors who will not just solve the problem but also motivate them to do better and faster. Experts also suggest that one depend on self-study and in the last couple of months, join a coaching class to take care of any doubts or weak areas.  

However, if you feel more confident by joining a coaching class, join a reputed one, such as TIME or IMS. If you are a working professional who cannot attend regular coaching classes, a good solution for you would be online coaching classes. This is time-saving and cost-effective for the individual.

Your best resources: For the 2018 paper, you should get hold of mock tests and previous years’ papers as these will be your best resources and tools for exam preparation. Sample papers are available online in test format, so don’t ignore them. You should also attempt the CAT sectional quiz which will give you a faster speed and accuracy in preparing for the CAT exam.

CAT 2018 Preparation Strategy

When you begin preparing for the CAT exam, you will have to take the following factors into account:

Preparation strategy to crack CAT: When you have eight months to go for the CAT exam, you should be serious about your preparation to get the highest score and give it your best shot this year. Here is a detailed strategy on preparing for the CAT 2018 exam with a perspective on the time required for study each day for a comprehensive preparation.

How many hours should you dedicate to CAT preparation? There can be no answer to this question because much depends on whether you’re taking this exam for the first time or second. If you fall in the former category, you must begin your preparation today without frittering away any time. Ideally, you should be studying about 20 hours per week.

The amount of time you spend will also depend on your proficiency in English and Maths, because accordingly you can speed up or go slow in these areas. You might also like to have a different schedule for weekdays and weekends. However, ensure that you spend enough time for each section of the paper, at least two hours per section.  

If you have already taken the paper before, you are somewhat prepared for it. This would mean that you study intensely for about six or seven hours a week till you are five months away from the exam. Once you cross this period, you will need to put in more time for study.  

Plan to study Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC): In recent times, the weight of each section of the CAT paper has undergone changes. For instance, the weight of Reading Comprehension has gone up significantly, now constituting about 70% of the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section.

To excel in this section, you must prepare for it by spending at least an hour each day on this. Of that period, devote a minimum of 45 minutes to attempting four Reading Comprehension (RC) passages or 24 RC questions per week. When you do this regularly, you get as close as possible to scoring a 99 percentile in CAT because this is how you prepare to do well in this section. By the end of your preparation period, you should have attempted 700 RCs, not including the mocks.

Of the remaining 15-20 minutes of your hour, ensure that you try about 8-10 questions from the Verbal Ability section. With regular practice, you can be well-prepared for doing well in this section.

Plan to study Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR): You should aim to correctly attempt all 15-16 questions of this section in the CAT paper. This will give you a high percentile. Here too, dedicate an hour each day and attempt to complete two sets each of DI and LR.

You would need a lot more time with DI because a lot of the questions here need logical thinking. Often, it is difficult to distinguish between these two sections. Aim to attempt two Logical Reasoning and 2 Data Interpretation sets each day. By doing this, you will complete 12 sets of DI and LR questions within a week. Likewise, this will ensure that you have attempted 700 DILR sets before CAT excluding mocks!

Study Plan for Quantitative Ability (QA): Focus on Algebra, Arithmetic and Numbers. Put Numbers before the others because about half your math concepts will help you do well in Algebra. However, don’t completely ignore Modern Maths and Geometry. In fact, cover all chapters in Maths and do it in a detailed and thorough manner.

Number of questions to attempt from each section: By scoring as close to 180, you will get the coveted 99 percentile. However, if you attempt a mere 60 questions out of 100 accurately, you can hope to get into the cream of the IIMs easily.

When to start writing mock exams: There’s no right time to start writing mock exams, in fact, the earlier the better. By starting early, you would perhaps get only a few right answers. But as you go along, you’ll do better and this will be really confidence-building for you. This will also show you what area of study you should focus on.

After you finish a mock exam, you should read the in-depth analysis of your performance so that you know your strengths and weaknesses. This will give you a real-time picture of your preparation level and help you prepare better.  

From April to June, you should do a minimum of three complete mocks of three hours each. Spend the next five hours understanding the analysis. This means you spend eight hours every 15 days to do a complete mock.

Come July, you will have covered most of your fundamentals. So, it’s now time to do one mock a week. Not only will this keep you on track but you can manage your time better and develop a customized strategy for test-taking.

Summary

By setting aside six hours a week to VARC, DILR and Quant concepts and testing them at the end of the week with a three-hour mock test, you can understand the analysis and aim towards a 99 percentile.

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