How to start preparing for CAT 2019

How to start preparing for CAT? CAT (Common Admission Test) is one of the toughest exam to crack. It is the gateway to getting into prestigious IIMs and other top B-schools of India. A lot of CAT aspirants ask me how to prepare for CAT. Here I am sharing a few tips which I feel helped me in cracking this exam and score 99.41 percentile.

Understand the syllabus

This is a useful tip for almost any exam. Understand the syllabus by going through past year’s papers and official guidelines. CAT can be segmented into four broad parts-

  • Quantitative Ability
  • Data Interpretation
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Verbal Ability

The concepts used in this examination are broadly of class 10 level. However, the questions are little bit tricky to solve and require good amount of logical thinking. But it can be developed by practice.

Begin with the end in mind

Start your preparation with sheer determination. Whenever you feel demotivated, you can dream about the day when you will crack the exam and it will definitely motivate you. March-April is a good time to start preparation for the exam which will be held in October-November. However, if you are starting late, say 3 months before the exam, you still have a decent time to prepare and crack this exam. It all depends on how efficiently you can utilize your time.

Should you join coaching?

This is based on a lot of things. If you have a lot of time, you can go for coaching. However, if you are into a hectic job and get very little time to study, you can prepare on your own without wasting that time in going to coaching. Coaching will only give you guidance. Rest depends on how sincerely you practice.

Also, the syllabus of this exam does not require any special training. Most of the things we already study in our school. There are few concepts which can be revised from books and other material. Rest is a lot of practice.

Books and material

I have prepared complete list of books and material you will need for your CAT preparation which can be found here: List of Important CAT Preparation Books

First of all, get CAT preparation material of some good coaching institute.

For Quant, there are two good books- Arun Sharma & Sarvesh Varma. You can refer to any of these. I referred the latter one as suggested by one of my friends. However, I think the former is more popular with the students. Both the books are good. But don’t buy both. No need to unnecessary collect a lot of books & material. If you have limited time, solving one book is enough. Go for the second book only when you have finished the entire syllabus.

No special book for concepts of Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability. You can rely on the coaching material for all the concepts and can solve all the practice questions. However, you should refer to more books on these topics only after you finish the entire syllabus.

For verbal, you also need to read “Word Power made Easy” by Norman Lewis. It is a very good book which helps in increasing vocabulary not by memorizing stuff, but by understanding the ideas behind the words. It is distributed into 45-47 sessions meant to be read one at a time. It is a must-read book and should be completed within two months of starting your preparation.

You also need to read a few good story books as explained in the next point.

That’s it. Yes, you do not need any other book for concepts. This much is enough.

Reading, reading & reading

Many students, specially engineers are already good at quant but perform badly in verbal. Earlier, CAT was heavily based on vocab and grammar concepts. But these days, it is more of a general English exam which tests one’s command over English in common usage. You should be very much familiar with English.

The only way to improve your verbal score is to read a lot of good books written in standard English. These can be fiction, non-fiction or anything, just written in good English.

I have already written a detailed article to help you develop your reading habit. You can find it here: How to develop the habit of reading.

In the article, I have also mentioned the example books. Reading 4-6 books during your preparation would increase your familiarity with English and you can easily score good.

Test Series

This is like the Holy Grail of CAT preparation. Subscribe to one good Test Series and write all the tests very sincerely in simulated environment. Fix a day, say Sunday, fix a time, say 9 AM, and give the test every week at the same time. Sit in proper position while attempting the test and tell all your roommates or family members not to disturb you at that time.

Once you write 15-20 such tests, CAT will no longer be a stranger to you. When you will sit for actual CAT, you will feel as if you have done this a lot of times and it will help you to remain confident during the exam.

Most coaching institutes try to set the Mock Question paper to be as near to the real exam as possible. Subscribe to a test series which is more difficult than actual CAT. You may find it difficult to score good in the mock tests. But it will boost your confidence when you will find the actual CAT to be easier than the mock tests. Many good test series are available.

News coverage for post-CAT preparation

Once you clear CAT, you need to qualify the Personality Test rounds of various colleges which include Group Discussions, Written Tests and Personal Interviews. Qualifying CAT makes you eligible to attend this stage and its your performance in these rounds which finally help you getting selected. Preparing for this stage immediately after CAT result can be difficult. Try to follow the basic news in your daily life from today itself. This will ease down the load of preparation for Personality Test rounds and boost up your confidence as well.

And that is all. I followed these things and I feel it helped me to get through this exam. I hope these tips will help you in preparing well for CAT. All the best for getting into an IIM!

119 thoughts on “How to start preparing for CAT 2019”

  1. Hello Sir
    I am student of first year in in mathematics honors. I have just join in Career launcher Ranchi for the preparation of CAT. How can I start my preparation. My English is so weak and how I prepare for this. I am JAC board student my 10th marks is 87.6%. and 12th is 79%. my dream is to be take admission on IIMs. I will give the CAT exam 2020. and I am start from beginning. which book is best for me and how to fluent in English

  2. Sagnick Chakraborty

    I am Sagnick Chakraborty,persuing btech from top private college in WestBengal.My stream is Civil Engineering, my class 10 marks was 8.8 cgpa and class 12 was 85%.sir now I am in second year….sir do I have any chance of getting any IIMs with this past results and how to prepare from now to get this in future?one more quaries which stream or branch will be,suitable for me being a civil engineers in persuing MBA?

  3. I am in class. My english is not every good. I want to know that if i will start improving my english from now only then in future english will not a big deal for me in cat.

  4. Hi Abhieet
    I liked the way u explained everything above.
    I am in 1 St year engineering cs branch.
    I want to start preparing for cat from now onwards.
    I want to know from what should I start.
    I am good at studies.
    Actually want to start startup after MBA.

  5. Your article was very helpful. I am pursuing my degree in English literature now and wish to get into IIM. But I had scored just 56 percent in my 12th grade. If I manage to score a good CGPA for my degree, do you think I stand a chance to get selected?

  6. hi Abhineet
    I am in class 11 NOW and….i am even very well acquainted to the fact that it is too early to start preparing for CAT but anyhow if you could suggest me some basic tips I’ll be really grateful to you.(my score usually lies between 90% to 94%).

    1. focus on your 12th board first . That will help you in all times.And try to improve your verbal knowledge by reading articles or editorials from any good renowned english newspaper.

  7. Hi Abhineet,
    Firstly, very nice article. Well written and to the point. Thank you!

    I graduate in 2018 with an Computer Science degree. I have had minimal preparation so far. Would it be a fair shot for me at this year’s November exam or am I better off writing with preparation for 2018 CAT? I believe they do have a limit on number of attempts.

    Secondly, if one qualifies in CAT exam but doesn’t get through the personal interviews and group discussion – does my exam score pass on to next year or do I need to write CAT afresh? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Akhtar,
      There is no limit on number of attempts in CAT. Also, the score is valid for only the current year and cannot be passed on to the next year.
      All the best for your preparation.

  8. abhineet sir,
    I am pursuing computer science engineering. I am in first year now.. and its my dream to get admission in IIM. I am here on this webpage because I need guidance.. I am so thankful that you shared such important things with us.. I will really work hard and follow everything what you said in this article. I am good at math but I am weak at my vocab.. I can speak English but don’t have knowledge of much vocab.. plzz suggest me how to develop vocab and also is it important to join a coaching because my parents can’t afford my college as well as coaching fees.. I want to do hardwork and clear CAT on my own strength.. plzz let me know..
    waiting for your reply

    1. Hi Shweta,
      These days we do not find direct voacb questions in CAT. For basic vocab, religiously go through “Word Power Made Easy” and do extensive reading. You can read my article regarding reading-
      Also, take as many mock tests as possible.
      You can also go through my Important Books List here-
      It will guide you regarding books to follow and coaching v/s self study.
      All the best!

  9. Abhishek Singh

    Hello sir I am student of class 11 and I want to start preparation now. How to I start please help me.

  10. Sir I have two questions… First, you are from engineering background. Is pursuing mba after graduation in civil engineering good?does it have any positive or negative effects?
    Second,where can I get materials of the coaching institutes?

  11. Please do write more about how one should continue preparations while working at an IT sector. Would be of great help.

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