How to prepare for CAT 2016

I keep getting asked about what should be an ideal study plan for CAT 2016. Let me start by telling you that making a plan is the easiest step for all aspirants – the challenge is sticking to it through your preparation. Its so easy to get demotivated when you fail to assimilate certain concepts or topics (Engineers fear the verbal part while non-engineers dread the Math). Remember that CAT 2016 is only the means to your final goal – getting into your dream B-School. So, stay focused on that goal – believe in yourself and give it your best shot. Do not worry too much about the outcome at this stage – the final outcome will take care of itself:-)
Your CAT preparation can be divided into the following stages:
1. Stage 1: Concept Preparation
Make a list of concepts/topics assessed in the CAT. Understand their relative importance in the CAT. Make a plan to ensure that you are comfortable with most of the concepts, if not all. You may spend more time on areas where you are weak and rush through concepts where you are strong. For English,  work on your reading skills and/or vocabulary(presuming most engineers are good at neither;-)). This is something you will need to do by yourself. Do not ignore Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning – learn the art of solving these questions in a structured manner.
Have a study plan for CAT 2016: Decide the number of hours you can give per day, per week for your CAT preparation. Ideally you should not be studying more than 2 hours a day or 12-15 hours a week. If you stay in a place like Mumbai, you can borrow some of of your travel time for your CAT prep. Split the number of hours between the Verbal, Quant and DI-LR – ideally you should be spending around 4 -6 hours each on Quant and Verbal and maybe 2-3 hrs on DI and LR every week. However, this depends on “YOUR” strengths and weakness” –  you may take a diagnostic test like SimCAT Zero to identify the same. Decide the days and time when you will be preparing for each of the mentioned areas.
Deadline: Ideally complete this stage by Apr 16
Resources provided by IMS: BRMS (Basic reference material), Class notes and e-concept Builder (online question bank)
2. Stage 2: Practice with CAT level questions
After Stage 1 is complete, you need to now get comfortable solving different question types and under time-constraints. Learn how to use options while solving questions. Learn better and more efficient  ways of solving the same question. The more the number of questions that you solve, the more will be you be familiar with and hence confident of tackling CAT questions.
Deadline: Complete this stage by July 2016
Resources provided by IMS: Past CAT question papers, Area-wise Section tests, CAT 500
3. Stage 3: Fine tuning your test-taking skills
Here comes the most important phase wherein you will solve as many tests as possible. You will no longer look at questions in isolation.  The objective now is to maximise your attempts and accuracy in a test. Practice  the art of choosing the right questions to solve, having an eye on options,  not getting stuck in particular questions and efficiently managing time. Take as many simulated tests as possible – but more importantly, analyse each one of them to find what’s going right and wrong. Always  pick an area of weakness or two and work on it before taking the next test. Your scores will improve gradually and you should plan your tests in a manner that you peak when it matters – November  17.
Deadline: D-Day CAT 16
Resources provided by IMS: Proctored SimCATs, Unproctored & Take-home SimCATs, CAT Challenge
It’s not just about the CAT
Remember, you also need to clear the second stage of the selection process – WAT/GD/PI.  So, alongside your CAT prep,  try and add to your profile – if you are working do well at your workplace, if you are studying ensure you get good grades, also try and do projects and internships that add value to your CV. Participation in extra-curriculars, college events, social projects are other ways of enhancing your profile.
Should you join a test-prep institute?
If you are self-disciplined and already good at most,if not all, concepts listed above – you can go for self-preparation. Websites like cat100percentile.com will aid your preparation. You can later join any reputed test series for CAT. However, if you need hand-holding and enforced discipline – join a test-prep institute like IMS – we will be happy to help you.
In the coming weeks, I will post specific posts on how to prepare for each of the sections of CAT 2016.

49 thoughts on “How to prepare for CAT 2016

    • Yes Sahil..I will soon put up a post on the same. In the meanwhile – subscribe to this blog so that you get an update as soon as I add a post.

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  1. Sir, can I go for correspondence course of IMS CAT16 along with test series? How will it be different from regular classroom program ?

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    • Hi Vishal,
      You can surely go for the correspondence program. You will get access to all the tests except the proctored SimCATs. Also, the reference material is all the same except that you won’t get the class sheets. As a correspondence student you will need to enforce the discipline in your preparation all by yourself. Also, you will not have access to a faculty who can clarify your doubts or teach you better ways of solving a question.

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  2. Sir, I am a student of IMS Bangalore. In the class, and also in BRM, I see most questions in Quant being solved only in one method. Only for a few questions so far, I have seen them being solved using alternate methods as well. Does that mean only a few types of questions have alternate methods? Or does it mean we have to specifically request the faculty members to tell us of alternative methods to solve?

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    • Hi…some of the questions may have better ways of solving…discussing with peers or faculty is the safer way of getting to know some of them:-)

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  3. Hi,

    Can you give me a holistic answer whether I’m in the race or out of the race for IIM A,B and C.
    I’m currently working in a BIG 4 Professional Services firm and will complete 1 year in this July. 10th CBSE 93%, 12TH STATE BOARD 99%, UNDERGRAD (GOVT UNIVERSITY 76.76%). I’ve read in many places about the emphasis of Undergrad percentage and wanted to know whether I’m in the race or out before even writing CAT

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  4. Hi sir,i am ims correspondence student.. my 10th & +2 Score is 69%, B.Tech 85% and i have an exp of 7 Yrs in banking sector (PSB). I wish to complete my MBA in Finance and look forward for better opportunities. Do i have chance for IIM’s provided i follow a systematic study plan from now?

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  5. sir my 10th=74.8%,12th=58.5%,grad=66.8% and i have work ex of 3 years so what are my chances if score good in cat what iim call i may get and non iims too plz help

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    • Do not think too much about your chances right now…focus on maximising your scores in CAT and other entrance exams so that you get into the best possible B-Schools based on your performance from hereon.

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  6. Dear Sir,
    I am a IMS kolkata student,To be very honest sir i am not at all good with my quants
    and to get a good percentile i need to work hard on quants,please guide me so that i can score more than 90percentile in quants section.

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  7. Hi Sir
    I am planning to appear for CAT 2016 . I have a work ex of about 1 year and 8 months . I recently resined from my job in April due to some reasons and started preparing for CAT deligently from mid May. I have a target percentile of 99.5+ this year . I am not working as of now.
    Should i devote these 5 months completely for CAT prep to crack my target percentile or i should get a job and prepare along with it ??
    Are complete five months prep without job is required to crack my target percentile of 99.5+ ??
    P.S : Cracking CAT and getting my target percentile is my topmost priority this year.

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    • Do take up a job…in any case CAT prep does not require more than 5 to 6 hours in a day. Also, you do not want to have the disadvantage of having a gap in your profile when you get to the WAT-PI stage.

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  8. Sir I am APURBA student of ims churchgate center.please info when will be our first di workshop and where it will be…so that I can plan accordingly.

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  9. Hi sir,

    Hope you are doing great!!

    I just completed my 1. 5 years of journey with an IT farm and still continuing the same. In the mean while I have felt the requirement of doing my higher studies to be frank. I need to start from basic, though i am confident that I will grap things as fast as I can. Please guide me in a way whether I should go for classroom or correspondence training at IMS as there is huge work pressure as of now and I want to devote that office hours fully within office itself and rest of the time I want to get it utilised. Please let me if there are any such seminers or counseling is going on or will be scheduled near future at kolkata. Thanks alot in advance.

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    • Hi Satyajit,
      I suggest you meet up with Manish Sir at the IMS Hungerford Centre(you can call up the centre to fix up an appointment). IMO a classroom program adds discipline to your prep – but if you can manage that by yourself then a correspondence program would be sufficient as well. A classroom program additionally gives you access to faculty who could not help you with your academic doubts but also guide you on a regular basis.

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  10. sir, i got 7.6 cgpa in 10th 2013 , 89.75% in 12th 2015 and 63.6 % in b.com first year in allahabad university and doing second year this year. i am preparing for CAT 2017. sir, can i get iim ahemdabad ? i belong to ST category . i do have bad maths but comparatively better english and logical reasoning. how should i prepare for next year i have just joined IMS allahabad?????

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    • Hi Shivani..do not think too much about the calls right now. Just focus on building your concepts and practicing as many questions of CAT-level thereafter. The IMS online and offfline material follow the C.A.T. Approach and you must follow this approach as well while preparing. Work on maximising your CAT scores…and given your profile you do stand a chance from most of the top B-Schools.

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  11. Hi Sir,

    Well and wish the same !!

    I have started preparing for CAT but as a backup plan I am also planning to take up MAT exams. Can you please suggest the Top B-Schools that accept MAT ???

    And by the way, I have 1+ IT experience and with good scores in my graduation and schooling.

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    • I generally suggest students to first decide on the colleges one wishes to apply to and then accordingly take the tests that are required. So, please do not decide on taking CAT and MAT – decide on which colleges you want to apply to (I suggest you meet up with a mentor to draw this list based your profile and aspirations). This list will decide which tests you need to take and how much you need to score therein.

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  12. Sir, I am preparing for CAT for the second time as i did not scored well previously,I am very weak in maths and i find it difficult to solve the questions timely,though my scores have increased in the last simCAT ,still I’m very stressed regarding the right approach to apply and to increase my scores(specially in quantitative ability)…please guide me for the same… thank you.

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    • Hi Niharika, the game is played in the mind. So, believe in yourself, do not give up. Keep try hard – progress slowly but surely in your area of weakness. Do not compare yourself with competition to begin with – just compare with your own past performances and ensure that you progress from test to test. I suggest you meet a Mentor at whichever city you are located and get suitable guidance and support to improve your performance in Quant.

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  13. HELLO SIR,
    I HAVE GOT 91% IN 10TH, 83% IN 12TH AND 85% IN B.COM AND I HAVE NO WORK EXPERIENCE AND I DON’T WISH TO TAKE UP A JOB RIGHT NOW. I WANT TO FULLY CONCENTRATE ON MY C.A.T. EXAM AND I WISH TO GET ADMISSION IN A GOOD B-SCHOOL. SO WILL I GET ADMISSION WITHOUT ANY WORK EXPERIENCE?

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    • It is advisable to take up a job or at least pursue some professional couse like CFA- CAAT does not need 24 hour focus – you can manage it with a job or another program. After all, you do not want to be at a disadvantage during the interview stage.

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  14. hello sir,
    I m appearing for cat 16. I don’t have very bright academics. I scored 70% in 10th standard, 64% in 12th standard and 61% in my graduation(b.com[honors]). do i stand a chance in top b schools as m working very hard for cat. waiting for your reply sir. thankyou.

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    • Hi…just concentrate on doing well in the CAT…the outcomes will follow…I can only say that there are students with similar profiles who have got into top B-Schools including IIMs in the past…

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  15. Hello sir I completed my graduation now with 75%. I want to give cat-16. Can I clear cat-16 with more than 90+%tile? Or I need to join ims Simcat exam to clear cat-16? Please guide me and provide best solution.

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    • Hi Shiv…you do need to take mock tests to know where you stand and plan the next steps of action…so suggest that you take up any mock test series like SimCATs. Do read my blog about the importance of mock tests in your preparation.

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      • OK sir, after taking mock test and scored 50%+ then can I scored 90%tile+ in CAT-16 with preparation of 4 month?

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  16. I am 2015 batch student and still I have not joined any company. Will this affect my chances of getting into good college even after getting good cat score and having decent academic throughout my graduation, 10th and 12th??

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    • Yes Shubham…it is always helpful to have work experience. After all when you reach the PI stage you do not want to be disadvantaged as compared to others who have cracked the CAT alongside their work or their graduation. Also, work ensures that your profile is continuously improving and therefore you do not need to compromise just in case you don’t do well in the CAT.

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  17. Hello Sir,My 10th and 12th percentage are 90.8 and 70.8 respectively.I scored 52.2?% in graduation in science stream.With this academic record will i be able to compete for Top B schools?

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    • Please do not worry about things taht are not in your hand – concentrate on maximising your CAT scores and you will surely get into a B-School you deserve.

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  18. Hello Sir, .I’d taken CAT’15 my percentile then was 95.27.Now i’m a working with an organistaion and i barely get daytime to prepare for CAT.I’d not started CAT’16 prep untill this July. Currently my SIMCAT’s percentile are around 85-88 .Now i’ve barely 3 months to the D day . Can you help me with the prep plan that i should stick to.

    Note : I’m aiming for the top 5-8 colleges..

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    • SimCAT percentiles of 85-88 would roughly correspond to 90-95 percentile in the actual CAT. This means you are more or less in the same range as you were in CAT 2015. My suggested plan:
      1. Take a SimCAT every week to start with. Between 2 SimCAts identify 1 area in Math and 1 area in Verbal where you need improvement. For these areas solve as many questions as you can that are CAt-level (basically application builder questions, past CAT questions, SimCAT questions etc). This will ensure that the contribution from these areas to your score will increase by the time you take the next SimCAT. Keep repeating this process till you have covered most areas/topics.
      2. Check whether you can improve your scores further by fine-tuning your test-taking skills. Are you selecting the right questions to be solved? Are you using the options to arrive at the answers? Are you managing your time well? The A-B-C approach suggested on my blog may help you improve your test-taking skills.

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  19. Hello Sir,
    I am an engineering undergraduate and preparing for CAT 2016. I started a little late (July 2016) due to inevitable reasons. I have almost completed my Quants and logical reasoning syllabus and my verbal and RC practice is ongoing. I had registered for SIMCATS in July but I started taking mock tests only after I completed most of my Quants and LR syllabus. However I am unable to score more than 50 percentile in the mock tests. I feel as if I require more practice to clear the concepts. I study on average 6-7 hours a day but I am not sure if I am studying enough. To get break from studies I read novels and literature also with the intention of improving my reading skills. The thing which is troubling me is my confidence is dwindling everyday as many times I feel that no matter how much I will study it wont be enough with the time left. Can you please prove me wrong? How should I structure my studies?

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    • Hi Aakash…if you truly believe that you have mastered all concepts – the next step should be to work on your application skills. Take an area – for example, Numbers – and solve at least 200 to 300 CAT-level questions that are based on Numbers. Solving a whole lkot of questions from 1 area will ensure that you get familiar with the various concepts that you need to know while tackling questions from the area. You will also get familiar with shorter ways, if any, for solving some of these questions. This exercise will give you the confidence to take on Numbers based questions that will appear in future SimCATs. Now pick another area – sayArithmetic and repeat the exrecise. Prepare similarly ofr Verbal Ability and Reasoning. As far as DI, LR and RC go, ensure that you solve 1 passage/set from each of these areas every day. Tie yourself and keep working on your speed and accuracy while solving questions from these areas. Do the above regimen religiously and you will see your SimCAT scores improve slowly and steadily.

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  20. Hello sir,

    I have taken 1 month leave from my job to prepare for the cat.is it wise enough?and also please tell me the strategy to prepare for cat in one month.I have appeared for cat in 2015 also.

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    • The optimal approach at this stage would be to take 8 to 10 SimCATs at regular intervals, with detailed feedback and analysis of each SimCAT combined with focussed efforts on select areas in between 2 SimCATs. Move from 1 SimCAT to another with systematic efforts to increase your scores by working on both your knowledge gaps as well as test skills gaps.

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    • Since the leave is already taken, it is now upto you to make the maximum out of it. Take SimCATs at regular intervals – between 2 SimCATs analyse your performance thoroughly and then work on identified areas of improvement based on your SimCAT performance. The whole objectove at this stage is to continually work on your existing knowledge and test skills gaps.

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