Before embarking on a new journey, it is always better to have a detailed know-how of the path we are planning to tread. So let’s understand what the exam is all about. There are many more questions regarding it that remain unanswered, like how to prepare for CAT 2021? Which colleges give admission based on CAT exam scores? What is the syllabus for CAT 2021? When to prepare for CAT? How do mocks help to prepare for CAT 2021? Will it be postponed or not? And so forth. We will answer all these questions in this post.
Preparing for CAT 2021 Exam
COMMON ADMISSION TEST or CAT 2021 is an aptitude screening exam for MBA admissions across 150+ B-Schools in the country which includes the prestigious and highly sought after IIMs, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research and Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) – to name just a few. Once you pass out from any of these colleges mentioned above, there is no looking back. All your efforts bear sweet fruits when you land your dream job with an average package above 20 Lakhs INR per annum.
All CAT aspirants need to keep in mind that only about 1% of total CAT applicants make it to the top creamy layer of 99 and above percentile. To be a part of that 1% of CAT 2021 candidates, you need to put in dedicated efforts along with proper guidance to ace this exam.
Now to achieve the highest percentile, one has to start preparing for CAT 2021 in a proper and systematic format. When talking about preparation, first and foremost is the duration, that is, how much time one should devote to prepare for CAT. Well, many think you need more than a year to prepare for CAT but ideally, with expert guidance, 6 months is all you need to prepare for CAT 2021.
Be it an average student or a bright one, if you put your heart and soul into it, there will be no stopping you. Usually, CAT is held in November or December. So you can start the preparations by the month of June. With every passing year, the number of CAT aspirants is increasing making the competition stiffer. Any general category student will have to score a percentile of 98 and above to secure a seat in an IIM of their choice.
So, to speak in a nutshell, it is essential to immerse yourself fully into the preparation process for six months before the CAT Exam 2021. And the right mix of guidance and a sincere approach towards the preparation is what a CAT 2021 aspirant needs to ace it.
CAT preparation strategy
For CAT Exam 2021 preparation, you must plan a strategy calmly and in stages. It is not something that you should rush into. Step by step preparation is fundamental for success in CAT 2021. While preparing for CAT Exam, one should make sure that they are spending 50% of the time on solving mocks and practice papers. The weak areas have to be taken more seriously and it is always better to increase self-study time or to have a mentor who is better equipped and has more knowledge and experience to get the best out of you. No stone should be left unturned if you want to succeed.
Points to keep in mind when you start to prepare for CAT Exam 2021
- BASICS – It is always better to have your basics clear for each topic. It would help you to solve any question while giving you an edge over the others. Conceptual clarity is something that is of utmost importance.
- ADVANCE SHORTCUT TECHNIQUES – CAT is a speed-based exam. So, along with the concepts, it is equally important to adapt faster, advanced methods of solving questions.
- TIME MANAGEMENT- This is one of the most important things to be taken care of by every student. It proves beneficial when you prepare for CAT 2021. It helps to enhance your efficiency and productivity while lowering your stress levels.
- PRACTICE- To ace CAT 2021, practice plays an important part. The more you practice, the more confident you will become to face the exam. Always pace yourself when giving mock tests. We will discuss how to set this pace for mocks in detail later.
- ANALYSIS OF PERFORMANCE- Analysing yourself will give you a clear idea of where you stand and will also help you to pinpoint your weak areas. Once you figure out these weaker areas, you will have a clear picture of where you need to direct your extra effort.
CAT Exam Pattern
CAT is divided into three major sections: Quant, VARC, and DILR. Let’s discuss a section-wise plan to prepare for CAT 2021:
- QUANT – In the CAT Quantitative Aptitude section, 34 questions are included.
- Arithmetic – 7 to 8 moderately difficult questions
- Geometry and mensuration – 7 to 8 moderately difficult questions
- Algebra – 6 to 7 moderate questions
- Permutation, Combination and Probability– 1 to 2 relatively easy questions
To solve this section, you should have your concepts clear. If you are thorough with the basics and know the shortcut methods to solve fast, then you will be easily able to solve the test. For this section, as an addition to professional guidance, your everyday practice is your key to cracking the CAT 2021. It is very important to make a habit of keeping track of time in which you can solve the questions, this will help you to manage time during the test also. You must also try and learn shortcut methods to solve this section which would help you to finish your text in a given duration of time. Always try different strategies during mock tests so that you have the final strategy that you will use for your exams. Make sure that you can differentiate between the easy questions and the tricky ones (which take too long to solve). This will save time and also help you to be more accurate, as you know CAT exam is all about accuracy.
VARC- This section of CAT 2021 covers various topics of verbal ability and reading comprehension. There are a total of 34 questions:
- Reading Comprehension – 24 questions
- Verbal ability
- Para Summary – 3 questions
- Jumbled Paragraph – 4 questions
- Odd Sentences – 3 questions
As you would have already noticed, reading comprehension has more weightage than the other topics in this section. So, it becomes mandatory to give more attention to it. You should be able to comprehend the passages in a better way and thereby be able to answer the questions more accurately. To improve your comprehension skills, keep the following points in your mind. You can start with reading newspapers, editorials, and non-fiction content (books, articles, journals). Try to avoid re-reading passages as it will not only waste your time but also confuse you. You should try to read and understand simultaneously. Also, keep a track of time while practicing for this section as it will help you to read faster and finish your test well within the time limit.
DILR – Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning is the third section for CAT. It usually has 32 questions. The syllabus of the DILR for CAT 2021 is:
- Caselets and Tables
- Line Charts & Pie Charts
- Bar Graphs and Column Graphs
- Venn Diagrams
- Combinations of two or more types linked to each other
- Linear Circular and matrix arrangement
Nowadays, DILR is the most unpredicted section of CAT. For the past two years, the questions have become more difficult than they used to be. This section contains tricky and time-consuming questions. The aim of this part is to test a candidate’s decision-making ability as well as speed during the restricted sixty minutes. CAT Logical Reasoning will test the candidate’s ability to understand the hidden hints within the question.
Like the other two sections, DILR too needs a lot of practice. Practice as many sets as you can as it will help you to discover new methods to solve. In this section of CAT 2021, it is important to be accurate and fast. You should try to manage your time by solving the questions which you think can be solved quickly and easily and then move to the difficult ones. In this way, you will be able to solve more questions in less time. You should practice brain calculations & mind games. Quick calculations are the only way to save time in the DILR section of CAT 2021.
CAT Preparation Tips and guide
A basic piece of advice for success in any field of life is to set smaller targets rather than larger ones. When you conquer a comparatively smaller obstacle, it fills you with a sense of achievement which further instills confidence in you. In this case, your smaller obstacle can be your mock exams.
Mocks are the most important part of any test preparation. When you prepare for CAT 2021 Exam, the only thing that will analyze your preparation is the MOCKS. The CAT mocks help you not only to understand the practical application of all the concepts that you have prepared but also help you to build up your stamina to ace a long 3-hour CAT 2021 examination.
While solving the mock papers, it is always advisable to look and solve those papers which would help you to focus on and improve your weak areas. Making error logs is equally important in helping you to identify your mistakes, and avoid them in the next mock.
You can also set targets for yourself in terms of marks scored. For example, you can aim for scoring 3 additional marks in every section in subsequent mock tests. Every extra three marks mean getting another correct answer in the overall test. But you have to figure out where you’re going to get those three marks from. Identify the topics that you need to improve upon for that one correct answer.
Another important thing is to pace yourself when planning your mock tests. Giving a mock every day won’t guarantee you the best score. Until about two months to your CAT exam date, you may keep a frequency of one mock every 2-3 weeks. You may increase it to up to one mock per week in the last two months. You need to stay fresh, both mentally and physically, on the day of your CAT exam. Use that time in between two mocks to improve yourself as per the strategies discussed above.
So in essence, your mock exams are an extremely important and efficient way to understand your performance realistically. Mocks are an important tool to strategize the preparation and thereby give the best performance in your CAT 2021 exam.
After having discussed some of the ways and techniques for the preparation of CAT, some of you may be quite apprehensive about it being held on time or being postponed due to the pandemic situation. Well, the date of CAT 2021 is tentatively announced for November 28, 2021. And this time IIM Ahmedabad will be conducting the CAT 2021. Registrations can be done online. The exam will be conducted in 425 test centers across 156 cities in the nation. The official announcement regarding the date of CAT 2021 will soon be updated on the official website.
And finally, make sure that you complete your preparation 15 days before the exam day. Stay motivated. Remember to give your best and the best will come back to you. So friends, stay healthy and stay safe. ALL THE BEST.
PS: Get in touch to know how to create a strategy that is tailored to convert your weaknesses into your strengths, and get you to realize your CAT dream. I am the founder of akashahvad.com, a mentor, and a personal Exam Coach to CAT, GMAT, GRE, and NPAT/IPM aspirants. I will be happy to reply to any queries regarding CAT exam preparation.