1. What is CAT?

The Common Admission Test CAT is a computer based test  for admission in a graduate management program. The test consists of three sections Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA). Overall it’s a three hour online exam divided into one hour each section. The Indian Institutes Management (IIMs) started this exam and use the test for selecting students for their business administration programs (MBA or PGDM).

Common Admission Test or CAT is a national-level management entrance exam and is conducted by Indian Institute of Management i.e. the IIMs on a rotational basis. CAT 2020 examination will be conducted in various cities across India tentatively in November. CAT opens the gateway for candidates to take admission not only in 20 IIMs but more than 1000 B-Schools across India. Candidates who are planning to appear in the CAT examination must check the eligibility criteria. The application form of the CAT exam will be available tentatively in the first week of August. Whereas the notification related to CAT examination will be released by the authorities tentatively in the last week of July.


2. Why CAT?

Common Admission Test (CAT) is the entrance examination for aspiring candidates who desire to make a career in management and business administration. This examination is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) on a rotational basis. The CAT score  is considered for admission by most of the top B-schools across India.

  • The students passing out of these premium institutes (IIMs) are picked by companies on hands with lucrative salary packages.
  • The sheer diversity of jobs, the extent of responsibility and ownership that you get in MBA in your job make it worth it. You get to choose from a range of specializations such as Marketing, Advertising, Finance, Strategy, Consulting etc.
  • Your ability to get seed capital for starting a new business (entrepreneur) improves tremendously if you have done an MBA from one of the top B-schools.
  • You also get to interact with the best minds in the country where you can brainstorm your ideas and get a better handle on things.
  • An MBA definitely provides better recognition, opportunities to network and credibility too.
  • The dream of getting into the top ranking MBA colleges  comes true if they get through the exam with good Scores and percentile. It can be achieved with proper preparation and by learning a few tips and tricks.
  • After completion of MBA from IIMs or top B-Schools students are picked up by MNCs with good jobs with attractive salary packages.
  • The CAT provides the opportunity to study in best breed institutions.


3. How to prepare ?

CAT aspirants have two options:

  • Join a coaching institute
  • Self Study

CAT Preparation Through Coaching

Candidates who decide to join a coaching institute for CAT preparation will be guided by the mentors and coaches. The coaching institute will also provide them all the CAT study material and mock test series, while guiding them through tricky topics and questions. However, they will be required to attend classes of 6-8 hour daily.

CAT Preparation Through Self-Study

Aspirants, who cannot attend daily classes, should opt for self-study. Yes, CAT exam preparation is possible through self-study. In fact, there are many CAT toppers, who have studied for the exam by self. Those who opt for self-study, must not worry about how to prepare for CAT . All they need to do is, do the following:

  • Join online study groups on Facebook, YouTube, Quora, Telegram, etc.
  • Download MBA entrance exam preparation apps
  • Buy best books for CAT preparation
  • Obtain online study material like the CAT mock test  series by TIME, TestFunda, Career Launcher, etc.
  • Make a month-wise CAT preparation plan

How to schedule CAT preparation:

How to prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude:

How to prepare for CAT verbal Ability and Reading comprehension:

How to prepare for CAT DI LR :

How to plan mock CATS:

Strategy Planning of When and How to Start CAT 2020 Preparation:

Month-wise Strategy Division Target Points
6 Months
  • Time Management
  • Join Coaching/FB groups
  • Concept clarity with shortcuts
3 Months 


1 Month

  • Break preparation into sections
  • Work on areas of improvements
  • Practice sample paper/past years questions

Mock tests


  • Assess Your Weak Areas and diagnosis helps to chart a better strategy
  • Work through Mocks: The More, The better
  • Relax: Keep calm and execute

How to prepare for CAT without coaching:

  • Take Mock Test

Before beginning your CAT preparation, the first step would be to take a mock test to judge where you actually stand.

Through CAT mock tests, candidates will get an idea about the difficulty level of the paper, how they can navigate between the three different sections.

  • Know the Exam Pattern

Once done with analyzing what all you need to know on how to prepare for CAT without coaching through mock tests, you need to check the exam pattern as well as the syllabus of CAT. As per the generic exam pattern of CAT, the question paper has 100 questions in total and the exam is conducted in online mode.

A total of three sections of Quantitative ability, Verbal ability and reading comprehension, Data interpretation & logical reasoning form the CAT question paper. Prepare a sectional strategy on how and when to start preparation of CAT  for each section.

  • Focus on strong topics

Starting any new topic will lead to confusion. So it is advisable to candidates to focus and improve their strong areas. Do not waste your time figuring out the new topics or trying to learn new concepts.

  • Create Study Groups

Be socially active and try to find the people who are like-minded and equally motivated to crack CAT 2020 as you are without the help of coaching articles. A good company can make or break the results. Hence, it is advisable that candidates must try to actively seek out people who are or have already appeared in CAT exams.

Queries and basic issues can be answered and resolved with the help of other team members.

Study group members may motivate each other and breed a healthy environment rather than pulling each other’s legs

  • Get Right Study Material

The market is flooded with ample CAT preparation study material. Those who are preparing without coaching must keep an eye on which are the best books, question banks, preparation notes, sample papers etc. by top authors.

Search for the books that are rich in content rather than heavy as per the quantity. While preparing for CAT, always go for quality rather than quantity books.

  • Use Technology

Just because you are not going to any coaching classes does not limit your access to the internet. Browse throughout and make use of Google services. Try to figure out which are the best educational sites which can assist and upgrade your CAT preparation efforts.

Number of Youtubers are available this time, who explain each and every topic of the CAT syllabus in lucid language.

  • Be Motivated & Have Faith in Yourself

Although not directly, this factor is of utmost importance as it acts as a guiding force in any area. Make yourself motivated by adding a positive sticky note in front of your desk. Check the same on a daily basis and make yourself positive.


4. Important materials:


word image

 Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

VARC section is the first section of the CAT question paper and is to be solved first. The section is divided into two sub parts VA and RC.

Take a look at important topics and some key points of this section.

  • Fill in the blanks
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Sentence completion
  • Grammar
  • Syllogisms
  • Jumbled paragraphs
  • Para Completion and inference
  • Contextual usage
  • Foreign language words used in English
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Analogies
  • Sentence correction
  • Verbal Logic
  • Different usage of same word
  • Idioms
  • Parajumbles
  • Antonyms
  • One word substitution

Verbal Ability (VA):

word image 1


Reading Comprehension (RC):

word image 2

CAT Syllabus: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

DILR is the second section of the CAT question paper and is to be solved after the VARC section.

This section is further divided into 2 sub-sections DI and LR

Key points:

  • Blood Relations
  • Series
  • Proposition
  • Direction Sense
  • Coding-Decoding
  • Assumptions
  • Puzzles
  • Clocks and Calendars
  • Statements
  • Data Arrangement
  • Family Tree
  • Binary Logic
  • Seating Arrangement
  • Sets & Caselets
  • Syllogism
  • Venn Diagram
  • Data Structures
  • Tables & Pie Charts
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Bars & Line Graphs

Logical Reasoning (LR):

word image 3

Data Interpretation (DI): 

word image 4

Quantitative Aptitude (QA): 

word image 5


a. E-books:

Best Books for Quantitative Aptitude

1. Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma

2. Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh K Verma

3. Quantitative Aptitude by R.S Agarwal

Best Books for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay

2. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Nishit K.Sinha

3. Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension by Ajay Singh

Best Books for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

1. Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT by Nishit K.Sinha

2. How to prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma

3. How to prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT by Arun Sharma

b. Videos:

How to Score 100 Percentile in CAT Exam

Tips and Tricks for CAT exam:

Eligibility and pattern tips:

All details about CAT:

How to prepare for verbal test round:

CAT video tutorials:


5. Previous Test papers with answers:

CAT 2018 question paper:

CAT 2017 question papers:

CAT 2015 sample question paper:

CAT 2014 sample question paper:


Important tips for CAT:

  1. Vedic Mathematics
  2. Work on Your Speed and Accuracy
  3. Pre-Decide Your Strategy
  4. Work on Shortcuts
  5. Choose Wisely & Smartly
  6. Topics from Which Questions are asked
  7. Time Allocated
  8. Answer the Easy Questions
  9. Para Completion
  10. Vocab Based Questions
  11. Focus on the Facts & Keywords
  12. Pay Attention to Negative Prefixes
  13. Know Your Syllabus

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