Recommended Reading

Know the books which are absolute must haves for your study table while you are preparing for CAT 2013. This section will give you the information on the highlights of the book, author and publication. ...more

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They have been there and done that. The CAT toppers over the years will give you their tips and strategies to tame the CAT and win it! ...more

Self Study Guide for CAT 2013

CAT 2013 exam has two sections namely; Quantitative Ability and Verbal ability.


Quant section also comprises of Data Interpretation while Verbal section is paired with Logical Reasoning.


Quantitative Ability:


The quantitative ability section of CAT tests you primarily on three areas -- Arithmetic , Algebra and Geometry . Even if you are weak in the section, you must ensure that you score enough marks that help clear the requisite cut off.


The new pattern of CAT offers time-bound sections of 70 minutes each. The quantitative ability area will have 20 questions and 10 questions will be asked from the data interpretation area. So, you need to plan accordingly.




Arithmetic is considered a weak area for many aspirants. Apart from algebra and geometry, arithmetic is the area from which the maximum number of questions comes in CAT.


Topics under arithmetic:-


The arithmetic area comprises averages, profit & loss, ratio and proportion, percentages, time, speed & distance, number systems, simple & compound interest, mixtures, progression, directions, etc.


Preparation strategy:-


Arithmetic is not only based on formulae, but can be identified with day-to-day life as well. You can relate many of the problems on profit & loss, percentage, time & distance, etc with your daily activity. If you are weak in arithmetic, take up one topic every day, revise the concepts and practice as many question as possible from that topic


Speed is an important factor in solving questions in arithmetic. The faster you can read all the questions and select the ones you think you should attempt; the better will be your chances of a good score.


Most CAT problems can be solved through multiple methods. So, make sure that you are not using long methods. Lastly, practice speed calculation for 20 minutes a day.




Algebra is all about formulae and knowing which formula will be appropriate for a particular problem


Topics under Algebra:-


The algebra section mainly consists of linear and quadratic equation, logarithm, progression, binomial theorem, inequalities, permutation & combination, probability, function, set theory, percentages, ratio proportion, profit & loss.


Preparation strategy :-


As algebra is mostly formula-driven word problems, you should be thorough with the basics and the formula first. As the first step of preparation, you must know all the formulae by heart. Take a topic at a time and solve more than 50 questions on it. This will put you in a good state.


Always make it a point to revise things that you have already covered, but do not exhaust yourself doing all these in the last few days


Algebra is meant to be tackled through answer choices. To choose the right option in the questions, you need to follow the process of elimination (POE). If you have a good grip over algebra, you can utilize the techniques such as assumption and substitution .




Most of the test takers are perturbed with the Geometry section.  It can be considered as a tough area for many, if you are not clear conceptually or do not know the right application methods.


Topics of Geometry:-


Geometry part consists of the topics such as Lines, Angles, Triangles, Polygons, Circles, Mensuration, Trigonometry and Co-ordinate Geometry. Equations (linear + Quadratic), Series & Sequences, functions, Triangles, Circles, are more important of these.


Preparation strategy for Geometry:-


Like every other section, improvement in geometry section depends on practice. Geometry is about shapes. The best way to handle Geometry is to draw the figure to scale and then visually analyze the problem.


One should focus only on geometry for a week. On Day 1, go through theorems on Triangles. On Day 2 and Day 3, solve all Geometry questions from study material first and then past CAT and XAT papers. Study the theorems on circles and polygons on Day 4. On Day 5, 6 and 7, solve all problems from circles and polygons


Books for Quantitative Ability :-


•     The NCERT Maths Books of Class 8 to 10
    Any one of the following books by R.S. Agarwal: Objective Arithmetic, Mathematics for MBA, Quantitative Techniques
•     ‘How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT' by Arun Sharma
•     ‘The Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT' by Nishit Sinha
•     ‘Quantitative Aptitude for MBA Entrance Examinations' by Abhijit Guha


Verbal Ability:


Major areas in Verbal ability of CAT exam include Reading Comprehension , English Usage and Verbal Reasoning . The exam pattern of CAT is designed so as to test whether the CAT takers are well versed in the basic rules of the English so that he or she does not commit any grammatical or structural errors.


Six question types where the errors are most common in Verbal Ability:-


•  Corrections of underlined clauses which may or may not be grammatically incorrect

•  Re-writing of entire sentence

•  Marking the correct sentences

•  Marking the incorrect sentences

•  Marking the correct use of words in sentences

•  Marking the correct choice of similar sounding/confusing word, used in same sentence


Reading Comprehension:-


Reading Comprehension is an integral part of the Verbal Ability area. Reading Comprehension is given 35 to 45 per cent weight in among the other questions of this area.


What does Reading Comprehension check?


The Reading Comprehension section basically checks your understanding of English language, word power and how well you can comprehend a given passage. RC is the ability to read and understand unfamiliar materials and to answer questions about them.


Expert Suggestion


Your focus while reading should be NOT to READ fast but to COMPREHEND fast. Understanding the English language and its nuances can only be inculcated with regular reading. Read on a variety of subjects and get comfortable with them; national and international dailies, the edit page, the finance section, famous speeches, English literature, all should be given some amount of time.


Getting familiar with the type of questions and paragraphs is the key here. For Reading Comprehension, increasing speed of reading by around 50 words per min from whatever the present state you are in should be the target.


English Usage:


Root cause of weakness in Verbal Ability section of CAT exam is lack of proper knowledge in the grammar. This eventually leads to wrong usage of words in sentences and incorrect usage of tense, articles and punctuations .


How to prepare:-


Following are some of the rules of grammar which you must follow while preparing for grammar-:


•  Rules of Tenses

•  Concept and usage of Articles, Nouns, Pronouns

•  Usage of singular & plural number, Objective & possessive cases, Prepositions, various types of phrases, Idioms


While reading and practicing the various usages in grammar module, we have to remember to put the correct word and its form at the right place. If the concept is fully understood and ample practice is done on it, there is no point that you will miss it.


It is therefore, necessary to practice more and more. Grammar, like mathematics, enriches you with more confidence, when it is practiced more.


Click on the link to Know the common errors in the Grammar questions & the ways to tackle :


CAT 2013: Tips on Time Zone prep for Verbal Ability

CAT Prep: Identify simple errors to boost Verbal Ability score

Verbal Reasoning:


For verbal reasoning, you need to have the ability to use logic. Verbal Reasoning is more about testing your logical ability rather than English knowledge. Rather than mere English knowledge, for the sub section of Verbal Ability, you need to enhance your logical skills.


Types of questions in Verbal Reasoning:-


The most common form of questions is that you will be given a paragraph where the sentences will be jumbled. You will have to rearrange the sentences and make the paragraph meaningful. Another type of question that is found in the Verbal Ability section of the CAT exam is paraphrasing a given paragraph. This calls for your understanding of what is given and hence is somewhat similar to the Reading Comprehension section of the CAT Exam and other MBA Exams .


How to prepare:-


Verbal Reasoning is more about having the logic and clear understanding rather than learning. When you read an article or a chapter of a book, you will follow a pattern of the sentences. They will start with an introduction, followed by that would be the main theme.


Similarly, in the questions of para jumbling too, you can follow the same. First read the entire paragraph and then find out the link between the sentences. Identify the introductory sentence and you will automatically recognize the order of the paragraph.


After finishing an article, write the gist of that. This will help you know how much you remember of that passage. Write a summary of about 100 to 150 words every day on the editorial as it will help in building thought process.


Fact, Inference and Judgement questions can be dealt totally on your understanding. You can identify a sentence as fact if it gives hard core information, universal or applied truth. Inference sentences can be identified by conclusions drawn on the basis of facts. Judgement sentences are easy to identify as it gives the personal opinion. Initially, identification of fact, inference and judgement might be confusing but with regular practice, you will get comfortable in this sort of questions for your CAT 2013 Exam.


Only practice and clear understanding will help you score well in the Verbal Reasoning portion of the section of Verbal Ability section in CAT 2010. For your MBA Preparations, supplement your learning by solving examples from previous exams as well as from books or course material developed by experts exclusively for CAT entrance exam.


To know the past years trends & preparation techniques for Verbal Ability, click here:


CAT Prep: Learn contextual use of foreign words in English

CAT Prep: Why preparation of non-finites is important for Error corrections in VA?

Books for verbal ability section:-


•  English PLUS I.C.S.E. For Class 10 by Xavier Pinto

•  Wren and Martin English Grammar

•  Word Power Made Easy by NORMAN LEWIS


•  A Communicative Grammar of English By: Geoffrey Leech


Recommended Business Magazines:-


•  Business Line by the Hindu Group

•  Business Today by India Today Group

•  Management Compass Career Launcher

•  Business & Management Chronicle by Chronicle Publications

•  Competition Success Review


Recommended Newspapers:-


•  the Hindu

•  Economics Time

•  the Statesman

•  The Week etc

•  A pocket-size dictionary: You can carry the dictionary with you every time and check the meaning of a new word which you encounter and note it down.

•  Watch English news channels along with Discovery, National Geographic and History Channel.


Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning:


The Data Interpretation section consists of tables, charts, pie diagrams etc. for the Data Interpretation part. For this, you should practice reading from the computer as well as take notes of the data given in the diagrams minutely.


For the Logical Reasoning part, you have to make full use of the mark & Highlight tool. You should highlight the vital parts of the case lets on which the questions are based.


Topics of DI/LR:


The Data Interpretation section consists of graphs, charts, tables etc. for calculating data. Though some questions need calculation, others can be solved without calculation. To have a closer view, this area consists of questions on Tables, Bar Charts, Pie Charts, Line chart/Scatter diagrams; Caselet/Logic based DI, Network Diagram etc.  


Preparing for Data Interpretation:-


Practicing for DI/LR question is pretty interesting as it involves solving puzzles, riddles, studying graphs, charts etc. Solve puzzles from puzzle books easily available in the market, and puzzle sites on the internet, to improve reasoning skills and speed.


For Data Interpretation, go through last five to six years CAT exam papers and try solving them without any preparation. Analyze and evaluate your approach with reference to every question including the one which you solved easily.


You must practice a lot in order to interpret the data. Solve at least one DI problem every day. You must read articles, especially on business which are heavy on data and analyze them. This will keep your 'DI cells' on toes. Refer to the graphs and data provided in various business papers and magazines. You need to identify techniques to solve questions which require big and time consuming calculations.


Question patterns for Logical Reasoning :-


 In the Logical Reasoning section, you will be given a paragraph which will contain certain information. It will be followed by two to three questions. The questions generally start with ‘If', ‘Why' or ‘Then'. In such cases, more than the information, your own thinking ability has to be used. Some common forms of questions are family tree, letter encoding etc. These questions are a sophisticated version of riddles that you used to solve in your childhood.


Books & preparation material for DI/LR:-


Some of the books, which will help you in preparing for the Data Interpretation part of the Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation section, are:


•  How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT by TATA-McGraw Hill publications

•  ‘Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning' by R.S. Agarwal

•  How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT by Arihant Prakashan

•  ‘Analytical and Logical Reasoning' by B.S. Sijwali.

•  An interesting way to prepare for this is by regularly solving crossword puzzles, Sudoku, riddles etc. For this, pick out the leisure section of the daily newspaper. You can also solve case lets from various books and puzzle sites in the internet .




“Taking mock tests is the mantra for cracking CAT,” goes the saying.


There is no prescribed perfect timing to start taking mock tests. As soon as you finish basics of all the sections, you should start taking mock tests.


Taking a full-length mock test every week is the suggested strategy. In between, you can analyze your performance. If you feel that you need to study more or if the analysis shows that you lack conceptual clarity, you may take mock tests twice a week. You don't need to take tests every day. Two mock tests in a week are sufficient. Utilize the days in between to analyze them.


But if you have completed basic preparation and have proper conceptual understanding, practice is the only way to improve your final scores.


Analysis is the most important part of taking mock tests. Unless you analyze your mock tests, no matter how many tests you take, it won't bear any fruit. Make sure that you get your mock tests analyzed by a good mentor. Maintain a log of the analysis. Check the type of mistakes you have committed. If it is a silly mistake, you need to practice more and work on your accuracy. But if the mistake is a conceptual one, you need to utilize more time in clarifying your concepts.


Taking full-length mock test is a better option. As the exam day approaches, you should make yourself more familiar to the pattern of taking the exam within stipulated time. But if you are weak in a particular section, taking sectional mock tests will help. To work on your weak areas, you should take regular sectional mock tests.


Tips to Follow:-


•  Set standards for desired level of accuracy and attempts for every test that you take - before the test starts.

•  Check how you have performed with respect to desired levels - and also with respect to the cut-offs.

•  Identify the gaps - which are the areas or topics that are bringing down your accuracy or attempts

•  Identify those questions that you must have solved to improve your attempts or accuracy. These are questions that have been solved accurately by a majority of the toppers.

•  Do a question-by-question analysis to see if you can further improve your scores - by avoiding careless mistakes, by electing the right questions, by not overspending time on a particular question.  

•  “Focus on ‘Quality' practice rather than simply solving too many tests

•  Try to maximize your attempts and accuracy in every test you take (something like 85 per cent attempt with 90 per cent accuracy). This approach would ensure that you clear the cut-offs irrespective of the difficulty levels.

•  Identify your areas of weakness - especially those topics which have a higher weightage in CAT and work on them in a systematic manner

•  Follow the 80-20 rule: 80 per cent of your problems are caused by 20 per cent of 'wrongly selected questions' or 'wrongly selected section first'. Just try to analyze and know 'what falls in YOUR 20 per cent' and do not waste time on those

•  Work on improving the weakest so that you can clear the sectional cut-offs. Check whether you need more practice, or you need to brush up on the concepts. You also need to look at your attempts, accuracy rate, and whether you are attempting the right kind of questions


How can I choose the coaching institute for CAT 2013 preparation?


There are many renowned MBA coaching institutes like T.I.M.E., IMS Learning, Career Launcher, and many others.. First of all visit there for counseling and have demo class with them then you are able to judge the best institute for your preparation. You can choose your MBA coaching institute from the following factors




Find out about the faculty experience and credentials at the institute. Make sure to join the branch of the institute where the best faculties teach. Request the officials out there to allow you to attend a demo lecture before enrolling in the program. Talk to the current batch of students and get reviews about the faculty.




Get info about the batch size. If you need special individual attention and personal doubt solving session then join the center that has smaller batch. Some institutes arrange special classes for students that have better performance, look for such classes.


Course Material:


Check if the coaching material that is provided to students who join the course is extensive. Also, make sure the problems are given along with the keys. Monthly magazines are also included in some material; do check that too.




Every coaching center must have a library with books that are given for reading at home. Make sure the library has a good collection of course books.



Take a look at the classrooms to check if there are enough classrooms with good space for accommodating students. See whether the classrooms are clean and with good lighting and air conditioning/ventilation.




Inquire whether the institute has their site which provides email and chat support for doubt clearance. Check if there are forums for interacting with fellow students. See if newsletters and free tests are also included on the site.


Mock Tests:


Find out about the mock tests; how many tests are included, what are the modes (paper or online), how many students will take them, how the results will be calculated based on the percentiles and cut-offs, as well as, how the feedback would be provided to the candidate. The quality of tests must also be assessed to figure out your strong/weak areas.


Group Discussion and Personal Interview Training:


This is also very important to find out if the institute provides GD and PI classes after the entrance exam results are declared and students have received calls. If not included in the package, it will be difficult to get a seat even after qualifying CAT. So make sure that you are provided this too.



The spot where the institute is located is important and must be as near as possible from your house. This will save your traveling time and the energy that you will have to spend in overcoming the road obstacles like traffic, heat etc.

The Bottom Line

Finally, after considering all of these factors, you are sure to get into a right institute which will definitely fetch you more marks, provided you also play your part too.

All the Best!