CAT 2017: Prepare smart – avoid 24 hours study plan; don’t expect miracles in CAT percentile jump

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Updated on November 14, 2017
You cannot expect a sudden jump in CAT 2017 percentile from 70 to 99 even if you devise 24 hours study plan in next 10-12 days before the CAT exam day. Instead if you prepare smart, it will help you improve your CAT score substantially
CAT 2017 Preparation
If you score 100 percentile in one section and 65 percentile in other section in CAT 2017, it is as good as scoring ‘zero’ percentile in CAT 2017 since none of the IIMs would short list you

You cannot expect a sudden jump in CAT 2017 percentile from 70 to 99 even if you devise 24 hours study plan in next 10-12 days before the CAT exam day. Instead if you prepare smart without spending too much time on one or other topic or question, do not take the questions as a challenge, learn the art of skipping and moving ahead to bring more clarity and shedding confusion, it will help you improve your CAT score substantially.

Accordingly, instead of long hours of study, a limited hours CAT 2017 preparation plan will be much more helpful to crack the exam with good sectional percentile.

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Target balanced score in CAT 2017
If you score 100 percentile in one section and 65 percentile in other section in CAT 2017, it is as good as scoring ‘zero’ percentile in CAT 2017 since none of the IIMs would short list you. What you need is a balanced sectional percentile. So you need to target a minimum sectional CAT percentile of 80-85+ to become eligible to get shortlisted by one or other IIM. Accordingly, if you are very strong in one section and very weak in other section, you need to improve your skills in the weak area to qualify the threshold sectional score qualifying criteria of IIMs.

So, make a smart CAT preparation plan for next 10 days with a target to crack each of the 3 sections with good scores.  If you scored 60 percentile in CAT last year after regularly devoting 2-3 hours of study, don’t think you can suddenly jump to score 99 percentile by making a 24 hours study plan for CAT 2017. Instead be open to variety of questions without taking any one as a challenge.

Please note that CAT 2017 can be anticipated a tricky exam where your high or low overall percentile means nothing unless you have a balanced high sectional percentile. High score in CAT 2017 can be obtained by following tips and tricks and devising to the point study plan of limited hours. You may find many CAT aspirants who scored a high percentile even with less preparation, on the other hand there may be many candidates who could score a low percentile even after studying for full day and also quit their job to prepare for CAT.

Shed the LoD perception
The question asked in CAT 2017 may have different difficulty level for different candidates. If you know the topic, have practiced on it and can crack it, it has low LoD but if you do not have conceptual clarity and can’t solve the question, it has high LoD. So don’t think that the particular question has high or low LoD as the LoD concept in CAT is relative and is dependant upon your skill set.

In fact, level of difficulty in questions asked in CAT 2017 depends whether you have practiced similar questions or are seeing it for the first time. If you find yourself average in an area, it means you have not solved similar questions. It is your time - to go through the concepts and solve the questions - that will take you to higher levels of problem solving skills.

The good part is that the types of questions asked in CAT are finite. A question is difficult only if you are seeing it for the first time. If you find a question difficult even if you are seeing it for the second time, ask yourself - Are you honest enough with your preparation? While spending full day in study, what was the real time spent on study? So it is better to limit your study hours allowing more space for activities necessary in everyday life instead of getting confined to a room, quitting your job and gaining nothing even after 24 hours of study.

Keep your confidence level high
If you begin believing right from the beginning that you cannot get into IIM A, B, C, you can never get one. You must prepare with a clear focus on CAT 2017. Instead of more time spent, more concentrated and limited study hours can give you more confidence. Never think that you cannot and won’t get into top 3-4 IIMs even if you are not scoring high in initial days of your preparation.

Positive marks: Keep your target clear
Are you aware that Zero marks in CAT is equivalent to 40 percentile. That means almost 40% of total aspirants score zero marks or negative marks. If you score high in CAT 2017, it is all about a slight push on what you are studying. You will be surprised to know that candidates cracking 8 correct out of 32 questions scored a sectional percentile as high as 85 in CAT.

If you continue studying and practicing questions for long hours without any clarity on concepts, it may not take you anywhere. It will be better to focus on relevant concept and practice a variety of questions based on it to build your basics and have clarity on the concept.

Have a conceptual clarity
If your concepts are clear, practice the questions based on the concepts. Prof Nishit Sinha asks you to check it well. For example -   if 2 and 3 are the roots of a quadratic equation ax2 + bx + c = 0, what is the value of (a+b+c) ?

Do you know the answer? It is - cannot be determined uniquely.

Score of 50% to award you 95 percentile
If out of 34 questions in VARC or Quant section in CAT 2017, you are able to crack around 17  right in each section, you will be able to score 94–95 percentile which is good enough to get call from top IIMs and other B-schools.

Strengthen your fundamentals
Getting your fundamentals strong does not require long duration study hours. Instead fundamentals imply how and where you can use a concept and what are the limitations?

For example - What will be the LCM of 10, 20 and minus 30?

Or, Can I call (-2) (minus 2) an even integer? Can I use unitary method in directly proportional relations or inversely proportions relations?

If you have this clarity on other topics also, give a few practice sessions to it, else further check what remains to be completed.

Know your strengths and move on
If you are jack of all and master of none, the first job is to identify your natural strength area. It can be quant, verbal or LR or none. Since DI / LR is more about practice, practice upon quality content, regularly. Then try to get into the areas which need to be improved further instead of grabbing all at a time.

IIMs don’t need experts
CAT 2017 in fact will be the exam for common candidates. IIMs do not need a professor in English Literature or in Mathematics. Instead an average student at IIM is the one who has good academic record and may not be a topper in his bachelor’s degree. The candidate also scores well in CAT exam by systematically following the study plan, is flexible in his approach, is conceptually clear among other factors.

The candidates are not exceptionally intelligent but right from the beginning they know what they have to study and how to study it within limited hours instead of burning mid night oil.

If you wish to crack CAT 2017 and plan to study day-night, think twice before going for it. The suggestion is to follow a well chalked out path instead of losing your energy level 

Less than 40% candidates serious
Don’t be overawed by the number of 2.31 lakh total registered candidates for CAT 2017. Out of them, real fight to get into IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR will be among a maximum number of 30,000 to 40,000 CAT 2017 test takers.  To get at least one IIM call, all you need is to be among top 11,000 - 12,000. The ratio comes to more than 25% candidates getting call from IIMs.

All the IIMs including IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta and Lucknow have not only reduced the CAT 2017 sectional and overall qualifying percentile score for shortlisting the candidates but have also reduced the weightage awarded to CAT 2017 score. Instead other parameters like Academic excellence, academic diversity, work experience have been awarded higher weightage in IIMs admission process. Now you need to score a good percentile in CAT 2017 but 99 or 100 percentile requirement to get into IIMs no longer holds good.

Still, please note that CAT 2017 is the mandatory exam for admission to IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, NITIE, JBIMS, management departments of IITs and other top B-schools. So your performance in CAT 2017 on November 26, 2017 will be the most important criterion to get a call from IIMs.

Stay tuned to for more updates on CAT 2017

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MBA/PGDM Admissions 2018 Open - Important Dates
For your benefit, has listed important MBA/PGDM Admission Application Deadlines. Check now

XLRI – XAT 2018
Application to XAT is open till November 30 without late fee and till December 15 with late fee
MDI Gurgaon
Application for PGPM 2018-20 at MDI Gurgaon is open till November 24, 2017
Application for PGDM 2018-20 at SPJIMR is open till November 24, 2017.
IMI New Delhi
Application for PGDM 2018-20 at IMI New Delhi is open till December 4, 2017
IMT Ghaziabad
Application for PGDM 2018-20 at IMT Ghaziabad is open till November 24, 2017
TAPMI Manipal
Application for PGDM 2018-20 at TAPMI is open till January 31, 2018
XIM Bhubaneshwar
Application for MBA 2018-20 at XIM Bhubaneswar is open till December 8, 2017
SCMHRD, Pune – SNAP 2017
SNAP 2017 registration is open till November 24, 2017
Great Lakes Chennai and Gurgaon
The application for 2 years PGDM 2018-20 is open till Feb 25, 2018
Application for 1 year PGPM 2018-19 is open till Nov 30, 2017
Application for PGDM 2018-20 at K J Somaiya is open till January 31, 2018
Application for PGDM 2018-20 at GIM Goa is open till January 3, 2018
LIBA Chennai
Online Application for PGDM 2018-20 at LIBA is open till January 31, 2018 at a cost of Rs.1500/-
IBSAT 2017
Application to IBSAT 2017 is open till December 12, 2017
CIMP Patna
Application for PGDM 2018-20 at CIMP is open till March 2nd week, 2018
SIBM Hyderabad – SNAP 2017
To apply to SIBM Hyderabad, apply to SNAP 2017 on Dec 17 and also apply to SIBM-H in the SNAP Form
SIBM Bengaluru
To apply to SIBM Bengaluru, apply to SNAP 2017 on Dec 17 and also apply to SIBM-B in the SNAP Form


Take CAT 2017 Mock Full LengthTo assess your preparation in revised CAT 2017 exam pattern with 100 questions.
CAT Previous Year Question Papers, Answer With Solution:
CAT 2008    |    CAT 2007    |    CAT 2006    |    CAT 2005   |    CAT 2004
Section 1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension CAT 2017: Quiz 1 CAT 2017: Quiz 2
Section 2: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning CAT 2017: Quiz 1 CAT 2017: Quiz 2
Section 3: Quantitative Ability CAT 2017: Quiz 1 CAT 2017: Quiz 2