CAT 2021 Self Preparation: How to Crack CAT with Self preparation - Books, Strategy, Tips by Toppers
IIM Ahmedabad is conducting CAT 2021 and the likely CAT exam date is November 28, 2021. The exam offers tough competition to get into IIMs or other top B-schools. A large number of CAT toppers crack CAT with self preparation and more than 60-70 percent CAT aspirants preferred self-preparation in the past also by making a well devised Self Study plan for CAT 2021 Exam Preparation at home on their own. Accordingly self preparation for CAT is a good idea as per the experience of the past CAT toppers who were not only able to crack CAT with self preparation but also scored high enough to get a seat in one of the top IIMs.
CAT 2021 is the best and largest MBA entrance exam leading to admission in 20 IIMs and hundreds of other top MBA colleges in India. CAT aspirants who are preparing for CAT exam have natural queries like Can I prepare for CAT without coaching?; How do I start preparing for CAT at home?; Is it possible to prepare for CAT without coaching?; What are the tips to prepare for CAT 2021 at home; How can I crack the CAT in 3 months by self-study as a beginner?; Is self-study sufficient for CAT? If so, what are the books needed?; How the CAT toppers did self preparation? And many other queries when it comes to self study plan for CAT.
To help the CAT aspirants to self prepare and crack CAT 2021 with high score, Experts at MBAUniverse.com with the toppers’ tips to Prepare for CAT 2021 at home share below five point Self Study Plan for CAT Exam with all the necessary material in this article. So read on to understand How To Prepare for CAT Exam at Home. It will help you to Crack CAT with Self Preparation and will answer all your queries regarding the Self Preparation for CAT
Important: Read More on CAT 2021 Articles
The CAT 2021 exam is in last week of November. Since the preparation time is now short, you need to begin your self preparation for CAT without any further delay. It requires a well devised self study plan for CAT Exam 2021 which includes many components including appropriate study material for self preparation for CAT, well devised Self Study plan for CAT Exam Preparation at home with time management which can answer your query ‘How can I crack the CAT in 3 months by self-study as a beginner?’ Please remember more than two lakh candidates appear in Common Admission Test (CAT) every year and the number is still rising giving a tough competition in MBA admission in top B-schools.
Many changes in the CAT exam pattern and testing slots are made every year, it is expected that CAT pattern will change again as IIM Ahmedabad which is conducting CAT 2021, may bring about more changes in CAT exam structure. CAT 2021 may go back to its earlier test structure and time slots. As per the regular pattern, CAT 2021 will be a computer based test of 3 hours with 100 questions divided in three sections. CAT preparation 2021 strategy also needs to be slightly changed from previous year.
How to Devise CAT Exam Self Study Plan 2021?
With the expected changes in CAT 2021 pattern, the CAT 2021 self preparation according to experts, should also be changed. Experts have advised following required changes in CAT self preparation strategy:
Expected Changes in CAT Exam 2021
Required Changes in Self Preparation for CAT
Number of questions to go up from 76 to 100
Test taking stratgey to be tweaked. Selection of questions becomes important
Increased Overall CAT duration to 3 hours and Sectional duration to 60 Minutes each
Students should focus on preparation. Exam could prove more beneficial with better scoring opportunity
Difficulty Level may go up
Improve your skills in each section, IIMs may decide to have stronger skilled students
Change in Mock Test Taking Strategy
Increase total number of questions and duration for your mock test. This will give you a real feel of new CAT pattern
Self Preparation for CAT 2021
Preparing for CAT with Self Study and with right CAT material is very important. Besides there is no harm in preparing for CAT by going for a mix of Self Study Plan for CAT exam as well as getting yourself tested through Mocks or Test series of coaching institutes. This will not only boost your self preparation for CAT exam but will also help you assess the improvement in your preparation.
Since the CAT exam is designed to measure your aptitude and assess your analytical and communication skills in the areas of English language and usage, Analysis of a situation with data, Approach to arrive at the decision by using reasoning and the basic mathematical skills, CAT toppers and experts describe CAT preparation strategy in two words – ‘Smart Preparation’ which avoids the hard meaningless preparation that consumes lot of your time with lesser gain. Instead focus yourself on being accurate and fast in solving the problems.
Is It Possible To Prepare For CAT Without Coaching?
Yes, say the experts and CAT toppers. This article below will answer not only to your query whether is it possible to prepare for CAT without coaching but will also cater to all your following queries regarding self preparation for CAT exam :
- How To Prepare For CAT Exam at Home?
- Is self-study sufficient for CAT? If so, what are the books needed?
- How can I crack the CAT in 3 months by self-study as a beginner? Or 2 months or 1 month
- Toppers’ Tips To Prepare For CAT 2021 At Home
- Why toppers and other CAT aspirants preferred self-preparation?
Self Preparation Strategy for CAT 2021
Now as you have made the choice to do self preparation for CAT at home, the step wise strategy is shared below for CAT exam self preparation 2021. According to the experts the CAT Exam Self Study plan must consist of following components and must be completed at least a fortnight before the CAT exam day.
- Check CAT 2021 Exam Pattern & Syllabus
- Be clear How to prepare for CAT Exam at home
- Best Books and Study material required for CAT Self Preparation
- Time Management How to prepare for CAT in 3 Months or 2 months: Section wise Strategy
- Taking Mocks to check your current CAT Exam Preparation Level
- Toppers’ tips to prepare for CAT without coaching: Learn from CAT 100 Percentilers
Beyond this, you need to prepare your CAT Exam Preparation Time Table and then start immediately your Preparation for each section. Let’s explore each aspect to help you design your CAT exam self preparation strategy.
1. Check CAT 2021 Exam Pattern & Syllabus
Unless you are aware what are the key components and sections in CAT exam pattern, what are the topics on which questions are asked in CAT exam, it is like beating about the bush as you will not be able to know how to start the preparation nor it will be possible to collect the best CAT 2021 study material. Besides, your focused preparation by section and CAT Self Study may not materialize till you go deep to know about the current CAT pattern.
1.1 CAT Exam Pattern
Before moving on your preparation path, it is very important to understand the CAT exam pattern which has gone with perceptible changes since 2014, not only in its structure but also in the content. Going by the tradition in changes in different type of questions in CAT, you cannot rule out a different CAT exam 2021. CAT exam is scheduled to be held on November 28, 2021. So, the coming months will be a crucial period to devise a well chalked out plan for your preparation time table as per the current CAT exam pattern.
As per the revised CAT pattern, the CAT exam 2021 will consist of 3 sections with a total of 100 questions. Each section is timed with the individual time limit of 1 hour. Your plan to self prepare for CAT 2021 needs to ensure high score in each of the 3 sections as there is also a CAT sectional score cut off in IIMs for shortlisting. Your preparation has to be as per the revised CAT pattern which is as under:
India’s Top MBA Entrance Exams: Check Dates, Pattern, Mocks, Registration Process…
CAT 2021 pattern
Total MCQs (With negative marking)
Total Non-MCQs (Without negative marking)
Total maximum marks
- *VARC: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
- *DILR: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
- *Quant: Quantitative Ability
However, despite number of changes brought about during last four years in CAT exam pattern, the basics of the CAT exam have not changed. CAT exam since 2015 has remained on the same lines. It is expected that CAT 2021 exam pattern will also remain similar, although there could be some minor changes in number and type of questions and their sectional composition. To make sure to bell the CAT 2021 with high score you need to gather right CAT 2021 Material to make your CAT Exam Self Study plan and begin your preparation without waiting any longer. Read More about CAT 2021 Exam Pattern
1.2 CAT Syllabus 2021
- Once you know about the CAT Pattern 2021, your next step for CAT self preparation is to scan the CAT Syllabus. Following facts must be well understood about the CAT Exam Syllabus
- IIM entrance exam syllabus or CAT exam preparation 2021 is not pre-defined by IIMs
- The syllabus is based on latest topics and questions that appeared in past CAT exams
- The type of CAT questions, their composition, format and number may change in each CAT exam.
- CAT questions are not repeated in any CAT exam but the difficulty level of the questions in the exam remains within the syllabus.
- Past pattern reflects that the syllabus overall covers all the major topics on Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension; Quantitative Aptitude; Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning.
- CAT exam Syllabus is further divided into sub-sections Read More about CAT 2021 Syllabus
2. How to prepare for CAT Exam at home?
There are two most relevant questions which are asked by the CAT aspirants who opt for self preparation for CAT exam – How do I start preparing for CAT at home? Is it possible to prepare for CAT without coaching? CAT experts and toppers while suggesting how to start preparing for CAT at home are of the view that it is very much possible to self prepare for CAT at home without coaching although you can take help from coaching in case of need.
Self Preparation for CAT at home with self study is considered as the best preparation strategy, say the experts. However, it depends upon your availability of time, skills that you have and the areas you wish to improve among other factors. CAT Self preparation with right CAT Study material can also be mixed with the CAT test series from good coaching institute.
A big question, how to start CAT preparation without coaching, is answered well by CAT exam preparation experts. They are of the view that you can start CAT preparation 2021 without coaching with the help of best books for CAT recommended by toppers, like CAT books by Arun Sharma, CAT exam book by Nishit Sinha, available good CAT exam preparation material, CAT Study material online, freely available CAT preparation online facility, CAT exam Quiz 2021, CAT Mock test 2021 that can hone your CAT preparation. All these will make you aware how to prepare for CAT without coaching and are the best tools for CAT preparation.
Akhil Garg, an IIM Ahmedabad student and past CAT topper has advised to start CAT self study at home without being dependent on any coaching.
2.1 How to start Self Preparation for CAT exam
CAT exam self preparation requires you to devise your own strategy as against coaching based CAT preparation as it is the coaching institute which has its own CAT preparation plan. Accordingly the step by step CAT self preparation strategy, as recommended by toppers is a bit different as detailed below:
- Step 1: Scan the CAT Exam Pattern & Syllabus
- Step 2: Attempt a few CAT Mock tests to figure out your strong and weak topics
- Step 3: To begin with make sure to devote a minimum of 2-3 hours a day for preparation. Divide your time as per your skill set and requirement to build your Basics and bring conceptual clarity
- Step 4: Take as many Mocks & Previous test papers as possible with low to high difficulty level, analyse errors and improve in subsequent mock test. It will help you to attempt actual CAT question paper like another Mock test
- Step-5: Complete your preparation 15 days before the CAT exam day. Don’t start anything new after that
2.2 No Substitute to Self preparation
There is no substitute of CAT self study in exam preparation as it does not require any coaching until and unless you are stuck. Experts therefore, recommend that you should start your preparation without coaching and through self study and later make it a mix of CAT self study as well as help from coaching to avoid wastage of time.
- Although CAT Self Preparation is the best preparation strategy for CAT exam, time is also an important factor. If a candidate gets stuck on some question due to his/her lack of conceptual clarity, the wastage of time is more and depression begins to set in. It could be a small quant formula, LR logic, or Verbal usage clarity which might need a simple push to come out of the shallow waters. This help can be provided by your mentor online or offline depending upon your preference or a mix of both.
- Most of the candidates coming from Engineering or other technical background find it easy to get along well with Quant, DI and LR but when it comes to Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, they find the section a bit difficult. It is where they need an expert guidance.
- CAT 2021 exam preparation needs improvement in your speed and accuracy as the time to solve per question is reduced now. Till few years back, CAT test taker had 2.32 minutes per question to solve but since CAT 2014, the time is reduced to 1.8 minute per question to solve. Ironically it will not be sufficient to score overall high in CAT 2021; your section wise score should also be high to become eligible for shortlisting at IIMs.
- CAT exam preparation 2021 should equip you with continuous seating for more than 3 hours without break. To achieve this you are required to take more Mocks, CAT previous year test papers.
3. Best Books and Study material required for CAT Self Preparation
Is self-study sufficient for CAT? If so, what are the books needed? – This is a common query from the CAT aspirants. It may be noted that the Preparation books and CAT preparation material online or offline play a major role in helping you in CAT self preparation and score high in the CAT exam. A few of the best books for CAT recommended by toppers to prepare for CAT are:
3.1 CAT Books for VARC section
- How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT’- by Arun Sharma & Meenakshi Upadhyay
- ‘Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ - by Nishit K Sinha
- Latest RC Passages and practice questions provided by Study centres like TIME, CL among others
- Editorial and short articles published in English news papers
- ‘Word Power Made Easy’ – by Norman Lewis
- ‘High School English Grammar & Composition’ – by Wren & Martin
- Regularly solve the Verbal Ability questions from your study material especially on Para summary, Jumbled Paragraphs
- There is also number of CAT preparation books PDF free download available online for CAT 2020 aspirants
- Use the study material of best online coaching for CAT 2020
3.2 CAT Books for DILR section
- ‘How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT’ - by Arun Sharma (Published by McGraw Hill)
- ‘Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT’ - by Nishit K Sinha (Published by Pearson)
- ‘How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for the CAT’ - by Arun Sharma (Published by McGraw Hill)
- ‘Logical Reasoning and data Interpretation for the CAT’ - by Nishit K Sinha (Published by Pearson)
3.3 CAT Books for Quantitative Ability section
Following books and study material have remained a good CAT preparation tool for Quant for past many years:
- ‘How to prepare for Quantitative for the CAT’ - by Arun Sharma, published by MGH Education
- ‘Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT’ – by Nishit K.Sinha, Published by Pearson
- ‘The Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude for competitive exams’
- Quant study modules by TIME, CL, IMS
4. How to prepare for CAT in 3 Months or 2 months: Tips & Section wise Strategy
Since time is an important factor and when you start your self preparation for CAT exam late, the natural query that comes to your mind is, How can I crack the CAT in 3 months by self-study as a beginner? Or if you start your CAT preparation only two months earlier from the exam date, you become worried whether I can prepare well for CAT. Relax! According to the experts and toppers you can do it.
CAT Preparation Time Table is an important factor in preparation strategy. However, finalizing the time table depends upon your skill set also. How much CAT preparation you need? What your weak areas are and how much time you need to improve upon them could differ from person to person.
One thing that CAT toppers have advised is ‘As the CAT preparation time goes on reducing month after month with every passing day, you need to revise your preparation time table by revisiting your preparation strategy to synchronise it with remaining preparation Time.’
According to Yogesh Taneja, CAT topper with 100 percentile, “The time till the final exam day can be divided in two phases. First, when I spent most of the time learning new things each day, figuring out my weak spots and not worrying about the performance in mocks/test sheets etc. In the second phase, along with practicing those concepts I used to constantly evaluate through mocks from different coaching institutes, sectionals, workshops and spent an equal amount of time analysing my performance to find key areas that could help me improve.” The strategy is shared below
4.1 How can I crack the CAT in 6 months by self-study as a beginner?
CAT preparation time of 6 months is sufficient to crack the exam. Following should be adhered to before proceeding on CAT preparation journey:
- As you are left with sufficient CAT preparation time, first of all go through and understand the CAT exam pattern
- Get a good feel of CAT 2021 exam syllabus
- Find out your strong and weak areas
- Start building up the fundamentals and get conceptual clarity on the topics which fall in your weak areas
- Don’t waste too much time on theory. If you have understood the basics, attempt CAT sectional quiz.
- Practice after theory is a must. Accordingly take periodical CAT 2021 Quiz, attempt CAT previous years Mock test, CAT previous years question papers
- Get the best CAT preparation material with best books for CAT preparation.
- Beginning your CAT preparation early will give you time to periodically assess yourself and overcome your weaknesses.
- Remain confident right from the day one during your CAT preparation journey.
- Since time is an important factor, if you are stuck on some question due to the lack of conceptual clarity, the wastage of time is more and depression begins to set in. This help can be provided by your mentor online or offline depending upon your preference or a mix of both.
4.2 How can I crack the CAT in 3 months by self-study as a beginner?
When CAT exam is only 3 months away, don’t think that the CAT preparation time is short. What you have done in last three months or whatever you have prepared can be revised now in three months with various CAT preparation tools. The time is ripe to intensify a little your CAT preparation strategy for three months:
- See that you have achieved good clarity on fundamentals and have strengthened your basics
- Alongwith going through the books for CAT preparation, visit number of online CAT preparation material
- It is time that you started taking CAT Mock test, analyse your errors and rectify them
- Instead of reading the theory again and again, now you should attempt the question and when you are stuck, visit the basics and clarify your point to clear the confusion
- Solve CAT previous year question papers
- Join a good Test series for CAT preparation
4.2 How can I crack the CAT in 2 months by self-study as a beginner?
It may sound a little surprising but it is true. Many CAT toppers are of the view that CAT preparation time of two months is good enough to bell the CAT. Atul Goyal CAT topper with 99.99 percentile and student of FMS Delhi advised the MBA aspirants to study effectively even if they study less. This way even 2 months are sufficient to score 99 percentile provided you are sincere enough.
- Focus more on CAT Exam Quiz, CAT Mock tests, different types of questions as appeared in CAT
- Don’t leave any CAT Mock Test without analyzing it
- Go through the Books for CAT preparation and the CAT preparation material and ensure that you have gone through the sectional and overall quiz and practice tests in these CAT preparation books.
- There are some strong areas within your weak areas and some weak areas within your strong areas. Try to focus on all the weak areas and see if you are able to improve them. However, you should not waste more time on them. Instead focus more on your strong areas and improve them further.
4.3 Section wise Tips to Prepare for CAT 2021 at Home
CAT 2021 exam will have 3 sections with a total of 100 questions. Each section is timed with the individual time limit of 1 hour. With your well planned self preparation strategy, you need to plan CAT preparation by section to ensure high score in each of the three sections as there is also a sectional score cut off in IIMs.
Your CAT 2021 preparation should be smart enough. The best way to prepare for CAT 2021 exam is to know your sectional strengths and weakness and start working on them now. Since there is time to get over with your weakness and further strengthen your strong areas, you must devote around 2-3 hours a day from now on to crack CAT 2021 with a high score.
4.3.1 Section-1: Reading Comprehension for CAT
CAT preparation by section should begin with VARC. Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension in CAT 2021 exam would be the 1st section. Reading Comprehension part in VARC section is considered as the more tricky as this section can get any composition of topics and different type of questions.
You need to prepare for Reading Comprehension by devoting much more time in practicing on variety of RC passages and Verbal Ability questions.
126.96.36.199 Reading Comprehension: Composition & Preparation Tips
RC is the key Component in Mission CAT 2021. Reading Comprehension passages or RC passages in CAT command 24% share in overall CAT exam and 70% share in VARC section.
Your mission to crack CAT 2021 should be to focus more on RC Passages in CAT. Past CAT toppers with 100 and 99 percentile share following tips to accomplish your Mission CAT 2021
- Read Newspaper Editorials and Articles
- After Reading the passage, make a summary of it which should be one third of the passage size
- Check that all the key points are covered in the summary of RC passage
- Frame questions and try to answer them
- Improve your reading speed
- Since 2017, IIMs have released CAT exam papers with answer keys, attempt the 10 RC passages from actual CAT test papers and answer questions on them
- Monitor your time to attempt the CAT RC passages. One RC passage followed by 5-6 questions should not take more than 15 minutes to answer
188.8.131.52 Verbal Ability for CAT
During the last few years,Verbal Ability part in VARC section has gone for substantial changes in CAT exams. Your preparation therefore, has to be focused on the current trends. But another important feature of CAT exam is that it suddenly asks questions of such type which have not been asked during last many years. Your preparation for Verbal Ability therefore, has to combine the current as well as the past trends in CAT.
Sometimes you may find more questions on Grammar and Vocabulary and at other times the entire part on Grammar based and vocabulary based questions may be missing in CAT exam. The difficulty level of questions in VARC section is from moderate to highly difficult.
At present, CAT asks 10 questions in MCQ format on Verbal Ability. You need to prepare following three types of questions as per the current CAT syllabus. There are 3-4 questions on each of the three topics.
- Making a summary of small para of 50-60 words in a single sentence
- Putting the sentences in Jumbled paragraphs in coherent order
- Picking out the odd sentence from a jumbled paragraph
4.3.2 Section-2: CAT DILR Preparation
Data Interpretation for CAT and Logical Reasoning for CAT are now clubbed together and form a new DILR section. In all there are 32 questions in DILR section divided into 16 questions for Data Interpretation and 16 questions for Logical Reasoning. Both the sections are equally important in CAT preparation.
184.108.40.206 Data Interpretation for CAT
Data interpretation for CAT syllabus is also a little more defined than other CAT sections. The Data Interpretation Study material like Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma; The Pearson Guide for logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation are the few of the best books for CAT 2020 preparation. DI questions for CAT with solutions are available online also.
Candidates who appear in IIMs Common Admission Text (CAT) find Data Interpretation as the most difficult and time consuming section and are able to solve only a few questions which are in sets of 4 questions.
Preparing for Data Interpretation in CAT 2021 is an important part of overall preparation. Scoring high in Data Interpretation can take you through the IIMs admission process.
220.127.116.11 Data Interpretation Preparation Tips for CAT
- DI questions are formed to test how candidates can interpret the given data and answer questions based on it.
- Free download for DILR Practice questions for CAT with solutions are available online and should be practiced well.
4.3.3 Logical Reasoning for CAT
With creation of new section in CAT comprising only DILR questions, CAT has detached the LR & DI questions from their respective parent sections of Quant and Verbal. Now DILR is the 2nd section in CAT exam which requires higher focus on Logical Reasoning preparation
Logical Reasoning study material for CAT 2020 is available online also which can help you in CAT 2021 DILR preparation and will also save your time also.
Logical Reasoning questions in CAT can be your score booster upto 48 core marks leading to an improvement of overall percentile by 20-25 in CAT 2021. LR in CAT constitutes 50% share in the newly created Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation Comprehension (DILR) Section in CAT with 32 questions. As such, the goal of scoring high in CAT 2021 can be achieved with small but consistent efforts and time devoted to the DILR section.
CAT toppers with varying back ground, studying in IIM Ahmedabad, FMS Delhi, MDI and other top MBA colleges found themselves less prepared for CAT Logical Reasoning when they started LR preparation for CAT. But with their consistent efforts, most of them ended up cracking the Logical Reasoning questions for CAT with 95+ percentile and above.
18.104.22.168 Logical Reasoning Preparation Tips for CAT
- Read and practice various types of Logical Reasoning Questions for CAT with solutions
- One of the key CAT Logical Reasoning tricks by experts is to begin with LOD=1 and move to LOD-2 and finally to LOD=3 Logical Reasoning Questions.
- Try to solve as many LR questions on all difficulty levels, as possible. Never be shy of practice on LR. Once it is done, you will develop the methodology and will come to know beforehand whether you will be able to solve a particular LR question set, when it appears in the examination or should skip that.
- Get Updated CAT Logical Reasoning Preparation Material of Best Coaching Institutes
- Read CAT toppers’ Logical Reasoning Preparation Strategy
- Attempt more CAT Logical Reasoning Mocks and Analyse your errors after completing each one
4.3.4 Quantitative Aptitude for CAT
Quantitative Aptitude in CAT 2021 carries a weightage of 34% in overall CAT 2021 exam. As per the trend in CAT exam during the past 3 years, Quant in CAT exam 2021 will occupy the 3rd and last section. Quant in CAT is considered as the very tricky section as this section can get any composition of topics and different type of questions in MCQ or Non-MCQ format.
Since CAT 2021 test takers will reach this section after spending 120 minutes on other 2 sections, CAT preparation experts and toppers share key CAT quant preparation tip to practice more on this section right from the beginning and prepare themselves to keep their cool till the end of the exam as this section is more calculation based
You need to concentrate more to prepare on Quant in CAT 2021 and therefore require a well devised preparation plan to score high in CAT 2021 exam. Your own devised shortcuts to quickly solve the questions with accuracy will help more. It has become more crucial for aspirants to score high in Quantitative Aptitude section in CAT 2021 without any support of questions from DI part which could be attempted by not so proficient candidates in mathematics.
While it is difficult to determine CAT syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude, it is advisable to prepare as per the changed CAT exam pattern. If you continue preparing as per the old pattern of CAT Quant Syllabus, you may end up with a low score. Although, you cannot rule out the recurrence of questions on forgotten topics in Quantitative Aptitude section, the priority should be given to the current CAT pattern and on the current topics as per revised CAT syllabus
Taking Mocks and sample tests is very important to crack Quantitative Aptitude section in CAT. This fact has been tested by the CAT toppers over a period of time. Taking more mocks on Quant section will expose you to a vast variety of Quantitative Aptitude questions. Read More on How to prepare Quant for CAT
5. Taking Mocks to check your current CAT Exam Preparation Level
You need to assess your current level of CAT exam preparation by taking Previous Year Papers / Mock Test. Unless you know which are your weak areas that need your more attention and which are your strong areas where you need to prepare less for CAT exam, it is difficult to self prepare for CAT exam or devise your preparation strategy. To check your current level of CAT exam preparation, taking CAT Mock Tests sectional as well as full length can help you to identify your weak and strong areas. After that, you will be able to focus more on your weak areas in exam preparation.
According to CAT toppers the Mock tests help you gauge your preparation and help you to improve and focus more in the desired direction. It is therefore, very important to take CAT Mock tests and devise your preparation strategy.
5.1 CAT Mock Test Series 2021: Importance
CAT 2021 Mock Tests and CAT Previous Years Question Papers are the major CAT exam preparation tools. Alongwith the CAT Mock tests, CAT exam quiz, CAT previous years Mock test, CAT sectional quiz will also play a major role in improving your speed and accuracy in CAT preparation 2021. CAT aspirants usually raise query How the CAT toppers did self-preparation? We interviewed many of the CAT toppers studying at IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta and other IIMs and got specific answer to the question – How the CAT toppers did self-preparation since CAT exam continued changing its pattern and structure frequently. You will find their answers regarding their self preparation strategy below in this article.
Shubham Bajaj, CAT 2020 topper with 99.98 percentile and IIM Calcutta student of MBA 2021-23 batch says, “I was more or less dependent upon mocks for most of my preparation. And I wanted the mocks, where the number of people attempting the mocks are more. So, I chose Time and IMS (both having 15k people approx). I personally believe that you need to keep solving the mocks on a regular basis, may be one mock or two mocks a week. Some people believe in completing the syllabus and only then attempting the mocks. I believe that even if a particular portion is incomplete, you should attempt the mock and test the concepts which you have prepared. Also, for the chapters which are not completed, you will understand on how to have the roadmap for preparation for that particular topic.
But along with the mocks, mock analysis is extremely important. Giving 20 mocks and analyzing them is much better than appearing for 50+ mocks without analysis.”
Ashish Jhunjhunwala, CAT topper with 99.90 percentile highlights the importance of CAT Mock tests and shares, “Solving mock tests and question banks helped me to identify my sectional strengths and weaknesses basis which I planned my preparation schedule” and adds further, “I attempted a total of 40 mocks before taking the CAT exam. After every mock I took, I devoted a considerable amount of time to analyse each mock result to understand the errors. Regularly taking mock exams helped me practice well for the final exam by solving various types of possible questions within the given time constraints.”
Accordingly, CAT Practice test papers for CAT 2021, prepared by top experts and CAT toppers are good tool to prepare for CAT and crack CAT exam. CAT sample papers are available as CAT online tests also. There are number of CAT online mock tests comprising replica CAT exam questions to help in your CAT preparation. Don’t miss them.
While self preparing for CAT 2021, you may enroll for CAT test series at some good CAT coaching institutes like TIME, CL, IMS, Bullseye among others. They will help you overcome many weak areas.
5.2 Benefits of Taking CAT Mock Tests
- Gives you the opportunity to improve upon your weak areas regularly
- CAT Test Series helps to practice well on various LoD questions
- Equips you to manage sectional time constraints in CAT
- With number of tests taken, the final CAT exam appears like another Mock
- CAT Mock Tests help to get over the exam day anxiety and pressure
- The pressure felt during each CAT Mock test helps in devising exam day strategy
6. Toppers’ tips to prepare for CAT without coaching: Learn from CAT 100 Percentilers
Most of the CAT toppers have opted for CAT preparation without coaching. CAT toppers like IIM Calcutta student Shubham Bajaj of MBA 2021-23 batch with 99.98 percentile; IIM Ahmedabad student of PGP 2020-22 batch, Rahul Gupta with 100 percentile in CAT 2019; Ashish Jhunjhunwala with 99.90 percentile in CAT 2017; Vipul Kukkar 99.99 percentile in CAT 2017 did self study for CAT exam with the help of books and other CAT study material.
Below are shared the toppers’ tips to prepare for CAT 2021 at home and why these toppers and other CAT aspirants preferred self-preparation. The Preparation strategy as adopted by CAT toppers can give you the right preparation plan on how to prepare for CAT in the given time line and expect the best result. The CAT preparation tips by toppers who were weak in VARC or DILR or Quant and how they overcame their weakness and scored high in the exam offer right preparation guidance. Here are some preparation tips from CAT Toppers interviewed by MBAUniverse.com.
Shubham Bajaj, CAT 2020 topper with 99.98 percentile: IIM Calcutta Student MBA 2021-23 Batch
- Relied mainly on self-preparation with basic hold of the concepts
- Took up a few mocks initially and analysed them to understand my strengths, weaknesses, and improvement sectors
- Found it challenging to maintain the motivation and work pressure but managed by forming a study group. The purpose of the group was to help each other improve their weaker sections
- Analysed mocks once or twice a month to understand everyone's perspective and learn better methods for solving a particular LRDI set or a QA question. This process helped a lot in improving ourselves. Overall CAT preparation included giving around 30 mocks, self-analysis of those mocks followed by group analysis
- Learned a few concepts from the YouTube free resources, participating in the free events organized by various online coaching institutes on Facebook.
- For QA, some of the concepts were not clear enough because of long gap of 7-8 years. I found Rodha YouTube playlist on Quants quite helpful for most of the basic understanding. Also referred to Prepzone daily events organized on the Facebook Page
- Attended free workshops on topic wise discussion organized by CrackU on YouTube
Rahul Gupta, CAT 2019 topper with 100 percentile: IIM Ahmedabad student
- Initially focused on getting the basics correct and solving some easy questions to get comfortable with the subject then move on to try higher level problems
- Started giving the mocks as soon as they started instead of waiting till end.
- Used to analyze the solutions extensively to check what mistakes I made or the questions I missed during the test. It helped me to decide the topics I needed to put more efforts in.
Shantanu Singh Yadav, CAT 2019 topper with 99.73 percentile: IIM Ahmedabad Student
- I devoted equal time to all the three sections with some extra effort towards DI and LR which is I believe is the most unpredictable section in the exam. You could practice a hell lot of LR sets prior to the exam but might still hassle on the D-Day.
- LR sets are not straightforward like Quants or DI sets. Timing my complete mocks and sectional tests along with thoroughly analysing my wrong as well as right attempts turned out to be fruitful.
- Since the syllabus for CAT is so wide and even has no boundaries defined for VARC and DILR, last minute hustle mostly turns fruitless and overloads you with added stress
Tanuj Ruia, CAT 2019 topper with 99.69 percentile: IIM Bangalore student
“After clearing my fundamentals and the basics, I enrolled for the mock series. It helped me in analysing my current level of preparation, my weaknesses and my rank amongst a pool of serious aspirants”
Anushree Naik, CAT 2019 topper with 98.20 percentile: IIM Ahmedabad student
“I studied for about 3 hours on week days by solving QA sectional tests, practicing a lot of data interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR) sets and utilised my travel time to work in reading books, building a vocabulary and solving math quizzes on my phone. My weekends were dedicated to attending classes, covering major chunk of the portion, solving mock tests and analysing my strengths and weaknesses through them.”
Nikita Agarwal, CAT 2019 topper with 99.22 percentile: MDI Gurgaon student
“I used to give practice all the three sections consistently. I never skipped a particular section, say VARC, because I had to focus on Quants. Learning to strike a balance between three sections is really necessary.”
Sruthy S Kumar, CAT 2019 topper with 97.71 percentile: IIM Lucknow student
“As a working professional I was very well aware that I had to use my time very judiciously to crack CAT. I started my preparations by going through IMS books to refresh the basics. Then mostly, I concentrated on taking as many mocks as possible. I enrolled for IMS test series and I religiously took all the mock tests and evaluated them at length. I also kept a tab on my performance by making a chart and writing down my score and percentage after each test. I had a habit of noting some good/tricky questions in a book for future reference.”
Chandanbala Shyamsunder Dhanawat, CAT 2019 topper with 98.28 percentile: IIM Udaipur Student
“The first thing you prepare for is getting to know the exam pattern and syllabus of CAT in detail. There is ample study material available online even for those who do not take coaching for CAT and me being an IMS student, I had the best study material to solve. Online Mock Tests which starts from April and goes till November are of great help. Study Group for GD/PI preparations are important. During your CAT PL preparation internet in the best buddy you can have. Lastly Confidence and Motivation are the two things which will help you finish the journey.”
The gist of toppers’ CAT preparation tips is summarised as below:
- Don’t waste too much time on theory. If you have understood the basics, attempt CAT sectional quiz.
- Practice after theory is a must. Accordingly take periodical CAT 2021 Quiz, attempt CAT previous years Mock test, CAT previous years question papers
- Get the best preparation material with best preparation books
- Beginning your preparation early will give you time to periodically assess yourself and overcome your weaknesses.
- Remain confident right from the day one during your CAT preparation journey.
- Self Preparation is the best preparation strategy for CAT 2021 but you need to manage time also as all the three sections in CAT are equally important
Q-1: What is the ideal CAT preparation time?
Although there is no thumb rule on it, CAT toppers suggest the CAT 2021 aspirants to remain steady and regular in their CAT preparation and always think that CAT exam is round the corner.
Q-2: I wish to self prepare for CAT. How do I start preparation without coaching?
First know the CAT exam pattern & syllabus and gather the best preparation books, CAT study material and start your CAT preparation by section without leaving anything to chance.
Q-3: How many Mocks before CAT exam are sufficient to take?
As detailed above, the CAT toppers have taken around 30-40 Mock tests before CAT exam. To prepare for CAT, it is not only sufficient to take Mocks but more important is to analyse your mistakes in them and improve for future.
Q-4: Is there sufficient time now to start CAT preparation 2021?
Since likely date of CAT 2021 is November 28, 2021, there is still good CAT preparation time which if fruitfully used, can turn the table in your favour.
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