CAT 2021- CAT Preparation Tips for Beginners

CAT Preparation tips for Beginners/ PrepLadder CAT

As a beginner, you may feel apprehensive about initiating your CAT preparation journey, assuming that most of your competitors know everything about the exam. However, the majority of the candidates appearing for the CAT are beginners. While you are not the only one learning the basics of this exam, you should remember that lakhs of students across the country have their eyes on the rewards of clearing the exam.

It is only natural to feel a little overwhelmed and have doubts about your preparation plan. Some things are absolutely unmissable while beginning to prepare the study plan and some factors are given more importance than they deserve. In order to understand things in a systematic way, it is crucial that you take help from a preparation guide curated by the experts following thorough research.

The guide that will make your preparation journey nothing short of perfect:

1. Define your goals: 

It is clear that every CAT aspirant aims at one of the best business schools and this happens to be the dream shared by lakhs of students. However, when you think about things pragmatically, give yourself deadlines, divide your big dream into a number of short goals and ensure that the plan suits your case, you change your dream into a goal. And that’s exactly what you need to do before you start digging in deep.

2. Understand the exam pattern: 

One of the factors that make the CAT one of the most challenging exams conducted in India, is the fact that it does not have a fixed pattern. The pattern of the exam is decided by the CAT conducting body for the academic year in question.

For the CAT 2021, the exam pattern and the important notifications related to the exam are given by IIM Ahmedabad. While the pattern is not fixed and changes every year, the sections remain the same.

The CAT is divided into three sections that you are supposed to nail before appearing for the exam- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension(VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning(DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA).

It is a computer-based exam, consisting of multiple-choice and non-multiple-choice questions. The maximum time one will get to complete the CAT 2021 is two hours or 120 minutes and the time allotted for every section is 40 minutes. There will be 76 questions in all, with every question carrying 3 marks. Since the exam consists of MCQ and non-MCQ questions, it is important to remember that there is negative marking only for the former.

For every wrong MCQ answer, one mark will be deducted whereas there will be no negative marking for the wrong non MCQ answers. As per the structure of the CAT 2021, DILR will have 24 questions, VARC and QA will have 26 questions each.

Refer to the following table for a clear understanding of the pattern:

CAT 2021: Exam Pattern & Structure

Total number of sections3 (VARC, DILR, QA)
Total number of questions76 (VARC-26, DILR-24, QA- 26)
Time allotted to complete the exam120 minutes (40 minutes for every section)
Maximum Marks228
Language of the examEnglish
Types of questionsMCQ and Non-MCQ
Number of options for the MCQs4

Since the exam pattern changes every year, it becomes important for every candidate to check the previous years’ question papers and solve those to understand the difficulty level. Absolute clarity of what you can expect during the exam paves the way for a realistic study plan. 

Based on the exam analysis of the CAT conducted in the last four years, the level of difficulty has been rated as moderately difficult.

3. Strategize smartly:

As a beginner, you must ensure that your plans bring you closer to your aim. An ideal study strategy to clear the CAT in the first attempt is based on a clear analysis of the previous years’ exams. Now one of the most convenient things to do is to completely follow the footsteps of someone you know or idealize. But convenience does not promise success.

You have to forge your own path after learning things from the experts and enlisting your strengths and weaknesses. Your strategy is meant to be planned and executed very well to ensure that it works for you. A copy of someone’s answers may help you learn a thing or two but, a strategy meant for someone else, may not work for you at all.

4. Books & Study Material:

For a CAT aspirant, hoarding books by great authors could give a sense of great satisfaction; making you feel that you are climbing the right tree. However, it is not as much about the number of books and resources as it is about the quality of your sources of knowledge. Your notes must be clear and comprehensive and the questions must allow you to test your knowledge the right way.

Some of the books recommended by the experts are- CAT Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning by Gautam Puri, Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Nishit K. Sinha, Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension by Arihant Publication, Quantum CAT by Arihant Publications and, Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis.

5. Work on your speed: 

“I would have nailed it if I had more time”, “I knew almost everything but could not attempt all the questions” – If you have experienced this, you know it is not a good feeling to realize that you could not achieve your goals because of your pace. Start practising and solving questions right in the beginning to ensure that speed does not become a hurdle in your journey.

6. Mock Tests:

The more you subject yourself to practice tests, the fewer are your chances to be all surprised on the final exam day. However, be very particular about your choice of mock test series. Especially in the last phase of your preparation, go for the one that has proven to be successful in the past, like the mock test series by PrepLadder.

You could be a beginner at this stage, but you need to remind yourself that even the top CAT scorers began from somewhere. Initiate your CAT preparation journey today and commence it the right way!

Ridhima Arora

Ridhima is a Content Writer at PrepLadder. She aims at making a significant difference in the academic journeys of Medical PG, NEET SS, and CAT aspirants through her content.