In less than a couple of months the first SimCAT of the season will start and so it is time that those who are serious about their prep should do so with a set of concrete goals. In this post we will look at how you should be using your study material, what milestones you should set yourself for each of the upcoming months and most importantly how to approach your practice.

As most of you would agree the prep plan does not change from year to year unless there is a drastic change in the pattern of the paper. These two posts from last year are very detailed and cover what you need to do for each section, how much time you should be putting in everyday and the mindset you need to develop.

How to prepare for CAT – Part I

How to prepare for CAT – Part II

But is just knowing the concepts and practicing regularly, enough to crack the CAT? What is it that you should be doing during your practice that will give you that extra bit of time that great batsmen seem to have to play their shots?

## Going beyond concepts and formulae

The first step is to be comfortable with all the concepts across areas — just knowing concepts not necessarily having practiced a lot problems.

What is the most important commodity in an aptitude test? It is time and just knowing the concepts and blindly practicing it will not make you any better at acing the test than your neighbour who is preparing.

Once you are aware of the rules and the formulae, you should develop the awareness of when to use them and when to ignore them. To put it more simply you need to find the fastest route to goal with or without the rules, with or without an elegant solution.

What is the fastest route to goal — when you find a way to solve without having to write a word.

Let us take an example and see what I mean by ignoring the rules to find the fastest route to the goal.

*A rabbit on a controlled diet is fed daily 300 grams of a mixture of two foods, food X and food Y. Food X contains 10 percent protein and food Y contains 15 percent protein. If the rabbit’s diet provides exactly 38 grams of protein daily, how many grams of food X are in the mixture?*

*(A) 100*

*(B) 140*

*(C) 150*

*(D) 160*

*(E) 200*

Now, the long route to solving this problem is to write an equation. If you are doing this, then always take what you need as to finally calculate as ** x**.

So if there are ** x **grams of food X then we can frame an equation that equates the protein from each of the foods X and Y to the total protein in the mixture — x*.10 + (300 – x)*15 = 38 and you will get the answer, provided you do not make any calculation mistake, which by the way is unpardonable (the equivalent of getting run out because of not grounding your bat).

But you can reach there faster without writing a word..

The final percentage of protein of protein is 38 out of 300 which is very close to 13% (10% is 30 and 1% is 3).

If both X and Y were in equal quantities — 150 grams each — then the protein in the mixture has to be a simple average of protein in X, 10%, and protein in Y, 15%, which is 12.5% (this part comes from knowing the concept of weighted averages)

The final percentage or resultant will always be closer to whichever quantity is more. If I have more of X then final protein percentage will be closer to the percentage of X and vice-versa.

Since the final is close 13% which is slightly greater than the mid-point 12.5% it means that there is slightly more Y than X, if both are equal then 150 each, if Y is slightly more than X it means than Y is marginally greater than 150 and X is marginally less than 150. The only option marginally less than 150 is 140.

You notice the equation solution is always shorter to write than the logical solution, which is why text books will always have equations and which is why non-traditional such solutions are best explained orally than through text.

But the logic itself while you are solving does not take you any time if you know the concept of weighted averages!

Using this approach one processes the information visually.

10%- – – — – — – – – — -12.5%– 13%- – – – – – — – – -15%

< 150 — – – – – — – – – — – – – – -300- – – – — – – – – >150

Some of you might feel — but why does this not strike me?

## The power of answer options

The biggest difference between an aptitude test and the tests in school and college is the presence of answer options and they are not just there to make evaluation easy. They are present to see whether you have the ability to exploit them at the slightest chance

The reason it does not strike everyone is because most people are still busy solving the question like they did in school and college — as if there were no options.

As I always say, CAT is a T20 game and just like how a batsman in a T20 game unlike one in a Test Match, always keeps looking at the field placing, you have to always keep an eye on the answer options since the answer options are the fielders in an aptitude tests, you need to exploit whatever gaps there are between them.

ARITHMETIC has been the area from which the maximum number of Quant questions turned up from over the past few years and it is area where is maximum scope for improvisation.

The reason is simple , the whole of Arithmetic can be simplified into just two concepts RATE and AVERAGES.

RATIOS, RATE, SPEED, PERCENTAGE are also the same X/Y and interest is nothing but PERCENTAGES. The only other core concept is that of averages, more importantly weighted averages.

It might seem to an extreme simplification but let me give you a few examples to show you why if you are really good at Arithmetic you will see it in terms of just RATIOS and AVERAGES.

*Working alone, printers X, Y, and Z can do a certain printing job, consisting of a large number of pages, in 12, 15, and 18 hours, respectively. What is the ratio of the time it takes printer X to do the job, working alone at its rate, to the time it takes printers Y and Z to do the job, working together at their individual rates?*

*(A) 4/11*

* (B) 1/2*

* (C) 15/22*

* (D) 22/15*

* (E) 11/4*

Now there are three ways to go about this:

**Method 1:** Find the time taken by Y and Z together by doing 1/15 + 1/18. Those who are fast can execute this without wasting much time but it is still the very much run off the mill, that everyone knows from school.

**Method 2:** To avoid adding fractions since one cannot directly add two times, one can choose to add speeds. Take the total work as the LCM of the three 12, 15 and 18, which will be 180. If the total work is 180 and X can finish it in 12 hours X’s speed will be 180/12 or 15 units per hour and Y and Z will be 12 and 10 respectively, making the joint speed of Y and Z equal to 22 units per hour. Since speed and time are inversely proportional, ratio of X to Y and Z in terms of time taken will be inverse ratio of their speeds or 22/15

**Method 3:** If instead of 15 and 18 hours, Y and Z can both do it in 15 hours each together they will take half the time or 7.5 hours. Similarly if Y and Z can both do it in 18 hours each then together they will take half the time or 9 hours. Since one is 15 and one is 18 together they will take between 7.5 and 9, lets take the most comfortable number between 7.5 and 9 — 8. So required ratio is of X to Y & Z is approximately 12:8 or 1.5, so we need an answer around 1.5. Look at the options, A, B and C go out of the window and E is close to 3 so we are left with D.

These are questions on which the standard method is fairly straightforward but what about problems where either the standard method involves solving two equations or the problem is such that writing an equation becomes impossible. It is in such cases that the non-traditional thinking comes in handy.

Keeping an eye out to use the answer options can really be the difference between a good percentile and a great percentile. The odd half-a-minute to a minute saved on around 5 to 10 questions can mean time to solve about 2-3 questions more and that can be the difference between a new IIMs call and an Old IIMs call.

The only way you can develop this skill is by trying stuff in practice, which is what most sportsmen do. A lot of the stuff you see footballers pull-off in tandem during a match will actually be things that they have tried out during practice. I am sure the paddle-sweep that Sachin started playing a lot during the latter half of his career was something that he tried out and perfected by having bowlers bowl that line to him in the nets.

So do not practice to execute solutions blindly on auto-pilot — a computer can do it (We can’t beat the machine at speed, by doing what a computer or calculator can do we will be just be handing over our jobs to them. Automation is already slated to take away many of our IT and programming jobs, computers running on complex algorithms have already become a major part of Finance and when AI goes from ANI to AGI to ASI the future is not going to be rosy if all you can do is what Indian school and college tests have asked of you so far — memorise and reproduce, with good handwriting)

So during practice don’t jump to solve a question. Process the question and visualise the traditional solution — *I will get an equation each and if I solve them I can get the answer*.

Since there is no point in executing a solution that is very straightforward; do not solve’ look at the answer and feel good. You should be thinking — *Can I use answer options, can there be another way.*

May be to begin with solve it traditionally but spend time thinking about an alternate methods after that.

You can find more of these arithmetic methods here — CAT100Percentile.com

These are just a few samples, we will be coming up with more such stuff once the SimCATs start.

## Practice with a TEST mindset

All the football fans among you will agree, irrespective of whether you like him or not, that Jose Mourinho is special (if not “the special one”). But behind Mourinho and other big coaches is an unknown Portuguese — Victor Frade, who has been called one of soccer’s greatest minds

His views on football training sessions have a lot in common with how one should approach test-prep since in effect both involve developing particular skills.

Those of you who have attended classroom sessions of mine know that during the *Challengers* part of the Class Sheet, I usually set students a task — getting 9 marks in 10 minutes, by choosing the right questions and the executing the fastest methods.

I believe that you should be executing what you would need to do in full-length tests from a very early stage of your prep. Your prep time cannot be different in aim and intensity from your test-taking time.

So always practice with a TEST state of mind in terms of aim and intensity. You have to be solving with a sense a of urgency, a sense of speed and with a view to optimise your path to the answer. This does not mean that you need to go into your practice session slapping your thighs or beating your chest, it just means that the *tawa *should be at the perfect temperature — not too hot, not too cold.

You cannot be practicing with a test-match intensity and expect to perform in a T20 during match play.

This I feel is one of the reasons why a lot of test-takers usually tell me that they get really nervous during the SimCATs with the clock ticking — they haven’t put themselves under pressure during practice.

Also people end up taking a lot of time to warm up before they hit peak performance levels in terms of concentration, speed and accuracy. Do you have any time to warm up on test-day or during a SimCAT. You have to start from the first second — if the first ball is there to be hit out of the park, you should. So even when you start your practice session you should be fully switched on right from the word go.

You have the Prep Plans in the links shared above, you have 7 months to go and remember skills take time to develop so don’t make the mistake of leaving it till September.

Getting a 99 plus on the CAT is not a cakewalk, it will demand everything of you. The only question is how badly do you want it and how much are you willing to give up for it.

Very good article !

LikeLike

HELPFUL FOR CAT ASPIRANTS !!!!

LikeLike

I will appear for CAT in 2017. My preparation is good in LR/DI, average in Quant and poor in Verbal. I seriously want to crack CAT. So should I go for a internship this june 2017 to build a strong CV for IIM PI’s or prepare for CAT 2017?

Also from July 2017 I will have only 4 hours left for my CAT due the hectic schedule of my college activities from morning to evening. Please guide me

LikeLike

Hi Rishi,

You should take up the internship since anything that will give you an edge in the PIs is good, especially if it’s a management internship.

If you will have 4 hours per day from July that should more than suffice. Just ensure that you have good attendance till August end since it will be great if you can skip college for a couple of weeks in September. It will be the ideal time to go into overdrive with your prep where for two weeks you are just eating, sleeping and dreaming about improving your SimCAT scores. If you do it now it will be too early, since it is important that you peak at the time.

So go ahead and do the internship now and plan the break in September.

All the best!

LikeLike

Helpful article.I am going to appear for CAT 2017.I am an Engineer , finished my 3rd year and starting my CAT preparation.I am strong in VA and LR,average in DI,Poor in Quant.How should I model my prep strategy for DI and Quant.Is the remaining time sufficient?Where should I start?Please guide me!

LikeLike

Hi,

For DI, just set a simple goal os solving 3 sets every day from the IMS Reference Material.

For Quant, start with Arithmetic since it constitutes close to 45% of the Quant section before moving on to Numbers, Geometry, Algebra and Modern Math. Also, do not finish an entire area at one go and then move on to the next. For example, When doing Arithmetic first finish only the Level 1 Problems before moving onto Numbers Level 1 and Geometry Level 1, return to Arithmetic Level 2 after you finish all the L 1 of all the areas.

There is enough time to prepare as long as you spend all your free time on CAT Prep. Ensure that your attendance in college is good and plan a break of around 2 weeks in September, when you are fully focussed only on CAT Prep. This break should be in September so that you can target high scores in the mocks leading up to the CAT.

All the best!

LikeLike

Sir, I completed my B.E. in 2016. I have a percentage above 80 in 10th, 12th and graduation. I will give CAT 2017 which means I will have a 2 year gap. Meanwhile, I have been looking after my family business i.e. working under my Dad. Will it be helpful enough as a reason for these 2 years?

LikeLike

Hi Hitesh,

To substantiate this you need to have an experience letter and salary slips to show employment with your father’s firm.

You need not mention that it is family business, that you can do in the interview.

Basically whether it is family business or someone else’s firm, the employment should meet all the criteria of formal employment.

All the best!

LikeLike

Hi,

I have been working in a IT organization for a year where I need to work for at least 9 hours daily. Though I get off on Saturday and Sunday. I want to appear for CAT in 2017. I find it to bit difficult to manage time and find myself bit exhausted after a hectic day at office. Please suggest me how to prepare for CAT. LR/DI is the weakest part for me as I took up few mocks earlier and faced hardship with this section. Is it too late to start preparing for CAT 2017?

LikeLike

Hi,

It is not late to prep for CAT. I suggest the following plan if you can eke out around 2 hours a day on weekdays.

DI-LR is one of the toughest section on the CAT and there is no way any beginner can do well on the DI-LR section of a good Mock without having solved atleast 100 sets of each.

So firstly every alternate day, do 3 sets each of DI,LR and RC – this will take care of your prep for more than half of the test.

On the other day take up Quant prep.

Even on days you can’t put in 2 hours see if you can put in one solid hour.

There is enough and more time. It is about conserving your energy at work, disengaging from unproductive tasks and making space for making your dreams a reality.

All the best!

LikeLike

Thank you so much sir for your valuable guidance 🙂

LikeLike

Sir, I am a B.Pharm student, about to complete my degree and joining a Pharmaceutical firm soon. I will have 4-5 hrs approx for my SelfStudy apart from 2 hrs of Lecture a day. I have a decent command in VA and LR also but my Quant is weak, as I was out of touch. How should I prepare for Quant and LR?

LikeLike

Hi Akhil,

I have elaborated quite a bit on the same here, please go through these posts.

https://thecatwriter.com/category/cat-strat/quant-strat/

LikeLike

Sir, I am planning to give nmat this year, so can u suggest us a plan or strategy about how to go about it. And on which area we need to focus more and how much time we need to give it

LikeLike

Hi Ayush,

If you planning to take NMAT then you should take it in October. Incase you need to retake to reach 210, which is the usual cut-off, you can plan another attempt.

NMAT is a speed test, so you should take quite a few mocks and focus on maximising your attempts and accuracy.

Get the NMAT Official Guide (OG) as well since they have actual NMAT questions and are the best indicator of the level.

I suggest you start your NMAT specific prep from August using the NMAT OG and take Mocks all through September.

Hope this helps,

All the best!

LikeLike

Sir,I am good in quant ,average in LR DI and poor in verbal.And now the Sim cat is here.and I feel I am not that prepared to give the Sim cat 1 . Will you please guide me so that I will be well prepared for the upcoming SIM cats. and how should I plan my studies.

LikeLike

Hi Aditi, For SimCAT 1 set yourself a simple target. Out of the 4 RCs choose the easiest RCs for you to read based on the first paras of each RC.

Out of the remaining 10 non-RC questions attempt only the ones you are really sure of.

The task is to choose the right questions for your capability.

Over the season your VA will improve only with a lot of practice. I have written separate posts on how to tackle VA-RC on that here – phttps://thecatwriter.com/category/cat-strat/verbal-strat/

You should go through all the posts.

All the best!

LikeLike

I recently gave the SimCAT with minimal prep (solved all class material and 2 BRMs, excluding DI-LR). Though my verbal is strong, I committed several mistakes despite being confident of my answers. DI-LR is my weak point and I was unable to even scan through all questions, attempting at most 5 questions. In Quants, despite being confident, nearly half my answers were wrong.

Even though I tried to cut myself some slack as it was my first ever CAT-style exam experience, it is worrying me that my preparation is headed in the wrong direction. Apart from just solving BRMs chapter-wise, is there anything I can do to perform better in the coming SimCATs?

Thank you very much!

LikeLike

Hey,

All your questions are covered in this post:

https://thecatwriter.com/2017/06/15/how-to-and-not-to-evaluate-your-first-simcat-performance/

All the best!

LikeLike

i just appeared for the SIMCAT and it was horrible. i got 82 marks only. although Im a fresher and this was my first experience of a mock CAT (not a lot of preparation), it is still demotivating. i feel im left with quite less of a time. Im almost done with quants basics.

How about taking a pause, preparing, and then appearing for another mock?? and i need help for my DILR.

LikeLike

Hi Sasha,

It is great that you took the first SimCAT, 82, trust me is not a bad score – you will realise it when you get your percentiles.

Secondly, no matter how much net practice you do, it does not guarantee a century in your first ever match.

Go through this post, it covers all the answers to your queries:

https://thecatwriter.com/2017/06/15/how-to-and-not-to-evaluate-your-first-simcat-performance/

LikeLike

Hi Sir,

I’m v bad at Qa Di – Lr, My verbal is fine. I haven’t given Sim cat 1 yet. I’m still solving Brm chp wise and I am stuck at Surds and indices can u suggest how should I move about. I think I’m lacking way behind.

LikeLike

Hi Priyanka, Solve only the first exercises of all chapters. After you are done with all books, do the second and then the third exercises.

Keep practicing 3 sets each of DI and LR daily or every alternate day.

LikeLike

Thank u sir for this valuable advice.

Appreciate it 🙂

LikeLiked by 1 person

I doing BBA (International Business). I have 71% aggregate in graduation. I got 87.40% in SSC board. 50.74% in HSC Science board. I want to prepare for SNAP, CAT to get admission into good MBA colleges.

I lost all my hopes to get into IIM A,B,C and SIBM, Pune because of my poor 12 th HSC score.

I am quite in depression because, I think my poor 12th marks has ruined my all the dreams to get into good MBA college.

Is it impossible for me to get into IIM A,B,C and SIBM,Pune even if I perform good, just because of my poor 12th performance?

Please help.

LikeLike

Hi Omkar, I’ll be honest, the poor 12th marks are a major impediment for the schools you have mentioned. But since you are a fresher you will great options if you get into any of the top 25 schools.

So firstly, widen the net. Even among the really big schools, FMS for example does not consider marks at all and offers first and final calls purely based on CAT score.

So stop dwelling on the past and do the best you can there are many good schools apart from these few.

Do the best you can with CAT Prep and make the most of the opportunities you will get.

All the best!

LikeLike

Hello Sir, First of all Thank you for such an inspiring article.

I am a CAT 2017 aspirant, I will be finishing learning CAT concepts by mid of July along with regular small tests I take frequently.

I am a serious CAT aspirant so I just wanted to make sure that am I on time with my preparations and what should be my further focus on if I aim for 99 up percentile ?

LikeLike

Hi Tejas,

Glad you found the article inspiring.

For a first-time taker you should take as many tests as possible. If you are an IMS student, then you should take all 40 full-length tests.

You should spend atleast 2-3 hours analysing each test as per this post – https://thecatwriter.com/2017/06/15/how-to-and-not-to-evaluate-your-first-simcat-performance/

If you do this religiously you should be able to make the cut.

LikeLike

Hi Tony Sir, I attempted CAT,16 and scored 94.8%ile. I decided to re-take CAT in 2017. After a preparation gap of about 6 months I started by attempting Take Home SIMCAT 1. I scored 122 marks with 89.32 %ile. Am i going right? What should be my next step? What should be my study plan? Should I just practice more or should I start from scratch?

LikeLike

Hi Navneet, You should go through all of these posts:

https://thecatwriter.com/2016/03/03/how-to-prepare-for-a-cat-retake-part-i/

https://thecatwriter.com/2016/03/05/how-to-prepare-for-a-cat-retake-part-ii/

com

This should more than what you need to do!

LikeLike

Sir,

I am currently pursuing my master’s in Economics. My 10th and 12th(humanities) percentage is 86.25 and 90 respectively and I’ve studied under a state board. My graduation marks is 65%. I am currently doing a summer internship at the Reserve bank of India and I am a Cat 17 aspirant. What do you think are my chances of getting into the top 20 b schools given a good cat core? And what are the things I should work on?

LikeLike

Hi Mayurakshi,

Given your grad CGPA it’s not very easy to get a call from A and B, C you definitely have a chance since they do not take grad marks into consideration; you have a good shot at the rest of the top 20 schools as well.

If you are in college it will help if you have good positions if responsibility or take up social work with NGOs on the weekends.

Apart from that if you are interested in Finance then taking up the NSE NCFM certifications will definitely be useful during the interviews.

All the best!

LikeLike

Thank you so much Sir. I will definitely follow up on your advice. 🙂

LikeLike

hello sir , iam 2015 pass out engineer work for 6 months in software firm and got ill due to malaria and didnot return to job for 3-4 months , after than i give govt exams but was not able to qualify , for last 6 months i am working in family business , and now planning to give cat or any other top 20 MBA college as last hope for career building. My few Queries are :

1. With this short span of time left for management exams ,will i be able to crack exams with good score?

2. How can i explain my gap year ?

3.Are there any batches starting for cat aspirant in IMS jaipur center as i am from jaipur.

4. My academics are X :94.3% ,XII: 79% , Graduation : 80%

Please reply asap

LikeLike

Hi,

4 months are definitely more than enough to crack the test and get a good score. Focus on not just the CAT but other tests as well – IIFT, NMAT, SNAP and XAT.

For your gap year you need to show experience certificate with your family business and also show payslips for the same. You are not going to show a gap but that you have been working. For 2015-16, you should mention civils prep and then working with family business.

You can contact the IMS Jaipur centre there will be batches for CAT 2017.

All the best!

LikeLike

sir thanks for such a inspiring post.i m a cat 17 aspirant.

i m scoring just 50 marks in mock. Poor in all the 3 sections.

what should i do

sometime i surprised how people able to score 200 marks in CAT

LikeLike

Hi Ankush,

I hope you read the latest post on setting the right targets on your way to a 99.

This will cover most of your queries.

Those who are scoring 200 are usually repeat-takers who have already given one really serious attempt and scored in the mid-90s.

All the best!

LikeLike

I donot have any extracurricular achievements but my academic profile is:

10th-93.4%

12th-89%

B.Tech-76.1%

Work ex-(2015 to present)in IT firm.

What are my chances to crack A,B or C if i manage to get above 99.5 percentile in CAT??

LikeLike

Hi Ayush, If you score above a 99.5, you will calls from B and C but A is borderline due to your grad marks being lower than 80.

LikeLike

Hi friends

I donot have any extracurricular achievements and my profile:

10th-93.4%

12th-89%

B.tech-76.1%

Work ex-(2015 Nov-present)in IT company

What are my chances of selection in A,B or C if i manage to score 99+ in cat 2017??

LikeLike

Hello

I have appeared in CAT 2016. Following is my section-wise percentile.

Verbal- 39.58

LRDI- 98.87

Quant- 90.92

I have to improve my English. I have poor reading skills and low comprehension. Though I have solved more than 100 passages last year but I am not able to improve my accuracy and number of attempts. What should I do?

LikeLike

Hi Resham,

Great percentiles on DI-LR and QA.

For VA-RC, please go through the posts in this link you will find answers there:

https://thecatwriter.com/category/cat-strat/verbal-strat/

All the best!

LikeLike