Changes you should make in your CAT Preparation to tackle the new pattern of CAT Exam

Friday, July 31st, 2015


As you might know, there are quite a few changes in the pattern of the CAT exam when compared with previous years. While the basics of CAT preparation remain the same, as a CAT aspirant, you need to make some small tweaks and adjustments in your preparation to take care of the changes. We will be discussing those tweaks and adjustments in this post.

Move out Vedic Math / Calculation Tricks – Hello Approximation

While the ability to calculate fast is an asset in any competitive exam, the introduction of the calculator has reduced the importance of these tricks in CAT. Yes – the ability to calculate fast and hence approximate faster than the rest will obviously help. Please understand that you will have to use an onscreen calculator and click on each number to enter it. This is a time consuming and often an irritating process. If you have used a virtual keyboard on a bank’s website, you would know what I am talking about. If you are reading this on a desktop or laptop, start the calculator and find out the value of 17.924 * 23.115 / (5.119 + 4.282) Keep in mind that you can only use the mouse and not type these values. You will realize my point about it being irritating. As far as the answer is concerned, I would much rather go with an approximation as shown below.
17.924 * 23.115 / (5.119 + 4.282) = 18*23/9.4 = a little less than 2*23 = 46
18 is roughly 4-5% less than double of 9.4, so our answer would be roughly 4-5% lesser than 46. So, the answer should be around 44.
I could do this entire calculation in my head. As a matter of fact, if you are a serious CAT aspirant, you should be able to do the above calculation in your head. It will definitely take lesser time than typing out the values in the calculator. So, from now on – you should stop spending any time on learning new techniques for faster calculation and try and approximate your answers as much as you can. It will save you some time in the final exam. More importantly, it will save you the frustration of wasting time on a calculator when it is not required. It would be much more prudent to go through the solved example videos in the course to learn approximation than trying to master Vedic Math techniques.


Do not neglect Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation

I have been teaching CAT aspirants for around 10 years. Every year I see a large portion of them make the same mistake. I have yelled in class, I have begged in class, I have made videos, I have written numerous blogs, I have written multiple answers on Quora and Pagalguy saying the same thing – do not neglect LR & DI. For some reason which I cannot understand, CAT aspirants have a false sense of security when it comes to LR & DI. They often assume that with a little bit of practice (sometimes just mocks) they will be able to score well in LR & DI. While there are students who might be able to do it, it will be a sad encounter with reality in the exam for a large number of CAT aspirants. Please do not make the same mistake. Please practice Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation regularly throughout your preparation. Once again, I would recommend that you allocate one full day to LR and one full day to DI. Solve all sets that have appeared in previous papers. Even if you get all questions correct, still watch the videos given in the course – the videos will help you develop a thought process that will help you in the exam. You will also get to know if this set should have been attempted in the exam or not. Also, use the mocks for practicing LR & DI. Once you are done with a mock, go through the entire LR-DI section again without any pressure of time. This time, focus on learning instead of focusing on scoring high. These questions are brilliant tools to sharpen your LR & DI skills. Use them.


Verbal Ability is BACK

And it is back with a Capital B and a lot of BANG. Few years before it you could have skipped either VA or RC and still scored a pretty decent percentile. You could have not only cleared the overall cutoff for a lot of colleges (may be not the old IIMs) but the sectional cutoffs as well. It would have been a bad idea and I doubt that many people were successful doing it but it was definitely possible. It will no longer be possible because now you HAVE to spend 1 hour on the Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension section. The VA-RC section will have 34 questions. In all probability, the split would be
• 16 for Reading Comprehension
• 6-8 for Verbal Reasoning (Parajumbles, Para-completion)
• 6-8 for Critical Reasoning (Summary, Arguments, Inferences, Assumptions)
• 4-6 for Verbal Aptitude (Fill in the blanks, Sentence Correction, Vocabulary)
In 1 hour, anyone who has decent Verbal skills can just run away with this section. This is probably the only section, in my opinion, where a lot of CAT aspirants would feel – “How do I spend this 1 hour?” It would be a bad idea to attempt all 4 RCs unless you are good at them. In the unlikely scenario that parajumbles are asked as a “Direct Answer” type question, it would be stupid to attempt those. So, how are you going to spend that 1 hour? More importantly, how are you going to make a good use of that one hour? The answer to that is – you need to work on improving your VA & RC skills. I recommend that from now on, you dedicate 1 day of the week to Reading Comprehension and 1 day of the week to Verbal Ability. When you are studying Verbal Ability, put a lot more emphasis on Verbal Reasoning and Critical Reasoning than on Verbal Aptitude. Grammar and vocabulary, although important, should probably be at the bottom of the priority list right now. Becoming a champion in Reading Comprehension is a difficult task if you are someone who is not a regular reader but with regular effort you can definitely become above average. You can attempt 3 out of 4 passages and probably 10 out of 16 questions in RC. That much should be enough to take you over the edge. The highest priority, if it is not clear by now, should be the Critical Reasoning / Verbal Reasoning component of your preparation.

I hope with this post you would be able to adapt to the new pattern of CAT Exam in a better way. If you have any further questions about this, please use the comment section. If you found this post helpful, please
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I will be discussing this in more detail in the online CAT classes this weekend. Do not miss them. If you have any further questions about this, please use the comment section or post them on the course feed of the online CAT course.


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