Monday, April 30th, 2018
Study Plan: A lot of students start their CAT preparation in the first quarter of the year. I personally believe that it is the ideal time to start CAT preparation if it is the first time you are trying your hand at CAT or if you got less than 90%ile in your previous attempt(s). Keeping that in mind, I thought of putting out a study plan that will benefit the students. Do keep in mind that these are broad guidelines that can help you figure out the right away and not hard and fast rules.
I would like to divide CAT preparation in three broad areas:
Prepare for Basic Fundamentals
Improve with practice
Sharpen your test taking skills
The syllabus for the CAT exam can primarily be divided into 5 broad areas:
Among these, the first two require the most amount of effort when it comes to basic fundamentals. I would recommend that the first few months (till June-July), you should majorly focus on clearing your basic concepts. Do not move on from one topic to another unless you are completely clear with the fundamentals of the topic. So, in phase one of your preparation I would recommend that you divide your time in the following way:
20% of your time – Reading books, novels, magazines, newspapers. Here is a list of recommended books for CAT aspirants.
25% of your time – Basic fundamentals of Quantitative Aptitude. Be clear with all the necessary concepts and formulas. Try spending more time on Geometry and Algebra in this period. The last time most of the CAT aspirants have had a brush with Geometry was probably in class 10th. It has been a long time and probably you need to get back into the groove. Something that you should not spend too much time on is Number System, Remainders, etc. While they are important from CAT perspective but my prior experience shows that students end up wasting a lot of time on them unnecessarily.
25% of your time – Basic fundamentals of Verbal Ability. Try and understand the concepts of grammar. Learn what Critical Reasoning is all about. Try to differentiate between statements, assumptions, conclusions, facts, inferences, judgments. These things can get really confusing at a later stage if your basics are not clear.
30% of your time – This time should be spent practicing some easy Logical Reasoning, Data interpretation, Reading Comprehension questions. This will help you understand what these sections are all about. It will also help you increase your comfort level with these areas.
If you look at the CAT paper pattern from past couple of years, you can make a healthy guess for CAT 2021 as to what to expect. Your study plan needs to accommodate the fact that CAT 2021 would be heavy on conceptual clarity. If you look at the Quantitative Aptitude section of the CAT 2017 exam, it would become obvious that the focus has clearly shifted away from shortcut tips and tricks towards understanding of concepts. The fact that an on-screen calculator is available, makes the speed of your calculations redundant in the CAT exam. Keep these things in mind while you make a study plan for CAT 2021.
In this phase of Study Plan, you should give at least 1 to 2 hours every day towards your CAT preparation.
By July, you should have a pretty good handle on things. Ideally, you should be equally good or equally bad in all areas by July. If that is not the case and you feel uncomfortable with any specific area – this is the time that you should use to improve in that particular area.
The relative weight of the above-mentioned categories in phase 1 is roughly 2:1:1:1:1. Here 2 is the Quantitative Aptitude part. A lot of students make the mistake of focusing on just Quantitative Aptitude. Please understand that Quantitative Aptitude + Verbal Ability form only 50% of the CAT syllabus. The other 50% is Logical Reasoning + Reading Comprehension + Data Interpretation. You should not make that mistake. This is the time where you need to really step up your game and make a difference to the CAT score. Here is the plan that you can follow:
Monday & Tuesday – Quantitative Aptitude
Wednesday – Data Interpretation
Thursday – Logical Reasoning
Friday – Reading Comprehension
Saturday (First Half) – Verbal Ability.
You are still left with three slots for preparation – Saturday (Second Half) and the entire Sunday.
You should use this extra time to improve your performance in your weak area. I would also recommend that you start attempting a few mocks in Phase 2. Probably two mocks in August and September (each) should be good enough. These mocks can help you identify your weak areas if you do not know them already.
In CAT 2015, CAT 2016, and CAT 2017 you need to solve 12, 9, and 9 questions respectively in the Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation section to score 90%ile. Do remember this is out of 32 questions that have been asked in the LRDI section. The typical sectional cutoff for IIMs and other top Business Schools is around the 90%ile mark when it comes to the LRDI section. You might be thinking that it is quite easy to do such a small number of questions but you could not be farther from the truth. The questions in the LRDI section have become tougher and tougher over the years and that is the reason practice plays a big role in doing well in the LRDI section. To be honest, there is neither a well defined syllabus nor some formulas that you can use to prepare for LR-DI. You need to practice and practice a lot to do well in this area. I wrote in detail about ‘How to prepare for LRDI section of CAT?‘ Perhaps you could give that a read. That is the reason why I have recommended a day a week for Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation each as a part of the study plan for CAT 2021.
Also, you should give at least 2 hours every day towards your CAT preparation in this phase of Study Plan.
The last two months of your CAT preparation should be dedicated to attempting CAT mocks and analyzing them. While how to analyze a mock can be a whole different discussion, broadly – you should be able to figure out your strong and weak areas with the help of mocks. You should be able to figure out a strategy of attempting the test that suits you. This is a crucial element which often differentiates between the CAT aspirants who score 95%ile and those who score 99%ile. Also, in this phase, you will get a rough idea of what your limits are. If you are scoring in the 70s, probably it would be a good idea to target 90 and not 99. You can easily move from 70 to 90 during these last two months – provided you plan your preparation that way. A lot of students don’t introspect enough and hence end up with a percentile much lower than what they actually deserve.
You should give 2 mocks a week during this period. It is important that you give them very seriously. Also, once you are done with a mock – you should attempt all questions that appeared in the mock without any pressure of time. This tactic will help you plaster the chinks in your armor.
Few of the things that I would like to emphasize, as far as analysis of Mock CATs is concerned, are the following:
1) Focus on the errors that you made and not on the marks you scored or the percentile that you achieved.
2) Try to figure out your weak areas and then work on those areas to improve in them
3) It is always a good idea to attempt the entire paper again without the pressure of time. So, allocate enough time for this purpose as a part of your Study Plan for CAT 2021 Preparation.
You should give at least 3 to 4 hours every day towards your CAT preparation in this phase.
You can also see CAT Prep 2021 – Study Plan for Working Professionals
a) 1000+ Videos covering entire CAT syllabus
b) 2 Live Classes (online) every week for doubt clarification
c) Study Material & PDFs for practice and understanding
d) 10 Mock Tests in the latest pattern
e) Previous Year Questions solved on video
Founder & Mentor,
Handa Ka Funda