IIM Calcutta announces CAT 2018: Registration to start in August, exam in November; here's how to prepare

New Delhi: The Common Admission Test or CAT for the year 2018 has been announced and it's just six months away from now. Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) will conduct the exam on 25 November, 2018, Sunday, in computer-based mode. CAT is one of the most coveted and competitive management entrance exam, opening doors for 20 IIMs and more than 100 other top Business schools for MBA aspirants. Around 2 lakh candidates take the exam every year for approximately 5000 seats in the IIMs.

Academic experts suggest that six months of dedicated preparation is ideally required to score high percentile in the exam. CAT 2017 topper Mayank Raj, who cracked the exam with 100 percentile says, "I started preparing for CAT in June 2017, like five to six months before the exam."

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Interestingly, most of the management aspirants who wish to crack the CAT exam know when to start preparing for the exam but fail to put in place a preparation strategy, resulting in low percentile. Thus, for a result-oriented preparation, candidates should be considering the following things-

Know the Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Knowing the exam pattern and the syllabus is the most important aspect of CAT preparation because if you know the pattern of the exam, marking scheme, and all the topics covered in the exam, you won't end up reading the topics you aren't supposed to. It'll save a lot of time for you and you can focus more on the actual topics which are an integral part of the exam. Though the CAT exam pattern is announced along with the notification every year by the IIMs, the CAT Syllabus for the same is not made available. The CAT paper comprises questions from three sections – Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, and Logical Reasoning.

Coaching or Self-study – You Choose

While coaching helps sharpen your testing skills, the core of preparation is self-study. Further, a decision on whether coaching is required or not entirely depends on where do you stand in terms of your preparation. If your basics are clear and you feel that you can prepare for the big exam yourself without coaching, you are good to go. However, enrolling for the mock test series with any MBA coaching institute towards the end of your preparation is a good idea. The sample mock tests are also available on the internet. It's completely up to you whether you want to join a coaching institute or prepare by yourself. You can also check on online coaching classes which give you flexibility in terms of scheduling classes as per your convenience. Moreover, the option is generally cheaper than regular classroom coaching classes.

If your basics of mathematics are clear and you have a decent hold on your linguistic skills, you certainly have a good chance at CAT.  Manek Daruvala, T.I.M.E. Director says, "The most important aspect would be to improve fundamentals (basic concepts). Focused preparation would be the key during this phase while striving to improve on the fundamentals across areas/topics."

No matter whether you are preparing for the exam through coaching or self-study, you need to practice regularly. Chhavi Gupta, one of the 20 CAT 2017 toppers, says "I rigorously practised the mock tests available online. To be exact, I solved around 35 practice tests and analysed them critically." Consistent practice is one of the many keys to success in CAT.

Section-wise preparation is must

Focusing on each section of the exam (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability) separately is a must because every section is time-bound and you cannot switch sections in between. Thus, you should be utilising the time to the fullest to score maximum marks in each section so that your overall percentile is high.

Must-read books for CAT preparation

Books are obviously the best source when it comes to prepare for an exam like CAT. However, you must know best Books for CAT Preparation. There would be plenty of books available in the market for CAT preparation but the most recommended ones are given here -

  • Arun Sharma’s How to prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT, published by Tata McGraw Hill- This book is most recommended for CAT aspirants to prepare for QA section.
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis for VARC section.
  • Barron’s Pocket Guide to Vocabulary for VARC section.
  • How to Prepare for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay (Tata McGraw-Hill) is a workbook with practice questions and tips based on previous CAT papers
  • Trishna's Verbal Ability And Logical Reasoning For The CAT And Other MBA Examinations by TIME Publisher: Pearson

 Time Management is the Key

Since, each section in CAT is time-bound, a proper time management during the exam duration becomes very important. Candidates get 60 minutes to solve each section. If you practice in a time-bound manner while preparing for the exam, you're going to get a huge advantage on the exam day because you have already got the habit of solving questions in the pre-defined time. The exam will have three sections – VARC, DILR and QA carrying 100 questions, both MCQs and non-MCQs, to be solved in three hours.

Solve as many mock tests as you can

Solving mock test papers and closely analysing your performance with each mock test is the best way to prepare for CAT. The sample mock test papers are either available on the internet or you can join any MBA coaching institute and enrol for mock test series. Solving mock tests will allow you to understand the exact exam pattern and the kind of questions you may face during the actual test. Rohan Joshi, who scored 99.63 percentile in CAT 2017 and 99.96 percentile in MAH CET 2018, says, "Mocks are the single most important aspect of the preparation as far as CAT is concerned.”

About CAT 2018

IIM Calcutta is the conducting body for CAT 2018. Professor Sumanta Basu is the CAT 2018 convener this year. The exam will be conducted on 25 November, 2018, Sunday in online mode at more than 140 test centres across India. The registraion for CAT is expected to start in August 2018. Last year, more than 2.31 lakh candidates registered for the test and around 2 lakh appeared for it. Apart from IIMs, country's many top B-schools accept CAT scores for their admission process. The list includes institutes such as FMS, MDI, JBIMS, DMS IIT Delhi, SPJIMR etc.

Updated Date: Jun 21, 2018 19:22 PM

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