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Countdown to CAT

CAT 2010 is less than two months away, so make sure you write some mock tests, read a variety of books and divide preparation time judiciously report Vimal Chander Joshi

education Updated: Oct 10, 2012 14:06 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi
Vimal Chander Joshi
Hindustan Times

After completing his computer engineering from NIT Surathkal, Kunal Ahuja joined a consulting firm in Pune. He then applied for the CAT (Common Admission Test) 2009 and studied diligently for it for three hours every day after work.

Five months of toil paid off and Ahuja managed a 99.8 percentile. Currently a first-year student of IIM Lucknow, he attributes his success to a well-planned approach, regular practice of mock tests and smart ways of writing the test.

“Out of the three sections (quantitative ability, data interpretation and verbal ability), one should first attempt the questions one finds easy. The exam, which lasts for two hours and fifteen minutes, should be divided into three slots of 45 minutes each. The difficult questions should be attempted after you’ve finished the easy portions,” he says.

He believes the right planning and preparation helped him crack the exam.

“You should assess your strengths and accordingly plan your strategies. I was, for example, poor in the verbal part and in order to fill the deficit, did a lot of reading, which involved going through the edit pages of the Hindustan Times, the online edition of The New York Times and The Economist,” says Ahuja.

Sandeep Goel, another student of IIM-L, who scored 99.9 percentile last year, says, “Try to read all the ‘recommended’ books instead of selecting study material at random.”

Ahuja, however, has browsed through everything ranging from business magazines to books on social anthropology.

“CAT will sometimes quiz you on issues which do not link to the corporate world. So, it’s advisable to pick out books on an array of subjects,” says Ahuja.
Ahuja advises the students to be analytical. “They might ask whether the passage is from the edit page of a newspaper or magazine. For such questions, one must learn to differentiate between various styles of writing,” he advises.

Applying for the test
The CAT vouchers will be available till September 27 at select branches of Axis Bank for R1400 (R700 for SC/ST candidates). Visit for Axis Bank branches where vouchers are on sale

After purchasing the CAT voucher, students have to register on the website and also watch the CAT 2010 video to get familiar with this year’s exam format

In order to avoid a repeat of last year’s fiasco, the testing window has been extended to 20 days, between October 27 to November 24
Results will be displayed on from January 12

Expert tips
All the basics of each subject should be in place a month before the exams. If you have missed a couple of topics, don’t start on them now because you can be expected to skip a few questions in the exam even if you know all the answers. Try to attempt a couple of mock tests, identify your weaknesses and work only on them in the remaining time

Attempt mock tests and analyse your results two weeks before the exams

How much time you devote to one subject now depends on the preparation you have done earlier. If you are well prepared in quantitative aptitude, then you can devote 60 per cent of the time to preparing for English. If we talk about last year, the verbal part was most critical in CAT scoring – and this is where humanities students traditionally score well

Don’t consider last year’s paper as the yardstick for CAT’s difficulty level because it was a couple of notches lower than the average level. If you want to practise mock papers, you must do it for 2008 and before. You must check out the videos uploaded by Prometric on

You might be an expert in quantitative aptitude or the verbal section and, can choose to start your paper from the section of your choice. But don’t be disappointed because the difficulty level of the same section varies on different examination days. Don’t get bogged down. Just go with the flow of questions.

English is very scoring. And to prepare for reasoning, one can attempt GMAT questions, as well. If you are comfortable solving GMAT questions, it will be quite easy to get through CAT

English is based more on reasoning than on grammar. Answering questions in reading comprehension calls for a logical mind

As shared by Ulhas Vairagkar, director, Time Institute and faculty members, Career Launcher, Connaught Place Centre

First Published: Aug 31, 2010 10:38 IST