CAT preparation is like signing up for a Gym. Everyone wants a good figure and enthusiastically join a Gym. But very few continue going to the Gym after the first few days. CAT, much like a Gym, attracts everyone who wants to get into an IIM (and or want to get out of their miserable jobs!), but alas not too many continue the prep!
I hope you are not among those you would give up till you succeed!
With about 140 days (just less than 5 months) left for the CAT exam (CAT 2020 is expected to be on 29th November 2020), it is the time to gear up for preparing for each of the sections in detail.
In the First Part of the Article, I have given the broad plan for the preparation for CAT.
Let’s understand the importance of the Next 80 days (end of September) and then look at a detailed plan of preparing for each area/section of the CAT paper. Please note that once you prepare for CAT, the prep for IIFT, XAT, SNAP and NMAT is almost done too!
Plan for the next 80 days
The objective in these 80 odd days (by end of September) would be to gain complete familiarity in the areas, topics, concepts and type of questions that the CAT exam has.
In the months of July, August and September, the concentration should be to go through all the topics in all areas of CAT viz., QA, DILR and VARC. Suffice it to say that these four months (a student may have three or two months only till July depending on when one starts preparing), the expectation is that all topics are covered at least once (First Round of Work).
Funda of CAT [Concepts, Application & Tests]
- Basics in terms of Concepts are formulae to be revised for each topic
- Exercises to be solved to understand Application of Concept
- Topic-wise Tests to be taken to get know the level and one’s speed
Let’s look at each of the areas and the amount of preparation required to be good at these sections.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Most students think that there is NOTHING to prepare in VA and RC. Of all the classes that the students attend in coaching classes (Online or offline), the least importance is given to VARC as they think that there is nothing one can teach. They are mistaken.
However, for one to understand what is getting taught in the classes, certain fundamentals have to be in place to make the best out of the teaching/coaching!
For VARC section, there are three distinct areas one has to improve.
- Reading Speed and Comprehension
Vocabulary Building: For this, I recommend that one start with ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis. There are 46 sessions to be done and one can finish these in about 60 days. Each session may take anywhere between 30 min to 1 hour. However, once that is done, the student would be richer with a huge vocabulary. Those who wish to continue adding words to their diction, I recommend ‘All About Words’ by Rosenblum and Nurenberg.
Apart from the above, one needs to read the Newspaper daily AND Not ‘News in Shorts’! Any Newspaper is fine, really! As long as you do that!
There are multiple apps available on Android, Windows, and iOS platforms these days. One can do use them too and add 5 to 10 words a day to improve one’s vocabulary.
The aim for the next 80 days is to add close to 1000 words to your vocabulary!
Grammar: There is no point buying the ‘Wren and Martin’ book on grammar. However, I do recommend that you go through all the classes of grammar that we have planned for you. Along with your daily reading and vocabulary, one can improve grammar automatically!
Reading Speed and Comprehension: A whole article can be written on how to improve speed and comprehension (which will anyways be done). But, for now, suffice it to say that the only way one can improve reading speeds or comprehension is by reading!
Reading editorials of Mint, TOI, Hindu, ET or any such English daily makes it a habit. You will not only increase your speed of reading but also gain knowledge on current affairs. The more familiar you are with a topic, the higher will be the reading speed in that topic. Gaining familiarity in areas of Business, Economy and Science are of utmost importance. More than 50% of the passages in CAT have been from these areas. However, CAT has also given passages from Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, History, Literature, and many others too. An eclectic reading habit is recommended.
You should aim for a reading speed of 300+ wpm (words per minute)
As can be seen above, I have not even discussed about Para Jumbles, Odd Para jumbles, Sentence Completion Or Critical Reasoning. The reason is obvious, once the building blocks for Verbal and RC is in place getting marks in that section becomes much easy. Attending the classes on the relevant topics of VA & RC can help you to strategize your approach to that type of question (s).
Quantitative Ability (QA)
To prepare for QA, one has to understand what the areas in Quant are. Since we have quite a bit of time for CAT (yes, 140 days are more than enough!), one has to plan to go through every topic that is expected in the exam and not leave out any area or topic undone.
A snapshot of what constitutes the QA area is given below.
*ERPV – Equations, Ratios Proportions & Variations; P&L – Profit & Loss; SICI – Simple Interest & Compound Interest; AMA – Averages Mixtures & Alligations; T&W – Time & Work; TSD – Time Speed & Distance; QE (Quadratic Equations); CG – Coordinate Geometry; P&C – Permutations & Combinations
There are about 20 odd topics. On average one has to do about 1 topic in 4. As can be seen, one can actually do the entire Quant area twice in the next 80 days!
Apart from the above, Speed Math is essential for becoming good at Math/Quant! Here is a quick list of what needs to be done in the above areas
- Tables up to 19
- Squares up to 30 and Cubes up to 12.
- Fractions from 1/2 to 11/12
- Speed Addition & Subtraction
- Conversion of fractions into percentages and vice versa!
By the end of September, one has to be have the confidence to identify any question and should have an idea as to how to solve the same!
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
Data Interpretation can be divided into Traditional and Modern DI.
- Tables, Pie Charts, Line Graphs, Bar Charts
- Stacked Bars
- Spider graphs
- Scatter Plots
- Combination of these graphs
Similarly, the Logical Reasoning and Ability area can be divided into Symbolic Logic, Analytical Reasoning, and other areas.
- Logical Connectives & Deductions
- Arrangements (Straight, Circular, Distribution)
- Selection, Ranking/Order
- Networks, Binary Logic
- Venn Diagrams
To be good at DI, you will need to be good at Speed Math. Hence, the work that one puts in for DI would not only be useful for Quant but also for DI
The target for the next 80 days would be to solve examples for each of the type of DI sets or LR sets and within that solve the different types of questions. This is a continuous practice exercise and the more one practices, the better one gets at it. It is almost like playing badminton or TT. Once again, it is imperative to remind students that if you don’t practice these areas, you will fall behind in the speed.
In the part-3 of the article, a detailed Test Taking Strategies for CAT would be dealt with!
ARKS Srinivas (Arkss) is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has over 19 years of experience in training students for CAT and other Management Entrances. He is the CEO for the MBA Products at Career Launcher, which is the No 1 Test Prep institute for Management and Law entrances.