The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a gateway to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) and is the most accepted written entrance exam for admission to top B-schools in India.

The first step would be to understand the eligibility criteria.

The CAT exam is divided into 2 sections, with 50 multiple choice questions in each section.

  1. Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation
  2. Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning

The duration of the exam is 170 minutes. Test takers can attempt the questions in any sequence. All right answers will fetch you +3 and -1 for every wrong answer.


Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Attempt a mock test or solve a previous test paper. The time taken to finish the test does not matter. Attempt as many questions as you can. This will help you gauge the time you should allocate to each section.

Books to get you Started

The following are a few cat preparation books that are recommended and can be purchased online as well.

  • How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
  • Quantum CAT: Quantitative Aptitude Common Admission Test for Admission Into IIMs by Sarvesh K Verma
  • The Pearson Guide for Data interpretation and Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Nishit Sinha
  • Wren and Martin for English Grammar
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
  • Analytical and Logical Reasoning by B.S. Sijwali
  • How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT by TATA-McGraw Hill publications
  • Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Agarwal

Devise a Study Plan

Depending on the amount of time you have to prepare, create a schedule and stick to it. At least, a minimum of 3 months, is advised. Concentrate on the fundamentals. Understand concepts before you begin memorizing. In the first month, fit in at least 3 mock tests. The number of mock tests you take should increase in time. Through these tests, analyze your performance and make changes to your schedule accordingly.

Maximize your accuracy with every attempt and eliminate gaps in your preparation. This approach will ensure that you clear the cut-offs irrespective of the difficulty levels of the exam.

Self-study vs. Coaching

Although self-study is a proven methodology, you have the option of joining a coaching center as well. There are several institutes that particularly train candidates for taking the CAT exam. CAT Coaching material from top institutes is also available online. With the wide use of internet, online platforms are now open to e-learning and tele-mentorship programs. Obtaining guidance from a mentor who has already taken the exam will allow you to quickly enhance your skills. These programs are far more affordable than traditional coaching institutes. Sessions can be customized per your availability and budget.

To get good scores it is necessary that you prepare well. As the exam draws nearer, your preparation needs to get more specific and intense.

Author Bio: Pooja is a Digital Marketing professional with Prior to this, she has had a 5-year career in the Business Intelligence industry. She has a long-term association with the US Higher Education industry working with NACUBO on Business Intelligence projects. Due to this, she has developed an interest to research and provide valuable information to test takers via her blog.