Tips to enhance your CAT performance

CAT 2020 Exam: Registration, Application Form Correction, Check Pattern, Syllabus & Preparation Tips

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The initial step towards cracking CAT 2020 is to know the exam pattern and syllabus. If you are serious about cracking CAT, then you need to work your way up with a planned approach and keep in mind the generic CAT preparation tips 2020.

Ideally, now is the accurate time when most candidates start planning to prepare for the examination as the examination is fiercely aggressive in terms of competition. In case you are extreme about cracking CAT 2020, the easiest and the most efficient way of doing that is to understand and implement the essential CAT preparation tips 2020 and fine-tune your study plan accordingly. Read on to ace CAT 2020 with high accuracy and make your way to the top tier management institutes of the country, including the IIMs.

Have you decided to pursue MBA but are not sure how to start your CAT Preparation?

Here are some essential tips on how to start preparing for CAT 2020:

  1. CAT 2020 will be conducted on 29th November, 2020.

  2. The official CAT 2020 notification was released on the last week of 29th July 2020.

  3. CAT 2020 online application was active from 5th August to 23rd September 2020. The dates would not be extended.

  4. CAT 2020 results shall be declared tentatively in the First Week of January 2021.

  5. College interviews shall be conducted between February-March 2021. However, this might be modified due to novel covid-19 guidelines.

  6. Final CAT 2020 Results shall be declared in April-May, 2020.

  7. College sessions shall begin in June-July, 2021.

Here is a descriptive overlay of the CAT 2020 exam pattern:

ComponentsKey Elements
Conducting body for CAT 2020IIM Indore
Mode of the examComputer based test
DurationThree hours
Type of questionsMultiple choice questions
TITA (Type in the answer) questions
Number of questions100(as per last year)
Marking scheme3 Marks for every correct answer
-1 for every incorrect answer
No negative marking for Non-MCQs or TITA
Number of SectionsThree sections
VARC (Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning)
DILR (Data Interpretation and logical reasoning)
QA (Quantitative Ability)

Not all IIMs are equal in stature. Currently, there are 20 IIMs which can be categorized in the following order of general preference:

    • IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, and Kozhikode were established in the last century. Among these, IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, and Lucknow have a longer heritage than Kozhikode and Indore which leads to most candidates prefer the former over the latter.

 

    • IIM Shillong, established in 2007, has also created a niche for itself.

 

    • IIM Rohtak, Ranchi, Raipur, Tiruchirapalli, Kashipur, and Udaipur are all relative new IIMs established in 2010-11. They are also a good choice for students who couldn’t make it to the other IIMs mentioned above.

 

    • Finally, IIM Nagpur, Vishakhapatnam, Bodh Gaya, Amritsar, Sambalpur, Sirmaur, and Jammu were established in 2015-16. Their intake is comparatively on the lower side and they are yet to make a mark for themselves.

 

A general misconception among the beginners is that it is not worth doing an MBA if not from IIMs. They couldn’t be more wrong. There are many reputable B-schools (even more so than some of the new IIMs) that also accept CAT scores. Some of them are:

  • Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi
  • SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), Mumbai
  • Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon
  •  National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai

Note that several IITs including IIT Bombay, Delhi, and Kharagpur offer MBA programs that are better than the newer IIMs.

Your CAT score will only shortlist you for further admission rounds. Every B school runs the race of admissions differently,

Your CAT score will only shortlist you for the successive rounds of the admission process. Every top B-school has a different admission process and a complex selection criterion evolved over the past decades. Reading about each of them and finding out which B-school would be best for you can be a tedious process but will ultimately hold you in good stead.

Keeping this in mind, we have developed an AI-based tool called MBA Profilizer which factors in the complex selection criteria of top B-schools, matches it with your academic and profile details, and tells you how much you need to score in CAT to be shortlisted for the second round of the admission process. With your personalized MBA Profilizer report, you can then narrow down to a select few B-schools and target them accordingly.

What’s more? It’s absolutely free. So, why not take it for a spin?

CAT is just one of the MBA entrance exams whose score is used by B-schools to shortlist candidates for their programs. Some of the other reputed exams are:

1. XAT: It is conducted by XLRI and opens the doors to prominent B-Schools such as XLRI, XIMB, GIM, XIME and several other good B-schools.

2. IIFT: The entrance exam for IIFT is conducted by the governing institute to select candidates for their three branches in Delhi, Kolkata, and Kakinada.

3. TISSNET: TISSNET scores are used by Tata Institute of Social Sciences for their MBA programs.

4. SNAP: SNAP scores are used by the Symbiosis group for their B-schools. Some decent colleges under SNAP are SIBM, SCMHRD, and SIIB.

5. NMAT: NMAT score is accepted by NMIMS, which is a reputed B-school. Beside, they are also accepted by a bunch of Tier 2 B-schools.

Since your preparation for CAT would be adjacent to the syllabus for all these aptitude tests, you should apply for them to make the most of your preparation.

It’s largely known that doing an MBA is a costly matter. An MBA program from a top B-school can cost anywhere between 15 -20 lakhs. While the IIMs are government institutes and offer a number of scholarships and quite a bit of financial aid, you must focus on cutting down your costs as much as possible.

One way to do it is to apply only to a select few B-schools which would be suitable for you. Each attempted test or college application costs anywhere from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000. This implies that if you do not plan ahead and end up attempting 5 tests and applying to 20 B-schools, it could cost you around Rs. 50,000 just in application fees.

Keeping this in mind, we offer a feature called MBA Advisory on Aspiration.ai, our e-learning platform, which guides students on which applications to fill based on their profiles and aspirations.

It can be accessed with a free account on Aspiration.ai, which includes features such as exam news and notifications, mock tests with performance analysis tools, current affairs, vocabulary quizzes, and other helpful educational features.

Additionally, you can also download our free MBA Beginner’s Guide to follow a structured approach in your CAT preparation.

If you’re a working professional, you’ll need to follow a dedicated study plan to make the most of your time and give it your best CAT attempt this year. Here are some relevant CAT preparation tips for working professionals:

1. Prepare a study plan

Frame a preparation strategy that best suits you and your daily schedule. Make it a point to devote at least 2 useful hours every day towards your CAT preparation and focus on analyzing your performance on an honest note. Make it a point to stick with your study plan and be disciplined. These traits are expected from you even after cracking CAT and securing admission in a B School. Being an MBA aspirant is all about honest hard work. Honest self-preparation can help you build your targeted score.

2. Master the basics

Identify topics you are not comfortable with and then focus your time on them when beginning your CAT preparation. If you do not clear your basics in the initial stages of your preparation, it might come back to haunt you at the worst possible time, during the CAT 2020 Exam. So, use this time to work on the basics of all the sections of the CAT syllabus, especially Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability. This is the time when you should have all the formulas and concepts for Quant at your fingertips and have completed the reading of all recommended books for VARC according to your CAT Preparation plan. For DILR, you can work on your calculation and improve your speed. Ensure that you work on some calculation-intensive questions regularly to reduce the question-solving time and achieve all the CAT Preparation milestones that are set according to your CAT Preparation plan. A lot of the concepts involved in Logical Reasoning, Data Interpretation, and Reading Comprehension are majorly dependent on your practice.

3. Choose your mode of preparation

As a CAT aspirant, the choice of self-preparing for the exam or enrolling in an online coaching program is to be made entirely by you, keeping in mind your requirements and your objective. You may choose to join a coaching institute for regular classes in case you are not feeling up to the mark. If you have covered your fundamentals well, you can always hit your preparation at your coaching center with full force. If you wish to opt for CAT self-study, you need to make sure that you stay consistent with your preparation and do not let your work or anything else hinder it. Also, consult the right CAT material and prepare a rough sketch of your prep plan, regardless of what mode of study you go for.

4.  Practice to develop confidence

A lot of working professionals lose track of their CAT Preparation by not practicing enough. Attempting a select few questions or sifting through a couple of chapters and thinking that’d be enough is the biggest and most common mistake most working professionals do.  You should practice as much as you can and then some more, especially to improve in your weaker areas. This helps in developing confidence to solve any question that may appear in the actual exam. So, identify your weak areas and improve upon them. Before moving in to the testing stage, you should gain enough confidence to face easy questions from all topics of CAT syllabus.

5. Refer relevant CAT learning material

The internet is overflowing with sufficient learning material for CAT. However, one must be very careful while choosing his prime source of preparation for all the coming months I.e learning material. Whatever material you choose to refer, it should be a combination of all the CAT previous year’s important questions and the expected important questions for this year.

How to prepare for CAT 2020

6.  Test, analyse, and repeat

Attempting mocks is an essential stage in your CAT preparation. It helps your CAT preparation in several ways.

  • It helps you Identify strong and weak areas. This in turn, helps you understand and manage your time better.
  • It sets realistic performance expectations and allows you to check and improve it with each mock you attempt. You should attempt at least 20-25 mock exams before the real one.

During the last 2 months of CAT preparation, aim at attempting at least 1 mock every week. Also, ensure that you analyze your mocks thoroughly. It is quite beneficial to spend more time on analyzing your mocks than attempt it. Your ultimate goal is not to attempt as many questions but to attempt just enough to hit a 99%ile. Once done, you’ll have a narrowed down vision on what you need to work on and how to plan it for the remaining week.
If you wish to refer to free online practice modules for CAT and other management entrances, you can check out the “Test Gym” offered by us which would help you revisit your preparation strategy and manage sectional time constraints.

There have been a few guidelines kept in mind when it comes to the paper pattern for CAT this year. The guidelines are as follows:

  • CAT 2020 will be conducted in an online mode and is divided into two sessions in a day I.e morning session and evening session
  • The exam will be about 2 hours long.
  • Multiple choice questions (MCQ) will be asked in the paper.
  • Each question will carry 3 marks.
  • -1 marks will be deducted for each wrong answer.

CAT 2020 Sectional Composition will be on the expected lines of CAT 2019 Sectional composition and is yet to be decided by IIM Indore. Here is a brief overview of last year’s CAT sectional comparison :

SectionTotal Number of QuestionsType of questions
Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension (VARC)34MCQ = 27 TITA or Non MCQ = 7
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)32MCQ = 24 TITA or Non MCQ = 8
Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation34MCQ = 23 TITA or Non MCQ = 11
Total100MCQ = 74 TITA or Non MCQ = 26

To achieve 99%ile, candidates need to strategize their approach in their own defined manner. This would help them be comfortable during the examination and hence increase accuracy. CAT is all about breaking down its three contributing sections till the last particle. Once you conquer the three sections, there is nothing left to stop you from achieving your goal.

One thing that most candidates are curious about after gathering information about the topics pertaining to three major sections of the CAT exam is understanding CAT preparation tips 2020.

In the last two months of CAT preparation, you should aim at attempting at least 1 mock every week. Simply, attempting mocks is not enough though. Ensure that you analyze your mocks thoroughly. It is quite beneficial to spend more time on analysing your mock performance than it took to attempt it. Remember, your goal is not to attempt as many questions but to comprehensively improve your preparation. Once this is done, you’ll have a narrowed down vision on what you need to work and how to go about it in the rest of the week. 

Despite most questions from the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section having no negative marks in the CAT exam, most aspirants fail to optimize their CAT Preparation Plan to improve their overall score. It is of utmost importance to have a proper study pattern and an effective CAT preparation strategy to crack VARC.

Preparation for Verbal Ability should involve regular practice and the fundamentals of the contextual usage of Grammar and Vocabulary should be well understood before the exam.

  • Know that some of the 10 questions in the Verbal Ability section will be in non-MCQ format and thus, would not involve negative marking.
  • Practice Para Summary and Para Jumbles questions as these could be expected to comprise a significant part of the VA section.
  • There could appear 4-5 Para Summary questions with small paragraphs of 60-70 words. 4 alternative summary options might be given for you to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Dedicate time to solve crossword puzzles. This will help you gain experience in solving jumbled sentences and paragraphs.

Reading Comprehension passages constitute the majority of the VARC section of CAT which makes them essential for CAT Preparation. They are usually followed with questions that involve your critical reasoning skills. Here are some tips you can use to bolster your performance in the Reading Comprehension questions.

 

  • Increase your reading speed: A good reading speed will help you read the RC passages and attempt the questions in a short period of time. Do not read aloud or move your lips while reading as it slows down your speed. You can also use a pen when reading the passage as it helps maintain coordination between your hands, eyes, and brain.
  • Manage time efficiently: Regardless of your level of CAT preparation, time management will play a crucial factor in your performance. Simply understanding the summary won’t help. You should focus on keywords to skim and scan a passage, and remove irrelevant words, phrases and sections from consideration.
  • Read newspapers daily: This cannot be emphasized enough. Never get complacent; continue the habit of reading newspapers even in the last month.
  • Attempt online RC questions: Begin practicing reading comprehension online. This will accustom you reading a passage followed by attempting the questions online.
  • Dedicate time to solve crossword puzzles. This will help you gain experience in solving jumbled sentences and paragraphs.
  • Earmark weekly sectional mock tests: Review your performance every week by appearing in sectional mock tests. Practicing through sectional mocks is a wise way to accelerate your preparation while solving CAT level questions.

Once you have got your fundamentals in place and know how to solve basic questions, you should follow these tips to improve your performance in DILR section of the CAT exam:

  • Increase your calculation speed: Candidates attempting CAT 2019 can expect questions based on data arranged in tables, graphs, diagrams, charts, logical games, calendars, case studies, etc. When faced with complex questions, it is important that you’re not heavily reliant on calculators for small tasks. Memorize all the formulas related to roots, squares, cubes, percentages, etc. and focus on improving your mental calculations.
  • Focus on arrangements and puzzles: Develop a strong base in find logic,  identifying linkages and key attributes in order to decipher arrangements, puzzles, and variations so no questions seem too unfamiliar.
  • Select questions smartly: The questions you select will play a major role in your performance. Make sure that you read each question thoroughly and make a smart choice; this will help immensely in scoring high marks. This should be tested out when attempting mocks so that by the time you attempt the exam, you have a fair sense of what you should and should not attempt.
  • Focus on accuracy: While time management is an important aspect to work on, you should not forget to focus on improving your accuracy. To score a good percentile, it is not important to answer a maximum number of questions but to answer them correctly. It is better to attempt fewer questions with great accuracy than attempting many questions incorrectly as negative marking could terribly affect your score. While the negative marking for MCQs is 1 mark, every wrong answer effectively means a loss of 4 marks from the total. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain your accuracy at a high level and find the happy medium between the number of questions attempted and the accuracy of solving them.
  • Attempt difficult questions first: One of the common strategies that most aspirants follow is attempting easy questions first and then moving on to the difficult ones. A smarter way to approach is to dedicate a time frame for difficult questions and complete them off first. However, you should not spend more than the dedicated time on difficult questions, or you might be left with little time in the end to attempt simple ones.
  • Scan each question: Since most DI questions comprise numbers, diagrams, and statistics, they might appear intimidating, but be quite easy to solve. If you don’t scan a question and skip to the next one after a mere glance, you might miss out on scoring on a question that is easy to solve.
  • Earmark sectional mocks: Taking DILR sectional mocks would enable you to understand which exact topics you need to master to ace this section. Take 1-2 sectional mocks in the weekends and then analyze the mocks.

Most candidates, especially those from a non-engineering background, are quite intimidated when it comes to the CAT Preparation for the Quantitative Ability section. Here are some essential CAT preparation tips for the Quant section of CAT:

 

  • Strengthen your mental calculator: The problem with an on-screen calculator is that you end up wasting more time on simple calculations which you could do as, if not more, quickly mentally. Ensure that you spend time each day developing your mental math skills while you practice. It might seem like a lengthy process, but it is an essential part of your CAT Preparation since it can save a significant amount of time in the CAT 2019 Exam.

  • Memorize formulas with flashcards: Note down formulas and related problems on flashcards to have them handy. With ample reference, you’ll be able to recall them soon enough.

  • Know your strategies: By the time the official exam date comes around, you should have your Quant strategy all set. How many questions should you attempt and on which topic? Which questions should you prioritize based on your strengths and weaknesses? Your CAT Preparation should allow you to answer all such questions at least one week before the exam.

    • Think mathematically: How good are you at spotting patterns or applying formulas? Thinking mathematically is something that you can and should inculcate by practicing regularly before attempting Quant on the exam day

    • Improve your problem-solving speed: To improve the time spent in attempting a question, begin with a set of 10 practice questions. Time your attempt and take a note of that. Subsequently, use a stopwatch and set a time frame a few seconds less than your initial time. Continue doing it while maintaining the same accuracy and within a few weeks, you’ll be able to see positive results.

CAT Preparation Tips 2020: Managing sectional time constraints

As we know that CAT is a culmination of three sections. So, it is very important to time yourself on every question you are about to solve, only once the basics of each and every topic are in place. Accuracy shifts according to the time taken by the candidate. In the beginning, the accuracy would be a bit on the lower side. But after picking up the pace, a student would be able to solve a question within the given time constraint, with 100% accuracy.

Refer the following table to understand how you can make this work:

SectionQuestions to be attempted dailyTime allotted to each questionTotal Time allotted
Verbal Ability and Reading ComprehensionRC = 5 passagesRC = 5 *8 = 40 mins1 hour
VA = 10 questionsVA = 10*2 = 20 mins
Data InterpretationDI = 5 sets of 4 questions eachDI = 5*9 = 45 minutes1 hour
and Logical ReasoningLR = 5 sets of 4 questions eachLR = 5*3 = 15 minutes
Quantitative Ability30 questions30 *2 = 60 minutes1 hour

CAT preparation tips for beginners

If you’re appearing for CAT for the first time and have just started your CAT preparation, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on your graduation marks: A lot of MBA aspirants start their CAT preparation in their final or pre-final year of graduation. If you are in a similar situation, please understand that your overall score in graduation is a pertinent factor for your selection in all major B-schools.

So, if you still have a few semesters to go, focus on increasing your graduation scores. It will be of a significant importance in the long run.

  • Understand the differences between CAT and college exams: Note that CAT and other MBA entrance exams are very different from your college exams. Understand the difference between scores and percentiles. Engage with seniors who have attempted CAT in the previous years and learn first-hand from their experiences.
  • Apply for internships during breaks: Make optimum use of your vacations and breaks by gaining some work experience. It will help you get an edge over other competitors.

If you’re a working professional attempting CAT this year, read on to learn some significant tips that will help improve your CAT preparation.

  • Don’t quit your job: While you may find yourself quite stressed initially trying to maintain a balance between your performance at work and your CAT preparation, resist the temptation to quit. With time, as you develop your strategies, you might be able to manage it better. Besides, the work experience gained up to CAT might prove to be quite beneficial in your selection.
  • Manage your time effectively: Time management is the most crucial factor for working professionals. Develop an effective CAT preparation strategy based on your strengths and weaknesses, and explore effective time management strategies such as the Pomodoro technique
  • Make it convenient:  Ensure that whatever preparation resources you’re investing in are available 24*7 so that you can are able to study anytime and anywhere.
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