3-Month CAT Study Schedule

3-month cat study schedule-magoosh

Create the best 3-month CAT study schedule for you!

If you’re looking for a 3-month CAT study schedule, well done! You’ve given yourself a reasonable amount of time to prepare for this exam. While the fact that it’s only offered once a year, and determines the first admission stage to the Indian Institutes of Management, can be intimidating, with careful and methodical preparation, you can master the CAT.

Within this time frame, you’ll want to register for the exam early. In previous years, the CAT registration period took place over several weeks in August and September for the exam held in late November or early December. You’re probably well aware of the need to register for the exam—but if you’re not, go register, then come back here!

Okay, welcome back! Now, let’s dig in. Three months is a good amount of time to devote to test preparation, but you’re still going to have to take it seriously if you want to do your best on test day. Plan on spending between five and fifteen hours a week studying for the exam. (Some weeks, you may be closer to five hours, others may require much more—planning in advance is vital to make sure you get the best prep possible.)

Finally, remember that this is a general 3-month CAT study schedule. You’ll want to tweak it to fit your particular strengths and weaknesses to maximize your success. I’ve pointed out some areas where you can customize the prep to your own talents below, but it’s important to keep your own habits, preferences, and specialties in mind as you begin to plan out your work.

Ready? Let’s go!

Materials for a 3-Month CAT Study Schedule

Magoosh CAT Blog

CAT Papers 2000-2010

2iim (Green Level Subscription)

Handa Ka Funda videos

IIM 2016 website

Supplemental Materials for a 3-Month CAT Study Schedule

Prometric CAT demonstration

CAT Papers 1990-2000

Reading List

3-Month CAT Study Schedule, Month by Month

Month 1

Having three months to prepare for the CAT exam gives you the chance to collect a lot of data to help you in your studies. In your first month of CAT study, you have the opportunity to learn not only about the test, but also about your own strengths and weaknesses. This information will come in handy as you continue to prepare for the exam.

Before anything else, make sure that you’re registered for the exam. Registration for the CAT takes place in August and September, so you may have just completed your registration. If not, don’t hesitate! If you miss this opportunity, you won’t be able to take the exam until next year.

Next, familiarize yourself with the test. First, take a look at the Prometric CAT demonstration. Even though this website only offers 12 CAT-type questions, it gives you a good sense of the computer-based interface with which you’ll be working on test day. Then, dig in deeper. This will involve taking a look at the CAT Mock Exam 2016. Don’t enter any login information, just click “Sign In.” NB: You will not get a score on this exam. However, working through the problems is a great way to understand both the format and the content of the exam.

Take a diagnostic exam at 2iim (Green Level Subscription). While you can take a practice exam without a subscription, 2iim has important resources—and many more practice tests—that make the subscription fee worth it. The next day, review the exam and evaluate the areas in which you need the most work. It’s also a good idea to evaluate the areas in which you’re doing well. You’ll want to return to these areas periodically and make sure your skills stay strong. Continue taking practice exams at the rate of 1-2 per week.

During this month, you should also get well into the lessons on both 2iim and reinforce them with the Handa Ka Funda videos. These will help reinforce the quantitative lessons on 2iim, presenting complex information in an accessible way. Make sure that you’re taking lessons in all three subject areas, though it’s okay to focus at this point on your weakest subject.

As you take the lessons, drill yourself with practice questions on the 2iim website and the CAT Papers 2000-2010. These are the actual exams given by the IIMs, with answer keys. Unless you have extensive free time (which, if you’re studying for the CAT, you probably don’t!), it’s not worth going back farther in time, even though the website offers papers from as far back as 1990. This is because the CAT changed its format in 2000. While its form has shifted slightly since then several times, the question types on these exams will still be helpful, which isn’t true of prior exams.

Meanwhile, create your own flashcards to help you remember unfamiliar or rusty vocabulary and math concepts. You can use these on the go to reinforce your CAT studies. And, if you start now, you’ll be able to continually add to your collection and keep reviewing before test day.

Month 2

Continue with 2iim lessons in all three subject areas (quant, data, and reading). Make sure that you’re drilling yourself with practice problems and reviewing the items that you get wrong. At this point, you should be spending about 50% of your time on your weakest section, and 25% on each of the other two sections. If your scores in each section are about even, then divide your study time evenly. However, focus on your weakest skill and subject areas within your practice for each section.

Begin building your mental math skills. Working with your flashcards (which you should continually be adding to) is a great way to do this. First, practice working with basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) without paper or calculator. Yes, you’ll have a four-function calculator on test day, but using it can waste valuable time. As you continue your practice, start working on approximations of averages, square roots, and other mathematics. You’ll find that after a while, you’re pushing yourself to work through even algebra and other more complex subject areas in your head faster than you ever could on paper.

Start focusing on practice sections. While you should absolutely continue taking practice exams at a rate of 1-2 a week, you can now start working on practice sections from previous exams. These will be slightly less stressful and time-consuming to complete, but still provide you with great practice at your new skills.

In this second month, you should also incorporate significant outside reading into your studies. This will not only boost your scores in the Verbal and Reading Comprehension section in particular, but also provide a non-exam-based study experience that should lighten some of the intense focus.

Month 3

Continue with your outside reading, flashcard practice, lessons, drills, practice sections, and mock exams as per Month 2.

Review your practice exams to date. By this point, you should have improved your performance in your initially weak areas. If you haven’t, or haven’t made significant progress, return to the lessons and drills. Review your work in these areas. If you truly hit a mental block with certain problems at this point, determine which problem types it may be more helpful to skip on test day.

After Month 4: Concentrated Review

  • Keep up your good work, and finish any lessons and drills you haven’t yet gotten to.
  • Return to questions you previously did and do them again. See how you do a second time.
  • Review any lessons you feel you need to.
  • Keep practicing with your flashcards and mental math.

The Day of the CAT Exam

Before you take the test, take a day off! No preparation at all the day before or the day of the exam. The day before, go to bed a little earlier than usual and make sure not to consume any alcohol. The day of, eat lots of protein with your breakfast, and give yourself something fun to do until your test slot. This is especially important if you have an afternoon slot and have significant time to kill in the morning!

Then, sit back and let your careful preparation guide you through your exam. You’ve put in the work—now, it’s time to reap the rewards. Good luck!

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