6-Month CAT Study Schedule

6-Month CAT Study Schedule

Welcome to your 6-month CAT study schedule, early birds! While you may catch the worm, you’re also in a great position to succeed on the CAT. If you go about your preparation in a logical, methodical, and helpful way, that is. We’re here to help you do that. Looking for something shorter? Check out our 1-month or 3-month study schedules instead!

You may have noticed that you can’t actually register for the CAT six months in advance. That’s why we’ll suggest marking your calendars for late July, when the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) issue their CAT advertisement. Once that happens, go ahead and get the registration dates in those calendars, too. After all, there’s no reason to prepare for a test that you can’t actually take…

With six months at your disposal, it can be tempting to start studying haphazardly for the CAT. We definitely advise against it! While we can’t know exactly what the CAT will cover until that advertisement comes out, the test has offered some standard problem types and covered similar subject areas over the past few years. This means that you can get everything in order and even start progressing toward that ideal CAT score even before the test itself is announced!

A lot of students believe that the earlier they start, the less intensely they need to study. Unfortunately, that’s not true. What is true is that the extended period of study will give you a greater opportunity to succeed on the exam, polishing off your strengths and bolstering your weaknesses. With that in mind, plan on devoting at least five hours a week to the exam, escalating this to fifteen in the month right before you take the CAT.

Finally, remember that this is a generalized plan. Use it to guide your study, by all means! But if a particular resource isn’t working for you, or a particular material/guide feels too remedial or too advanced, feel free to adapt the schedule to your needs, talents, and desires. After all, it’ll be you sitting in front of that computer on test day!

Materials for a 6-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 6-Month CAT Study Schedule

Prometric CAT demonstration

CAT Papers 1990-2000

Reading List

6-Month CAT Study Schedule, Month by Month

Month 1

There are both pros and cons to preparing six months before the CAT exam. Of course, you have more time to master the test concepts and question types. On the other hand, the CAT does change often from one year to the next. The changes recently have only been slight, but you should be prepared for minor shifts in the content as you begin your preparation.

In addition, it won’t yet be possible to register for the exam. The CAT is held in late November or early December, but registration only opens in August and runs through September. Therefore, make sure one of the very first things that you do is put the registration dates in your calendar! If you can set up reminders for yourself on your phone or computer, all the better.

Next, familiarize yourself with what the test has looked like in the past. The Prometric CAT demonstration can help with this. This website shows you how the exam is formatted, and what you can expect to see on test day. For a longer look at the exam, check out the CAT Mock Exam 2016. Don’t enter any login information, just click “Sign In.” You won’t be able to get a score on this test, as it’s not meant as a diagnostic. Nevertheless, looking over the interface and getting a sense of problems and pacing is still valuable.

Once you’re familiar with the exam’s structure, take your first diagnostic test. You can find these at 2iim (Green Level Subscription). Because you have so long to prepare, it’s a good idea to subscribe to the 2iim resources, which include 12 full-length practice exams. Of course, look at your score, but save the review for the day after you’ve taken the test.

The next day, look over your exam results. Where did you score the lowest? The highest? Make a list of subject areas from those that need the most improvement to those that need the least improvement. This will give you some sense of your immediate study priorities. Plan on taking a mock exam at the end of each week between now and test day and review them using this same process. You’ll want to keep updating your priority subject list as you go.

Now that you have a sense of your strengths and weaknesses, delve into the lessons on 2iim, reinforcing the quantitative information with the Handa Ka Funda videos. At first, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re taking lessons in all three subject areas, though it’s okay to focus on your weakest subject. The best study plan is to divide the subject areas into their component question topics and work on your weaknesses within each subject area.

After completing each lesson or set of lessons, drill yourself with practice questions on the 2iim website.

Finally this month, make your own flashcards. You can do this for each section and use them on the bus, waiting in line, any time you have a few extra minutes on the go. Over six months, that time really adds up! Keep adding to these flashcards until test day.

Month 2

Keep working on the 2iim lessons. You should reinforce these lessons with the follow-up drills and practice questions. A good breakdown for the first three months is to spend 50% of your time on your weakest section, and 25% on each of the other two sections. Later—or if you’re scoring evenly in all three sections—you’ll divide your time evenly. Remember to focus on your weakest topic areas within each subject.

Start developing mental math skills. While the CAT interface will provide you with a four-function calculator for the exam, it’s oftentimes faster to perform basic calculations in your head. After taking your first few practice exams, go back and identify problems where you could have used mental math efficiently. You can then make flashcards that challenge you to develop these skills.

Continue taking one practice exam at a week. Make sure that you take them under exam-like conditions: preferably at the computer, for a three-hour stretch, allotting one hour per section. Get used to not taking breaks during the exam. While you may be tempted either to skip ahead or return to spend longer on a given section, resist the urge! The test itself won’t allow you to do this.

Start looking at outside reading sources and incorporating them into your study for at least a few hours a week. As you read, challenge yourself to come up with CAT-like questions about the articles in the sources you’re examining. What would the right answers be? What would the wrong answer choices look like?

Month 3

Keep going with everything you’ve done so far! That includes your lessons, drills and practice questions, practice exams, flashcards, and outside reading.

Take an overview of your practice exams to date. Look more specifically at the exams from the past month. Where have you improved the most? Are there areas where you’re still missing a lot of questions? Update your priorities list and return to the video lessons that relate to each area.

Month 4

Keep it up! That includes your lessons, drills and practice questions, practice exams, flashcards, and outside reading. And keep adapting your study for the exam to your current abilities.

Register for the exam. It’s finally time! Don’t forget that you probably will not have a choice of test dates or times, so make sure that you’re alternating taking your practice exams both in the morning and afternoon. If there is a significant difference in your scores between these times, alter variables until they’re roughly even—caffeine, the amount of protein you have at meals, the time you get up.

Add in some other tests from the CAT Papers 1990-2000. These are not a great reflection of the current exam, but they will give you more practice with the topic areas. Try not to worry about your scores. In fact, overall scores on these exams are meaningless for what you’re currently doing! Nevertheless, the practice will help.

Start taking practice sections from the CAT Papers 2000-2010. If you’ve run out of computer-based exams at 2iim, you can work on these exams as your weekly tests. If not, consider using sections of these exams as quick one-hour practices to incorporate into your program of lessons and drills.

Month 5

Don’t let it all fall apart now! Keep up your lessons, drills and practice questions, practice exams, practice sections, flashcards, and outside reading. And keep adapting your study for the exam to your current abilities.

Get your timing down. If you find that you’re falling short of time in particular sections, now’s the time to fix this. Running through timed drills, cutting down time by 15 seconds or so for each set of 10 questions (and then reviewing your work before continuing) can help with this. If you have a lot of time to spare at the end of each section, work on your reviewing skills and double-checking your work.

Month 6

Bring it home! Keep up your lessons, drills and practice questions, practice exams, practice sections, flashcards, and outside reading. And keep adapting your study for the exam to your current abilities.

Finish any lessons and drills you haven’t yet gotten to. Once you’ve completed them all, return to questions you previously completed and re-do them, comparing your results to the first run.

Re-watch any lessons in areas where you’re still consistently missing questions.

Determine which question types, if any, you will skip. You don’t need to answer all the questions on the CAT to get a great score, so if there are still troublesome areas, identify them now! It may be better to use that time on test day on problems you have a better chance of getting right.

The Day of the CAT Exam

Now that you’ve worked so hard for half a year (!), don’t ruin it by sabotaging your test day. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Don’t study ANY CAT materials whatsoever from 48 hours before your test onward. If you don’t know it by now, you won’t learn it in the next few hours. Eat a good breakfast—lots of protein. And have some fun and relaxation, if possible, before the exam. Once you’re actually at the CAT exam, you’ll find that all the skills you’ve honed have become automatic. Trust them, and yourself, to get you to that great score!

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