How to Crack the CAT

how to crack the cat

Before you get to know it, the CAT exam can feel like a massive, uncrackable entity. Rumors and forum posts abound about how hard it is/was/will be, and even the most level-headed students can start to panic. But don’t! Believe me: many an exam-taker before you has wondered how to crack the CAT. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last. And with a little work, you’ll find that you’ve cracked the CAT yourself.

How? Let’s take a look.

Know the Materials

The very best thing you can do at the start of CAT prep is to take a mock test and then go through it, categorizing the different type of content you saw in the various sections. The IIM 2016 website is a great place to do this: because it doesn’t score the exam, there’s very little pressure. Meanwhile, you’re familiarizing yourself with both what the test looks like and what you’ll find on it. Win-win!

Once you’ve worked through the official exam, take a look at our syllabi for different aspects of the CAT to get to know what you’ll be seeing on test day in more concrete terms:

Start Early

While it is possible to prepare for the CAT in a month, most exam-takers know that they’re going to be taking the exam well before then. Why? Because registration traditionally ends in September! Do yourself a favor and try to carve out at least three months in which you know you’ll be studying for the CAT. It may seem like a big sacrifice in the moment, but keep your eye on the prize. And remember: the earlier you start, the closer to perfect your score will be!

Stay Focused

It’s really easy, both in life and while taking the CAT exam, to let your focus drift a little. Maybe you don’t feel like putting in the effort to find problems for drills this evening, so you think you’ll just work on some vocabulary flashcards instead (even though you know them all—and you know that vocabulary study out of context isn’t that helpful!) Similarly, on the exam, it can be easier to let your eyes glaze over and go through the motions than to treat each question like the first.

Staying sharp, though, will help you prepare better, and it will help you get through the test much better. In all things, practice makes perfect, so don’t cut yourself any slack on your practice tests! Make sure you take them under conditions as close to those you’ll see on test day as possible.

Know Thyself!

As the Temple of Apollo said: Know your strengths, know your weaknesses. And before the official exam, make extra sure you know:

  1. How accurate your answers are, percentage-wise, for each section;
  2. How many questions you’ll attempt per section;
  3. …and how much time that leaves you per question.

How do you know how accurate you are? Simple: go through your last three practice tests and see how many questions you answered correctly, as a percentage of all questions in each section. Average these percentages. Look below, to the “How Many CAT Questions…” series of blog posts, and pick the percentile you’re hoping to score in to see how many questions you should attempt.

Now, divide 60 (as in, 60 minutes in an hour, one hour per section) by the number of questions in each section you’re going to attempt. Shave five to ten seconds off the result for entering your answer and screen loading time.

Voila! You’ve learned about the test, what it contains, and how you individually can go about mastering the content. Now, it’s all down to practice. So go forth and succeed!


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