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CAT study tricks and tips

The number of students and/or professionals looking to progress in their field by pursuing an MBA is increasing. With such rising competition, it’s getting tougher to fight your way into the best institutes. There are several exams that are conducted all over the nation like the CAT, SNAP, NMAT, GMAT, XAT, etc.

So far, out of all these exams, the CAT which is conducted by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) is accepted by almost all universities for the Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM). The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a computer based test that is held in the second half of the year. It tests the students in Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability, Logical Reasoning/Data Interpretation.

Here are a couple of things you need to know before you go ahead with the test.


  1. First impression is NOT the last impression.


design-desk-display-313690The CAT test gives the candidate 1 hour for each session, i.e. it is a 3-hour test overall. You can only go to the next session once the allotted time has elapsed. There are a total of 100 questions in the test that are so designed that 1 question never fully focuses on just 1 topic. The question can be an artful mixture of multiple concepts. Hence, I’m CAT first impressions are usually deceptive.


  1. It’s possible to score a negative integer


Contrary to what our school grading system teaches us, marks aren’t always positive integers. The CAT has negative marking. Each question carries 3 marks, and 1 mark is deducted for every incorrectly answered question. However, there’s another type of questions that exist and these can be your saviors. They’re the Type In The Answer (TITA) category. These questions are non-MCQ type and aren’t a part of the negative marking scheme. These can usually be your source of ‘lazy marks’ especially in Verbal as they usually contain para-jumbles and grammar questions.


  1. Play to your strengths


We are often advised to step out of our comfort zones while prepping for success, but in the CAT, your safety zones will get you assured marks as opposed to risks that have a higher probability of incorrect answers. You should always go for the topics that you’re most confident in before you attempt anything else, in this way, you’ve secured those marks, and then if time permits, you solve everything else. But this is in no way an advice to just study a select few topics thoroughly. Prepare everything, but know your strengths.


  1. Aim HIGH!


Of course, the best institutes that you can get into on the basis of the CAT are the IIMs. But apart from those, there will be institutes native to your city or state that hold great reputations, too. Research institutes based on their cut-off scores, stream centric placements, and course curriculum. A college reputed for one course may not necessarily be the same for another. So aim accordingly.


  1. Work experience isn’t just resume accessory.



Candidates that have work experience have a good chance of getting accepted into their dream institutes. That is because once you’ve got the hang of the field, the understanding and application of business management concepts gets smoother. Worry not freshers, you also have a chance at your dream institutes. Just start connecting to people who’ve been in the corporate world, keep up to date on current affairs, and try your hand at a couple of internships during your undergraduate courses if possible.


  1. Scores don’t determine your admit.


PGDM requires the candidates to prove themselves via an extra set of tests that are divided into rounds of Written Ability, Group Discussion/Case Discussion, and Personal Interview. It is essential to prep yourself well for each round. Speak to alumni or current students of the institutes to know what their experiences were. Scour the internet for people’s experiences and interview questions that you can prep yourself for.



This process will require dedication and meticulousness. Keeping track of all exam and institute related news will surely help you. The exam itself is easy to conquer once you focus on practicing as much as you can. Confidence and a smart demeanor will definitely impress the admission committee. You must and should have enough faith in yourself as you set about on your journey. All the best!

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