CAT Exam Preparation & Best Practices to Score High

Q1. What is the CAT exam?

CAT or Common Admission Test as we know it, is one of the most sought after aptitude tests for admission to MBA programmes across India, but it is also the key to get into Indian Institute of Management (IIMs); the most prestigious of B schools in the country. Apart from the IIMs, the CAT scores are accepted by over 1200 Business Schools across the country.

Q2. What is the eligibility criteria for CAT exam?

To appear in the CAT, a test taker must secure a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with no less than 50% marks or its equivalent CGPA. For reserved categories like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Persons with Disability or Differently Able CAT aspirant has a reduced minimum requirement of just 45% at the undergraduate level to appear for CAT examination.

Make sure that your undergraduate degree is from a recognized institution---any of the universities meeting the requirements of consideration to be a university under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 works! Or, the CAT aspirant should posses an equivalent qualification recognized by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India. CAT aspirants appearing for the final year examinations of their bachelor’s degree/ equivalent exam are also granted the permission to appear for the CAT exam They are granted admission only temporarily and should produce a certificate latest by June 30 of the academic year certifying all the prerequisites for completing their bachelor’s degree has been met by the candidate.

Q3. What score do I need to pass CAT exam?

The CAT exam works on the law of percentiles. That simply means that the score you get isn’t a numerical percentage but instead the percentage of CAT aspirants who scored less than  you. Since there is negative marking, not answering any of the questions even might fetch you above 60 percentile score, but to get a 95+ percentile, a CAT aspirant needs to get 20-22 questions right with no negative answers. Strategize according to the average scores accepted by the B school you are planning on applying to and you will be good to go.

Q4. What is the career post CAT exam?

CAT is simply an entrance exam for admission into MBA schools across the country and hence, the career post CAT depends on a variety of factors, which include the B school you get into, the specialization you choose and the placement you are offered at the end of your two year MBA programme.

Q5. How does the CAT exam work?

Just like every other competitive entrance exam—the scores in CAT are of two types—raw score and scaled score. Since it is a Computer Based Test, several versions are administered to the students during the test period and to maintain uniformity between the scores, the scaled scores are utilized. Each aspirant gets +3 marks for a right answer and -1 for an incorrect one. The unanswered ones don’t have any effect on the score. The simple arithmetic totaling gives the Raw score of a CAT spirant. After that, a process called equating is brought into the picture and the equated raw scores are placed on a metric scale. This ends in scaled scores which ensure appropriate interpretation of the scores.

Q6. How Should I prepare for the CAT?

 Every test taker has a new approach towards the test prep for CAT. Be it getting on a coaching programme to train for the big leagues or simply using your spare time in an absorbed study routine, CAT aspirants go both ways when it comes to CAT prep. But preparing for the same can be a very tedious task, and hence, a few things must be kept in mind:

1.   Get your hands on the CAT syllabus first

2.   Develop a deep understanding of the CAT exam pattern. Analyse old question papers if need be

3.   Always take regular CAT mock tests for the test prep

4.   The best way to learn and correct your flaws in CAT exam prep is to build a study group. Interact with your study-partners everyday a keep a tab on your progress in CAT exam prep.

5.   Utilize the internet and study from a variety of resources.

6.   If you are not one for big groups, choose to study with a single study partner for CAT instead. A study buddy will help you stay motivated and you can compare notes and also discuss the challenges you are facing at length.

Q7. What Should I expect on my CAT test day?

 The exact examination pattern for CAT changes every year. But as a rule of thumb, the CAT is a computer based test with 3 sections:

Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) and Quantitative Ability (QA). The number of questions varies year to year but since 2015, QA and VARC has had 34 questions each while DI&LR has 32 questions.

Q8. How many exams are there in CAT?

Although there are three major sections in CAT, namely Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) and Quantitative Ability (QA), the exam paper is one.

Q9. How is my CAT score calculated?

Just like every other competitive entrance exam—the scores in CAT are of two types—raw score and scaled score. Since it is a Computer Based Test, several versions are administered to the students during the test period and to maintain uniformity between the scores, the scaled scores are utilized. Each aspirant gets +3 marks for a right answer and -1 for an incorrect one. The unanswered ones don’t have any effect on the score. The simple arithmetic totaling gives the Raw score of a CAT spirant. After that, a process called equating is brought into the picture and the equated raw scores are placed on a metric scale. This ends in scaled scores which ensure appropriate interpretation of the scores.

Q10. How many times can I take CAT exam?

There is no such limit to attempt CAT entrance. You can write it as many times as you want to.

Q11. How long will my CAT score remain valid?

CAT scores are valid for just 1 year from the date of the test. Also, if you are not able to score well in an attempt, you would have to wait for a year to take it again.

Q12. How long do you have to wait between CAT exams?

You have to wait a whole year before you can retake the exam.

Q13. What are the score ranges for the CAT exam?

The CAT scores range between 0 and 300, so the highest you can score is 300. Additionally, there is a corresponding CAT percentile score which is equally crucial.

Q14. Can I cancel my score? How to do it?

CAT scores cannot be cancelled.

Q15. How much does it cost to take the CAT?

CAT exam costs Rs 1900 per application for General and OBC candidates in India while for others like SC, ST and PWD candidates, the cost of the application is Rs 950.

Q16. How to find study partner for CAT exam?

A16. Why study alone when you can have company? Compete, compare, support and learn with a study partner as you prepare for CAT exam today! Discover study pals near you for CAT exam on Studypal.co and with the right filters, find the perfect friend and partner to do the test prep today!