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Study Plan for CAT Preparation


What should you do from April?
A lot of students start their CAT preparation in the first quarter of the year. I personally believe that it is the ideal time to start CAT preparation if it is the first time you are trying
your hand at CAT or if you got less than 90%ile in your previous attempt(s). Keeping that in mind, I thought of putting out a study plan that will benefit the students. Do keep in
mind that these are broad guidelines that can help you figure out the right away and not hard and fast rules.
I would like to divide CAT preparation in three broad areas:
Prepare for Basic Fundamentals
Improve with practice
Sharpen your test taking skills

Phase 1 Prepare for Basic Fundamentals


From NOW till Mid July
The syllabus for the CAT exam can primarily be divided into 5 broad areas:
Quantitative Aptitude
Verbal Ability
Reading Comprehension
Logical Reasoning
Data Interpretation
Among these, the first two require the most amount of effort when it comes to basic fundamentals. I would recommend that the first few months (till June-July), you should
majorly focus on clearing your basic concepts. Do not move on from one topic to another unless you are completely clear with the fundamentals of the topic. So, in phase one of
your preparation I would recommend that you divide your time in the following way:
20% of your time Reading books, novels, magazines, newspapers. Here is a list of recommended books for CAT aspirants.
25% of your time Basic fundamentals of Quantitative Aptitude. Be clear with all the necessary concepts and formulas. Try spending more time on Geometry and Algebra in
this period. The last time most of the CAT aspirants have had a brush with Geometry was probably in class 10th. It has been a long time and probably you need to get back into
the groove. Something that you should not spend too much time on is Number System, Remainders, etc. While they are important from CAT perspective but my prior
experience shows that students end up wasting a lot of time on them unnecessarily.
25% of your time Basic fundamentals of Verbal Ability. Try and understand the concepts of grammar. Learn what Critical Reasoning is all about. Try to differentiate between
statements, assumptions, conclusions, facts, inferences, judgements. These things can get really confusing at a later stage if your basics are not clear.
30% of your time This time should be spent practicing some easy Logical Reasoning, Data interpretation, Reading Comprehension questions. This will help you understand
what these sections are all about. It will also help you increasing your comfort level with these areas.
In this phase, you should give at least 1 hour every day towards your CAT preparation.

Phase 2 Improve with Practice


From Mid July till Sep
By July, you should have a pretty good handle on things. Ideally, you should be equally good or equally bad in all areas by July. If that is not the case and you feel
uncomfortable with any specific area this is the time that you should use to improve in that particular area.
The relative weightage of the above mentioned categories in phase 1 is roughly 2:1:1:1:1. Here 2 is for the Quantitative Aptitude part. A lot of students make the mistake of
focusing on just Quantitative Aptitude. Please understand that Quantitative Aptitude + Verbal Ability form only 50% of the CAT syllabus. The other 50% is Logical Reasoning +
Reading Comprehension + Data Interpretation. You should not make that mistake. This is the time where you need to really step up your game and make a difference to the
CAT score. Here is the plan that you can follow:
Monday & Tuesday Quantitative Aptitude
Wednesday Data Interpretation
Thursday Logical Reasoning
Friday Reading Comprehension
Saturday (First Half) Verbal Ability.
You are still left with three slots for preparation Saturday (Second Half) and the entire Sunday.
You should use this extra time to improve your performance in your weak area. I would also recommend that you start attempting a few mocks in Phase 2. Probably two mocks
in August and September (each) should be good enough. These mocks can help you identify your weak areas if you do not know them already.
Also, you should give at least 2 hours every day towards your CAT preparation in this phase.

Phase 3 Sharpen your Test Taking Skills


October and November
The last two months of your CAT preparation should be dedicated to attempting CAT mocks and analysing them. While how to analyse a mock can be a whole different
discussion, broadly you should be able to figure out your strong and weak areas with the help of mocks. You should be able to figure out a strategy of attempting the test that
suits you. This is a crucial element which often differentiates between the CAT aspirants who score 95%ile and those who score 99%ile. Also, in this phase you will get a rough
idea of what your limits are. If you are scoring in the 70s, probably it would be a good idea to target 90 and not 99. You can easily move from 70 to 90 during these last two
months provided you plan your preparation that way. A lot of students dont introspect enough and hence end up with a percentile much lower than what they actually deserve.
You should give 2 mocks a week during this period. It is important that you give them very seriously. Also, once you are done with a mock you should attempt all questions
that appeared in the mock without any pressure of time. This tactic will help you plaster the chinks in your armour.
You should give at least 3 hours every day towards your CAT preparation in this phase.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you did,

Recommended Books that every MBA / CAT Aspirant


Should Read
Couple of days ago, I took a free class for CAT preparation on Republic Day. As a matter of fact, it was a promotional class for my online CAT coaching course in which I tried to
answer doubts and queries of confused and often unnecessarily worried MBA aspirants. A recording of the free class is now available and you can watch that if you have the
time. The most common question that I got was How to start my CAT preparation?. To be honest, I think that till March you should completely focus on improving your
verbal ability. The three books that a large number of teachers / seniors recommend for this are:
1. Word Power Made Easy for improving your vocabulary
2. Wren and Martin for improving your grammar
3. How to Read Better and Faster by Norman Lewis for increasing your reading speed.
While all of the above are fantastic books, I personally do not find them much fruitful for most candidates. These often end up being too boring and something that students give
up in the middle. How to Read Better and Faster by Normal Lewis might be an exception as it is not voluminous but increasing their reading speed is hardly something that CAT
/ MBA aspirants should be worried about. You get more than enough time in the CAT exam these days (at least for the last 5 years). The key to high performance lies in
understanding the questions and the passages and not rushing through them. Rushing through passages helps if the passages are really simple and you have direct questions
on them it is not the case when it comes to the CAT exam.
So, the question then arises as to what should be done to actually improve in it? The answer is simple. You need to go back to the root of the problem. Most CAT aspirants have
an issue with Verbal Ability / Reading Comprehension because they dont really read books regularly. I have been teaching CAT aspirants for a decade now (Yay! just realized
that while typing this post. It will be 10 years in July 2016) and under extremely rare circumstances I have met someone who reads a book a month on average and is struggling
with Verbal Ability. As a matter of fact, even if you read 5 books in a year, you should be more or less comfortable when it comes to Verbal Ability. You can and you should
directly dive into CAT level problems and you would realize that you are still swimming around in your comfort zone. The problem, however, is for the majority of the CAT
aspirants who dont read regularly and / or the only books that they have read was written by Chetan Bhagat. I will not get into the merits or demerits of reading Bhagat as that
would probably become a rather long rang. Be that as it may, if you are in the category of the majority CAT aspirants mentioned above it is not too late. As a matter of fact, it is
never too late. You can and should start reading books, novels, and magazines as soon as possible. Reading newspapers and editorials will also help but there are too many
breaks when you read a newspaper and you need to keep shifting from one article to another. There is no FLOW That is the reason I strongly recommend that MBA aspirants
read as many books as they can during their preparation period. Not only it will help you improve your Verbal Ability, it would open up a whole new world for you.
If you are not a regular reader, I would suggest that you start with something simple and easy and then move on to books which are slightly harder to read. Some easy to read
books that can start with and they would also motivate you:
Old Man and the Sea
The Alchemist
Harry Potter (Series)
Sherlock Holmes (Series)
Lord of the Flies
Catch-22
Animal Farm
1984
Brave New World
Train to Pakistan
Slaughterhouse 5
Once you are done with the above list, or may be even half of it, probably you should try out another list that is slightly harder.
Dealing with Indian issues:
The Great Indian Novel
India after Gandhi
Midnights Children
Argumentative Indian
The Last Mughal
Dealing with global issues and economics / management:
The Selfish Gene
Guns, Germs, and Steel
The World is Flat
Freakonomics
Tipping Point
The Black Swan
Thinking Fast & Slow

I am personally not a big fan of biographies / autobiographies but there are a few that you can give a try.
Losing My Virginity
Straight from the Gut
Steve Jobs (Walter Issacson)
Iacocca
Business Maharajas
Banker to the Poor
I am sure I have missed out on many great ideas but I am also sure that if you try and go through even half of the books mentioned above, you would significantly improve not
only your Verbal Ability but also your chances in the Group Discussion / Personal Interview stage. These books will open your mind and expand your horizons. Do not think of it
as a task that you need to do to increase your chances at cracking CAT, but think of it as something that will make you a better person.
Hope you liked the list and will put it to good use.