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Ways to Ace CAT Exam with Self-preparation
April 27 2024

A high entrance exam score is required to pursue your MBA dream, but how you get there and how you do it is also important. While most people choose to prepare for the entrance exam by enrolling in coaching programs, some people prefer to challenge themselves by taking on the task themselves.

The one question that everyone has before starting their preparation is, 'Will I get a high score in my entrance exam and will it be enough to get me into the top B-schools?' It definitely weighs heavier on the minds of those who want to prepare themselves without coaching. Here are few of the ways that will help you ace your CAT exam: Also read: Full Guide on CAT Preparation

Self-preparation for the CAT exam requires dedication, discipline, and effective strategies. Here are some ways to ace the CAT exam through self-preparation:

  1. Understand the Exam Pattern and Syllabus:

    • Familiarize yourself with the CAT exam pattern, including the number of sections, types of questions, and time duration.
    • Understand the syllabus for each section (VARC, DILR, QA) and prioritize topics based on their weightage and your proficiency.
  2. Create a Study Plan:

    • Develop a comprehensive study plan that covers all sections and topics within a structured timeline leading up to the exam date.
    • Allocate sufficient time for each section based on your strengths and weaknesses, as discussed earlier.
    • Break down your study plan into smaller, manageable tasks, such as daily or weekly goals.
  3. Utilize Reliable Study Material:

    • Choose high-quality study material such as textbooks, online resources, and CAT preparation guides.
    • Refer to reputable websites, online courses, and CAT preparation forums for additional practice questions, mock tests, and study material.
  4. Practice Regularly:

    • Practice is key to success in the CAT exam. Solve a wide variety of questions from different difficulty levels to strengthen your problem-solving skills.
    • Allocate time for daily practice sessions to reinforce concepts and improve your speed and accuracy.
    • Take regular mock tests to simulate exam conditions and track your progress. Analyze your performance to identify areas for improvement.
  5. Focus on Conceptual Clarity:

    • Develop a strong understanding of fundamental concepts in each section rather than relying solely on rote memorization.
    • Clarify doubts promptly by revisiting textbooks, online resources, or seeking help from mentors, tutors, or study groups.
  6. Improve Time Management Skills:

    • Practice time management techniques such as setting time limits for each question and section.
    • Develop shortcuts and mental math techniques to solve questions more efficiently within the allotted time.
  7. Stay Updated and Adaptive:

    • Stay updated with current affairs, especially in the areas of economics, business, and politics, as they are often included in VARC and DILR sections.
    • Be flexible and adaptive in your approach. If a particular strategy or study method isn't yielding results, don't hesitate to modify your approach.
  8. Stay Motivated and Consistent:

    • Maintain a positive mindset and stay motivated throughout your preparation journey.
    • Celebrate small victories and milestones to keep yourself encouraged.
    • Be consistent in your efforts, even when faced with challenges or setbacks.

By following these strategies and maintaining a disciplined approach to self-preparation, you can increase your chances of acing the CAT exam and securing admission to your desired management institute.

Know your exam

The first step is to thoroughly know yourself with the CAT exam pattern and syllabus. Before you begin studying for the exam, you must first develop a comprehensive plan. To do so, go over previous years' question papers and analysis to understand the significance of each topic and set your priorities accordingly. The exam is primarily a multiple-choice test with a focus on four major areas: quantitative ability, verbal ability, data interpretation, and logical reasoning.



CAT Exam Pattern 

Mode of CAT exam

Computer Based Test

Duration of exam

120 minutes 40 minutes per section

CAT exam slots

Morning: 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM Afternoon: 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM Evening: 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM

Number of questions


CAT total marks


Language of question paper


Number of answer choices


Question Type

MCQ and non-MCQ


Choose the Right Study Material

Even if you do not take CAT coaching, there is plenty of study material available. There are numerous books, question banks, preparatory books, and sample question papers available in bookstores and on the internet. Obtaining the appropriate material is critical for systematic studies. Use sample question papers and mock papers to better understand your strengths and weaknesses. The following are some excellent CAT study materials:

  • ‘How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT’ by Arun Sharma,
  • ‘Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT’ by Sarvesh Verma, and
  • ‘The Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT’ by Nishit Sinha

are some expert-written books that can be used for self-study and reference. It is also critical to keep your general knowledge up to date. You can do so by reading various newspapers and magazines.

Give more Online Mock Tests

Once you have completed your basic preparation, you must take online mock tests to determine where you stand on the preparation ladder. This analysis is critical because it allows you to modify or continue on your current course of action. Begin with one to two tests per week and gradually increase to three to four tests per week. Make a list of your silly and common errors in each test so you can avoid them in the future. There are numerous coaching institutes where you can enroll for the test series without having to attend CAT classes.


 Actual CAT exam mocks

Engage in a Study Group

When people work together, anything is possible. You can form a small study group to share ideas on how to prepare for a specific CAT topic or the best way to approach a topic, for example. Discussing problems and sharing your questions and strategies allows you to better prepare. The more people in your study group who have taken up coaching, the better. They get experts to answer your questions and clear your doubts. To improve your understanding of a topic, take mock tests and solve mock papers together.

Make the best use of internet

Education websites, news websites, and social media groups can all be extremely beneficial. Most of these websites have articles, sample papers, and study materials that can be downloaded for free. Follow and join various CAT preparation forums and groups to stay up to date on the latest CAT news. You can also enroll for the best courses online. They organize everything from online lectures to interview training.

Confidence and Motivation

There is always the tested method to stay motivated and confident in your abilities. If you are studying on your own, it is vital that you keep going even if you encounter a minor setback during you career. As everyone as their own setbacks in their life but that does not mean that you have to get disappointed from it. Instead you should keep yourself calm and think about what next you can do. With a positive attitude and a positive outlook, you can easily pass the CAT. You can also try watching motivational videos to gain confidence when your exam day is near.


To ace the CAT exam preparation with self-study you need to follow these tips which will help you have a border perspective while you are preparing for the exam. It will also help you be confident enough that you can perform your best on the exam day. On the exam day, the main thing is to stay calm and relaxed otherwise it can led to reduce your accuracy while giving the exam. Make sure that your accuracy is more than the attempts of the answers. As accuracy is crucial in CAT exam or else it can led to negative marking which in turn can make your attempt go to waste.

Enroll for the Self-Study course Enroll for the best CAT course

Anisha Mukhija

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