FAQs on last minutes to CAT?


What should be the Optimum Strategy for CAT?

There should be no fiddling with your Test-taking strategy at this late stage. As long as you know that the strategy you are using is giving you rewards, don’t change it… For example, you would know if your best bet is to scan a passage and then move onto to the questions, while another person could be more at ease scanning questions before going onto the passage. So just stick to whatever works best for you. 


Will the analysis of the MOCK Tests help now? 

Test taking is the most important aspect of your preparation now. Take two or at the most three MOCK tests in the last week. Test taking should be followed by an in-depth analysis of the complete Test. Analyse what mistakes you have committed and how you will rectify them. Also check the questions that you have missed, and whether you have missed any ‘easy’ question! That will help in your choice of questions later. Remember, CAT is not about last minute cramming and revising. It’s about being alive and mentally alert, here and now. 


What be done to give finishing touches to the preparation? 

Do away with your urge to cover the complete syllabus instead of revising or analyzing the test. Besides spending time on why some answers went wrong, also concentrate on why some answers were correct or whether there is any better way of doing the question. Furthermore, in any well-planned CAT Test, you will not be able to complete the whole section or Test. So go through the questions that you did not attempt and see if you made a mistake by leaving out those and attempting the ones you did. Also remember than in every Test, there will be both difficult and easy questions. This is where the concept of revision comes in. With regular revision, you gets better and better at questions and are able to do them in a short span of time.

Revise specific fundae, where you feel that there is a lacunae and your score can improve if you have better clarification on that part. For example you can go through the chapter of subject-verb agreement if you feel that you are making too many mistakes in Sentence Correction type Question because of that chapter.

Acclimatize your body clock: You must acclimatize your body clock to the test timing i.e. you must for the next few days practice test at the time during which you have booked you slot (1000 hours or 1530 hours)

Sleep timings: You must condition your sleep time according to your test timing, for example if you have booked the morning slot then you must start sleeping early and getting up early 2-3 days before your test day. If you sleep late then it is highly likely that you might not be able to get up early having fresh energy on the test day and which might affect your performance.


‘Which is the easiest way out and which are the easiest questions?

One of the biggest pitfalls is that as students we always search for short cuts, asking  ‘ A critical issue here is the tremendous urge to skip questions. We tend to lose concentration at different stages during the exam and tend to skip questions because of the pressures of time. But things get better if you follow a couple of golden rules. If you want to identify the questions to attend, it is imperative that you read all the questions. Decide in two readings whether you are going to attempt the question or not. This is perfectly normal and don’t let it bother you. It will take not more than 15 seconds, at a very leisurely pace, to read a question. But if you read the question faster, you would have saved a few seconds. These can then be spent on understanding the question.

While reading the question, your attitude should be, ‘let me give everything I have.’ Concentrating for those two hours and 15 minutes is not easy, but imperative.


What has been the cut-offs in the past CAT?

 If we take QA section historically the cut off marks (93-95 percentile) of this section is hovering around 25-30  % of the marks allotted to the section in the last 5-6 years with CAT-2006 being the only exception when the QA sectional Cut-off marks was approximately 38-40% of the allotted marks, at the same time LRDI sectional cut off marks has varied from 20-30 % with CAT-2007 being the only exception when LRDI sectional cut off was approximately 35-36 % of the allotted marks. VA Cutoff marks has been approximately 20-32 percent of the allotted marks in the previous 5-6 CATs


Any Final Tips for the C-DAY?

 CAT is not the end of your life. Many a time, very high potential students have not made it to the IIMs because they could not handle the pressure. So unwind, go for movies, do things that help you relax, go for walks, listen to soothing music, meditate…. People who stick it out, hang in there and continue to peg away will make it.

Learn not to carry despair into other sections. Be robotic in those two hours and 15 minutes. Act mercilessly and ruthlessly. Do not yield to sentiments. So what if you have messed up in English, quant is another compartment, maximize your score there. It’s a difficult preposition, but you have to be sensitive to the fact that at the end of the day it’s a game of nerves.

Fluid Management: This would be very important on the test day. Those of you who are taking the test in the morning slot, should not consume any fluid after 6.30 a.m. and those of you taking the test in the afternoon slot must not consume any fluid after 1 p.m. as it has been specified in the instructions by Prometric (www. catiim.in) that you should entering the test arena at least 1.5 hours before the start of the test and you will not be even allowed to go to washrooms. Bad fluid management can affect your test performance.   

CAT Instructions: You must visit www.Catiim.in and read all the instructions carefully and follow them strictly.



The 10 Commandments to Crack CAT’09

Those 10 days that will determine the realization of a long-cherished IIM dream are now upon us. Months of preparation, burning the midnight oil, wrestling with Procs and Mocks are about to bear fruit.  As you get ready to give those deft final touches to your CAT’09 groundwork, our experts at Career Launcher have come up with 10 Commandments, which, if followed, will ensure sure shot success.

Here is a section wise guideline from those who have cracked CAT with regularity.



First Commandment: With a computer screen in front you, and not a piece of paper, this time round you will be prone to making more errors if you attempt more QA questions. This is simply because when reading from the screen, we tend to miss out on keywords. So, be more attentive. Read each QA question word-by-word.

Second Commandment: Go to the examination hall with your strength pre-defined. For example, it could be that in Geometry you shall only attempt Mensuration and angle-based questions. For those who are adept at Permutation-Combination and Probability, leave aside any question that is more than two lines long. Reason? Simple: longer the question, greater the chance of missing out on important information.

A reliable indicator of these areas of strength is your performance in Career Launcher’s Mocks. Especially take into consideration Mocks 11-16. This is because it was during this time that your proficiency reached its top gear. Similarly, give greater preference to Proc 7 & 8, as compared to the earlier ones.



Third Commandment: There is every reason to believe that the DI section of CAT’09 will by and large follow the pattern of CAT’07. In other words, there will be only one catch. You can expect not more than 3-4 questions per set. Overall, the difficulty level of the paper will definitely be lesser than that in the CL Mocks. Cracking this section will not be difficult at all, just be a little patient.

Fourth Commandment: To build your confidence in this section, you just might want to start off with the Reasoning sets. These, with condition-based reasoning, will definitely be easy to handle. Be prepared to face the prospect of making combinations. However, the good news is that the number of identities is unlikely to run into double digits.



Fifth Commandment: On screen, or on paper, the rules remain more or less the same when it comes to Reading Comprehension. In other words, you shall still need to read the whole passage

Sixth Commandment: To eliminate making a wrong choice, it is always advisable to go back to the text time and again. However, do keep in mind that reading speed does come down when you are reading online.



Seventh Commandment: Unlike QA, which is a purely objective section, the subjectivity factor in the VA section is undeniable. Hence, to be safe, it is always a good idea to attempt at least 75-80% questions in the VA section.

Eighth Commandment: The level of accuracy you have attained in the VA section in general, and inferential questions, in particular, is not going to change overnight. So, rather than trying to improve upon it, ensure that you stick to your current accuracy level. A good way of finding that out is to revert to the last few Mocks.



Ninth Commandment: Set yourself a time limit beforehand. Be harsh on yourself and religiously earmark not more than 35 minutes per section. That should be enough to clear the cut-off in at least two sections. Only when you have completed all, do come back to individual sections with the aim of maximizing your score.

Tenth Commandment: One cursory glance at the last three years’ records would show you that anyone who has scored between 35% and 40% of the total has received at least one IIM call. And this year, with CAT becoming a computer-based test, it is inevitable that scoring will go down. So, if out of a 210-mark paper, you can score 80-85, then an IIM call is a definite surety.

While these words of wisdom are meant to be nothing but stepping stones to success, we cannot over emphasize the importance of self-belief.


Have faith in your abilities.

The day will surely be yours. 

Career Launcher Team


Past trends hold the key to cracking CAT 2009

At this point, there is not much students know about how CAT 2009 will unfold and aren’t sure what to expect in terms of the structure of the paper. Still a large number of students in popular forums are delivering judgments on mock papers, whether the mocks are like CAT or not.

To provide a little more clarity on what the contours of CAT 2009 could be, here we take a look at what could be expected.

While presenting the possible scenarios, we have kept the following assumptions in mind:

Assumption 1: The IIMs knew they wanted switch to a computer-based test (CBT) format at least two years ago. (We did read about CAT going online immediately after CAT 2007.)

Ampssution 2: The IIMs knew that a CBT can be conducted only by a seasoned testing authority that possesses a huge tested database. This had to be one of the key players in the GRE/GMAT space.

Assumption 3: The IIMs would have desired for the test to not have a huge shift going from paper-based to computer-based format, in order to let students experience seamlessness in the pattern. So, the trends from the previous few years must point to the final outcome in the CBT format.

Armed with these assumptions, we have analyzed at the data interpretation and the verbal ability sections of the CAT in the past three years and have tried to extrapolate it into the future. One may ask why we’ve chosen to look at only these two sections; it is because these are likely to change the most in the new format.

Before I move ahead here is a fact file.

Data Interpretation / Data Sufficiency

  • Comprehension questions are based on interpretation of data illustration.

  • Calculation questions check your ability to pick data and calculate fast.

  • Logical types of question are based on “interpreting” after synthesis of data.

  • Analytical reasoning questions are based on “assignment” based on given conditions.

Looking at this fact sheet, a few things are obvious. These are also the things that I recommend students to master while preparing for CAT 2009.

For Verbal Ability the key thrust areas are:

  • Build your vocabulary before you take CAT.

  • Don’t waste your time solving long RC passages. Focus on passages that are short which test your comprehension and not speed.

  • Grammar is making a strong comeback. Do sufficient practice of questions that are based on Grammar.

  • Para Jumbles, FIJs and similar types of questions have a very slim probability of making an appearance in CAT. Even if they do, they would constitute a very small part of the paper.

  • Critical Reasoning is closer to Para Completion. Do sufficient practice in this area.

All the above in fact, point to one thing. Areas that are checked in GMAT / GRE could become a very key component of this CAT.

Data Interpretation has been one area of concern for many students. The period between 2003 and 2006 saw a major shift from calculation-based DI sets to Logic-based sets.

But over the past two years we have seen a comeback of calculation-based sets. So if you do not want to be caught on the wrong foot, it becomes imperative that you have had sufficient practice in calculation-based sets. Do not get intimidated by the logic sets.

All this would mean a lot of practice. These recommendations are meant to help you manage your time more efficiently in the next 90 days. Let us hope that like GRE / GMAT organizing bodies, we get sufficient cues on the pattern when the IIMs come out with the notification on August 30.

The author is director (Academics and R&D), Career Launcher India.

R Shiva Kumar