Lessons from Previous Year CAT Exams: Tips and Tricks to Crack CAT

As a general rule, I appear for CAT almost every year. The reason for doing so is very simple: to keep myself up to date with the latest trend being followed by the exam. What this exercise always does is that is helps me gauge the general direction the exam is taking, and whether there is any major deviation from accepted CAT methodologies. In this article, on the basis of my experience of taking CAT-2013. CAT-2014, CAT-2015 and CAT-2016, I synthesize five important things that you should keep in mind while preparing for the exam. Remember, these are my observations; it’s your choice whether to agree or disagree with them.

Tip-1: CAT continues to use RC passages of advanced difficulty level

If you look at the CAT prior to 2003 and after 2003, there is one change that is hard to miss: their selection of RC passages. Since 2003, CAT has in general maintained a very high degree of abstraction in its passages and the same trend was followed this year as well. Keeping in mind my slot and the feedback I have collected from a lot of students, one can safely say that the majority of the passages belonged to subjects such as Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology. In general, all these passages were of an advanced difficulty level and required deep thought and careful consideration.

Tip-2: No fact based questions in CAT reading comprehensions

I am really sorry but have to break the bad news to you: there are no fact-based questions in CAT RCs. Almost all the questions in CAT RCs are either inferential or theme-based in nature, and each of these requires understanding of the context as well the passage. These questions cannot be solved by simply skimming through the content and would require you to understand the passages (and on most occasions, the answer options themselves would pose some challenge).

Tips-3: CAT Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretations was a notch higher than 2013 and 2014

CAT-2011-2014 comparatively easy papers, and one of the reasons for that was the level of logical reasoning and data interpretation questions in these exams. The level of questions in these two exams could be labeled as easy to moderate, which essentially meant that the second section had something to look up to. But in 2015, CAT DI and LR was definitely a lot tougher than in the previous two years. The number of variables in the questions was increased, and this posed a challenge on the time-management front as well. You are advised to solve some difficulty logical reasoning questions for this year’s prep.

Tip-4: CAT Quantitative Aptitude had a different nature this year

In general, CAT quantitative aptitude has always been about one thing: Aptitude. Rather than focusing on pure mathematical knowledge, it has always asked questions which require logic more than anything else. But in CAT-2013, 2014 and 2015, the paper was far more mathematical than ever before. For examples, it featured questions on trigonometry (though simple, these questions required precise knowledge). You can expect the trend to continue, and for this, you are advised to work on your concepts; simply depending on logic might lead you into some trouble.

Tip-5: Time management is the key

To round it off, a homely truth that you all know: CAT is about time management, and this paper highlighted the same. You need to be efficient in the paper, ensure you solve questions within a time frame and are mentally prepared to leave questions you are not being able to solve. Also, one vital time management tip: make sure you work on your calculation and reading speeds, these are going to save some very precious minutes in the exam for you.