An Overview Of CAT Preparation & Syllabus

Cracking the CAT is very similar to clearing the UPSC’s Civil Services, as apart from having good knowledge of the syllabus at hand, you also need an equal balance of hard work and patience while preparing for the test.

The first step to crack the CAT is to understand the syllabus and then identifying your strong and weak areas. A detailed analysis of the syllabus is needed to divide your time among the sections that need more concentration and hardwork and those which need less effort. The IIMs have not defined any syllabus for the CAT, however experts have divided it into the following broad topics – English Language, Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency and General Knowledge/Current Issues. Every student trying to attempt the CAT may consider some topics hard and some very easy. However, the fact remains the same – to crack the CAT you need a deep understanding of each of these topics, no matter how easy you think the topics are. Here is a look at the syllabus:

CAT Syllabus –

Test of English Language consisting of comprehensions and poems, correcting sentences, completing sentences, synonyms, antonyms, finding the odd word out from a given list, idioms, fill in the blanks, verbal reasoning, analogies, jumbled up passage or sentences etc. Quantitative test covering basic Class 10th and Class 12th mathematics syllabus such as – Algebra, Geometry with special emphasis on triangles, angles, cube, rectangle, spheres, then linear and quadratic equations, Mensuration, Ratios, Percentages, HCF, LCM, Arithmetic and Geometric progression, Mean, Median, Mode, Number system, Time, Speed and Distance, Profit and Loss, Installment payments, Set theory and Venn Diagram, Averages, Partnership problems, Pipes and Cisterns, Work related problems, Simple Interest, Compound Interest, Probability, Permutation and Combination. Data Interpretation and Data sufficiency include analysis of tables, texts and graphs such as Bar graphs, Pie chart, Line charts, Area diagram etc.

Then it also covers decoding problems, completing a number series, puzzles, functions, relationship problems, statements and conclusions, linear arrangements, assumption problems, assertions, critical reasoning, valid inferences, strong and weak arguments, cause and effect problems, probably/definitely true or false problems, matrix related problems etc. And the section relating to General Knowledge and current affairs is a vast one covering – book and author names, awards/prizes with recipient name and year, world records, business affairs, products and signature lines, famous businessmen, international organizations and the year of  formation, sports, science, geography, historical events, politics, social issues, economic issues and rates etc.

Tips to Crack the CAT –

If you want to crack CAT, observe just any person who is preparing for the Civil Services Examination.  You will notice some aspects which are common to most of the Civil Service aspirants – dedication, patience, hard work and planning.  Only a handful of students can clear the CAT with just 1 or 2 months of learning, most others require atleast a year of preparation. And there is nothing wrong in preparing for such a long period, as CAT requires you to go deep into the syllabus.

Before starting the CAT preparation journey, sit down and plan your learning timetable by looking at the syllabus for CAT. There are three aspects related to planning for CAT – Collect, Act and Test (another CAT). The first aspect for preparing for CAT is to collect all the required information related to the test – for example, collect the most up-to-date syllabus, collect study materials, collect data (websites/books) related to practice tests or mock tests, collect information from those who have cleared the CAT, collect information about online help and resources, collect information about CAT training books/coaching classes and the cost aspects etc. Ever since you fix in your heart that an MBA is what you will get, the collection process has to start. The collection process is a never ending one, as even the day before the CAT you might get valuable information from any source that might benefit your test attempt. So keep your eyes and ears open to get the maximum information related to CAT.

Undoubtedly the most useful information that you should collect is – success stories from MBA students who have cleared the CAT. For example visit

The second step of the CAT preparation plan is to ACT based on the information collected. For example, based on others experiences you can now decide whether you will join a Coaching center or will do without it. You can also act on your plans and start the study process by taking each section of the syllabus at a time or by taking small units of all sections every day. How you should act, depends upon you, as you are the only one who can judge which section(s) of the syllabus needs more concentration and effort and which requires considerably lesser effort. Each day you should spend some hours for the CAT preparation and on study materials. For the quantitative part, as mentioned earlier, class 10th and 12th CBSE/ICSE mathematics notes/text/guide is enough. However, it is not important to learn the formulas by heart but to understand how/ where to apply them, as rarely for the CAT you will get direct questions in the quantitative aptitude section. There are lots of short cut formulas and methods to solve complex questions, which you can get from Coaching Classes or certain books from the store. These are very important for CAT as the examination is all about solving questions in the least amount of time. To master the English language section, it is important to improve your vocabulary and verbal reasoning skills. There are many CAT related books and Bank Test books that will give you more information. For Data interpretation and Data sufficiency you have to learn the skill of paying attention to the smallest aspect of the question, but not at the cost of time. Again your mathematics skills can help you interpret the data in the questions more quickly. To master the GK and Current Affairs section you need to spend time reading newspapers/TV reports/online news etc., especially the business and finance sections.

The final step in our plan is to TEST what you have learned. You can test in two ways – daily or at the end of studying all the sections in the syllabus. Taking practice tests is highly recommended as you will have a clear idea about what to expect on the day of CAT and can get going. Practice tests also help in clocking the time for solving questions. There are plenty of free and paid practice tests on the web as well as in old coaching class learning materials. For example visit –

Finally read the success stories, tips provided in such stories and keep yourself motivated. The most basic aspect required from any MBA student or a business professional is his/her smartness, and this is the skill that will help you clear the CAT, the GD and the Interview.

CAT Preparation

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