The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a pan-India exam which evaluates a candidate’s business acumen, thinking and problem solving ability. Candidates can visit the official website for all the exam-related information such as the important dates, admit card download, mock tests release, etc. Just like it has been structured historically, the CAT exam will consist of three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). Widely considered to be one of the most competitive and toughest management entrance tests, the scores of CAT exam are accepted by all the 20 IIMs and other elite Indian B-schools.
CAT Exam Pattern
The CAT exam has been designed in such a way that almost all the three sections would be given a similar weightage (though the VARC will have slightly a greater number of questions than the other two). The test will have a total of 66 questions with the section-wise bifurcation being: VARC (24), DILR (20), and QA (22) for a total of 198 marks. The exam duration is of two hours, with each section getting an equal forty minutes of allocation. CAT shall have a mixture of both objective and descriptive type of questions asked, wherein each correct answer is awarded with three marks and every wrong answer penalized with -1 mark. However, this negative marking is applicable only to the wrong objective-based (MCQ) answers, and not to the wrong descriptive ones. Since the CAT carries negative marking, one must make an extremely judicious use of the time allotted, and the range of topics covered in the exam.
The CAT exam is a mixture of different concepts with different topics within it. All in all there are 3 major section like VARC which consists of VARC topics for CAT, LR & DI which inculcates LR & DI topics for CAT and the QA section consists of algebra topics for CAT and modern maths topics for CAT
For any test taker to ace the CAT with a great percentile score, it is imperative for him/her to know about which topics can yield higher marks as well as are important from the exam’s point of view. Irrespective of the section to which the topic, regular practice and its analysis is the key to master any topic. The key topics from each of the three sections are listed below (in no particular order as such):-
In this section, a candidate should focus slightly more on RC than RC since the latter generally carries a comparatively higher weightage than VA (a roughly 60:40 ratio in favour of RC than VA). While the Verbal Ability sub-section is usually high-scoring, getting a good score in Reading Comprehensions would go on to act as a game changer between a good score and a great score. In recent years, the VARC topics for CAT have largely remained the same though the level of questions has fluctuated between moderately easy and difficult.
VARC topics for CAT
The VARC topics for CAT indulges:
- Reading Comprehension Passages
- Fill in the blanks
- Odd Sentences Out
- LR & DI
Unlike the VARC section, one can find the questions to be almost equally bifurcated into DI and LR. While one needs to be proficient at analysing the data in the DI section, one’s thinking ability is minutely tested in LR. If one has the knack of solving questions based on puzzles and graphs easily as well as quickly, half the section is considered to be effectively dealt with. Even though the difficulty level of this overall section has been moderate as well as difficult, a serious aspirant should practice being flexible enough to not only respond to a question but also quickly identify which question can be easily solved first.
LR and DI topics for CAT
The LR and DI topics for CAT inculcates:
- Data Sufficiency
- Tables and caselets
- Blood Relations
- Seating Arrangements
- Clocks and calendars
- Venn diagrams and syllogisms
Over the years, questions from certain topics related to arithmetic and algebra have constituted a significant chunk of the QA section. Hence, candidates must be equipped well-enough to be able to deal with questions of any difficulty level from the aforementioned topics.
- Modern Maths
- Number System
- Geometry & Mensuration
Algebra topics for CAT
The Algebra topics for CAT includes:
The basic formulas, quadratic equations, logarithms, functions, inequalities, etc.
Modern maths topics for CAT
The Modern maths topics for CAT includes:
the likes of binomial theorem, permutations and combinations, probability..
To sum it up, when it comes to beginning the CAT exam preparation, a candidate must firstly familiarize themselves with all the topics usually covered in an exam. Then, he/she can start studying the easier ones, before moving to the other relatively tougher ones. Practicing questions of all three difficulty levels (easy, moderate, tough) from each topic will ensure robust preparation for the exam day. When it comes to giving the mocks and analysing them, making notes of the errors committed as well as the required time allocation for each section should also be given due importance during the preparations.