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CAT Preparation 2021: Check Preparation Books, Study Plan, Online Resources & Toppers Tips

Shekhar Sumann logo

Shekhar Sumann

Exams Prep Master | Updated On - Nov 24, 2021

CAT Preparation 2021 should start with the understanding of three subjects i.e. VARC, DILR & QA. First of all, candidates must understand that from which subject they should start.

  • Based on the experience of test-takers, CAT DILR preparation takes time as the topics involve the thinking process whereas on the other hand CAT VARC Preparation does not take must time because calculations are not involved in this subject.
  • CAT Quant Preparation needs more focus as you need to learn various formulas and should have good knowledge of tips & tricks of solving mathematical questions in less time.
  • Candidates are advised to follow the 6 months timetable which should include all the 3 subjects, important sub-topics, solving of CAT previous years’ question paper
  • Topics like Reading Comprehension and Para-jumbles in VARC, Graphs, and Charts in DILR, and Number System and Geometry in Quant carry maximum weightage. Therefore it is necessary for CAT aspirants to be thorough with the CAT Exam Pattern 2021

Quick Links:

CAT 2021 Exclusive Study Plan

CAT Preparation 2021 Exclusive Study Plan for 1 Year

CAT Preparation Plan for VARC

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension
Topic Approx. Number of Days Required
English Usage/Grammar 8
Sentence correction 8
Fill in the blanks 8
Para completion 20
Jumbled paragraph 20
Odd sentence out 20
Para summary 20
Verbal reasoning 6
Critical Reasoning 6
Reading Comprehension 24

CAT Preparation Plan for DILR

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
Topic Approx. Number of Days Required
Arrangements 11
Venn Diagrams 6
Set theory 8
Selections & Ordering 11
Networks & Routes 6
Games & Tournaments 8
DI based reasoning 8
Tables 8
Graphs 19
Charts 14
Caselets 8
Combinations 6
Data Sufficiency 6

CAT Preparation Plan for QA

Quantitative Ability
Topic Approx. Number of Days Required
Number System 15
Averages 6
Percentages 5
Profit, loss & discount 6
Simple & compound interest 5
Time & work 4
Mixtures & allegation 4
Ratio & proportion 4
Linear equations 4
Quadratic equations 5
Inequalities 4
Logarithm 4
Progressions 4
Surds & Indices 4
P&C 9
Probability 5
Functions 4
Geometry 15
Coordinate geometry 3
Mensuration 8

Time Required for Each Subject

For the candidates convenience, find a breakdown of the ideal time that should be devoted to each subject for each day. This timetable can be modified based on the candidates preference. 

Day 2 hours 1-2 hours 1 hour
Tuesday QA DI/LR VA/RC
Wednesday QA DI/LR VA/RC
Thursday QA DI/LR VA/RC
Saturday Take a Full-length Mock (3 Hours)
Sunday Mock Analysis( 2-3 Hours) and retaking the same mock (3 Hours) 

Quick Links of CAT Syllabus:

QA Preparation Tips

CAT Preparation Tips for Quantitative Ability

Candidates should begin revision with the Number System section and then follow it up with Algebra, Permutation and Combination and other topics

Important Topics Answering Tips
Number System Elementary concepts of remainders, Divisibility rules, Concepts of Digits, Elementary Properties of Numbers, Factorization, HCF and LCM
Algebra Linear and Quadratic Equations, Logarithms, Progressions, Functions 
Geometry Similar triangles, Pythagoras Theorem, Fundamentals of Circles, Mensuration, Polygons
Arithmetic Percentage, TSD, Ratio, Profit and Loss 
Modern Maths Set Theory, Sequence and Series, Principles of Counting
  • Lay the foundation and brush up the concepts. If you don’t know the basics of any topic, you cannot solve complex questions.
  • Learn time-saving techniques like tables till 40, squares up to 30, cubes up to 20 and percentage equivalent of fractions till 25. 
  • Maintain a formula book. Note down all the essential and direct formulas and go through them regularly.
  • Practice solving questions within 2 minutes. This is the average time you get to spend on each question in CAT 2021 Quant section
  • When you attempt QA in mocks, break the entire section into three parts as per the difficulty level of the question- easy, moderate, and difficult.
  • You need to solve more questions in less time. It is better to solve 3 easy questions than 1 difficult question.

Quick Links for Topic Wise CAT Preparation:

DILR Preparation Tips

CAT Preparation Tips of DILR

For the past two years, DI/LR has proved to be the most difficult of the three sections. The absence of a set syllabus makes preparing for this section difficult. Practice is the only way to ace this section. You can follow the tips mentioned below:

  • Syllogism is a very scoring section and thus candidates should pay ample attention and use venn diagrams to solve important questions 
  • To solve questions that are formed on the basis of inequality, candidates should use the King, Soldier and Public Technique For questions that involve arrangements, candidates should start by solving questions that have a small amount of variables, and then gradually move up to questions that have more. For e.g. starting by solving questions that have only 5 variables and then moving to questions that have 7-8. 
  • Important topics in DI/LR include: Seating Arrangement, Blood Relations, Propositions, Syllogism, Data Arrangement, Puzzles , Statements and Assumptions
  • Candidates should re-read the questions multiple times in this section because it is easy to misinterpret questions that complex logic
Important Terms in CAT DILR
“none”, “all”, or “some”
Positive and negative prefixes like “non”, “dis”, or “un”
“unless” and “only”

Quick Links for Topic Wise CAT Preparation:

VARC Preparation Tips

CAT Preparation Tips for VARC

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension is the section that scares a lot of aspirants. The section is designed to test your English skills in depth. It consists of the following types of questions. 

  • For unseen passages in the ‘Reading Comprehension’ section, candidates should select the questions and passages that they are comfortable with. Thus, if someone is comfortable with factual passages, they should try to avoid inferential questions that involve critical thinking
  • Candidate’s should not just apply guesswork or answer blindly in grammar related questions or in sentence correction sections that involve applied knowledge. Candidates need to make sure that at least an educated deduction is made on the basis of inference. If a question is too complex, the candidate should move on to the next question. 
  • Use a two step strategy. Divide the VARC section into one section that includes Reading Comprehension and include the rest in the second section. 
  • Due to the fact that para jumbles and deductive logic require logic, candidates can move to and fro between the questions in order to make the most accurate choice. For eg. in para jumbles, test takers can pinpoint the beginning and ending of a logical pair and remove the choice that does not seem to fit. 
  • When attempting the Reading Comprehensions section, read the questions before reading the passage. 
  • Candidates that are currently attaining above 85%ile should focus on the following: Vocabulary and Sentence Completion, Grammar, Deductive Logic, Para Jumbles, Critical Reasoning, Para-Completion, Summary Questions
Topic Number of Questions
Reading Comprehension 24
Sentence Correction 3
Summary 3
Para Jumble 4

Quick Links:

Preparation Through Online Mode

CAT Preparation Through Online Mode

With the growth of technology in the education sector, online coaching classes have grown in popularity and candidates are opting for them for various competitive exams. Though Online Coaching Centre provides smart tips and preparation strategy, no less than an offline coaching institute, the difficulty lies in choosing a good online coaching learning center. Best Online Exam Coaching Institute for CAT 2021:

  • IMS Learning
  • Oliveboard
  • Byju’s and Unacademy Plus.

Join Online CAT Study Groups

  • There are numerous groups on Facebook and other community portals for CAT aspirants. It is beneficial to join these groups for doubt clearing sessions and practice. Discuss important topics, tricks and strategies by interacting with fellow aspirants. 
  • Personal whatsapp group with friends can also be created. There are certain moderated forums on Facebook like Handakafunda Facebook Group for like minded aspirants. In Addition 2IIM also has a FB forum. Discussion on a particular topic is quite an affair on these forums. 
  • To top on, there are a couple of quora threads like IIM preparation which is an interactive space for IIM alumni, CAT trainers students.

Quick Links:

Books and Study Material

CAT Books & Magazines

  • For QA, it is recommended that candidates prepare from Class X and XII NCERT books.
  • The best source to prepare for VA/RC is your daily reading material like novels, newspapers, magazines, etc. 
  • Go through the pages of the dictionary at random. This helps in learning new words. Read More Best Books for CAT Preparation 
Name of CAT Books CAT Magazines for Preparation
How to Prepare Quantitative Aptitude for CAT The Economist 
How to Prepare Logical Reasoning for CAT  Bloomberg Businessweek, Frontline
How To Prepare For Data Interpretation for CAT  Outlook Business, Business Today

CAT 2021 Quizzes

Preparation Through Mock Test

CAT Preparation Through Mock Test

The conducting IIM releases the official mock test is an outline of the pattern of the exam. Do not rely solely on it and take mock tests from the beginning of your preparation.

  • It is essential to join a good test series for mocks. They are available with coaching centers like T.I.M.E, Career Launcher, etc. as well as online on site like HandakaFunda, Pagalguy, etc.
  • Mocks tests help in eliminating most of the surprise elements.
  • The more mocks are attempted, the better speed and accuracy get.
  • CAT Mock Tests help in identifying areas of strength and weakness.
  • They also help in accustoming your body to sit for a 3-hour extended test.

CAT 2021 Last Minute Preparation Tips

  • Overlook the entire CAT Syllabus and Exam Pattern to make sure you have not kept any topic completely unsupervised
  • Instead of strengthening the topics that you are already good at, focus on improving the areas in which you struggle
  • Make sure you have set aside a daily set period of 3-4 hours for regular preparation 
  • Set aside a major portion of your preparation time to work on improvement
  • Sit for timed sectional and full length mock tests that have different ranges of difficulty
  • Complete your full CAT preparation at least 10 days in advance so that you have time for revision
  • Treat your mock tests like the final CAT exam

CAT Toppers Preparation Tips

CAT 2021 aspiring candidates can also go through the preparation tips followed or recommended by toppers. 

CAT Topper Preparation Tips for VARC Preparation Tips for DILR Preparation Tips for QA
CAT Topper Ravi Prinshu Practicing and giving mocks can make you better in that part. Focus on Eliminating the options Learn the shortcut and tricks from the internet.
CAT Topper Abhilasha Solve different types of questions. Revise all the concepts and attempting CAT Mock Tests Devote maximum time to prepare this section
CAT Topper Shantanu Read posts from a variety of fields. Focus on  LR and DI sets questions. Take help from Arun Sharma's books

CAT 2021 Preparation Tips FAQs

CAT 2021 Preparation Tips FAQs

Ques. How to prepare for CAT?

Ans. First of all, understand the syllabus and pattern of the exam, appear for a mock test and note down the weak and strong areas, gather the relevant books and study material, cover the syllabus section-wise and then again practice the mock test. Check Complete CAT Syllabus

Ques. Is there any ideal preparation time for CAT?

Ans. There is no specific rule on a time limit, going by strategies of CAT toppers 3 months is minimum required for a dedicated and serious preparation to gain good CAT percentile. 

Ques. Can I self-prepare for CAT 2020?

Ans. Yes, there are numerous candidates every year who score well in CAT by relying on self-preparation. Start by gaining a good knowledge of syllabus and exam patterns, gather the relevant study material, prepare a timetable, utilize the online sources available and test your preparation by giving mock tests.

Ques. Which is the best institute to prepare for CAT 2020?

Ans. There are a lot of coaching institutes both online and offline. Candidates should decide in which mode they want to prepare and select the coachings as per their needs. Nowadays, online coaching options are very popular and user-friendly. Check Best CAT Coaching Institutes.

Ques. How many Mock Tests are sufficient to take before the main exam?

Ans. As suggested by CAT topper’s 35-40 mock test should be given before the actual exam. The important point to remember while giving CAT is to analyse the test afterwards and work on mistakes and weak points. Download Now Practice Papers

Ques.  Can I start preparing for CAT 2020 now?

Ans. Yes, around 2 months are left for CAT 2020 to take place candidates should gear up their preparation. Make a preparation strategy and start working on it. There is still plenty of room left to score well.

Ques. Is it compulsory to score 90% or above in 10th and 12th board to get admission in IIM?

Ans. No, there is no such rule to score 90% or above in boards to secure admissions in IIM. Overall weightage to CAT scores, graduation marks, class 10th and 12th boards and WAT/GD/PI scores is given by IIMs before offering admissions.

Ques. What are the factors that affect the preparation of a student?

Ans. Factors like relying completely on coaching institutes and not focussing on self study, keeping yourself too mentally tired, lacking time management skills and dedication for the exam, not working on weak areas affect the preparation of CAT aspirants.

Ques. What are some time management tips for CAT?

Ans. CAT test the accuracy and speed of candidates. Hence time management is the key required to excel in the exam. Remember, not to spend too much time on one question, start working on the section you are comfortable with, spare some time for revision. While preparing, time management skills can be acquired by giving Mock Test.

Ques. Is there a limit on the number of attempts for the CAT exam?

Ans. No, there are no limits on the number of attempts for CAT. there is no restriction on age limit as well. The only restriction is the educational qualification, candidates have to be

Ques. Is it required to have 5 to 7 books to study from when you sit to prepare for CAT?

Ans. Having a pile of books and a bunch of notes in addition to it will not help you. You can decide which book suits you best as a complete guide to all the sections will be enough. You can also have a book separately for each section but try to keep the number low as to 2 or 3 books to prepare.

Ques. Is joining a Coaching Center a great investment in studies for CAT?

Ans. The benefit of joining a coaching institute is they provide proper study schedule and material, candidates just have to follow them. Coachings are suitable for candidates who can spare time for the classes. In case of working professionals online coaching websites or weekend classes are an option. Candidates can also opt for crash courses full time caching is not required.

Ques.  Is the Study Material provided by the coaching center reliable?

Ans. Coaching institutes provide updated study Material which is prepared on the basis of past data and can be very useful although there is no harm in referring to a new book if you have time. But candidates should not lose focus on self study despite coaching guidance.

Ques. How can reading prove to help study for the CAT exam?

Ans. The key to excel in verbal ability and reading comprehension is to read a lot of books, newspaper editorials and improve your vocabulary and grammar. Being an expert in english is not required but cultivating a habit to read and write will also help in WAT/GD.PI sessions.

Ques. How does a series of tests help ace CAT?

Ans. Test series are an essential part to score good percentile in CAT. It should be a weekly ritual while preparing. Writing at least 30 tests before giving the final exam will give you an idea of the level of questions and the way to solve them. Also, subscribing to a series of Mock Tests is helpful as it provides you an edge over the actual exam.

Ques. How does having a great deal of General Knowledge helps in CAT exam?

Ans. General Knowledge questions are a part of WAT/GD/PI rounds. G.K might not be part of the exam but is still useful to be updated on recent national and international political and economic developments. Also, good G.K. helps build confidence in a person to face people and converse.

Ques. How can I prepare Current Affairs for WAT/GD/PI round?

Ans. Read newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express, Economic Times, New York Times. Candidates can also refer to magazines like Frontline, Business Standard and The Week to prepare for current affairs.

Ques. Does having a full-time job affects preparing for CAT exam?

Ans.With proper strategy in place having a full-time job will not affect your preparation but not to a great extent. CAT preparation can be done parallel to your work. But, you must build a schedule and stick to it to devote the required time for the preparation. Prior experience added in your CV can only benefit from getting the admission.

Ques. Can preparing 2 sections of the exam thoroughly give an edge over the paper?

Ans. It is not advisable to leave any section while preparing. If you want to score well in your CAT exam, you need to prepare well enough for all the three sections of the paper. CAT score comprises of sectional cut-off which doesn’t leave you with many options.

Ques. How many hours of study is enough for a candidate to prepare for CAT?

Ans. Candidates are advised to study for at least 2 to 3 hours daily for good preparation. This schedule will suit in cases where a candidate has enough time to prepare for CAT. It also depends upon the study habits of the candidate and the study hours can always go up relating to every individual’s study habits

Ques. How do problem-solving methods help to prepare for the exam?

Ans. Candidates should make a note of the fact that they should constantly try solving the questions through more than one method with accuracy. Depending on their method of solving and mastering is more helpful than following tips from outside.

Ques. What preparation pattern should a candidate follow to score well in the exam?

Ans. Starting by understanding the syllabus and exam pattern, candidates must pay more attention to concept building. Afterward, mock test and practice papers can be considered to analyse the preparation level.

It is also advised that a candidate should try to study 2 topics simultaneously with 1 easy topic and the other difficult which will save a lot of time for other topics.

Ques. Does CAT preparation for candidates who are in their final year of graduation a difficult task?

Ans. Candidates can divide their study time and utilize them in the best possible way. It is advised to prepare for the CAT exam while completing the graduation simultaneously. Though graduation marks should never be compromised as they are considered in the final selection bt B Schools.

Ques. How long should a candidate study in a day to get good grades in the entrance exam?

Ans. Regularity is important while preparing for CAT. Preparing a schedule that is convenient for you and helps you score better should be implemented Candidates should not over pressurize themselves by studying for many hours, but regularly studying should be in practice.

Ques. What should a candidate do in case he/she has left mathematics as a subject in their 12th standard and is pursuing graduation in some other course?

Ans. Maths is important for Quantitative Aptitude section. Candidates in such case are advised to polish their 10th-grade mathematics as the basic concepts asked in CAT are up to 10th grade only. With a thorough revision of previous math questions can help them prepare well for the paper.

Ques. Is CAT a tough exam to crack?

Ans. CAT is not difficult, it is just competitive. If you have your concepts clear and practice mocks regularly, you can easily score 90+ percentile in CAT.

Ques. What is the syllabus for LR/DI? How do I prepare for it?

Ans. LR/DI is generally considered a tough section to attempt. There is no fixed syllabus for LR/DI. You can prepare for it by practicing previous year question papers and following the type of questions that came in LR/DI section.

Ques. I am scared of Maths. How do I prepare for Quant in CAT?

Ans. Start with the basic concepts and refer to Arun Sharma for initial preparation. Develop a habit of solving questions regularly and prepare alternate solving techniques to them. If well practiced through Mocks and previous year question papers candidates can score a good percentile in Quant.

Ques. My English is not very good. Can I still take a CAT?

Ans. CAT requires one to have a decent level of command on English. You can strengthen your English skills by reading books and watching grammar lectures on youtube and such sources.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College.


I am self preparing for the exam. How much should I study every day for maths?
manika gupta

Hi Shiya, This depends on how clear your basic knowledge is. Practice and Practice and solve previous years’ questions to improve. For more information, please click on the following link, CAT Preparation Strategies.

What is the minimum score I need to score that can place me in the top 95 percentile?
Can someone crack CAT with only three months of preparation?
abhishek upadhyay

Hi Ibashisha, if you plan your studies in a systematic manner and practice the CAT syllabus efficiently, three months could be sufficient for cracking CAT. All the best!

What is the best way to approach reading comprehension?
abhishek upadhyay

Hi Ankita, click here for some valuable tips about how to approach the reading comprehension in CAT exam.

Can you share the study routine of previous years’ CAT toppers?
abhishek upadhyay

Hi Prahasti, click here for some tips on how to go about the CAT exam, as suggested by the CAT 2019 toppers.

Is the TIMEs institute’s mock series beneficial for CAT aspirants?
abhishek upadhyay

Yes Ambar, TIME institute is among the best for CAT preparation. Click here to know more.

Great content shared !! I really appreciate the tips and guidelines shared for the aspirants.
Thanks for the formation, can you suggest me the best book for Maths for IIT exam preparation. Downloaded some sample papers from Aglasem for maths practice, but finding hard to solve it.
Can there be a 30 day plan for preparation of cat ?if yes pllz do suggest
Hi Shadan, Having a pile of books and a bunch of notes in addition to it will not help you. You can decide which book suits you best as a complete guide to all the sections will be enough. You can also have a book separately for each section but try to keep the number low as to 2 or 3 books to prepare.

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