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This is a transcript of an interview with Patrick D’Souza a CAT Topper and guide. His key strategies are as follows
CAT has 100 questions and three sections
- Verbal Reasoning
- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning –
- Does not test you on vocabulary or grammar.
- The focus is on how well you read. If you are well read, you can crack the exam
- Spoken English is not an indicator of success. Reading skills are the key to do well in this section
- 24% of the paper is reading comprehension
- Read voraciously, read every day, read books you enjoy. As long as you are reading regularly it will help you.
- You can do a little grammar and vocabulary, but don’t focus on these
- Create a reading habit and read what you love
- Read one article a day on topics you don’t enjoy
- Try to maximise the number of questions that you attempt in the paper.
- Only school level math till grade 10
- Clear your fundamentals, do not go beyond the syllabus
- It is not necessary that Engineers will do better than humanities students
- It is all about the method of learning and practicing
- The way you study in school and for CAT preparation is different
- Try different methods, insert values, think through the questions, try the options
- Move away from equations and formulae
- Don’t practice too much. Think about the questions, apply some different methods etc.
- Pick the easy questions, avoid questions that are very time consuming or tough.
- Look at two rounds, read every question. Solve the easy ones immediately. Mark the difficult questions – I will come back to this or not. Go back to the ones you have marked
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning –
- You don’t have to score too many marks to get a call
- You can clear 2 or 3 sets of questions out of 8 sets in DILR
- The trick is to pick up easy questions and solve
- Maximise your score in the area in which you are strong
- Solve puzzles from different sources when you are travelling to and from work
- Don’t over solve the previous year sets.
- Books recommended – Shakuntala Devi puzzles to puzzle you, sudokus etc.
- Give yourself 1-2 minutes per set. If it takes time come back to it. Go through all of them in 16 minutes. And use the balance time to go back to the easy sets.
- Clear the cut offs in your weaker sections and maximise in your areas of strengths
- Pick easy questions and solve
- Don’t waste time on lengthy, difficult questions
- Prepare for 8 months to 1 year before the exam
- If you are weaker in a particular area, start a little earlier
- CAT is a thinking exam
- Study 5-6 hours a day, don’t keep studying 14 hours a day
- Mock Tests help you get your strategy in place
- Solve it with the time limit, or look at the questions for practice
- Old mocks are a available freely online
- Don’t solve too many mocks
- Some classes put all their best questions in the mocks, you can use them for practice
- Towards the end, solve one mock every alternate day – not every day
- Prepare too hard – you need to prepare smart. Take a few questions and try different methods.
- Do not focus too much on tough sums
- Avoid the theory based non-CAT type questions
- Avoid mugging up formulae. CAT is more about thinking
- Avoid going through too many different types of methods. Pick a couple you like and stick to them
- Don’t take more than 2-3 sources
- People rely too much on notes
- Make CAT more interesting, it will help you perform better
- Form study groups, be open to learning from each other. Teach each other and learn from each other.