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CAT Exam Guide

Gradestack Learning

CAT Exam Guide 2014 Page 1

Table of Contents

About CAT .................................................................................................................................................... 2
Changes in Test Pattern (Exam Trend) .......................................................................................................... 3
CAT Announcements 2014 ............................................................................................................................ 4
Syllabus ......................................................................................................................................................... 4
CAT Exam Preparation Strategies and Resources ......................................................................................... 5
How to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT exam? ..................................... 5
How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation Section? .................................. 7
How to Prepare for CAT Exam in 3 Months? .......................................................................................... 10
Best Online Study Material for CAT preparation .................................................................................... 14
CAT 2014 Changes and Impact ................................................................................................................... 17

CAT Exam Guide 2014 Page 2

About CAT
The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a Computer based exam conducted in India. This test scores a
person on the bases of quantitative ability, data interpretation, verbal ability and logical
reasoning. This exam was started by the Indian Institutes of Management for selecting student for
Business administration program.
Full Form Common Admission Test
Developer / administrator Conducted by the IIMs. This year it is conducted by IIM,
Indore and TCS
Knowledge/skill(s) tested Quantitative ability, data interpretation, verbal ability and
logical reasoning.
Scores/grades used by Various business schools in India particularly IIMs
Duration 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Offered Once a year
Testing Dates - Nov 16 & Nov 22 (2 sessions each day)
Prerequisites / eligibility criteria Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) with at least 50 %
marks or equivalent GPA (45 % in case of SC, ST, PWD candidates). Final year undergraduate
students also eligible
Testing fee INR 1600 for general category candidates. INR 800 for test
takers in the SC / ST / DA (PWD) categories.
Exam Language(s) English

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Year Approximate number of candidates appeared
2013 173,738
2012 195,000
2011 195,000
2010 185,000
2009 230,000
2008 276,000
2007 230,000
Changes in Test Pattern (Exam Trend)
Major Changes in CAT 2014 Exam
1. Examination duration increased from 140 minutes to 170 minutes.
2. Questions in Quant & DI, verbal ability & LR have been increased to 50 in each section from
existing 30 questions.
3. Flexibility for devoting time to each section and option to switch between sections.
1995 – 1998 – 2 Exam Sections - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (Section -1),
Problem Solving and Data Interpretation (Section 2) – 2 hours test
1999 to 2000 – Number of Question Decreased
2001 to 2003, Number of Question Further reduced – Logical Reasoning
Till 2007 – Questioned Reduced to 75, Time limit increased to 150 mins from 120 mins
In 2008 – Question Increased to 90
2009 – Online Test from Paper based
2012 till date – Two Section - first section (QA and DI) and the second section (VI and LR)
consist of 30 questions and 70 mins each

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CAT Announcements 2014
1. CAT 2014 will be conducted only for two days i.e. on November 16 and November 22 in
forenoon and afternoon sessions.
2. The examination will be conducted across 99 cities in 354 test sites.
3. Candidate will not have an option to prefer the dates of exam and will be allotted by the CAT
Centre randomly.
4. The registration for the CAT 2014 will happen online from August 6 and closing on September
4. Admit card will be from October 16 to till examination date.
5. The results will be declared in the third week of December 2014.
CAT English/Verbal Ability: Reading comprehension, verbal reasoning, syllogisms,
analogies, antonyms and synonyms, fill in the blanks, sentence correction, idioms, etc.

CAT Maths/Quant Ability: Number systems, geometry, trogonometry, probability,
permutation combination, algebra, mensuration, time and work, averages, percentages, profit
and loss, quadratic and linear equations, etc.

CAT Data Interpretation: Interpretation and analysis of data based on text, tables, graphs
(line, area), charts (column, bar, pie), venn diagram, etc.

CAT Logical Reasoning: Clocks, calendars, binary logic, seating arrangement, blood
relations, logical sequence, assumption, premise, conclusion, linear and matrix arrangement,

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CAT Exam Preparation Strategies and
How to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT exam?

If studying in one of the most prestigious management institutions in India has been your
dream, then excellent score in CAT is essential. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
section forms an integral part of this exam consisting of 50 questions.
The syllabus of CAT English includes problems based on understanding and usage of standard
English grammar such as questions on vocabulary, arrangement of paragraphs in coherent
order, rectification of sentences, identification of types of sentences, completion of sentences,
deduction of inference, verbal reasoning and reading comprehension. The Reading
Comprehension passages may be classified into analytical, descriptive and statistical.
How to improve vocabulary and grammar skills
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o The only way to develop verbal skills and grammar is through extensive and meticulous
reading. You should follow multiple newspapers and journals regularly such as Economic
Times, The Hindu or The Times of India. You should track the columns and editorials of
some of the best and influential writers such as Bachi Karkaria, Hasan Suroor and P
o Make it a point to read as many books as possible to sharpen your analytical skills. Start
with popular fiction like Erich Segal or Ruskin Bond and move on to more challenging
works like those by Ayn Rand and William Golding.
o Meticulous reading will automatically expand your vocabulary which you should put to test
through books like „Six Weeks to Words of Power‟ and „Word Power Made Easy‟ or the
various online practice tools readily available.
o For the Vocabulary usage section the trick is to understand the meaning of difficult words
and phrasal verbs.
o For the correction of error section be very careful about trivial errors and practice a lot of
tense, parts of speech and correct use of punctuation marks.
o Use a good dictionary and practice antonyms and synonyms.
o For the arrange-in-correct-order section try to grasp the meaning of the sentences or words
and try to identify the connecting link or word before rearranging the entire sentence or
o Study a good quality grammar book, for example Wren and Martin to brush up your
grammatical skill.
How to prepare for Reading Comprehension
o You must read books, newspapers, journals, magazines etc voraciously to widen your
knowledge on the major issues around the world covering all the major disciplines such as
sociology, history, economics, science and technology, art and philosophy etc. Try to
develop exhaustive knowledge of each of these areas specially economics, sociology,
psychology and philosophy.
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o The best way to go about any passage is to comprehend the construction of the passage and
focus on keen understanding of the content, words and statements rather than hasty
reading. Average speed of reading should be 250 words per minute.
o Organize and conceptualize your ideas by taking notes of the significant points. Practice
retaining important information and detail while reading.
o Try to grasp the writer`s main idea and key purpose first. While making your choice don`t
stick to the one which is agreeable with only a part of the writer`s argument or which over
stress the writer`s point.
o It is recommended that you choose the passages which you are most comfortable with and
avoid long cumbersome passages.
How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation

Common Admission Test or CAT is a standardized computer based examination the score of
which is necessary for admission in the premiere business schools of India.
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The syllabus of the Quantitative Aptitude consists of elementary mathematics based on 10+2
difficulty level and cover topics such as arithmetic, algebra, number systems, commercial
mathematics, trigonometry, geometry, probability, mensuration, permutation combination,
averages, quadratic and linear equations and profit and loss.
The Data Interpretation section includes data interpretation and analysis based on tables,
graphs, texts, charts etc.
Allocation of marks
The section-wise allocation of questions is as follows-
o Quantitative Aptitude- 80% (Algebra and number theory- 55-60% ; Geometry and
Mensuration- 25-30% ; Arithmetic and Miscellaneous- 15-20%)
o Data Interpretation- 20%
Plan your study
o You should start preparations early so that you have enough practice at hand. Devote at
least 8 hours of rigorous study every day and take mock tests at regular intervals. Begin by
practicing the fundamentals and move on to develop pace and precision.
Choose the topics
o You should focus on the particular topics where you are most proficient and develop
yourself based on those topics to score the maximum amount of marks from them. Topics
such as time, numbers, algebra, speed, distance and permutations and combinations
appear most frequently on the paper and must be emphasized sufficiently.
Follow the pattern for focused preparation
o It is elementary to follow the question patterns of previous years to attain precise
understanding of the entire syllabus. The focus of preparation should begin with the area
where you feel you are lacking the most, followed by the areas where you are moderately
good succeeded by the areas where your expertise lie.

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Master the concepts
o Instead of trying to memorize the questions, get a strong idea of the concepts since most of
the questions would be based on applications of simple concepts.
Categorical analysis
o Arithmetic will require you to relate multiple concepts for one question.
o For geometry, develop strong idea of the concepts by practicing applications of theorems.
o Algebra will demand prime perception and revelation of concepts in a realistic approach
rather than mere memorization.
o Techniques such as substitution of values and back substitution can be helpful to solve
problems on algebra quickly.
o To answer the logical section, apart from mathematical proficiency aptitude for logic is
necessary which comes only with ample practice.
Time management
o Intelligent time management can be ensured by focusing on solving calculations/equations
accurately and taking appropriate decisions quickly. Learn the tricks to calculate in a jiffy
by memorizing tables till 25, cubes till 20 and squares till 30. Vedic math helps at quick
multiplications and finding squares and cubes of multiple digit numbers through only one
For Data Interpretation
o You must learn to spot alterations readily by looking at graphs and consider available
options to arrive at solutions rather than make the calculations blindly.
Negative marking
o You should never attempt to guess at an answer unless you are absolutely sure about it.
Recommended books and Online Material
o NCERT books from 8
o Pearson guide to QA and DI by Nishit Sinha
o Quantitative Aptitude for MBA Entrance Examinations by R.S. Aggarwal
o How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for the CAT Common Admission Test by Arun
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o Quant Guide By Gradestack
o Gradestack Complete CAT Prep Course

How to Prepare for CAT Exam in 3 Months?

Some people plan to prepare for the CAT exam years ahead of taking it. They enroll themselves
in CAT preparation courses through face to face coaching or online. So, you may be asking if,
with all the pressures of managing day to day life, including perhaps a full time work load, it be
possible to prepare for the CAT exam in three months?
With planning, preparation, and the right strategy, you can crack the CAT exam in three
Part one in the preparation process is to sit down and with a focused and methodical approach,
start with an honest analysis of yourself first. What are your strengths? Where are you good at?
What are your areas of improvement? Where do you need more time to practice? This analysis
can be done by taking up a CAT mock test. Take the test as though you were answering the real
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one. Take it seriously. And then, when you are done, see the patterns of your results. What key
points come up? Are you weak in vocabulary? Do you take more time in reading
comprehension? Do you have mastery of quantitative fundamentals? Are you able to complete
the mock test by the required time? Do you blank out and get nervous?
Knowing where you stand is a great ground work to knowing how to prepare and be ready in
three months. So, you have three months, where do you begin?
You begin with the knowledge that you have on your strong points and weak area. Chart out
your performance in each section, into four main quadrants:
1. Good Speed, Good Accuracy. Strategy: Lesser focus. You are already good.
2. Good Speed, Bad Accuracy. Strategy: Look at your practice answers. Where is the mistake
happening? Is there a pattern? Assess and improve.
3. Bad Speed, Bad Accuracy. Strategy: Put in the most focus into this section. Work by
researching on easy tips and techniques to improve the speed and accuracy for these types
of questions.
4. Bad Speed, Good Accuracy. Strategy: Practice. Practice hard. Practice more. Practice will
improve speed. Get easy strategies on improving and keeping the momentum that are
available online
Once you have made your assessment, Familiarize yourself with the CAT examination. Know the
parts of the test. The CAT is made up of Quantitative Ability or mathematical aptitude, Verbal
Ability or your English language skills and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. The
questions on Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning are on Graphs, Charts, etc. The online
CAT contains only 2 sections, with Data Interpretation clubbed with Quantitative Ability and
Logical Reasoning clubbed with Verbal Ability.
Quantitative Ability section is made up of topics in Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry,
Trigonometry, Mensuration and all those topics which you have studied prior while in school.
Verbal Ability covers reading, grammar, comprehension and vocabulary.
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Then, divide the work load into two simple steps.
Step one. See your performance in the vocabulary section of the mock test. Are you good at
knowing the meaning of difficult words? Is there a lot of room to improve? Then, if so, set a
target. Let us say to memorize one thousand difficult words in three months. Divide it up into
chunks and seriously master each chunk. Memorize with a fresh mind . Read books like Word
Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis to improve your vocabulary skills. You can use the difficult
words assigned for the day in conversation or in your writings to help you practice. Improve
your context skills and learn how to free associate. Play word games online or with friends and
crossword puzzles. Use memory tricks like mnemonics. Practice using mock vocabulary tests.
They are available free online. Target to improve your results each time. Use flash cards
available from online CAT preparation courses to practice your vocabulary. Get excited about
learning new words.
Here is a list of suggested book titles to help you as a CAT aspirant in your
qualitative/vocabulary section:
Next, see your performance in the reading comprehension section of the mock test. Are you
quick in picking up the context and meaning of what you are reading or do you need some time?
Practice by doing a lot of reading. Read books, articles, blogs, websites, newspapers etc. of
varying topics and length. Reading newspapers like the Hindu, Economic Times etc is a good
start. Certain international newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, Economist and
New Yorker (all available online) will give you international perspective and good reading
This will improve your reading speed and comprehension. Here is a list of suggested book titles
to improve reading comprehension:
Step two. See your performance in the quantitative section of the mock test.
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The basic idea is to get your fundamentals strong. Generally, quantitative questions in the CAT
are based on simple concepts, and this makes it an absolute must that one has a working
knowledge of these concepts. For this, a few core skills should be developed. These core skills
include accuracy and speed. (Refer to the four quadrants mentioned earlier.) It also includes the
ability to perform simple and/or complex calculations under time pressure; and the ability to
use logic and reasoning while solving mathematics questions. Furthermore, pacing is an
important aspect. It involves the practice of moving onto the next question if you are stuck on a
single question so to cover more of the test. Do not waste most of the time in a few questions
while missing out on the rest.
Here is a list of suggested references to improve quantitative skills for the CAT:
Rest assured, you can prepare for the CAT exam in three months by consistently taking mock
tests, keeping track of your scores, and constantly reassessing your performance into the four
quadrants. Be disciplined and drill for the CAT exam every day. Keep a daily schedule, and
rigorously prepare. Let us say eight to ten hours a day for thoughtful preparation.

For your preparation, you can try the route of face to face coaching, online courses, or a
combination. There are a number of online courses available.
o Handa ka funda: helps you in online CAT Coaching with the help of videos.
o helps you with online CAT preparation; providing lessons, questions, mock
tests, exam results and discussion forums for CAT aspirants.
o Pagalguy: an MBA resources website offering you a well frequented forum for applicants
from all over the world.
Then there is also Gradestack. The Gradestack CAT course includes practice tests and questions
to help you crack the CAT exam.
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Built for learners on the go, the course contains study notes, tests and questions on Reading
Comprehension, Vocabulary, Grammar, Math and Writing Skills, covering the CAT syllabus
The mobile app contains all kinds of sample questions that are asked in the CAT along with
detailed solution to each of them. You have now made smart use of your three months. Be
confident and sleep well. One day before the CAT exam, just relax, go the movies or mall. You
are now ready to take the CAT exam.
Best Online Study Material for CAT preparation

Taking the CAT exams this year but don‟t know where to begin. Confused. Anxious. Worried. Be
confident and do your preparations online. And why not, if you were to believe the
blog which posts an analysis of a 93 page report on online education, conducted by the SRI
International for the Department of Education, the results conclude that “On average, students
in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face
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The analysis found on average that students doing some or all of the course work online would
rank better than their classroom learning counterparts. In the competitive testing world for
limited seats, that difference counts for online testing preparations.
Much has changed since online study preparation was just about electronic versions of the old-
line correspondence courses. Now, with the arrival of Web-based video, instant messaging and
collaboration tools the learning experience is dynamic and more interactive.
The real possibilities of online education are centered on providing a more tailored and
customized learning experience to individual students when compared to classroom learning.
Just imagine the savings when compared to classroom coaching, and the wide array of resource
available, the choices of which programs modules to take, and the convenience of taking online
preparations at your own time when compared to classroom coaching alone.
There are a number of valuable online resources available in the market for CAT preparation for
those on the lookout for options:
Handa ka funda: helps you in online CAT Coaching with the help of videos, sample questions,
documents, ebooks, tests, free books, and articles. Handa Ka Funda helps you crack the CAT
online through their website that features preparation courses and visual lessons through video
focused content covering all the concepts of Quantitative Aptitude, Logical Reasoning, Data
Interpretation, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension; and live classes which you can
either view live or view the recording later. There is even a blog that gives easy tips on how to
ace the CAT. helps with online CAT preparation; providing lessons, questions, mock tests,
exam results and discussion forums for CAT aspirants. Their website features preparation
articles, active group discussions, problems of the week, and a forum to discuss your CAT score.
There is also a dedicated section for business schools.
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Pagalguy: A community-based forum where aspirants discuss about their preparation for CAT
and other MBA entrance exams. Sign in their website to get access to free questions and
preparation material or participate in active discussions. There is also a daily practice that keeps
track of your progress.
and few others…
In your search for the best online study material for CAT preparation, we propose a great
alternative in the Gradestack CAT prep course with study material sourced from Pearson as a
perfect choice for online testing preparation. We also have available the Gradestack Android
App for those on the go.
This courseware provides with complete and comprehensive preparation materials for CAT
exam so that you can score well and score high. The course comes to you with an exhaustive list
of study notes, a vast array of tests to practice and revise your answers when needed. The
modules include Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, Grammar, Math and Writing Skills,
covering the CAT syllabus entirely. Each course comes with required study material and
practice tests to bolster your prep and get you the feel of the real exam. These courses are
prepared by experts and renowned publishers.
Learning is also fun and social with GradeStack. You can share with your online friends or the
wide-ranging Gradestack community. Ask questions, or post answers, and then discuss. When
you join, you become part of a learning community of 600,000 people who all know what you
are going through and could give support.
The Android app contains all kinds of sample questions that are asked in the CAT along with
detailed solution to each of them so that you can practice and sharpen your skills. Just download
the apps and start learning from hundreds of courses that are being offered.
Like studies have shown, students really find it helpful to combine online test preparation
courses and practice as a community of interactive learners. Good thing, Gradestack does this.
Doing so is value for money as it still saves of 20% to 25% off classroom coaching as well.
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Moreover, Gradestack is practical as it joins high quality content with analytics that help you
assess and identify areas you need to improve. So what are you waiting for? Open your computer
or mobile device and begin you CAT preparation in as easy as one, two, three.
CAT 2014 Changes and Impact

The IIMs have announced major changes for the 2014 CAT including changes in the number of
questions, the duration of the exam etc. Here is an analysis of how these changes affect you and
what you should be doing over the next three and a half months to make sure you are well
prepared for all the changes.

It’s a longer exam, with a lot more questions - The exam has become lengthier by 30
minutes, this is a substantial amount of time. A lot of us tire after doing multiple questions and
are not used to taking a test for ~3 hrs at a stretch. Also the questions have gone up
substantially, by 67% in fact. Solving 100 questions at a stretch takes much more exam
endurance and practicing for that properly is really critical.

While the exam is lengthier, there is less time in CAT 2014 - The time available per
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question has gone down - from 2 mins 20 sec to 1 min 42 sec. This is a substantial reduction in
time. I don‟t think the IIMs will be changing the level of questions that will be there in the exam.
I had earlier heard stories of people completing the exam before time, I guess that won‟t be the
case anymore. What this really means is that speed is now very important. Your strategy of
attempting questions - understanding what is the right time to leave a question etc, will now
play a key role. It is even more important to know your strengths and weaknesses and
understand what questions to leave and not waste time on. The luxury of spending that extra
time on some questions is now gone, be prepared for that.

The new Exam Interface - Secondly the CAT exam will have a new interface from this year. It
would be beneficial that you are accustomed to it. You should at least take 2-3 mock test in this
format to make sure you are accustomed to this interface and not the previous one. The test is
being conducted by TCS, they also conduct the JEE Main, GAT and the IBPS exam. The
interface for all these exams is the same, so it is highly likely it will be the same for the CAT

Switching between sections - The exam gives you an option to move between the 2 sections
at will. Well this is a good news, you have the flexibility of moving between sections and take a
little bit extra time in the section you are weaker in. Using this efficiently can also get you time
to review your answers at the very end. On the flip side, this also makes time management more
critical. It becomes your responsibility to make sure you give ample time to both sections and
are not swayed away by the available time and end up doing

After all the controversies with Prometric, this looks like a positive step. TCS has a much wider
experience in conducting exams within India. The changes in the exam pattern are aimed at
making the exam more competitive so that the IIMs are better able to judge student‟s
performance in CAT.

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