How To Prepare for the Revised CAT Exam

Isha Jain

September 15, 2021

The most popular and essential exams for B-school aspirants is less than 100 days away. The Common Admission Test (CAT) entrance exam is conducted by the Indian Institute of Management every year. It is a computer-based test and consists of three verticals – Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). This year it is scheduled to be held on November 28, 2021.

How has CAT been for years?

For several years, the CAT exam pattern was as such that every section was 60 minutes each, and the breakdown of questions was VARC (34), DILR (32), and QA (34). However, the global pandemic in 2020 changed the CAT exam pattern. The revised pattern is 40 minutes for each section, and the number of questions are VARC (26), DILR (24), and QA (26). The change happened to arrange three exam shifts instead of two, given the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

While the exam pattern is still under purview, it has been made clear that the exam will be in three sessions in a single day. It has got experts to predict that it will be like last year only.

Preparing for the new pattern

Aspirants, like every year, are worried about how to go about their preparation to avoid any stone left unturned, as the CAT entrance exam is that exam that is known to have one surprise element.

With the exam duration reduced to two hours from three hours, it left aspirants a bit perplexed, as it seems like they have no time to think and that wasting even one minute is a lot. On the other hand, some students have used the same revised time slot to their advantage, as it is easier for our minds to focus continuously for two hours than do so for three hours.

It was the case when I wrote my exam in 2020. For almost six months, I prepared for a 100-questions paper set. With the release of the revised paper, I was worried whether I could incorporate the change in pattern effectively. A week later, I realized the changed pattern is helping me. I was able to do more mocks as it took less time, and the number of questions was also less to analyze later.

Because of the prevailing covid situation, most of the classes are in online mode which restricts peer interaction. There are several social media platforms like pages, groups, and youtube channels that help an aspirant stay connected with others and learn every day.

With about less than three months in hand, the focus needs to be the mock exams. Mocks are the best way to prepare—the secret to making the mock exams practice the most effective lies in their analysis. Every single question, whether you attempt it or not, deserves a study. During my preparation, I had a notebook dedicated to the analysis of mock tests. I used to write the topic of each question, its difficulty level, its difficulty level as perceived by me during the exam, and whether I got it right, wrong, or left altogether. I would check my approach and the approach given in the solution. I also wrote the mistakes I committed in the question if any, if I took more time, and if I left the question, then why is it so. The detailed analysis gave me an overall idea of where I stand in my preparation and what needs improvements.

Options after CAT

One may also wonder, why CAT? The most straightforward answer to this question is because 1000+ colleges in India accept CAT scores. All the IIMs, IITs, FMS, and other top public and private colleges also take CAT. A good percentile in CAT opens the door to multiple great opportunities. IIM, a dream for many, can only be achieved after a good percentile in CAT.

Indian Institute of Management Udaipur, which is one of the second-generation IIMs, also accepts CAT. The institute offers a two-year MBA, one-year MBA in GSCM and DEM, postgraduate diploma in business administration for working executives program (PGDBA-WE), and Ph.D. courses. It is the youngest IIM to gain AACSB accreditation and with this, the institute joined the elite group of five percent of the world’s B-schools to gain this prestigious distinction. Situated amidst the breathtaking Aravalli Hills, IIM Udaipur has completed ten years of its legacy. A preferred choice by aspirants, it continues to grow every year.

About the Author:


Isha is a first-year MBA student at IIM Udaipur and is a member of Merchandising and Retail Committee. She is looking to make it in the world of marketing. She is intrigued by literature and is trying to learn the art of writing. She is a fresher with a commerce background. She can be found finding ways to collect more books. You can connect with her on LinkedIn LinkedIn.