Update: What Indian students should know about preparing for the CAT in 2020

Taking the CAT in 2020? Make sure you're well-prepared to get into the best MBA programmes. Source: Photo by NOAH SEELAM / AFP

By U2B Staff 

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Currently in lockdown and planning to take the CAT exam later on this year? It could be a blessing in disguise that you’ve got more free time on your hands now, so you can dedicate your free time to preparing for the CAT exam with minimal distractions.

In response to disruptions caused by COVID-19, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) has announced changes to the exam pattern for CAT exam (Common Admission Test) 2020. The IIMs have decided to extend the CAT 2020 registration deadline to September 23, 2020 at 5pm IST.

The exam will be conducted on November 29, 2020 (Sunday) in three sessions. The revised duration of the test will be 120 minutes instead of 180 minutes, while the number of sections in the exam remains unchanged.

Commonly taken by Indian students as the first step towards applying for MBA courses, the CAT stands for Common Admission Test and typically held on the last Sunday of November or first Sunday of December. Confirmation on these dates for 2020 is expected to be announced in July when registration opens. 

The exam is divided into three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Aptitude (QA). There are 34, 32, and 34 questions respectively for each section, and test-takers have 60 minutes to complete each one. 

Scoring in the 100th percentile of the CAT exam will improve your chances of getting into the best IIM or b-school. As a global recession and economic uncertainty looms in 2020 and beyond, the MBA is a good way to upskill yourself and set yourself apart in a competitive job market. 


So how should you go about preparing for the CAT exam in 2020? Here are some tips.

Strategise and identify your weak areas

Since the exam is divided into three sections, you will need to figure out a strategy for your studies and how much time and effort you should devote to each.

Find out which section you need to focus more time in and come up with a plan to help you master it – whether seeking out a friend who previously scored well in the CAT exam for help or hiring an online tutor.

Once you do that, start making a study plan and set goals for yourself to master a certain topic or section of the test. 

By strategising early on, you will be better prepared for your studies and won’t be overwhelmed a few months down the line. 

Improve your English skills

As the first section tests your verbal and reading aptitude, start reading as often as you can now.

Reading is one of the best ways to improve your English proficiency and expand your vocabulary, so try to read different forms of material on different topics such as Psychology, Literature, and History. 

Depending on your level of English, set aside at least 30-60 minutes a day for quality reading to improve your comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. 

Master the fundamentals

Mastering the basics is the first step when you begin preparing, so you can move on to the more difficult aspects of each section such as inferential questions and critical thinking. 

If you don’t understand the fundamentals of each section, you will struggle with your studies and may feel demotivated, so make sure you really master the basics. 

With the plethora of online courses available now on platforms such as EdX and Coursera, it may be worth taking an online class if you a refresher course on the basic fundamentals. Check on YouTube for videos that can help you prepare for each section as well. 

Practice, practice, and more practice! 

Any test-taker knows that best way to master a standardised test like the CAT is to keep practising.

You can find plenty of past year test papers as well as practice tests online, so download these and spent plenty of time cracking them so you’ll be at the top of your game when you sit for the real CAT test in November or December.

Don’t wait until a month or so before the test but start practising as early as you can, so you can determine which questions you struggle in solving and can spend more time on them.