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Important Topics to be prepared for CAT Exam @iimcat2018.in

Common Admission Test 2017 is over. CAT result has been declared on 9th December 2018. The chase for taming CAT 2018 shall begin soon and management aspirants may give an early start to their preparations. CAT looks interesting in first blush and makes Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) a desirable goal for management aspirants. However, the journey to achieving this goal may not come easy and candidates need to prepare themselves well in advance to crack CAT. Here you will find all the important topics which you need to prepare for CAT Examination.

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Additionally, in the absence of any prescribed syllabus by IIMs, it becomes more difficult to channelize preparations. Based on the analysis of previous years’ papers experts have identified important topics that CAT aspirant should go through.

CAT Question Paper Pattern

Before we understand the range of topics covered in CAT let’s build an understanding of the exam pattern of the paper. CAT is divided into 3 sections:

  1. Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
  2. Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR)
  3. Mathematics or Quantitative Ability (QA)

It is 3 hours computer based test carrying 100 questions carrying +3 marks for a correct answer and -1 for a negative answer. The question paper covers both Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Non-MCQs. Paper mostly covers application based questions especially in VARC section. Questions on QA are based on key concepts and tricky calculations.

Moving ahead, let’s take up each section separately for systematic understanding.
CAT Important Topics

Key Topics: Section Wise

Reading Comprehension (RC):

Covers passages of medium length of 250 to 500 words. Questions are both direct or application based. The topics covered in RC can be on:

  1. Social Science
  2. Business and Economics
  3. Liberal Art
  4. Science Based
  5. Current Affairs
  6. Political Events

However, topics can go beyond the ones mentioned above and can even include inferential passages.

Verbal Ability:

Covers questions on grammar and verbal reasoning. The topics to focus on are:

  • Vocabulary (Synonyms, Antonyms, Odd One Out & Analogies)
  • Sentence Completion
  • Sentence Correction
  • Para Jumble
  • Para Completion
  • Fact Inference Judgment
  • Verbal Reasoning

Data Interpretation:

It is considered as the highest scoring sections that comprises of 16 questions based on analyzes of data. It broadly covers the following topics:

  • Tables
  • Bar Graph
  • Combination of Graphs
  • Line Graph
  • Caselet
  • Data Sufficiency
  • Pie Chart

Logical Reasoning:

This section also contains 16 questions based on application of logic in the given situation. The topics covered under this section consist of the following:

  • Logical Reasoning based on arrangements or rankings
  • Team Formations
  • Matching Puzzle
  • Syllogisms
  • Logical Deduction
  • Set Theory
  • Venn Diagrams and Network Diagrams
  • Binary Logic
  • Seating Arrangement
  • Family Tree
  • Sequences and Series
  • Blood Relations
  • Direction Test
  • Clocks and Calendars
  • Statement and Conclusions or Assumptions
  • Assertion and Reason
  • Statement-Courses of Action

Quantitative Ability:

The section is primarily based on questions related General Mathematics. It also considered the most voluminous section as it takes maximum time of test takers. The entire sections can be divided into five sub-parts, namely:

  • Number System
  • Algebra
  • Arithmetic
  • Geometry
  • Modern Math

The areas that candidates should focus under each sub-part are given in a tabular form below:

Number System Basics of Numbers
Properties of Numbers
Divisibility Rules
Divisibility and Factors
Finding Out Last One Digit/Last Two Digits
Number of trailing zeroes
Finding out Remainders
Arithmetic Averages
Ratio and Proportion
Simple and Compound Interest
Profit and Loss
Time, Speed and Distance
Time and Work
Calendars and Clocks
Stocks and Shares
Algebra Algebraic Formulae
Linear Equation
Quadratic Equation
Higher Degree Equation
Geometry Lines and Angles
Co-ordinate Geometry
Modern Math Sequence and Series
Binomial Theorem
Set Theory
Permutation and Combination


Preparing for CAT VARC

This section is all about reading and understanding. Hence, read, read and read as much as possible. Having a good command over vocabulary is definitely a plus that can help you overcome the problem of comprehending passages. Preparation for this section should be systematic and timely. A few pointers for VARC shall be –

  • Newspaper articles (The Hindu recommended)
  • Fiction Novels
  • Articles from Magazines like The Economist, Fortune, India Today, Outlook, etc.
  • Read at least 30-45 minutes a day and increase up to minimum 1 hour a day.
  • Strengthen vocabulary by learning 1000-1500 words.
  • Exercise Word Power Made Easy.
  • Learn words from Newspaper Editorials.

Preparing for CAT DI & LR

The trick to score in DI & LR section is to crack the set. Practicing a wide range of sets and case lets shall definitely help you in understanding the trick behind each set. The points to bear in mind while doing preparations shall be –

  • Read newspaper, magazines and data based articles.
  • Get familiar to any and every kind of caselet.
  • Solve Sudoku, riddles on blood relations, family tree, crossword and puzzles to improve logical reasoning.
  • Practice the use of calculator provided on-screen for speeding intensive calculations.

Preparing for CAT QA

Right from building conceptual basis, practicing and applying concepts, QA remains one of the main tension areas for candidates. Past few years has seen lot of questions on Algebra, Geometry and Permutation and Combination. Other remaining topics are equally important but the ratio of questions has been somewhat less.

  • Build a strong foundation of concepts.
  • Make a handy diary that includes quick notes on tips and tricks to solve questions.
  • Cover each topic in totality and practice questions as many as possible.
  • Practice QA section without a break.
  • Use answer options to solve questions wherever, possible.
  • Solve timed topics.
  • Don’t use too much of shortcuts and Master Fundas.
  • Find out more than one way to solve questions.

As the age old saying goes ‘Practice Makes a Man Perfect’, the same holds true for CAT preparations. In the absence of any prescribed syllabus or pattern candidates must practice as much as they can and attempt mock CAT paper by IIMs, previous year question papers and sample papers as much as they can.

Also, candidates should prepare equally for all 3 sections and use a systematic approach instead of going haywire. Make sure to overcome your weakness and clear doubts with the help of experts.

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