How To Crack CAT In First Attempt? [An Ultimate Study Guide]

How To Crack CAT in first attempt?
How To Crack CAT in first attempt?

The Common Admission Test, popularly known as CAT, is one of the most competitive management entrance exams in India. It is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to their postgraduate management programs. CAT is known for its high difficulty level, and cracking it in the first attempt can be a challenging task. However, with the right approach, preparation, and attitude, you can achieve success in CAT in your first attempt. In this blog, we will discuss the strategies that can help you crack CAT in the first attempt.

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CAT 2023 Exam Pattern

Before starting your preparation, you should thoroughly understand the exam pattern and syllabus of CAT. The CAT exam consists of three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). The total duration of the exam is 120 minutes.

SECTION DURATION Number of questions (Expected)
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 40 minutes 24
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning 40 minutes 20
Quantitative Ability 40 minutes 22
Total 120 minutes 66

Each correct answer is awarded 3 marks, and each wrong answer carries a penalty of -1 mark. Some questions are Type-in-the-answer (TITA) questions. The marking scheme for TITA questions is +3 marks for the correct answer and NO negative marks for the wrong answer. Also, there is no negative marking for Unattempted questions.

The CAT syllabus comprises topics from Mathematics, English Language, and Logical Reasoning. Once you have a clear understanding of the exam pattern and syllabus, you can prepare a study plan accordingly.

Can I Crack CAT In First Attempt?

Yes, it is possible to crack CAT in your first attempt with the right preparation, hard work, and dedication. Starting your preparation early, understanding the syllabus and exam pattern, practicing regularly, taking mock tests, and seeking guidance from experienced mentors can increase your chances of success. It is important to have a clear strategy and focus on your weaknesses while building on your strengths. Stay motivated, maintain a positive attitude, and stay committed to your goals, and success will surely follow. Here are some of the helpful tips to crack CAT exam in your first attempt.

1. Prepare a study plan

A study plan is a roadmap that helps you organize your preparation and study efficiently. You can start by setting a realistic target score and dividing your preparation time accordingly. It is advisable to dedicate a fixed number of hours daily to each section and keep a buffer time for revision and practice tests. While making a study plan, make sure that you consider your strengths and weaknesses and allocate more time to topics that need more attention.

2. Focus on fundamentals

CAT is a test of your conceptual understanding, and hence, it is essential to focus on the fundamentals of each section. You should start with the basic concepts and gradually move to advanced topics. It is important to have a clear understanding of the concepts as it helps you solve complex problems easily. You can refer to standard textbooks and online resources for conceptual clarity.

3. Practice regularly

Practice is the key to success in CAT. Regular practice helps you develop speed and accuracy, which are crucial for scoring well in the exam. You can start with solving basic level problems and gradually move to advanced level problems. Mock tests and sectional tests are also helpful as they give you an idea about the exam pattern and difficulty level. You should aim to solve a minimum of one mock test every week and analyze your performance to identify areas that need improvement.

4. Improve your time management skills

Time management is crucial in CAT as you need to solve 66 questions in 120 minutes. You should aim to solve each section within the allotted time and avoid spending too much time on a single question. You can improve your time management skills by solving more practice tests and sectional tests. It is also important to maintain your calm during the exam and avoid getting stuck on difficult questions.

5. Stay updated with current affairs

The VARC section of CAT tests your reading comprehension and English language skills. You should read newspapers, magazines, and online articles regularly to stay updated with current affairs and improve your reading comprehension skills. This will also help you in the group discussion and personal interview rounds of the selection process.

6. Stay motivated and positive

Cracking CAT in the first attempt requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience. You may face challenges and setbacks during your preparation, but it is important to stay motivated and positive. You can join online communities and discussion forums to connect with other aspirants and seek guidance and support. You should also take care of your mental and physical health and maintain a work-life balance.

An Ultimate CAT 2023 Study Plan for Beginners (Section-wise)

How to prepare for CAT VARC: A study plan for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

Here, the focus has to be on reading, for 1 hour every day. Reading will also make you develop a viewpoint on a variety of issues. Start with reading what you like, and then read articles from different genres to make yourself comfortable with various writing styles.

Apart from that, complete the concept videos in VARC in the first 1-2 months of your preparation. The major part of the preparation for VARC happens from Reading regularly and practising RC’s every day. In the initial days of your preparation, solve at least one RC every day.

Avoid speed reading, skimming, surfing and other such gimmicky techniques. Read to absorb the essence of the paragraph. Most of the questions that appear will require the reader to infer the information from the passage. Therefore, avoid rushing through the passage. Questions on para jumbles and sentence elimination require aspirants to spot coherent ideas, and the other questions in the VA section (like Para summary) also depend greatly on the ability of the aspirant to comprehend the passage. Therefore, having a strong reading habit is indispensable to ace the Verbal Ability section as well.

Spend 1 hour every day to cover the Verbal Ability concepts. You can spend some time on vocabulary and grammar if you do not feel confident about it, but make sure not to spend too much time on it.

The following is the schedule one can follow. You can adjust this depending on the time available during the day, and based on your strengths and weaknesses.

Spend at least 1 hour every day covering the VARC Concepts


No. of days

Reading Comprehension


Para Summary


Para Completion


Para Jumbles


Odd sentence out


How to prepare for CAT DILR: A study plan for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

Evenly dividing the week for DI and LR topics, one can spend 3 days for DI and 3 days for LR. So, that will be 36 days each (12weeks * 3 days per week) for DI and LR. Also, try to solve 2 sets every day (one DI set and one LR set).

Spend around 1-2 hours every day covering the DI / LR Concepts.

LR Topics

No. of days

Arrangements (Linear, Circular, etc)


Puzzles (Einstein puzzles, constraint-based etc)


Networks, LR based on picking coins


Games and tournaments




Blood relations, family tree, Truth-liar concept




Others (2D Space LR’s, etc)


DI Topics

No. of days

Bar Graphs, Line Charts, Pie Charts, Unconventional charts (radar chart, bubble chart etc)




Venn Diagrams


Others (DI Based on growth over years, Data Sufficiency, Caselets, etc)



Just like the VARC section, practice is the key to cracking this section as well.

How to prepare for CAT Quant: A study plan for Quant

The Quantitative Aptitude (QA) section can be easily improved with practice. The first step is to revise the quant basics well. More often than not, aspirants tend to skip the basics and move directly to the problem-solving part. Chances are there that the aspirant might have forgotten a seldom-used concept and hence, aspirants must allocate at least a month (those who are thorough with the basics) to refresh the concepts.

When leaning the concepts, watch the concept videos, and ensure that you solve a few examples for practice and move on to the next topic; candidates should not be spending an unreasonable amount of time on one particular topic. The actual practice of a variety of sums can be done after the completion of the syllabus.

These are the following Quant topics: The days allocated for each topic will vary depending on whether a topic is your strength or weakness. Spend more time learning your weak areas.

Spend around 2 hours every day learning the Quant Concepts.


Number of days

Number Systems


Ratio and Proportion, Percentages, Averages, Alligation, Profit Loss and Discount


Simple Interest and Compound Interest


Time, Speed and Distance


Time & Work


Linear equations, Quadratic equations




Logarithms, Functions


Progressions and series


Surds and indices


Geometry & Mensuration


Basic trigonometry


Co-ordinate Geometry


Permutation and Combinations




Set Theory


Miscellaneous 6-7

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