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CAT 2021 Preparation Strategy & Study Plan

Updated By Abhinav Chamoli on 25 May, 2021 17:23

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CAT 2021 Preparation Strategy, Study Plan & Timetable

Common Admission Test (CAT) 2021 is an exam that a majority of aspirants seeking admission to MBA colleges in India prepare for every year. CAT 2021 preparation is a long-term strategy and the exam is notorious for being quite difficult to crack. If candidates come up with a strategic and systematic plan, then attempting this national-level examination should not be a tough nut to crack. Apart from this, candidates must also know about the CAT preparation plan that must be adopted a few days or weeks before the examination. The best thing to do a few weeks before the exam is to take a decent number of CAT mock tests and analyse the results. The more questions are practised, the better will be the performance of the candidate. Revising important concepts and formulae is another way to boost performance on the exam day. Start reading the tips and tricks given below and simultaneously track your CAT preparation. Implement these pointers in your preparation pattern and see the remarkable impact in your CAT result. You can also check these articles on the best preparation tips for CAT 2021. Also, take a look at the common mistakes to avoid on CAT 2021 exam day.

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CAT 2021 Preparation Dates

Candidates who are preparing for CAT 2021 must be aware of the CAT 2021 exam dates in order to plan their preparation for the exam. Here are some of the important dates that candidates must keep in mind.


Tentative Date

Time to Start Preparing for CAT 2021 with a 6-Month Preparation Plan

April - May 2021

Time to Start Preparing for CAT 2021 with a 3-Month Preparation Plan

July - August 2021

CAT 2021 Notification Release Date

Last week of July 2021

CAT 2021 Admit Card Release Date

Last week of October 2021

CAT 2021 Exam Date

Last week of November 2021

CAT 2021 Section-Wise Preparation Tips

Every CAT aspirant must know that it very important for them to be aware of the subjects that are to be prepared for the examination. For this, the candidates must take a look at the CAT syllabus. They must also know how to prepare these subjects in order to cover maximum topics and sections. Let’s check out some of the easy tips and tricks that can be beneficial for the preparation plan.

Importance of Vedic Maths in CAT 2021 - Best Vedic Maths Tricks to Use in CAT

Types of Reading Comprehension Questions in CAT 2021: Sectional Analysis and Tips

How to Use Calculator in CAT 2021: Tips and Instructions

Important Topics for CAT 2021: Expected Subject-Wise Weightage

Common Admission Test (CAT) Preparation 2021: How You Can Make the Cut

10 Last Minute Tips to Crack CAT 2021

CAT Preparation Strategy for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

  • The time given to complete this section of CAT is 60 minutes. Test takers must not take more than 50 minutes to answer the maximum number of questions in this section. The remaining 10 minutes should be utilised revising the answers and attempting unanswered questions.

  • The VARC has been structured in a way to judge your reading skills along with your language knowledge. Experts advise on improving grammatical understanding, which can be done by following good grammar books.

  • For a better understanding, reading through junior level books is recommended by experts and CAT applicants who have scored 99 percentile.

  • Sub-sections like Fact Inference Judgment, Para Completion, Verbal Reasoning, Analogies and Para Jumble are the ones that need more attention and understanding.

  • Other sub-sections need more practice and a little bit of memorising when it comes to synonyms and idioms. For this, you can solve practice papers or previous years' question papers.

  • Solving previous years’ papers will also help in understanding the pattern and structure of the questions framed for VARC.

  • Experts also advise learning as many as 10 new words with their meaning, synonyms and usage.

CAT Preparation Strategy for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR)

  • There are a total of 32 questions that are to be answered in 60 minutes. However, an idol examinee would be expected to complete this section in not less than 55 minutes while 5 minutes can be kept for revision and unattended questions.

  • The motive for this section is to understand the calibre of the candidates with respect to their logical thinking and approach. In order to master this section, candidates will have to first understand every given topic in detail and then start practising them.

  • Sub-sections that must be prepared first include Caselet, Bar Graph, Data Sufficiency, Clocks and Calendars, Data Arrangement, Binary Logic, Constraint-based puzzles and Venn Diagram.

  • Candidates should read the questions carefully before solving them. They should have a clear explanation for choosing an option.

  • They should read all the response choices carefully before choosing or eliminating any. It is to be noted that no changes can be made after the candidates choose an option.

  • Special importance should be paid to words like “some”, “all”, “none”, etc. Many a time these words are used to twist the question which in turn leads to confusion in choosing an answer.

  • Candidates can also utilise scratch paper to draw schematic notes or diagrams. 

  • Take help from teachers and seniors to study the tricks and methods of solving the questions in this section. 

  • While preparing the sub-sections, remember to complete one topic at a time. Devote equal amount of time to each topic and sub-sections to understand the details including the methodology of finding out the solution.

  • Remember not to rush in attempting all the questions. Instead, pick the questions that you can solve easily and attempt them first, and then switch to the time-consuming ones.

CAT Preparation Strategy for Quantitative Ability (QA)

  • As prescribed by the exam conducting authority, there are a total of 34 questions that must be answered within a time span of 60 minutes. It is advised to complete the maximum number of questions in this section in 54 to 55 minutes and the rest of the time for revision.

  • Quantitative Ability section in CAT exam is meant to judge candidates' understanding of the arithmetic reasoning and numeric calculation system. This in return helps candidates in making quick calculative decisions when on the field as a professional.

  • Some topics that are to be prepared for this section include Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Mensuration, Trigonometry and Calculus. Take help from the best books and study materials to score well in this section.

  • If reading through the books and understanding the terms seems difficult, then you may consider joining a reputed Coaching Center. The mentors at these centres will teach the difficult topics in an easy and simple way combined with regular practice sessions.

  • Going through the examples given after every explanation in the books and study materials is a must for CAT applicants. These examples will help in understanding the problem in a clear way and will also help in knowing the steps to approach the solution in a simplified manner.

  • The right way to approach questions is to go for the easier ones first and then gradually move to the more difficult or tricky ones.

Similar Exams :

How to Prepare for CAT 2021 in 30 days?

Since less than 30 days are left for CAT exam, candidates should focus on solving the maximum number of mock test papers of CAT. They can check the following tips to prepare better for CAT as well as other B-school entrance tests.

  • Previous year papers: Candidates can solve the previous years’ question papers of the MBA entrance exams to know the type of questions that were asked in the previous years’ editions of the exam

  • Read magazines, articles, books regularly: Candidates are advised to read magazines, good fiction/ non-fiction books and articles regularly. This will help them improve their communication skills as well as pronunciation. Candidates should dedicate at least 1-2 hours to reading any literature or good articles offline or online.

  • Regular revisions: Candidates should revise all the topics they have learnt during the weekend so that they do not forget any important concept

  • Focus on giving your 100 per cent: Candidates should focus on giving their 100 per cent in the exam without thing of the result. 

  • Preparing Notes: Candidates should prepare notes alongside their preparation so that they can revise it before going to the examination centre

  • Understanding the exam pattern: Candidates should understand the exam pattern of CAT and other B-school entrance tests before starting the preparation. This will help them to know the marking scheme as well as the exam structure. 

  • Stay focused: Candidates are advised to take small breaks and talk to friends and family between their preparation. This will help the candidates to stay focused and energized.

How to Prepare for CAT in 3 months

Candidates who wish to follow a 3-month preparation strategy for CAT do not have a lot of time on their hands. Preparing for CAT 2021 in half the recommended period (6 months) is not a particularly easy task. Even for candidates following a 6-month preparation strategy, the last 3 months of CAT 2021 preparation are very crucial and making consistent efforts to succeed is essential.

CAT 2021 3 Month Study Plan

We have prepared a template for a 3-month study plan for CAT 2021. This template is meant to be adjusted as per a candidate's strengths and weaknesses, focus areas. Candidates should also account for the fact that each topic will not take the same amount of time to complete.

No. of Days for Study


No. of Chapters in the Syllabus


Recommended Time for Study Each Day

6 hours

No. of Chapters to Study Per Day


No. of Chapters in a Week

5 x 1 = 5

Days Taken Complete the Syllabus

56 / 1 = 56 days

Days Dedicated to Practice Every Week


Total Practice Days

2 x 12 = 24 days

No. of Days Remaining

10 days

Days Left for Revision and Practice

9 days

Last Minute Preparation and Revision

1 day

Based on this study plan, a detailed time table can be prepared, which will have a separate time for each section in CAT as well as cover the entire syllabus. If you have any questions about preparing for CAT, please feel free to write to us on the CollegeDekho QnA Zone.

How to Prepare for CAT in the First Month

  • The first step is to get a reality check, which means that candidates should know their strengths and weaknesses. Aspirants should be able to evaluate their level of preparation to understand how much more effort should be put in. 

  • The next major step is to be aware of the CAT exam pattern. The exam pattern consists of the number of questions asked in the paper, the number of sections, etc. This makes the candidates become familiar with the structure of the exam.

  • Once the candidates are aware of the pattern, they should go through all the topics in the syllabus of the CAT. It is very necessary for the aspirants to cover all the sections of the syllabus.

  • Candidates should then look for suitable study materials such as books, sample papers, previous papers and more.

  • The first month can be devoted to clarifying the basics. Candidates can speak to the toppers and experts in order to get some tips and tricks related to the preparation of the exam.

  • Candidates should also work on their vocabulary by reading newspapers on a regular basis. Cultivating a habit of reading books is another way of working on verbal skills.

How to Prepare for CAT in the Second Month

  • Candidates should start taking as many mock tests as possible in the second month of the preparation phase. It is a great way to revise whatever has been learnt so far.

  • Decide In Advance the number of hours to put in for CAT 2021 preparation.

  • Don't begin with a new topic because starting a new topic will be time-consuming. Practice the topics prepared previously.

  • If the candidates do not perform well in the mock tests, they can join a crash course offered by some coaching institutes. 

  • As part of practice sessions, candidates can find out simple ways to solve even the most difficult questions. 

How to Prepare for CAT in the Third Month

  • Fix the number of hours and try to study for at least six hours without any distraction. Spend at least 3 hours in taking the mock test and then analyse the mock test. It will help the candidates know the answers to the questions which they had not attempted before.
  • Candidates should continue taking more mock tests in the final month of preparation.

  • By now, candidates should be confident about their abilities and strengths.

  • Brush up on your basics so that there is no confusion when it comes to attempting the difficult questions.

  • Candidates can also solve the previous years' question papers of CAT in order to get an idea of the kind of questions to expect in the entrance examination. Figure out the questions, trends and pattern on the basis of the previous year question papers.

  • Distribute time equally for all the 3 sections of the CAT exam.

CAT 2021 Self Study vs Coaching - Which is More Important?

It is to be noted that both self-study and attending coaching classes are considered to be important if the candidates are to ace the entrance examination. Aspirants need to figure out a strategy to create a balance between the two. While some MBA aspirants attend coaching classes, others invest their time in self-study and searching for study material on the internet. There is no such hard and fast rule that has to be followed to do well in the examination. Candidates should, in fact, stick to practices that are sustainable in the long run.

To ace an exam like CAT, proper guidance and knowledge about proper study materials are considered to be the most important elements. Both of these are provided to the students by the CAT coaching institutes. They train the students in a manner that helps them deal with any sort of difficulties with ease.

Students who prepare for CAT while pursuing their graduation courses often lose track, which leads to a bad score in the entrance. The coaching institutes provide lessons on time management and teach them how to create a balance between the two. Apart from this, the coaching institutes also conduct various mock tests that help students evaluate their potential and give them a scope to work on their weaknesses. Top institutes also conduct examinations at the national level which provide students with an opportunity to know if they stand a chance to achieve their goals. 

Another side of the coin is that many candidates who aspire to crack the CAT entrance cannot afford to attend coaching classes or do not have such institutes in their localities. The brighter side is that there are many candidates who have cracked CAT in the past without the help of coaching institutes. One advantage of not joining coaching institutes is it saves a lot of time. We have provided certain instructions that can be followed to prepare for CAT without the guidance of any coaching institute:

  • Candidates must be well aware of the CAT 2021 syllabus before starting to prepare for the exam. Knowing all the topics beforehand can help the candidates figure out a preparation strategy in advance.

  • Candidates can gain access to effective study materials using the internet. Nowadays, there are numerous sites that provide important notes, sample papers and question banks for management entrances. Candidates can also interact with various experts through social media platforms and get several tips and tricks.

  • Candidates should also be aware of the exam pattern before starting to prepare for CAT. This will help them get an overview of the structure of the entrance.

  • Having clarity of the fundamental concepts is a must to ace any entrance. If the concepts are clear, solving questions becomes easier.

  • Candidates should also give equal importance to the various sections of the CAT 2021 syllabus.

To sum it up, hard work and practice are the two major elements that help in acing a national-level entrance like CAT. Joining a coaching institute can surely be effective but self-study can equally rewarding.

How to Prepare for CAT 2021 Within a Short Span of Time?

While there is no shortcut to success, there are some simple tips and tricks that you can use to prepare for CAT 2021 within a short span of time. Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most coveted entrance exams for MBA admissions in India. The level of competition for CAT is always high and there are only a few students who make it to the top B-schools of India. CAT syllabus consists of various sections like Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation. Each section requires a detailed study plan as section-wise preparation for CAT is the key to score well in the exam. One of the best ways to prepare for CAT 2021 is to refer to the right set of CAT books and study materials. Candidates should also know the important topics in the CAT 2021 syllabus from where the questions are frequently asked. Candidates are recommended to solve and practice as many questions as possible from CAT mock papers for constant revision.

How to Get 100 Percentile in CAT 2021?

Are you still looking for CAT 2021 preparation tips to help you score 95% and above? Do you think that it is impregnable to breach the wall that stands between you and your dreams of pursuing your desired Management programme from a top-rated B-School? We at CollegeDekho think otherwise. Sure enough, it is a tough thing to secure 100 percentile in CAT but not an improbable task. Check out the CAT 2021 preparation strategy to score 100 percentile. 

  • To score more than 95% in CAT 2021, the candidates must not spend hours deliberating whether to enhance their strong areas or focus more on those areas that they think are their weak areas.

  • While preparing for CAT 2021 with an aim of 95% and above in their mind, the aspirants must take the pattern of CAT exam into account.

  • The aspirants must start preparing for CAT 2021 by picking up those topics that are most important because mastering such topics will leave them with the less important topics which, if the aspirants decide to skip at the eleventh hour, will make not much difference to their final scores.

  • If the CAT 2021 aspirants start preparing for the exam with ample time in their hand, their prime focus should be fixing the chinks at their armoury, i.e. work on their weak areas.

  • The dream of scoring 100 percentile in CAT 2021 exam can only be fulfilled if the aspirants pay adequate attention to Ration and Integer Equations, Percentages, Understanding Passages and Paragraphs (for Verbal Ability section).

  • The CAT syllabus is vast as an ocean which is why the aspirants must create a separate syllabus book of their own. To create a syllabus book of their own, the aspirants must scan through the previous 5-year CAT question papers and identify those topics from where the maximum number of questions were asked from. Then the aspirants have to prepare a list of topics accordingly which will be their syllabus book which will come to their aid during the later stages of CAT 2021 preparation.

  • Continuous practise is the key to score well in CAT 2021 sections like Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability.

  • Previous year CAT rank holders and experts suggest that the CAT 2019 aspirants must try and solve at least two CAT mock test papers each week. Cometh the exam day, the aspirants will have a proper strategy in place to help them secure a 90 percentile score in the CAT 2021 exam.

  • On the day of CAT 2021, the candidates must attempt those questions first which they are confident in and then turn their attention towards the remaining questions later.

  • The candidates must always be prepared for a few surprises but the candidates must never deviate from their plans​.

CAT 2021 General Tips & Tricks

Old papers and mock tests always help: Solving the previous years' papers is a good way to prepare for the exam. Also, mock tests help in assessing one's proficiency in the subjects. 

Stay calm and relaxed: Your performance in the exam also depends on your frame of mind. There will always be more second chances to perform. So, stay calm and relaxed while preparing for the exam.

Read and Read: Reading is a good habit and it can be extremely beneficial when preparing for an entrance exam like CAT. Reading habit helps in boosting one's vocabulary, general knowledge, and even the speed of reading the questions.

Focus on Tricks: Knowing short forms, calculations based on tricks or solving sums quickly with easy and smart steps are required to crack this test.

Time Management: Managing your time well on the exam day is the key to scoring well. Therefore, time management is an important formula to ace the exam.

One of the best ways to prepare for entrance exams like CAT is to pick the right study material. You will find plenty of books in the market that will not just enhance your knowledge but will provide you with the right guidance to perform well in the exam.

Best Tips for CAT 2021 Exam Day

It is completely fine for any aspirant to get nervous before the day of the exam. However, there are certain things that candidates can do to maximise their chances of performing well in the exam and not get overly stressed.

1. Take a good night's sleep – You must get at least 8 hours sleep before the exam to maintain your focus while attempting the paper. Lack of sleep will lead to restlessness and you might just end up yawning inside the examination hall.

2. Carry necessary documents – You must not forget to carry your Admit Card and ID proof on the day of the exam. Without the admit card, you will not be allowed to sit in the exam hall, and the process of going back home to retrieve will waste your precious time.

3. Reach exam centre on time – Ensure that you reach the exam venue at least one & a half hour before the commencement of the test. Reaching in advance means your precious time will not be wasted in the security checks, identity verification process, etc.

4. Go through tutorial and instructions carefully – You must pay attention to the 15-minute tutorial as well as the important instructions. The tutorial is meant to help you familiarise yourself with the online test procedure such as navigating through the sections and keeping a track of the time. 

5. Ignore questions that you find confusing – You may find some questions in the paper that will distract you from performing in other simple questions. Don't spend too much time on such questions as you will lose the opportunity to attempt the easier ones.

6. Keep a track of the time –  Taking CAT is all about how you manage your time while answering tricky questions. With time limit given in every section, it is best for you to avoid overspending time on a question that you feel is tough to answer.

While appearing for an exam like CAT is a big deal, one must keep in mind that not performing well is not the end of the world. There are many other options available for you to explore. Just try keeping these pointers in mind and we're sure you will do your best!

CAT 2021 Exam Day Instructions

IIM Calcutta has uploaded a PDF file and an animated video on their website to explain the rules and regulations that participating candidates must follow on the exam day.

Rules & Regulations for CAT

CAT 2021 Online Preparation During COVID 19

With the global pandemic going on, the preparation of CAT has become very challenging. Most of the institutes have started online classes. Besides this, students have also started their preparation with the help of notes, online lectures and live videos. CAT 2021 is different from previous editions of the exam since the preparations are going through the digital platform. Students do not have to visit the coaching centre, they can prepare for CAT while sitting at home. They can utilise this time to improve their vocabulary and learn some quantitive techniques.

Preparing for CAT 2021 Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Since less than 90 days are left for the CAT exam, candidates are advised to practise the maximum number of question papers/ sample papers. Candidates are also advised to devote 5-6 hours daily in CAT preparation. They can check the preparation tips provided on this page. Besides this, candidates may also refer to these articles provided below to know some preparation tips for CAT 2021.

How to Prepare for CAT DI & LR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning) - Check Expert Advice, Tips and Tricks

How to Prepare for CAT for Working Professionals - Check Study Plan & Time Table

How to Prepare for CAT VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension) - Expert Advice, Tips

How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA) - Check Expert Advice, Tips and Tricks

Common Mistakes to Avoid During CAT Preparation: Tips and Strategies

How to Improve English for MBA Exams

Also Read :

Want to know more about CAT

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Related Questions

Sir, I am a college student studying for the CAT. Could you please tell me how I should plan for it?

-Abhishek negiUpdated on May 11, 2021 08:21 AM
  • 1 Answer
Rahul Raj, Student / Alumni

Dear Student,

We recommend that you go through our CAT 2021 Preparation Strategy & Study Plan Exam Page for CAT preparation. Other resources that may be useful in preparing for the CAT 2021 Entrance Exam are listed below:

If you have any additional questions or would like to learn more about the CAT Exam, please fill out our Common Application Form and one of our education experts will contact you and provide all the relevant ...


Hi, I am candidate of Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC). can i apply for CAT 2020 from SEBC category?

-Kunal shelkeUpdated on September 18, 2020 03:51 PM
  • 1 Answer
Abhinav Chamoli, CollegeDekho Expert

Dear Student,

CAT 2020 does not have any seat reservations for Socially and Economically Backward Students (SEBC). You can find more information about the same in our article on the CAT 2020 seat reservation policy.

Please feel free to write back to us if you require any other information. For help with admission to MBA colleges in India, please fill our Common Application Form (CAF) or call our helpline number 18005729877.

Thank you.


I don't have any old EWS certificate and my new certificate will come after 16th sept. Can I submit the undertaking without any old certificate as of now??

-AyushiUpdated on September 18, 2020 02:47 PM
  • 1 Answer
Abhinav Chamoli, CollegeDekho Expert

Dear Student,

You have to submit any available certificates with the CAT 2020 undertaking. However, CAT 2020 exam dates have now been revised and the deadline to submit the CAT 2020 application form has been extended to 23rd September to help candidates get sufficient time to arrange any certificates.

Please feel free to write back if you have any other queries,

Thank you.


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FAQs about CAT Preparation Tips

Are 2 months sufficient to prepare for CAT and get into IIMs?

You should start preparing for the examination as soon as possible. 2 months are not enough for CAT preparation.

How will looking at the CAT exam pattern help in the preparation?

CAT exam pattern will help you understand the exam structure and you can then prepare accordingly. It will also help you know what type of questions you can expect in the exam.

What are the important exam day tips for CAT?

You should focus on revising old topics rather than learning new topics on exam day. Besides this, you must sleep well a night before the exam so that you attempt the paper with a fresh mind.

How to score 100 percentile in CAT?

You must try to solve the maximum number of previous years' question papers and mock tests to get 100 percentile. You also need to be well-versed with the various short cuts, patterns etc to stay ahead of the others.

Is coaching necessary to clear CAT?

No, CAT coaching is not necessary. It differs frome one candidate to the other. If you can prepare well on your own and stick to a plan, coaching may not be required.

What is the biggest myth about clearing CAT?

It is a myth that you need a whole year to prepare for the exam. Candidates with a good preparation strategy can prepare in 6 months and clear the exam.

What type of questions are asked in CAT exam?

You can refer to previous years question papers of CAT to know the type of questions which can be expected in the exam.

How can I improve my English for CAT exam?

You should get into the habit of reading and learn new words daily to improve your English for CAT examination. You can also go through the previous year question papers to know the type of questions which can be asked in the exam.

What are some tips and tricks to clear the CAT exam?

You must concentrate equally on all the section of CAT. Besides this, you must also focus on learning shortcuts and strategies to solve problems quickly.

How should I prepare for CAT?

You can start preparing for CAT by preparing a strategy, focus on your strengths and weaknesses in all the sections and study accordingly.

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