How to Prepare for CAT 2021: Get Best Books, Study Material & Preparation Tips

How to Prepare for CAT 2021: Get Best Books, Study Material & Preparation Tips

How to prepare for CAT 2021 - Common Admission Test commonly referred to as CAT is one of the top exams conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) on a rotational basis for admitting candidates in B-Schools across India. CAT 2021 will be conducted on November 28 and those planning to appear for the exam are often confronted with the question as to how to prepare for CAT 2021.

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Careers360 brings to you expert advice on how to prepare for CAT? Candidates willing to take admission in Top B-Schools must crack the toughest competitive exam. With an application intake of around two lakh per annum, candidates must know beforehand the basis and easy-to-go strategies for CAT preparation. Candidates must devise a proper strategy if they are planning to appear for the Common Admission Test (CAT).

See Also:

  • Download Free CAT sample papers 2021 here.
  • CAT Preparation strategy by Experts
  • How 99 Percentilers Prepared for CAT Exam
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CAT Exam Pattern 2021

IIM will prescribe the CAT 2021 exam pattern for the academic year 2022-2024. Candidates willing who are planning to fill the CAT application form 2021 must check the exam pattern beforehand in order to start their CAT preparation. Read the complete article on how to prepare for CAT 2021 and CAT preparation as it highlights the important aspect that will help candidates to not only prepare but also score good marks.

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CAT Exam Pattern 2021



Exam Duration

2 hours

Total no. of questions


Mode of CAT 2021


Marking scheme

  • Three marks for the correct answer will be awarded

  • One mark will be deducted for an incorrect answer


Verbal ability and reading comprehension

Data interpretation & logical reasoning

Quantitative ability

How to prepare for CAT 2021: Sectional Strategy

Candidates who will be taking up CAT 2021 should know in advance the exam pattern and followed the syllabus. Future candidates must start their CAT preparation early and not wait for the last moment. Early beginners can refer to the following strategy according to the three sections that will be part of the CAT 2021. Check section-wise CAT 2021 exam tips.

Quantitative Ability (QA)

  • Focus on enhancing your basics of mathematics.

  • Learn topics like profit and loss, number system, geometry as they will form key questions in CAT 2021.

  • Practice as much as you can and go for mock tests.

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Quick Link- How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)

  • Reading as much as possible is the best way to crack this section and score good marks.

  • Go through newspapers, journals, blogs, articles, etc to enhance your reading skills.

  • Try solving questions based on comprehension, inferences, and para jumbles. Candidates can join any private tuition or take CAT coaching and prepare from the foundational booklets provided to them.

Quick Link- How to prepare for CAT VARC (Verbal and Reading Comprehension)

Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation (DILR)

  • Considered to be one of the toughest section in CAT exam, needs a lot of hard work to be done from the candidate’s side.

  • Check the previous year's question papers of CAT and try to re-attempt those questions.

  • Try to study basic topics like seating arrangements, blood relations, syllogisms, etc to grip hands on this section. Do no use a calculator while solving questions.

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Quick Link-How to prepare for CAT DI & LR

Basic and Easy to go Strategies on How to prepare for CAT 2021

Although there is no specific syllabus prescribed by IIMs for CAT preparation, on the basis of past year’s analysis, given below are the major points that will help candidates score good marks. Some basic and easy to go strategies are -

CAT 2021 Preparation: Basic Guidelines


Time Management


Analyze and Understand


Reverse Action


Focus on Strengths & Goal Accomplishment


Attempt Mock Tests


Practice Everything

Also check, CAT 2021: When and how to start preparation to know when to start your preparation and what should be your strategy.

Time Management

With 40 minutes' time allotted to each section, candidates must devise their strategy so they can answer all questions. Managing their time will help candidates turn their efforts into fruitful results. Divide your 24 hours in such a way that you practice each section daily. Speaking about time management, Vishesh Garg, CAT 2020 topper told us that he considered time management as the fourth section apart from the other three provided by IIMs. For candidates appearing in CAT for the first time, time management will provide them with the following benefits at the time of CAT preparation-

  1. Enhance your efficiency

  2. Increase your productivity

  3. Lower stress level

Sharing his personal experience CAT 2020 topper Ashish Sen said, “I believe time management is much easier when you are passionate about what you are doing, so simply realizing that makes a lot of difference”.

Quick Links-

  • How to do Time Management for CAT?
  • Sectional Time Management Tips for CAT 2021

Analyze and Understand

Before making any kind of strategy on how to prepare for CAT 2021, it is advisable that candidates first check the exam pattern of CAT 2021. Analyzing no. of sections, topics and sub-topics asked in previous years exam. Before taking up any kind of tests, analyze these points and try to figure out what your major areas are, which subjects require improvement, etc. The analysis is not only done prior to your CAT preparation but can be in between and at the end of your CAT preparation. CAT 2020 topper Shivam Chandak, worked hard relentlessly, analyzed his mistakes, and overcame them by scoring 99.91 percentile.

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Focus on strengths & Goal Accomplishment

Rahul Manglik, CAT 2020 topper says, “Play your strengths and work on your weaknesses”. After analyzing which are your strong areas make them stronger by regular practice. Devise proper strategy on overcoming and correcting your areas of improvement. Whereas for CAT 2020 topper Ronit, “candidates must develop a concrete idea of their strengths as well as weaknesses”. In order to achieve good scores, candidates must capitalize on their strengths first and then move towards the lesser strong areas.

CAT 2020 topper Aditya Devalla said that his calm attitude and focused only on what was necessary. Cracking CAT with a good percentile is not less than a challenge but everything is possible if you focus your mind on what you wish to achieve. CAT 2021 will be no different than previous exams.

Attempt Mock Test

Almost all the toppers accept that their success was somewhere dependent on the mock test they appeared for the CAT exam. One of the best strategies for how to prepare for CAT 2021 is giving CAT 2021 Mock test as they give candidates a simulated environment of the exam. Benefits of the mock test include self-assessment, time management, accuracy in answering the questions as well as understanding the exam day nervousness level.

Quick Links-

Why Take Mock Tests Before CAT 2021Why, When, and How to take CAT Mock Test

Practice everything you studied

Experts of CAT advise candidates to practice what they preach. Regularly practicing what you know will help you in accessing what more is required at the time of CAT preparation. Study each topic and then practice them on a weekly basis to keep them fresh in your mind. For CAT 2020 topper Abhilasha Balakrishnan, “Regular practice and lot of mock tests helped him achieve his goals”. Know what other CAT 2020 toppers have to say on preparation.

Reverse Action

While solving the mock test or the actual CAT 2020 if you find yourself surrounded with questions getting a little difficult, you may choose for the reverse action and scan the answers given first. Many times it happens that answers contain imperative clues that can help you solve the questions more accurately.

CAT 2020 Toppers

Indian Institute of Management (IIM) declared the CAT 2020 result in online mode on January 2. Around 1.90 lakh candidates appeared for CAT 2020 out of which some of them made their way to the list of CAT toppers 2020. To know the stories of how CAT 2020 toppers achieved that position and their advice for future aspirants on how to prepare for CAT 2021 refer to the table below:

CAT 2020 Toppers

Name of the Candidate

Percentile Scored

Interview link

Vishesh Garg99.99Click Here
Ashish Sen99.99Click Here
Shivam Chandak99.98Click Here
Aditya Devalla99.97Click Here
Abhilasha Balakrishnan99.86Click Here
Adit Sanjanawala99.85Click Here
Ravi Pranshu99.78Click Here
Shivam Kumar99.95Click here
Mohit Manwani96.8Click here
Shashank Kashyap99.52Click here
Vatsal Dedhia97.92Click here