CAT 2017- Start Early to Stay Ahead

CAT’16 has been done with. The dreams of many students have been realized; while of some students have been broken. But it’s not the end for the ones who did not get the desired percentile. And for the fresh aspirants looking at CAT 2017 exam, it is an ideal time to begin. Before I take you towards CAT 2017 strategy, I would suggest you have a look at the CAT’16 analysis.

For an exam that attracts applicants in lakhs, make sure you are ahead of them by making a right choice for your type of preparation. A student while deciding has mostly the following options to choose from:

  • classroom learning at a preferred coaching center
  • Online classes that can help the students to prepare from locations convenient to them
  • self study
  • and/or a combination of any two or all three

A careful decision must be made after analyzing the various resources like time, money, study material etc. that would be involved in any of preparation mode.

Once the mode of preparation has been chosen the student must set a target college or a percentile for himself/herself. However, this is not sufficient as few institutes make their selection on the basis of the profile. Find out which college is most likely to select you. Look at the IIM Profilizer to get a realistic check on which IIM you could stand a chance to get shortlisted on the basis of your profile. However, there is hope for everybody as the weightage criteria varies not just from institute to institute but IIM to IIM as well.

Following this the aspirant must define a strategy towards the achievement of the target set. The ideal strategy for any aspirant seeking a call from the best of Institutes should involve: learning of basics, time management, Mock tests strategy, topics to focus on, section –wise strategy and tests etc.

For the first few days it is recommended that a student learns the basics and makes himself/herself comfortable with the topics of CAT 2017 exam and basic principles of solving such questions. Build a strong foundation for CAT 2017 exam by revisiting the fundamentals of quant, verbal and logical reasoning. Study material and books can be perused for a conceptual understanding. After which you could take a free mock test and get an in-depth analysis of your performance and learn your shortcomings. View your performance analysis. Realize where you spend more time and the questions that you could have solved in lesser time. After this only, will you get a fair understanding of your current position towards CAT 2017 exam.

It must be pointed out here that the mocks are an integral preparation tool for any exam. Mocks help you sculpt your exam strategy and provide you vital insights for your preparation. The mocks will help you analyse your attempts and accuracy, which topics you need to focus on, simulate real exam experience and help you track your scores and evaluate performance after each test that you take. It is advisable that an aspirant takes at least 1 mock every week. Start with Test Series now, which provides sufficient mocks to practice and strategize for the CAT exam.

Analyse the mocks carefully. Find out your strengths. This is necessary as it will point out the areas that you need to improve and the questions that you must attempt in the exam based on your strengths. CAT Score Booster lets you find out your strong areas and thereby you can develop a strategy to master these areas and rebuild your next mock strategy. It is only through mocks that a student can learn which sections are going to improve his final exam percentile.

Section-wise suggested strategies for CAT 2017 based on the 2016 and 2015 exam pattern:

Quantitative Aptitude (QA): This section comprises of 5 areas in a nutshell.

  • Numbers: 6-8 questions approx
  • Algebra: 7-8 questions approx
  • Arithmetic: 10-12 questions approx
  • Geometry: 6-8 questions approx
  • Modern Math: 2-3 questions approx

In CAT 2016 a score of 52, i.e., an accurate attempt of 18 questions would compound to a 99 percentile. In CAT 2015, the same was possible at a score of 73.The students may pick either Geometry, Numbers or modern maths along with  Arithmetic and algebra this would ensure a good attempt of 18-20 questions. The students may focus on the chosen areas only. However, the decision should not be made randomly. The students are advised to give few mocks and then based on their analysis can make a pick as this would highlight the topics that they are most comfortable with and from then on focus on these topics on a priority basis.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC):

  • Reading Comprehension (RC): 24 questions
  • Verbal Ability (VA): 10 TITA questions

An accurate attempt of 25 questions would amount to a score of 75 (CAT 15 and 16) which is a very good score to lead to a 99 percentile. The VARC questions have remained consistent over the past few years and relatively easy to moderate. Absence of abstract RC passages makes the passages easier to understand. Time consuming and ambiguous questions in VA and RC can be avoided and by practicing the mocks regularly one can get a good eye to pick out the easy and direct questions.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR);

  • Data Interpretation (DI): 4 sets of 4 questions each
  • Logical Reasoning (LR): 4 sets of 4 questions each

In CAT 2016 it was difficult to differentiate between DI and LR. Logic based DI formed the crux of the paper and an accurate attempt of 4 sets fetched a score of 43-45 which, together with the suggested score for quant and VARC, led to a 99percentile, while in CAT 2015 a score of 51 would have fetched a 99.…The secret to a good score in DILR lies in picking up the right DILR sets. This secret is revealed as the aspirant takes on mocks and carefully evaluates his/her performance in each mock.

Good practice is likely to lead to a good performance on the D-Day! Take on the following strategy for successful CAT 2017 attempt:

Starting April till August it is recommended that you:

  • take at least 1 mock every fortnight, that’s about 10-12 Mocks till August end, leaving you with another 18-20 for the next 2.5-3 months depending on whether CAT 2017  is in Nov end or Dec beginning
  • For classroom students, it is important to practice daily with class-sheets and examples in the books
  • Take a topic test on the ongoing topic in class/session. Practice the questions level wise and rise to level 3 ensuring a strong hold on the topic

From September till November it is recommended that you:

  • Take about 1 mock every 4-5 days
  • Do not take up new topics as you will not be able to acquire an in-depth knowledge on these new topics. Instead focus on more on your strengths
  • Take sectional tests
  • Complete all the worksheets and examples in the study material with you


Aspirants seeking to learn alternative problem solving techniques, for the most difficult questions, that are smarter and faster can follow the strategies suggested by the CL Gurus in Smart CAT Cracker.

The key to a good percentile in CAT 2017 lies not only in taking as many tests and mocks as one can lay hands on but also on careful analysis of each test. This will help students to revisit and reinvent their strategy for staying ahead of lakhs of other applicants. So… Ready, Steady, GO!


  1. Hi Sir,

    I have appeared in CAT 2016. Following is my section wise percentile:

    Verbal- 39.58
    LR DI- 98.87
    Quant- 90.92

    I have to improve my English. I have poor reading skills and low comprehension. Even though I have solved more than 100 passages, I am not able to improve my accuracy and number of attempts. Because of poor English, I won’t be able to convert any top B school. Please suggest what should I do in order to improve my Verbal percentile.

    • Resham, after each test/mock you write, please go through the analysis and try to identify the errors that you commit. A good analysis of the the tests that you take should help you in rectifying your mistakes. All the best.

  2. Hi sir .
    I have 1 year gap and preparing for CAT 2017 ,I left my job for that but meanwhile I joined an NGO .Can I also opt for foreign language course in Delhi university ? Is it gonna help me in building my profile or not?

    • Sakshi, your focus should be on the entrance exams. While, on one hand, learning a new language does add to your resume, it would also take your focus away from your preparation.

  3. Greetings,

    My profile is 83,81,71 in 10th,12th and grad gem, +2 workex (IT).

    This year I was able to convert nmims and IIFT K (no chance of delhi) and scored a pathetic 89%ile in cat down from 97.3 last year.Sir do you believe I should let go of IIFT K and aim for a better college ? or IIFT would be the right choice ?

    I am a bit confused as my peers suggest that the better colleges would only be marginally better and are not worth the opportunity loss and the risk.

    Please provide your guidance.

    • Saket, IIFT Delhi and Kolkata are at par with each other. Both the campuses have the same placement and almost the same faculty.

  4. hello sir.
    my academic credentials :
    10th 95%
    12th 92.4%
    grad. 62% (BA literature final year)
    I’ll appear for CAT 17. As humanities isn’t that scoring (literature specially) I’m not hoping anything remarkably high in my final year. Will my graduation score be a deterrent for admit into IIM A and B

  5. Hi,
    I plan to take CAT this year after 1.5 years of work ex. I scored 95.8 percentile in CAT 2015 with 77 percentile in QA which has proved to be my weakness. What type of a study plan would you suggest so that I can boost my score in QA? Also, which b- schools can I look to target with my profile?
    Class 10 – 95%
    Class 12 – 95%
    Graduation in Bcom H – 65%

    • You should target all the top B-Schools and also work on your QA score. Taking topic/sectional tests and analysis of the mocks will help you work on your mistakes. Focus on your key strengths and master the select few topics like Arithmetic, Algebra and Numbers that carry maximum weightage in the CAT exam.

  6. Greetings Sir, I am in a dilemma and would request you to please help me. I have got an opportunity to join IIFT Kolkata and NMIMS. I want to join IIFT Kolkata but the constant reviews of the step brotherly treatment to kolkata students ( interviews being conducted after all the Delhi campus are done/ not being allowed to sit in the interviews of a handful of companies etc.) is very distressing. I would request you to please help me to resolve this dilemma

  7. Hello GP Sir,
    I am in a fix if i should go for cat again or go to IMT G. My other converts were IMI Delhi And XIMB.
    I have a work ex of 1.5 years in software industry and following are my scores:
    CAT 16 – 94.48
    10TH – 86.00
    12TH – 80.20
    B.TECH – 74.00

    Will it be a big risk if i attempt CAT again? And will any of the BLACKIS call me even if i scored in excess of 99.Kindly help me sir and guide me as to what should be future course of action.


    • Keshub, was this your first CAT attempt? If yes, then you can go for another attempt to better your 94.48 in this year’s CAT. Your profile is okay and you would get calls from C, L, K and S if you score high enough. If this was not your first attempt, you may go for the colleges which you converted in which my order of preference would be XIMB, IMI and IMT.

    • Keshub, with your academic records and work-experience, you stand a good chance of selection in the top B-Schools provided you clear the cut-offs. You should consider writing the exam again this year with full preparation.

  8. Hello sir,
    My academic record is,
    X-95,XII-96,B.Tech-86 . Fresher 2018 outgoing batch.How much do i need to score in CAT 2017 to make it to Older IIM’s ??

    • Venkat, in order to get into the older IIMs one needs to have a 99.6+ percentile. However, for 2017-2019 batch intake, IIM-A,K gave a call at 89%ile because of the profile diversity of the aspirant.

  9. Hello sir,
    I’m in 3rd year of my B.E CSE and I gave CAT 2016 just to check my level without Preparation.I scored 87% with 95.5 in VA but 76 in Quant and 66 in DI/LR.Since then I joined a coaching institute and improved my DI/LR significantly.But I am not able to perform well in Quant.My Mock scores are good in VA and DI/LR but poor in Quant.So,please suggest me how to improve my Quant performance.My semester exams end in Mid-May and I’m planning to use my vacations on getting Quant Basics right.Will I be able to improve my Quant then ? Please suggest ways

    • Arvin, sorry for the delay. By now you should have been done with the Quant basics and to improve your Quant score, you need to practice and get comfortable with different types of questions. Focus on few select topics, take tests and go through the analysis of each topic, sectional test and full length mock that you write.

  10. Hello sir,
    I graduated in may 2016 from a decent NIT and also got a placement but I had to leave that job due to some medical emergency in my family and extreme work conditions in my company( mfg sector). I gave CAT 2016 and scored 92.04%ile (UR Category) and also gave IBPS PO as a backup. I do not wish to apply in any tier 2 college and hence did not apply to many colleges. I have cleared IBPS PO but is in reserve list which means I wont be getting my joining till next year.
    I will appear for CAT’17, but I have a doubt that will this gap create any problem in interviews next year? What if I utilise my time by doing virtual internship and volunteering work? Will it be ohk?

    • Nimisha, yes, to enhance your profile you could take up an internship, join an NGO or do volunteering work or if you are able to provide a solid reason for the gap in your academics then it will not be a hindrance in your selection to an MBA college. However the internship and volunteering work do not count as work ex. but it can be done to justify the gap.

    • Nimisha, if you are able to back your gap with a solid reason then you should not worry. However, if you are able to get a NGO/Internship experience it would be a plus point but you should be prepared for grilling questions regarding the same in your interview.

  11. Hi Gp sir,

    I am having a hard time finalizing which college to join, NMIMS Mumbai or IIFT Kolkata. Could you please help me out?

    I have work experience of 2.5 years in TCS and I have not zeroed in on any particular specialization.

  12. Dear Gautam Sir,

    I am Ganesh and i request your valuable advice on a great dillema i am in.

    I am a person with work experience in IT for 3.6 years now and had secured a verly low %ile of 53 in XAT this year. Due to various personal circumstances, i was not able to prepare and get a good score . However on the basis of this score , i got a call from XIMB- Rural Management and have now been selected .

    What is your honest advice to me Sir ? Should i go for this program or not ? Will it be worth it ?

    Please reply sir!!


    • Ganesh, we can give better advice once you share your past academic records. However, if you think your academic records have been good (>80-85) and that you can score well in the upcoming entrance exams you should consider writing the exams again with better preparation.

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