How To Clear CAT in 1st Attempt? - Best Strategy to Crack CAT Exam in First Attempt

By Anjali Chowdhury|Updated : July 28th, 2022

Clearing the CAT exam in the 1st attempt is not a tough task, the only thing that matters is to have a clear aim of selecting the CAT on the 1st attempt. With this mindset, if an MBA aspirant starts preparation, then he/she can easily achieve the goal. Before moving on to the preparation strategy of how to clear the CAT on the 1st attempt, let's have an overview of the CAT exam.

Common Admission Exam or CAT is a National Level entrance exam conducted with the purpose of selecting the MBA aspirants into the top IIM or top-B schools of India. The frequency of the CAT exam is once a year. The graduate students can apply for the CAT exam provided they secure 50% in aggregate in graduation (which has been removed for CAT 2021). There are three sections in CAT: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Quantitative Ability (QA), and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR). The candidates must keep in mind the negative marking of one mark for each wrong and three for each right answer. There is no negative marking for the Non-MCQ type.

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Important Tips to Crack CAT in 1st Attempt

Here are a few important strategies that each an individual should keep in mind while preparing for the CAT exam.

Decide Whether You’ll go for Self-Preparation or Offline/Online Coaching

Self-preparation or preparation through coaching depends on individual to individual. Every individual has the capability of preparing for any exam. This is the individual’s decision whether he/she wants to start preparation by self or through coaching. 

If a candidate decides to prepare through coaching, then he/she can’t lie on it. They still have to put in the effort. The only plus point is that they would easily gather the notes as well as the experience from the great mentors.

If a candidate opts for self-preparation, the main focus he/she has to keep in mind is to have discipline in life. The candidate who is focused and disciplined in his/her life, that person can easily go for self-preparation. He/she can take help from their peers about the notes and queries in the topics. 

Start Your Preparation at the Earliest

Early preparation is very important for getting fruitful results. Starting the preparation early is important for the freshers. They get plenty of time to clear the concepts as well as the revision. Those who are freshers must start their preparation at least one year before the CAT exam. By doing so, they would not get panic-stricken at the last moment of the CAT exam. Make sure that you have a clear target in your mind of getting selected in the first attempt. With this mindset, if you start your preparation, then you can easily clear the CAT exam.

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Know Your CAT Exam Pattern Well

The first step, before jumping into the CAT preparation, is to have a clear knowledge of the pattern of the CAT exam. Candidates should solve previous years’ questions to get an idea of how the pattern of the CAT exam is. Also, jot down the weightage of each topic for each section of the CAT exam. This would aid you to plan a schedule according to the topics that are primarily asked. Also, candidates should know about the negative marking of 1 mark for each wrong answer. There is no negative marking for Non-MCQ-based questions. So, these are the key points you must notice while knowing the CAT exam pattern as well as the syllabus of it.  

Collect the Best Study Material

It is necessary to have the right study material in your hand. There are tons of sources from where you can get your study material, however, you need to cling to limited CAT books rather than multiple books. Don’t have a mindset of studying as many books as you can. This would only create chaos in your CAT preparation. If you aim for selecting in the 1st attempt, then stick to limited best edition books and revise that particular book again and again. There are many online sites available for CAT books or you can buy as per your needs. But remember, the books you choose should be the ones that last till you crack the CAT.    

Prepare a Proper Schedule

It is essential to set a proper timetable and stick to it. If a candidate makes a schedule and doesn't follow it, then it makes no sense of making it. If you wish to crack the CAT on the 1st attempt, then it is important to follow the schedule earnestly. You need to spend 8-10 hours of quality study in preparing for the CAT. Remember one thing, “you need to be consistent, not extreme”. For instance, if you study 11-12 hours a day and the next day you waste your time, then it is of no use for studying 12 hours. Whether you study for 5 hours or 7 hours but study daily. The number of hours doesn’t matter, the key is the quality of time spent studying is of utmost importance.

The Analysis is the Ultimate Preparation

The analysis is an extremely important part of your CAT preparation. If you are attempting mocks, again and again, always scoring the average marks and not analyzing yourself, then you would find difficulty in cracking CAT. You need to understand the importance of analyzing yourself i.e. what are the areas in which you are consistently not able to score well and why is it happening. You need to put up the questions and answer yourself whether your concepts are not clear or you are not able to complete a question in the given time. If for example, you are not able to attempt ‘Profit and Loss’ questions in the Quant section, then you need to go back to your concepts and revise again. This is what analysis is called. 

Time Management is the Backbone to Crack CAT

You must have heard of the proverb “Lost time is never found again”. Once you have wasted your time, it will never be returned. So, it is advised to utilize your time to the fullest you can to get selected in CAT on the 1st attempt. For instance, if you have 6-7 months, then manage your schedule in such a way that you finish your basics within the four months. Leave the last two months for mocks and revision. The more you attempt mocks, the more is your revision of the concepts. But, the main key point is to manage your time. If you win this battle, then you can easily aim for cracking the CAT in the 1st attempt. 

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Attempt Mock Exams

Attempting CAT mock test exams daily is a key to cracking the CAT exam. The more you solve mock exams, the greater the chances of scoring high in the CAT exam. So, it is advised to solve at least three mocks in a week. Try to give sectional-wise mocks as it would help you to crystal-clear your concepts in each section. Giving mocks is like a trial performance before the actual performance. You get an idea of how to manage time along with your speed in solving the questions. You learn to balance your speed and accuracy when you solve mocks. Try to solve no less than 30-40 mocks before you appear for the CAT.


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  • Yes, the candidate in the final year can apply for the CAT provided that he/she secures 50% aggregate marks after the result of final year is announced.

  • If a candidate is determined and focused while preparing for CAT, then he can easily crack the CAT without any outside support.

  • Yes, there is a negative marking of one for every wrong question of MCQ type. Please note that there is no negative marking for Non-MCQ questions.

  • The CAT is conducted once in a year by one of the IIMs every year.

  • There are mainly two types of courses offered i.e. MBA or PGDM. A PGDM course is equivalent to an MBA. The exam is conducted chiefly for the purpose of admitting MBA aspirants who wish to be entrepreneurs in future.

  • Earlier, the duration of CAT used to be 3 hours but from last year, it has changed to 2 hours (120 minutes) paper. Sectional time limit of CAT is 40 minutes each.

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