How to Prepare for CAT Exam Without Quitting Your Job

By Aditi Joshi|Updated : May 31st, 2022

Preparing for CAT is usually tough for working professionals. However, as the proverb says - “Nothing is impossible to the willing mind”, a working professional can crack CAT. The aspirants need to have faith in themselves and a willingness to work hard. Handling a job along with preparation is tough, however, if one is disciplined, one can easily achieve the goal. Before we move to the tips to prepare CAT without sacrificing the job, let us know about CAT. 

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CAT Overview

Common Admission Test abbreviated as CAT, is National Level Management Test conducted once a year by one of the IIMs across India. The main purpose of conducting this test is to screen the candidates who wish to pursue MBA from the IIMs or other Top-B schools in India. The duration of this test is 120 minutes and is conducted in three shifts. There are three sections in the CAT: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA). Due to the pandemic, the number of questions was reduced to 66  in CAT 2021

When and How to Start for CAT Preparation 

Aspirants who want to crack CAT without compromising their jobs must start today. Experts suggest preparing for the CAT at least 8-9 months before the exam. However, since you have a job, start a bit early. Prepare a schedule that includes all the sections of CAT.  Candidates should spend 4 hours daily for CAT preparation. If you can’t include all the subjects in a day, then divide it into alternate days. The most important thing is to devote more time to those topics on which you do not have a command. Considering different caliber in each individual, set a timetable accordingly.

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Set a Daily Schedule

Managing a job along with CAT preparation is a pain in the neck. Nevertheless, the candidate having the discipline and focus in life can crack CAT through a little bit of planning and smart work. All you need to do is to prepare a timetable that includes  4 hours daily for CAT preparation and follow it assiduously. Following a timetable for a week is an easy task but doing it regularly is a tough task. So, you need to keep a grip on these key points. Once your hard work becomes your habit, no one can stop you from achieving your success. Prepare a schedule and follow it as far as you chase your goal.

Focus on your Concepts

The principal step of your preparation is to clear your concepts in CAT. If your concepts are not clear on any topic, then you can’t attempt the question. One must clear concepts in each section. For instance, if a candidate is weak in the VARC section, then he/she must first study 9th-10th English Grammar books by Wren & Martin to clear the base. Also, learn 5-10 words daily for ameliorating your vocab section. Once the base is clear, then he/she can easily command over the VARC section. The clarity in concepts is of utmost importance. So, focus on the basics of each section.

Importance of Attempting Mock Tests

CAT Mock Tests / CAT PYQs are the holy grail of CAT Preparation. You could analyse your strengths and weaknesses only through mock tests. It’s a yardstick to measure your preparation level. After finishing your syllabus, start solving mock tests. You can attempt mock tests sectionn or topic-wise or as a whole. It’s up to your caliber. You’ll get to know your mistakes through each mock test. Analyse your mistakes and work upon them. The more you practice, the fewer your mistakes will be. Also, your speed and accuracy of solving a question will also get strengthened. The more you practice, the more you’ll figure out the tricks. Tricks benefit you a lot during the exam time as it saves your crucial time. So, better learn the tricks. Mock tests are the best platform for nurturing your preparation.

Solve Previous Years' Question Papers of CAT

Don't Quit Your Job for the CAT Preparations

The candidates must understand that there is no advantage in quitting the job for the sake of CAT preparation. You will miss the edge that one gets of a work experience. Almost all the IIMs give preference to the candidates who have work experience. You can take IIM Ahmedabad as an instance, this institute has 5% weightage to the work experience holders. So, the candidates must procure the benefit of having a job. So, don’t quit your job. Try to manage time in such a way that you can handle the job along with your preparation. No one can study 24x7.  

Understand the Importance of Time Management

Time Management is one such important factor that has to be kept in mind while preparing for CAT. The aspirants who are working employees have to understand the meaning of time management. They have to prioritize the topics and according to which they set a time-table. At least, they have to spend 4 hours daily. They can divide sections on alternate days. For instance, if a candidate is weak in the Quantitative section, then spend two hours daily on that subject and divide the other two sections on an alternate basis. In this way, an aspirant can manage the weak as well as their strong areas. So, job holders must learn how to manage time along with their 9 to 5 job.

Join Online Study Groups

This is one of the important sources where you can prepare among the competitors. If you aren’t able to join coaching institutes, then you can join social media groups like Quora, Facebook, Telegram, Instagram etc. Connect with the aspirants who are on the same page and ask queries, doubts, share your insights, and strengthen your knowledge. You can also refer to online study apps. They would help you to clear your basics as well as provide you with tricks. Also, study groups update you on the current happenings. It is advised to interact with CAT aspirants who are of intellectual minds and be in their company.

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FAQs on how to prepare for CAT Exam without quitting Job

  • CAT test includes three sections: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA).

  • Yes, a candidate can prepare for the CAT with 9 to 5 jobs. All he/she has to do is time management. If he/she follows the time table earnestly and is disciplined, then he/she can easily manage the CAT preparation without any issue.

  • The candidate should spend at least 4 hours daily preparing for the CAT. The only requirement for preparing the CAT is discipline and support from the family members.

  • At least the candidate should practice 35-40 mock tests before the CAT test. Mock tests breed a healthy competitive environment that helps candidates a lot.

  • Yes, there are two distinct question papers of CAT in different slots. The difficulty level of the paper can differ from each other.

  • No, the candidates are strictly prohibited to carry any electronic gadgets to the examination hall. The timer will be available on the computer screen.

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