Can I crack CAT in 6 months or is it too late? The Plan Ahead

Updated: Jun 6

A couple of blog members who are preparing for CAT exam were apprehensive of the time left. It is natural to feel this way, but through this post, I'd like to share an analogy on why you shouldn't worry about the time left for CAT 2020 and instead invest your energy in charting out the preparation plan for the 5-6 months left.

A part of this post is going to be what I shared on Quora when someone asked if it is too late to prepare for CAT 2020? It will get followed up by a detailed plan on what you need to do ahead to ace the exam.

Are you late for CAT'20?

The shorter answer is NO. But, don't stop reading right away, you need to know why it isn't late and why it is still no surety that you can crack CAT 2020 with just 6 months left at your disposal.

Let me give you an analogy:

  • Imagine there is a racetrack with a finish line.

  • One of the runners started running the moment the race began.

  • The other runners kept waiting until they realized that it was probably a good time to start.

Now tell me, if all the runners have the same running speed, who has a more likely chance of finishing the race within time? Obviously, the first one, who got a head-start by starting early.

But, does that mean the other runners cannot finish the race within the stipulated time? They can, given they fasten their pace.

That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. The first runner is equivalent of the students who began their preparation at the onset of this year in January. They got a head-start and they are more likely to finish their basics by July/August end (the finish line).

But does that mean you cannot get the same thing done by August end just because you started in May/June? You can, given you increase your pace i.e. if you solve more number of questions per day (that you’re required to solve) than the students who began in Jan did.

Will it be more difficult for you? Well, yes, because you gave up the head-start.

But, is it be possible? Of course, Yes!

The Plan Ahead

So, let's get to work now. You have about 5-6 months left for CAT 2020. Now, I'm going to outline some steps for you that you need to keep a track of to create your own strategy for the upcoming months. I will also be sharing some relevant posts for you which you can read to get more insights at each step.

5 Steps for 5 Months

  1. Finish the Basics

  2. Take Ample Mocks

  3. Revisit the Sections

  4. Improve Mock Scores

  5. Revise, Revise, Revise

Let's begin.

STEP 1 Finish the Basics

Needless to say, this is the most important thing for you to do right now. Serious CAT aspirants aim to finish their basics by July end. You may extend this to August end if you have a lot on your plate.

An important question that you may have - "What constitutes the basics of CAT?"

For different sections, basics mean different things:

Quantitative Aptitude: If you're using a self-preparation book like Arun Sharma or Sarvesh Verma, then the easy questions (LOD 1) will constitute the basics. If you're using any coaching material, then the very first exercise of each chapter will be a part of the basics. Along with that, you need to go through the core concepts present in the beginning of each chapter.

Suggested | How to use Arun Sharma's Book for Quantitative Aptitude CAT 2020?

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning: For DILR, basics are equivalent of all the types of questions that can be asked in the exam. This means getting familiar with the different topics that form a part of DI and LR. If you've solved at least 10-15 sets of each type, you are good to go.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: In case of VARC, the biggest constituents are the RC questions. So, the basics will amount to a continuous practice of 4-5 RC sets/day along with the regular reading of editorials. For the VA part, a basic familiarity of the topics is sufficient.

So, the first step for you is to evaluate what all is left for you to cover in the basics. Create a list in terms of number of questions left in each chapter/topic and using the number of days left till August end, create a plan.

Suggested | How to create a plan for covering the CAT basics?

STEP 2 Take Ample Mocks

Now, if you feel you're more or less done with the basics (or even if you're not), you MUST start taking the CAT mocks. There are a lot of test series available out there for you to purchase. But, if you're confused, refer to this answer on Quora which comprehensively compares the options available.

Suggested | How many mock CATs to take and when?

At this point, you should not worry about your mock scores too much. So many aspirants give up when they get bogged down by their mock results. Please try to understand that you are taking the mocks to improve. So, your eye should not be as much on the result as it should be on the analysis.

Before moving to the next step, let me share with you a strategy that I deployed from the very first mock. After the analysis of each mock, I would ask myself - which section is my:

  • Strength Section

  • Weaker Section

This strategy will pay you off by the time you're ready for CAT 2020. After each mock, identify your strength and weakness sections and spend more time on both of them. Aspirants often miss out on practicing their strength sections. Don't make this mistake.

The time you spend on improving your strength area will help you compensate for the marks you lose out in your weaker section. This happened with me in CAT 2017 when I made a lot of silly mistakes in the QA section, which was my weakness. But, by spending enough time practicing the DILR section, I had built a strength to compensate for it.

STEP 3 Revisit the Sections

When you analyze the mocks, you will come across your areas of improvement. That is when you will have to revisit the different sections and topics depending on where you're faltering the most.

Suggested | How to analyze CAT mocks?

I'm sharing some links for each section that you can use to read up. They detail how to prepare for these sections:




STEP 4 Improve Mock Scores

This is the toughest yet the most interesting part of any CAT aspirant's journey. This is when you will have to bring all your insights from the mock analysis into real-time action to see the results.

For this, you need not look any further than the guest post by Yogesh Chordia in which he describes how you can improve your mock scores basis where you already stand:

Suggested | Improving CAT Mock Scores

In order to improve your mock scores, you might have to practice a lot of questions. If you have already exhausted your study material, then you should solve sectional tests.

Suggested | How to take sectional tests? Some free sectional tests!

You can also use some free online resources that I've collated for different sections here:

STEP 5 Revise, Revise, Revise

I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of revising the CAT syllabus in order to score better in the final exam. But, you don't need to revisit all your chapters question-by-question. If you have already created a formula book as I had suggested earlier, then you just need to revise it.

Suggested | Revision Plan for CAT 2020: What all to Revise?

That's it, these are the steps you need to take care of in the upcoming months and perform them very close to each other.

I can understand the phase that you all are going through, I've been there. There were times when I had to push myself to get to work. It's not easy! But, I can assure you of one thing, the result is extremely beautiful:

So, don't slack off now. These 5-6 months are going to be your defining months, put as much effort as you can, fasten up and cover those miles that you probably lost in not taking the head-start.

This is the time, guys! You'll never ever regret the effort you put in now.

Get it done!

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