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!