How to Prepare for CAT 2021 Without Coaching? | Expert Speak | Alok Bansal

Find out how to prepare for CAT exam without joining coaching institute. Our expert, Mr. Alok Bansal shares practical tips and tricks to crack the CAT exam for those who are confused if joining coaching is worth to prepare for admission in IIMs.

Aiming for the 100 percentile to seek admission in the IIMs is undoubtedly a mandate; however, your preparation strategy plays a vital role in ensuring your admission to the top B-schools of India. Whether you should join coaching to prepare for CAT 2021 or not is a choice. There is no black and white rule that says getting training from a coaching institute guarantees your entry ticket to the IIMs. Instead, our expert Alok Bansal shares an effective and practical study plan that can help you strategize your studies and score 100 percentile in the CAT 2021 exam. Find out practical tips and tricks to prepare for the CAT 2021  exam without joining a coaching institute here.

Should I join coaching to prepare for CAT 2021?

When it comes to CAT MBA entrance exam preparation, a lot of candidates find themselves in a fix whether they should join coaching or not. Needless to say that joining coaching is a matter of personal choice; however, Mr. Alok Bansal, with 15 years of rich experience in this domain, assures the CAT aspirants that it is possible to crack the CAT exam with a good score even without joining coaching.

To start with, Mr. Bansal suggests that if a candidate possesses these traits, then cracking CAT 2021 without coaching is not difficult:

  1. Be organized: To prepare for the CAT 2021 exam, it is important to be organized for the effort which will be required from your end in various sections and topics. Once you are organized with the right study material and strategy to prepare for the exam, half the game is already in your court.
  2. Convince yourself: Another important step is to convince yourself that you really want to crack CAT 2021 genuinely. Once you are convinced to crack the CAT Exam, you will be able to take the challenge in a healthy spirit.
  3. Competition is limited: Each year approximately 2 Lakh students appear for the CAT, and it has been observed that among 2 lakhs only 50,000 are serious aspirants. However, among the 50,000 serious aspirants, only the top 5,000 or 4,000 are able to get a good score. So instead of focusing on the 2 Lakhs as a challenge, consider the top 4K to 5K as your competition to make it to IIMs.

Strategy to crack CAT 2021 without Coaching

To attempt one of the toughest MBA Entrance Exams, one must be ready with a strategy to face the competition. So, here are few points that you must put into practice to ace the CAT exam:  

  1. Take a diagnostic test: Diagnosis is important when you want to treat a problem. Therefore, as a first step, attempt last year’s CAT papers that are available online. Appear for that paper in a way as if it is your D-day. This means that you should attempt the CAT previous year paper in computer-based format for the duration of 3 hours. Stay away from distractions if any.
  2. Do not apply for Guess work: Another important tip is to avoid applying for guesswork when you attempt the CAT previous year papers. To get a true picture of your performance in the exam, it is important to analyse your genuine performance. For say, if you score 60 percentile in the exam, you will know the long journey that you have to traverse to score 99 percentile. However, attempting answers with guesses will distort the true performance and would not help you in analyzing your actual potential.
  3. Create a time-table: In order to streamline your CAT Exam preparation, create a time-table. Allot few hours for each section i.e. QA, LRDI, and VARC. Mention which topics you are going to cover on that day and also allot time for the intervals. Ideally, allot no less than 3-4 hours for each section.
  4. Stick to the timetable: After you have created the timetable, it is more crucial to stick to it. Do not get bothered by trivial issues such as the release of new movie releases or program. Stick to the timetable and you will be able to prepare well.
  5. Build understanding of concepts: Focus on the concepts. It is the concepts that are tested in the CAT Exam. Generally, direct questions are not asked in the exam. It is the concepts that are tested in the form of application-based questions. Your understanding of the concepts will take you a long way.
  6. Appear for Mock Tests: even if you do not wish to join coaching, which is absolutely fine, however, you must consider joining a Mock Test series. It is advisable that you attempt at least 30 Mock tests from now till D-Day or every Sunday to prepare for the CAT exam.
  7. Analyse the Mock Test: After you have appeared for the Mock test, make sure that you also analyse it. It is a more important step in which your serious efforts are required. To internalize your mistakes in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the errors is important. Otherwise, you have to repeat it and do it again. Avoid the tendency of repeating the same mistake. Analyze your Mock paper and see the difference in your performance next time.

CAT 2021: Section-wise Preparation Strategy

Here is a section-wise preparation plan for the CAT 2021 exam. Take a look and find out some easy tips to prepare for each section. These tips will help you prepare a CAT time-table that according to which you can prepare for the exam:

How to prepare for the Quantitative Aptitude Section

Quantitative Aptitude has a structured mechanism wherein you can chalk out 24 to 25 topics. List all these topics on a piece of paper. Devise a plan where you should first focus on understanding the concepts and then attempt the questions from each topic. Attempt basic level questions first, and once you have mastered them, move to the advanced level questions. Devote 3 hours to each topic and once you are thorough with it, and then move to another one. Decide one month to build familiarity with each topic and focus on practicing the questions during the rest of the days.

How to prepare for the LRDI Section

The Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation (LRDI) section is basically an advanced form of what you learn in the QA section. If you understand the pattern of past few years and score 50% marks in LRDI, you are expected to fall in 99 percentile range. Here an important tip is, when you attempt this section in the exam, "do not try to attempt all sets". If you attempt 2 questions of 1 set, try to get them right, rather than attempting all 4 questions and getting a few of them incorrect.

A lot of online resources are available for the DI sets. Attempt the sets and spend the relevant amount of time analysing your mistakes after you have attempted the DI set. Go through the concept again and revise it before moving ahead to another set. Cut back on your silly mistakes and if there is a lack of understanding in the concept, revise the concept.

How to prepare for the VARC Section

The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section is another area of attention wherein a lot of groundwork is required; especially in the Reading Comprehension area. Develop your reading speed and comprehension across various genres of topics. Read texts, books, newspapers, magazines, whatever reading material is available at your disposal. Buy 10-year papers available in the market. Find out the pattern being followed in the CAT VARC section. If you attempt 4 passages each day (approx 90 days) with each passage comprising 4-5 questions, this means you have covered 360 passages with thorough practice of around 1800 questions. Over and above this, you will be attempting a mock test also. This much rigorous practice is more than enough for you to crack the CAT 2021 exam.
Mr. Alok Bansal is a reputed Career Counsellor and Study Abroad Expert in the field of Education. He has a demonstrated history of working in various verticals of the education sector for over 15 years. His areas of expertise include Test Prep, College Admissions, eLearning, and Executive Education. He currently leads Alethia Education Services - an executive education solutions company, as Founder and CEO. In the past, he has led IMS Learning Resources – a leading MBA Test Prep Portal, as a Director and Business Partner.

Use CAT Percentile Predictor 2021 to know your estimated CAT cut offs and predict calls from IIMs and Non-IIMs accepting CAT score for admission.

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