The things you should keep in mind while preparing for CAT are
1.CAT is a pseudo standardised test
This means that, even though you cannot predict the exact pattern of questions you can still predict the answer pattern -- a net total of about 60 to 65 marks with an equitable distribution in all three sections of the paper will get you calls from most institutions.
Once you realise this, you will find your workload reduced by a huge amount. Your task, as emphasised by all CAT preparation centres, is to attempt the easiest possible questions out of the 120 to 150 odd questions that are put to you. You must work to this pattern if you want to do well in CAT.
2. The identification of easy questions is a difficult task and comes only after practice. Depending on a person's level of ease with the topics, the amount of preparation required may vary. However, you should try to leverage your strengths to the optimum. In the process, however, don't forget clearing cut-offs is essential to getting calls; doing well in one section and not clearing the cut-off in another will not help.
3. CAT is not a test to prove your mettle in specific subjects; you need to prove your overall ability.
4. Most of you must have already started giving mock tests; this is the only way to figure out how you will fare at the national level. There is no need to panic if you are not able to match your expectations in the mock CAT tests; look at every test as a learning experience.
Do your best in all the tests. After returning home, analyse your performance. Adequate practice will give you the knowledge to make informed decisions -- for example, you will realise attempting a reading comprehension question might not be a good idea if you only have a few minutes left before the test ends.
Answer questions depending on your level of confidence on the topics, rather than the feasibility of the answers.
5. You should be careful not to repeat the mistakes made you made in either the mock CATs or while practising at home. Make it a point to take a couple of tests every week from now on.
6. Set a goal while revising or studying the CAT preparation material.
Here is an example of what I mean. If you have planned to study for two hours, you should also know what you hope to achieve at the end of those two hours. This will help you focus your effort. By setting a goal, you will achieve much more in those two hours.
7. As I had mentioned earlier, CAT is all about strategy. There are many talented people who have given this exam but have not got admission into the IIMs. One of the major differences between these people and those who made it to the IIMs is that the latter had learnt to maximise their result in the two hours allotted to CAT.
They knew all sections were equally important and should, ideally, be given equal time unless you are exceptionally weak in a section.
8. Coming to the paper, you should look at accuracy as a priority. Adequate practice will help you increase your speed at a later stage of preparation, but absence of accuracy will lead to widely varying results and not help you get admission in the institution of your choice.
9. Try and understand why you want to do an MBA. Your reasons should be good enough to constantly motivate you during the preparation stage. You should also inculcate the habit of reading regularly.
10. Lastly, flexibility matters.
One can have a strategy is place, but it may not work for you during the actual exam. You should always have a fallback plan. One particular section in the paper might be particularly difficult or you may find two sections have been merged into one. Such possible combinations should be analysed; you should also have a strategy ready in case you are faced with such a scenario.
Focus on improving your strategy during the month of September. Use the months of October and November to work on the speed at which you answer questions accurately.
Before giving mock tests, ensure you have a good grasp on the various CAT sections; you should be able to attempt at least 80 to 90 questions. This will give you the confidence to sail through CAT!
Follow a step by step procedure. Everyone has his/her own learning curve so there is not a single method that will work for all. However I can suggest some steps:
1. Clear you basic Maths Concepts. The best place to start is the text books for Class 10 or some study material provided by an institute. Learn as many formulas as possible and find some shortcuts.
2. Work on you vocabulary. Read a lot and observe how a word in used in different contexts.
3. Develop the habit of reading. Newspapers, Magazines and TV can be a great help here.
4. Reasoning skills can be improved by solving puzzles
5. Practice a lot. Solve sets of questions within a time frame. Concentrate on each section and devote equal time.
6. Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, go for some full-length tests. Observe how you improve your score with each passing test.
7. Revise. This is what most of the students miss out on.
How to Tackle Each Section?
Here are some tips:
MAT Test has relatively easy math sums except probability and permutations which may prove difficult. Generally the paper can be solved with some patience. As mentioned earlier stick to basics.
Data Analysis and Sufficiency (DI)
MAT DI part consists of conventional data interpretation like graphs and charts with questions based on finding percentage increase or decrease.
Like many other MBA Entrance exams, MAT also follows old GRE books. It will a good idea to study from these or some old question papers of MAT.
MAT English part is pure comprehension. This is the area of concern for most students. Only thing that can help you here is reading and reading a lot.