Strategize for each section

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With there being around 4 months to CAT, you have ample amount of time to make a test strategy that works for you. In this article, we will discuss different ways in which you can plan and strategize for the three hours of CAT. Each section requires a different approach. You can test different approaches in different mocks to figure out what works best for you. Make sure you attempt each section the right way.


A good way to improve your mock score is to develop a strategy which will not just help you with mocks but also with CAT. The first section that you will come across is the VARC section and as per the past trends, it generally has 24 reading comprehension questions and 10 other verbal ability questions like para jumbles, para summary, etc.

One very effective way to maximize your score for VARC section is to skim through the section first and then start attempting the questions. Now, given the time constraint in CAT exam, one might disregard this advice as skimming through the section will take upto 3-4 minutes of your time. But this strategy could prove to be very advantageous. The reason we recommend this strategy is because there is a huge diversity in the RC’s that come in CAT. The topics range from economics to scientific discoveries to philosophy. A student depending on his or her interests might find a certain one familiar than others and thus will attempt those questions more accurately. Therefore, we strongly recommend that during the initial 3-4 minutes read the first paragraph of all the RC’s and attempt the RC’s with familiar topics first. It’s better to identify those RC’s in the initial 3-4 minutes rather than regretting later for not being able to give them the proper time.

One more important thing to keep in mind is that never start attempting a new RC in the last 5 minutes. If you are running out of time and have a few questions left, always attempt the questions from the VA section. The logic behind this is very simple, 5 minutes is not enough to attempt an entire RC accurately. Thus, you may end up wasting your time in reading the RC and not being able to mark the answer or worse you may mark the answers incorrectly. In any case attempt your VARC section in such a way that you don’t have any RC’s left for the last 5 minutes.


After attempting the VARC section, the next section that you’ll face is DILR section. It usually comprises caselets of 4/6 questions each. Again, the diversity in the topics of the caselets are huge and they vary from bar graphs to line graphs to pie charts to logical reasoning questions like seating arrangements, ranking etc.

To maximize your score, we would again strongly advise you to allocate initial 3-4 minutes to skim through each caselet in the section. Once you go through all the caselets superficially, identify the topics that you are more comfortable with and attempt those questions first. This will help you in 2 ways –

If you solve a caselet correctly, it means you have solved a set of 4 questions. So, you have 12 marks in your pocket. Moreover, it will also give you a psychological boost and raise your confidence for next questions.

The difficulty of all the caselets is not the same. So, this will prevent you from picking up a difficult caselet in the beginning, which might take up upto 10-15 minutes of your time, and being unsolved. So, you can strategize to use the time on the caselets that are comparatively easier. Maximizing your score is very crucial in CAT. Thus, missing out on a question that you could have definitely solved, for a question that you might have been able to solve can prove to be a costly mistake.


The Quantitative Aptitude section is the last section in CAT and has questions from a variety of topics from Mathematics. As it doesn’t have questions in the form of a caselet, it is not advisable to skim through this section before attempting. However, this doesn’t mean that you can start attempting questions haphazardly nor does it imply that you should only move forward sequentially, attempting one question after the other. For the QA section, these 2 strategies have proved to be very successful –

One strategy is to divide the 34 questions in small segments of maybe 5 or 7 questions each as per your convenience and always skim through each segment once before attempting them, just like we did with the VARC and DILR sections. This will help you in identifying and solving all the easy questions first.

Another strategy is to move in a sequential order where you read a question and if you are sure that solve it, you start, else you save it for later. Here, the time can be allocated such that you spend the initial 40 minutes solving all the ‘doable’ questions and save the last 20 minutes for questions that you maybe able to solve. However, one thing to keep in mind that at first, you should only attempt those questions that you can definitely solve and then in the second go, try to solve other questions and maximize your score.


Irrespective of the section strategy you chose you should always keep these things in mind:

Never dedicate more than 3 minutes for any question. Don’t let your ego get the best of you and keep in mind that if you are not able to solve a question in 3 minutes, you might not be able to solve it at all. It is frustrating to see negative marks on the questions one has spent a lot of time on, and in that process, missing out on the easy questions at the end of the paper.

Use the “Mark for review” button intensively in this section. Mark all those questions that you feel you might be able to solve later if the time permits.

During your initial mocks or during early phase of your preparation, try to set a benchmark of attempting roughly 70% of questions with around 80% accuracy. If you are able to maintain this score consistently, you are already in the 95%tile bracket. CAT exam is all about maintaining a balance between speed and accuracy. As you build on this score, try to increase your accuracy with the number of attempts. A raw score of around 165 or above (based on recent year’s data) and you can expect 99%tile in the actual CAT exam.

All the 3 sections of CAT exam will have Non-MCQ type questions which don’t have any negative marking. However, even while attempting these questions, make sure you never spend more than 3 minutes of your time. If you can’t solve it in 3 minutes, make a logical guess and move ahead. If you feel you were close to the answer, mark the question for review and solve it later. However, never attempt a MCQ question on the basis of a guess or gut feeling or whatever other phenomenon you might call it to justify your action. Even the 100%tilers in CAT don’t attempt all the questions. Knowing which questions to attempt and which one to leave is as important as solving the questions correctly. Let your ego take a hit and move on to the next question.

In this way, you can try different strategies for different sections to figure out what works for you best. Giving mocks boosts a person’s confidence and makes a candidate prepare for the final CAT examination. Do check out our other blogs to learn more CAT concepts. You can also visit our website and start your CAT preparation for free.

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