Had been to a panel discussion on “cracking CAT” held at IIT Madras. Some interesting points were discussed. Just thought it would be a good idea to share those. Lot of the stuff pertains to an IIT audience; hence the title. Having said that most of what we discussed would apply to anyone who is strong in quants and is slightly worried about verbal.
For IIT-ians it is probably a better idea to NOT enroll into a course 15-months before CAT
Till 2000 (the year I took CAT), preparation for CAT used to start at the beginning of the 7th semester, roughly 4 months before CAT (back then CAT used to be held in Dec). Then the CAT training industry happened and preparation cycles expanded – slowly inexorably, painfully to 15-months. This kind of preparation cycle kills momentum – especially for IIT-ians.
Most CAT courses focus on quant preparation. So, if it is a 180-hour classroom program, then 120+ hours will be on quants. The quant-level tested in CAT corresponds to syllabus from standard VI to IX. So, your teacher will be discussing profit&loss and linear equation for most parts – several notches below JEE preparation. Odds are that you will enrol for the course in a bout of enthu and start skipping classes from month 2 onwards, and completely forget about the course by month 4. Empirical data suggests that this is what 90% of IIT junta do. Whats the point?
IIT-ians quant level will be higher. You will not get much value from sitting in a class that teaches basics. You need good-quality practice and may be some discussion with a teacher who can push you that little bit further. Cracking CAT is about momentum, intensity, sharpness. Many graduates across the country need help with geometry, number theory or permutation & combinations. But if one has cleared JEE, one should have little trouble navigating quants.
The second section is a verbal section, not an English section
Worldwide, examinations are designed with a simple quant + simple verbal framework only because this is considered a good proxy to test intelligence. This is why the tests focus on averages,percentages and the like (rather than differential calculus and vector algebgra). Correspondingly, for the verbal section the focus is on reading comprehension and basic reasoning, and not on identifying past-participle and gerund.
Beyond this, take practice exams, fill the gaps in quant, DI and LR. Work on intensity and stamina. Do not fall into the guilt-trap and enrol yourself into a course 15-months ahead of the exam and kid yourself saying you are preparing for CAT.