One must start planning about taking the CAT exam well in advance. For an engineering student, planning should start in the beginning of the third year itself, because one must take the exam in the middle of one’s final year (Oct-Nov). After the aspirant decides how, where and when he’s going to start preparation, it is advised that he might want to join a classroom or correspondence course where they provide material and tests to give confidence and practice to the students. Also, the first step towards preparation would be improving on the verbal section, since it is the most difficult part of the exam and it cannot be learned in a few months, let alone weeks.
To start grammar and vocabulary preparation from scratch, one can use effective guides like Barrons and Norman Lewis. These two books provide the best vocabulary exposure one would ever want for CAT preparation. Also, one has to learn to improve one’s reading skills for getting a higher score on the test. And the best way to improve reading speed is by reading a lot of books. They needn’t be related to any subject whatsoever, but they could be any good standard books, novels, biographies, etc.
The best time to start preparation is 8-9 months before the exam and assuming that one is taking the test in late October, it is better start preparation by February or March; not later than that. It gives one ample time to prepare the concepts, revise the fundamentals and take plenty of tests.
CAT Quantitative and Logical Reasoning:
If the applicant is an engineer or a science/commerce stream graduate, mathematics should not be a great problem, especially if they are just the basics. However, the general mathematical skills alone are not being tested in the CAT exam, but the speed, ability and accuracy of a student are the most important parameters in the test. It never harms to be organized, so every week one can start working out one unit of quantitative aptitude, followed by a test in the section during the weekend to see how one fares. Maintaining a separate book on the mistakes and referring to it now and then will help one reduce the chances of making the same mistake again and again.
The Logical reasoning section could be a bit risky and demands more attention, both during the preparation period as well as in the actual test. Thorough preparation is mandatory for a good score and during then, one can always make two categories of questions, first one which one is comfortable with and can solve without any hassles. The second would be the difficult and complicated zone. While reading the question in the exam, the student can always find out if it is the easy one or difficult one. If it easy, he can solve it in a minute and use the saved up time to solve the more challenging questions later on in the test. However, one must not spend too much time trying to work out a difficult question.