Who doesn’t want a 99 percentile in the CAT? Don’t we all dream of studying at the IIMs, considered to be the most prestigious colleges in India? But, how many of us honestly work towards it? The CAT exam is not just about how good you are in quant, verbal and data interpretation sections. The questions are used as tools to check whether you have it in you to become the future business leader or an entrepreneur. If you miss this point and focus too narrowly on the questions alone, it’s going to be a tough task to be in that elusive 1 percentile.


Below are 7 tips to help you focus on the broad picture and get a 99 percentile in the CAT exam:

1.  Understand what the CAT is testing – ‘what’ before ‘how’

Most students sleepwalk into the preparation stage. They attend classes, listen to their peers or seniors, read some successful aspirant’s stories and decide this is what they want to do – write the CAT. Even those students who are halfway through the preparation, struggle to answer the question on skills needed to clear the CAT. And, for obvious reasons most such students tend to have disappointing results. So, before you understand ‘how to crack the CAT’, it is essential you know ‘what the CAT is all about’. A good way to start CAT preparation is to go through the previous CAT question papers.

2. Build your own test-preparation strategy – don’t follow the herd

All of us are different. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for the other. The same applies for the CAT exam. For example, some students are comfortable reading the first question in the passage before the passage itself. Others find this approach distracting as it can take away from comprehending the passage. Therefore, analysing your strengths and weaknesses is much more important than blindly following what the last year CAT topper did. It doesn’t mean that you don’t listen to any advice. Try out various approaches and zero in on what works the best for you.

3.  Write mock tests – wait – more importantly, analyse them

Writing mock tests is the single most important step to be successful in the CAT exam. Read the interview of any CAT topper. Most likely, they will attribute their success to mocks. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What is the strategy that works for you? How are you able to handle the stress during the exam? Are you happy with your speed during the test? These are important questions. And, the only way you can answer them is when you write the standardized mock tests on a regular basis. you can Avail a free mock test here. But, what is more important is not writing but analysing these tests. Analyse the mock CAT tests so as to bridge the gap between where you are now to where you want to be in terms of your score.

CAT Coaching

4.  Practise, practise, and more practise

To learn anything, you need to practise. The same is true for CAT as well. Let’s say you find yourself weak in data interpretation. Start with the fundamentals, move to the easy questions and then work your way up to solving the CAT level questions. At each stage, practise the questions so thoroughly that you have both accuracy and speed in your pocket. Apart from building technical skills, you should also practise your time management, stress management, and decision making skills. In short, practise everything till you become the person IIMs want to choose.

5.  Take help from the right sources – Not all or any

While it is not impossible to get a 99 percentile in the CAT exam through self-preparation, joining an institution like crackIIM – CAT coaching by ISB alumni – will save you some time and effort needed to crack it. If somebody has an expertise in a certain area of the CAT, it doesn’t hurt to listen to him/her. However, be wary of quacks. Before you finalise the institution or the material you want to use, do your research on their reputation and the method of their teaching.

6.  Maintain sanity during your preparation – Basically, have a life

Why? Because there is a high chance that you might lose your head during the course of your preparation. It’s common to find students getting demotivated, stressing out and losing their way in the process. That’s exactly what the CAT doesn’t want you to do. IIMs want leaders who are positive, motivated and have the ability to handle high-stress situations without compromising their efficiency. So, you show any signs of not being any of the above during the preparation, you are out of the race.

The best way to handle the stress is to have a hobby that can help you relax. It could be drawing, playing a game, singing etc. The other benefit of having a hobby is that you come across as a holistic individual during the interview stage. It’s great to be dedicated to the exam. But, don’t make it your be-all and end-all.

7.  Love the exam – at least, don’t hate it

There is a tendency among the CAT aspirants to hate the exam as they move through the preparation phase. There could be many reasons for it. They think it’s very difficult, they are sacrificing so much for it or that they are not having fun preparing etc. But it’s all about attitude. Think about all the skills you learn through the exam as you prepare for it. Think about the kind of opportunities that open up to you through this exam. You will automatically start appreciating what the CAT brings to the table.

CAT Exam

Or, think about this; you anyway decided to take the exam. You have a choice to either make your life a living hell for the next few months of preparation or make it a great journey of personal development. The best approach is to have fun with the exam and get up every day with the anticipation of reaching your goal.

 In all, it’s not impossible to get a 99 percentile in the CAT exam. It starts with understanding what skills are needed and building the approach that works for you. But, don’t stop at just becoming an expert in quant, verbal and data interpretation. Aim to become a leader who knows how to manage time, prioritize, handle stress and make wise decisions. If this becomes your ultimate goal, no one can stop you from scoring in the 99 percentile on the CAT exam.