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CAT Prep For Dummies

Time to gear up for another year of MBA preparation. JAM gives you the lowdown on which coaching class to join.

CAT is not a tough exam. What makes it tough is the fact that your are competing with 1,50,000 test-takers. Much like any other entrance exam, most people tend to join CAT coaching classes in order to have that extra edge in preparation.

The four important areas all classes cover:
1. Classroom Coaching
2. Study Material / Correspondence
3. GD/PI Coaching
4. Mock/Simulated Cats (most important)

How do the various classes fare on these parameters? Read on to find out.

Coaching will differ from city to city and centre to centre, yet some universal comments.
The Big Two
IMS: The oldest in the business, with a good rep in the market. But not all their teachers are great (sometimes office staff will double up as teachers). Also personal attention is insufficient.
However, they are very accommodating if you miss a class. More popular in Mumbai. Expensive.

Career Launcher (CL): Much like IMS, very chilled – changing of batches allowed. Relatively pricey. Most preferred in Delhi.

Smaller Players
TIME: Not very accommodating , no frills or show, overall appear cheap in terms of infrastructure compared to IMS/CL but have some gem teachers (good in Mumbai-Andheri). Enough personal attention. Quite cheap.

Career Forum(CF): Very accommodating – you can give your mock CAT any time of the week and remain eligible for the percentile scores, low on personal attention. Most popular in Pune, comparatively cheap.

Professional Tutorials: Present in the smaller cities of northern and central India, and Delhi. Good Mock CATs. Lacks a good base i.e. a high number of students.

Erudite: Recommended for Kolkatans.

IMS Their study material is quite extensive and the English material recommended. Their FCTs (10) given two months before the main CAT are good to solve and quite CAT like. The SIMCATS, MCTs etc are not that great.

Career Launcher (CL): Their study material is the best of the lot with tricks and shortcuts given in the margins. The English is slightly insufficient but the Quant recommended. Their FLTs(16) which include the previous year’s CAT papers are must-solves. Well analyzed and well assembled. Cheap too.

TIME: Printed on cheap paper but pretty extensive. Their GD/PI material is definitely worth going through. The no. of take homes in all are 20-30. TIME does not offer correspondence courses. The ‘Only test series’ package is inexpensive and effective.

Career Forum (CF): Their study material is good and extensive. Very much like CL’s. The English material is a quite broad. The take home tests are many but more or less the same. Do give some of their tests a shot as they tend to be slightly different than other coaching classes.

Other prep material:
     ● Mathematics For MBA – P Agarwal
     ● MBA entrance made easy – Murtuza Gadiwala
     ● OSWAL Paper solutions
These are good for practicing in the early stages of your preparation.

Must reads: Editorial and Business sections of the daily newspaper (whichever you get) Businessworld/ India Today/ Outlook.

This too varies from centre to centre but some universal truths.
IMS has an achievers’ workshop – the ones in Mumbai and Delhi are highly recommended.

Career Launcher too has an achiever’s workshop which is well regarded

TIME has very good GD/PI coaching in most cities, recommended esp. are the Mumbai-Andheri/Vashi centre. though.

Career Forum Not very strong here.

Most coaching classes state that X no of their students have made it into the IIMs. But these numbers are usually bloated by adding anyone or anybody who has attended their workshops, seminars, open tests or even visited their office and made it through a top B school.
IMS SIMCATS 20000 (Mumbai, Calcutta smaller western cities) Available the next day Detailed but useless individual feedback, the paper not analysed at all. 2/5 (Nothing like the original CAT) Tough Maths section and an unsolvable calculation intensive DI, no innovative questions. Stupid and outdated -.25 marking scheme. Exaggerated cut offs.
Career Launcher MOCK CATS 9 13500 (Mumbai, Delhi, smaller northern cities) Takes a couple of days Confusing individual feedback but the paper is well analysed. 4/5 (The nearest to the actual CAT) Lots of innovative questions, Good math and DI sections,-.33 marking scheme. Realistic and perfect cut offs.
Career Forum NAT CATS 8 10000 (Pune, Mumbai) Takes three days and you don’t get the paper & solution till everyone has completed it i.e. five days. Paper is superbly analysed 3/5 (Not much like the CAT) 3/5 (Not much like the CAT) Extremely tough Maths section, tooooo easy English. Major mismatch -.25 -ve marking (incorrect) Cut offs are too low for English. Otherwise realistic.
TIME AIMCATS 18 14000 (Delhi, South India) Takes at least three days (slowest) Fantastic individual feedback but paper is badly analysed. 3/5 (Not much like the Cat) 3/5 (Not much like the Cat ) Tough papers overall Tough RCs in English, innovative DI, a tough maths -0.33 marking. Too low, unrealistic cut offs.

It is truly bizarre that most coaching classes – especially IMS – are totally unable to provide CAT -like Papers. As a matter of fact most of their papers are so tough that they end up demotivating students. Why these reputed and experienced coaching classes have not been able to simulate CAT is a total mystery to me.

For example, last year after 12 decent papers TIME suddenly went bonkers and started giving one tough paper after another totally demotivating right up to the Main CAT.Career Launcher remains an exception to this.

I suggest a week before CAT give an easy paper so the motivation and confidence never really drops. And trust me complacency can effect you a lot less in an aptitude test.

This article was compiled by ‘97 Point Someone’ from personal experiences, pagalguy.com and a number of successful CAT repeaters!!

The negative marking makes a big difference in Cat (coz it’s unknown) I believe there is a progressive –ve marking i.e. the negative marks per question keep increasing as you get more and more wrong. But ultimately a marking system where in -0.33 for every wrong answer and +1 mark for every right answer should be enough. Keep a strict eye on your accuracy though.

The NATCATS of Professional Tutorials are good. Try to get your hands on them, the printing, the layout is exactly like the original CAT. Though lots of typos are there, CAT-2003 was very much like a NATCAT I had once given.

To get the best of everything. I would recommend: Mock CAT & Correspondence: Career Launcher GD/PI coaching: Take the TIME course and the 2-day IMS Achiever’s Workshop (you might have to pay if not already a student)

Classroom Coaching: Take any centre/class which you can get a good feedback on but trust me this is the least important input in your preparation to CAT.

At the same time try to solve the Mock CATs of all the classes that you have not joined. Just to get a taste.

GYAAN: The smart thing to do is to form a group of enthu CAT givers. Each can take a different Coaching Class for the Sunday Mock Cats. Then you can xerox the papers and give the same as practice ones at home. At the same time you can pass on your usernames and passwords to each other to check out the on line analysis, percentiles, standings etc. for each CAT against your personal attempt. Thus, getting the best of all the coaching classes.

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