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How to crack the Quantitative Section of CAT?

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A guide to crack one of the most dreaded sections of the upcoming CAT exams

By Mr Prashanth Nair, Centre Director, T.I.M.E. and Mr Puneet Sharma, CAT Product Head, T.I.M.E. Mumbai

The Question Answer section is quite dreaded by the CAT aspirants primarily because its content is vast and the list of formulae is endless! And then we have the CAT in which the questions are not primarily formulae based butare based more on their application which involves a fair amount of thinking. To make matters even trickier, CAT has a sectional time limit. All of this culminates in making this section seem too difficult to crack, and thereby, one’s goal of cracking CAT insurmountable! But, fortunately, this is an exam where one’s absolute performance fades away in light of one’s relative performance. And perfecting that is more of an art than merely being good with Numbers!Before we delve into the details of how to tame this monster of an area, let us first try to get a perspective on what exactly QA is all about and how it is relevant for an exam like the CAT.

The quant syllabus of CAT can be divided into five broad categories. They, along with the breakup of the number of questions, are stated below to help students get a better idea of the QA in CAT:

With the total number of questions being 34 in CAT 2017, the number of good attempts for this section was around 20-22.Even with an accuracy of 80%, one would have achieved an approximate of around 93-94 percentile. The above chart is just to give students brief information about the CAT pattern last year & no student should assume that this is the exact break up of questions one can expect in CAT 2018. One should do well to remember that CAT has always been an unpredictable exam. Also, do make a note of the fact that we have no information about the number of questions that will be asked this year in CAT, even though the duration of the test is same. Just because the QA section was moderate in terms of its difficulty level last year doesn’t mean that this year its difficulty level will be similar.

Test-Taking Tips for QA:
1    Plan your preparation: Do not pick any topic/test area at random to prepare. It is important to build a ‘measurable plan’ for the next several weeks till the CAT. A student should take up topics one at a time and focus on the timely completion of the syllabus

2    Strategy: When you are tackling the QA section, approach the questions in a group-wise manner. This means that you first read through a group of four to five QA questions at a time, by using the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons in the online interface before tackling any of them. This will help you choose the right question(s) to attempt, and thereby, aid you in optimizing your time and the number of attempts. In every group of five questions, consider answering just two or three questions. You should attempt more questions only if you find them really easy.

3    Focus on Fundamentals: Understand fundamentals very well! Know the key points of every topic. For example, if we consider HCF and LCM, then knowing only their meanings and methods of getting them is not sufficient. You should know the key points such as HCF is a factor of LCM or that HCF of two numbers is a factor of their sum as well as the difference.

4    Selecting topics and going to the exam: Many students make a list of topics that they would skip for CAT. This is NOT at all a wise decision in exams like CAT. I remember in one particular year, a student had skipped “logarithms” and that year three questions came from the same chapter. One should at least go through the basics of each chapter.

5    Online practice: After the topics get completed, you should start writing as many sectional tests as possible. This will help you improve the speed of solving the questions.

6    Do not target a specific number of questions: Cut-o?s are a function of the di?culty level of the section and the exam itself. Targeting a pre-decided number of questions to clear the cut-o?s is not the smartest strategy to follow as you may need to answer more, or even fewer, questions than what you had decided. Also, a target might end up limiting you!

So, continue with your preparations, take everything detailed above into account, put on your thinking cap & come up with strategies that will help you bell the CAT & make it purr!


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