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“How to prepare for CAT (exam) Quantitative Aptitude (QA)?” is an often-asked question. The quantitative ability (QA) section of CAT is the most feared section of Common Admission Test held by IIMs. This article gives a proper insight into this section of CAT exam and provides you with the right approach to tackle the questions based on quantitative ability. The QA section of IIM CAT consists of 34 questions from various topics like Numbers, Algebra, Geometry, Time and work, Time speed and distance etc. According to experts, the difficulty level of the quant section in the last two years has been easy to moderate and with the right strategy, one can definitely get past 99 percentile in this section. The following Tips may help you with your preparation in Quantitative Ability.
Having clear grasp of basics is important for CAT exam QA section
With only 3-4 months left before next CAT exam, it may not be a wise choice for the candidates to study each topic in depth. Instead one should focus on brushing up the basics of each topic. CAT topper Angad Singh says, “It’s always good to have a timer while practicing to improve the time taken per question”.
The topics can be divided into Geometry, Algebra, Arithmetic, Number Theory, and Miscellaneous.
#1. Geometry: It includes topics like Triangles, Circle, Quadrilaterals, Mensuration etc. It is one of the important category witnessing around 4-5 questions every year. This category requires the candidates to have the understanding of various theorems in geometry and their application. Having a good vision and a lot of practice is essential for this category.
#2. Algebra: this section includes topics like:- functions, logarithms, sequences etc. Most of the students have a great understanding of algebra but the candidates who are weak in this category are advised to have a primary understanding of the formulae and practice a lot to be through with the application of those formulae. Algebra is manageable, if the candidate is familiar with the application of the formulae and simple tricks and tactics to solve questions.
#3. Arithmetic: It includes topics like:- ratio, proportions, time speed distance, time work, set theory etc. Apart from having the conceptual knowledge, this section requires a lot of practice to develop an ability to relate or apply two or three concepts together. This category is calculation intensive so the candidates need to be fast with calculations to attempt arithmetic questions with the required speed of two minutes per question otherwise arithmetic may take up a lot of your time.
#4. Number Theory: this part comprises of topics like:- factors, remainders, number systems, factorials etc. This category also witnesses a lot of questions in CAT and the level is generally easy to moderate so the candidates who are weak in other categories can definitely attempt the questions in this category. All it requires for you is to be fast with calculations and having a good understanding of the fundamentals.
#5. Miscellaneous Topics: Questions are asked here pertaining to topics like:- permutation and combination, logical problems etc. This category cannot be taught easily. Only practice is the key to be proficient in this category. The questions from this category are either doable or not. Decision making included in this category is easy. Hence, this category can fetch you good marks without much preparation.
To Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA) practice Mock Tests
After a candidate is thorough with basics he or she should jump right into mocks. He or she needs to attempt a minimum of 2 mocks a week, integrating different strategies. According to CAT expert, Patrick Desouza, “Students waste a lot of time of initial questions in the quant section and may miss out on the easy questions at the end”.
So it is important for the candidates to be selective. Candidates can use the solve, mark, skip rule used by CAT topper Ishika Ray who states that “As soon as you see a question, take any one of the three actions: solve it if you are confident, mark it if you think you can solve but need some time to work on it, skip when you know that this cannot be solved by you”.
Reading and interpreting the question well is important while attempting mocks. One needs to pay attention to words like “at least”, “at most” etc. According to CAT topper Parag Poddar, a thorough analysis of each section and the mistakes made is necessary. The solutions to all the problems helped him find alternate and easier ways of solving problems. Hence candidates should do the detailed analysis of mocks to find their weaknesses and strengths in the quant section.
Be a champ in QA for CAT exam after Mocks
After giving a few mocks the candidates may have identified their strengths and weaknesses in the quant section and has his strategy cleared out now. As there is not much time left for CAT, one needs to be selective with topics and work more on strengths and give less attention to weak areas and attempt the mocks again with higher attempts, greater speed and better accuracy.