Monday, August 28th, 2017
Quantitative Aptitude is probably the scariest section for most students preparing for the CAT exam. The syllabus is huge, the list of formulas is endless, there is always a shortcut trick that you are not aware of, there are students who can solve complex looking Quant questions in less than a minute on Whatsapp and Facebook groups – should I go on? A lot of these problems arise because of the notion that a lot of people have – Math is Scary! This may be true in some circumstances but as far as CAT is concerned, nothing could be farther from the truth. Let me explain that with the help of some data.
Given below is a chart to help you figure out the number of questions you are required to solve correctly (Y Axis) to score percentiles in the 90-99 range (X Axis) in CAT 2016 and CAT 2015.
As you might notice, the number of questions required in CAT 2016 was 2 or 3 questions lesser than the number of questions required in CAT 2015. This is a clear indication of the fact that CAT 2016 was tougher than CAT 2015. It is incredibly hard to suggest what would be the difficulty level of the paper in CAT exam but thumb should be – do not attempt something that you are not sure of. Negative marking can really wreck havoc on your score in the Quantitative Aptitude section if you go in with a premeditated target score in mind. As shown above, the difficulty level of the paper will make a significant difference to the so called ideal number of attempts.
Another thing that I think this chart highlight is the fact that you do not really need to do a majority of the questions in CAT. There are 34 questions in the CAT Quantitative Aptitude section. Even if you are able to do half of them, in almost all cases, it will get you a really good score. That means you can actually leave half of them. This is a really important point that you should keep in mind while preparing for CAT Quantitative Aptitude. A lot of students run after difficult problems that they find in ‘Level of Difficulty – 3’ of books or ‘Type – B’ in coaching institute materials. Please understand that you do not need to do solve tough questions in the paper. To do well, you just need to solve all easy questions and a few medium difficulty level questions. Try and master this art when you are preparing for CAT – it will improve your score significantly. Do not bruise your ego over a question that you cannot solve or over a solution that you do not understand. Skip it.
The chart given below indicates the number of questions that are asked in various topics out of a total of 34 questions. These numbers change a little bit year on year but the chart given below is on the basis of CAT paper over the last 2-3 years.
As you can see from the chart above, that Geometry / Algebra / Arithmetic are far more important than topics like Number System and Modern Math. Sadly, not a lot of CAT aspirants understand this. Even when presented with this data, they keep on spending a lot of time learning fancy techniques to solve questions based on remainders or finding out the last non-zero digit of a factorial or calculating the probability in case of dependent events. I am not saying that these things don’t get asked, all I am saying is that there are bigger issues at hand which you need to address while preparing for CAT Exam.
Given below I have divided the sections further into topics/chapters. The ones in red indicate that they are important and the ones in blue are the ones that should be given less priority.
I agree that there isn’t much time left for the CAT exam but there is more than enough time left if you are sincere and disciplined. To most of the students of our online CAT coaching course, I suggest that they put in 2 days a week purely dedicated towards a section. Obviously, there are mocks and other time for practice that is there on the weekend but these 2 days should purely be spent on building your basics of a particular topic. If you already know what your weakest part in Quant is – start with that. If not, start with Geometry. It is completely unrelated to other topics. There are few formulas that you might have forgotten because you saw them last time 5 years ago (or may be 10) when you were trying to do well in the board exam. Somehow Algebra / Arithmetic / Numbers – these topics stay with you but Geometry gets wiped out fast. That’s the reason it might be a good place to start. You should tackle the big hairy problems first.
Another key point to note is that you should not try to do the hard stuff that is not relevant. You need to put in an effort to understand anything but if within the first 2-3 hours you are not able to make too much sense of it and it is not an important topic (refer to the red/blue table above), it might not be a bad idea to skip it. Your time to prepare for CAT Quant is limited and you should invest it in areas that provide the highest return on investment.
By mid-October, you should have wrapped up the basics of all topics and your goal should be to become proficient enough to solve easy questions on all topics. The last month and a half should purely be dedicated towards previous year CAT questions, questions from Mock CATs, improving strategy – in that order. You should specifically work on areas where you are not able to solve easy questions in the last one-month. You should spend no time in learning new techniques and solving hard questions in the last one-month. It would not only be a waste of your time but from what I have seen in the past with many students, it often depresses them as well. It would be wise to stay out of that trap.
I hope that this post would have given you some idea about how to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude in the last 100 days. If you liked this post, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Whatsapp.
Founder & Mentor,
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