Quantitative Aptitude Questions in the CAT Exam – A Complete Analysis

Monday, July 29th, 2019


Quantitative Aptitude Questions in the CAT Exam

Quantitative Aptitude is an important part of the CAT Exam. As a matter of fact, it will not be wrong to say that it is the most important part of the CAT exam because the most amount of time is spent on preparation of the Quantitative section. Should it be that way? – Perhaps the answer is yes for a few students but the actual number of CAT aspirants who make Quant their top priority is much larger than it needs to be a reason. And do you know the reasons behind that?

First and foremost, it is the inherent fear of Math. We are often afraid of what we do not understand fully and Quantitative Aptitude causes that fear in the head of CAT aspirants. Secondly, it is very easy to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude because there is more or less a fixed syllabus and the books for Quantitative Aptitude are very well defined if you compare it with the other areas of the CAT Exam – Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation or Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. But are any of these reasons valid? No. Not at all. The only reason that Quantitative Aptitude should get top priority in your CAT Preparation plan is if it is your weakest section. In that case, the next question would be – ‘How are you going to know if it is your weakest section?’ Well, the answer to that one is simple –attempt past year papers early in your preparation to understand not only your strengths and weaknesses but also to understand the kind of questions that get asked.

Now let’s say we have established the fact that as a CAT aspirant we will give only the required amount of time to Quantitative Aptitude and we are not going to stretch it to fill the amount of time we have available for preparation. The next question that follows is – which areas in Quantitative Aptitude require the most attention? Sadly, most students never ask this question to themselves. They just randomly start with the first topic that is given in their books and spend an overwhelmingly large amount of time on it. They end up rushing some of the other topics that either come late in the book or if they are not interested in that. The biggest reason behind this is – they never sit down and analyze what is important and what is not. I often tell the important and not so important topics to my students. I also recommend the amount of time that should be dedicated to a particular topic. As a matter of fact, the way I have designed my course videos is to give enough amount of attention to the topics that are more important. For example, you will find a lot many more videos on topics like Time Speed and Distance in the course vs something like Probability. I just wish more students understood this idea of relative importance and not take a book / a coaching material as gospel and give equal importance to all areas. What is worse is that a large number of students give undue importance to topics that are almost never asked. The number of days, sometimes weeks, that students spend on calculating remainders and various other Number System related ideas is so high that it is baffling. I have seen this reduce over the last 3-4 years but it is still too high for comfort. Hopefully, this post will help a few students quit this nasty habit of looking for quick calculation techniques for finding out the last two digits and finding out the number of zeroes in a factorial.

Given below is a table of content of the most important topics of Quantitative Aptitude in the CAT Exam. This is the data from the question papers of

CAT 2017 Exam – Morning Slot

CAT 2017 Exam – Evening Slot

CAT 2018 Exam – Morning Slot

CAT 2018 Exam – Evening Slot

As you might already know, there were 34 questions in the Quantitative Aptitude section of the CAT exam over the last two years. While the pattern for the CAT exam cannot be exactly predicted, the data below does show us what the important areas and what are the areas that can be relatively ignored.

Section Topic CAT 2017 Morning CAT 2017 Afternoon CAT 2018 Morning CAT 2018 Afternoon Total
ARITHMETIC Mixtures 2 2 3 7
Time & Work 1 1 2 1 5
Pipes & Cisterns 1 1 2 4
Time, Speed and Distance 2 3 3 3 11
Profit & Loss 3 2 1 6
Percentage 2 2 1 5
Average 1 1 1 3
Ratio 2 1 2 5
Simple & Compound Interest 1 1 2
ALGEBRA Inequalities 2 1 3
Quadratic Equations 1 1 1 1 4
Logarithms 2 2 3 2 9
Simple Equation 1 1 2 4
Polynomial 1 1 1 3
Maxima & Minima 2 1 3
Functions 3 3 2 1 9
GEOMETRY Polygon 1 2 3 6
Circles 1 1 3 2 7
Co-ordinate 1 1 2
Mensuration 2 1 1 4
Triangles 2 1 1 1 5
NUMBER SYSTEM 3 1 3 7
MODERN Sequence & Series 2 3 1 5 11
Permutation & Combination 3 2 1 1 7
Set Theory 2 2 4
Total 34 34 34 34 136

Given are some of the key learnings from the data that should help you figure out your preparation plan and help you prioritize. Remember folks – in God we trust, everyone else should bring data. So, if someone comes and tells you to prepare for trigonometry for CAT or to read about conic sections – show them this table. Tell them that you are not going to waste your time on irrelevant stuff.

So, let us begin.

If we divide the CAT Quantitative Aptitude syllabus into 5 broad categories of:

  1. Number System
  2. Arithmetic
  3. Algebra
  4. Geometry
  5. Modern Math

The most important category consistently has been Arithmetic with 12-13 questions every CAT Exam.

Next would be Algebra with 8-9 questions every CAT Exam.

Geometry comes after that with 5-7 questions every CAT Exam.

Modern Math has 4-5 questions every CAT Exam.

Number System only gets a maximum of 3 questions every CAT Exam.

The 5 most important topics are:

  1. Time Speed and Distance
  2. Time and Work (including Pipes and Cisterns)
  3. Logarithms
  4. Functions
  5. Sequence and Series

You can expect 2-4 questions on each of these topics in the upcoming CAT Exams. They have maintained that importance over the years and the same is likely to continue in coming years.

The 5 least important topics are:

  1. Coordinate Geometry
  2. Simple and Compound Interest
  3. Averages
  4. Maxima-Minima
  5. Inequalities

It is not even necessary that a question would be asked on these topics. Even if you do get a question on these topics, it is highly unlikely that you would get multiple questions on these topics. Having said that, two of these topics can be useful for building a base for other topics such as Average and Inequalities. Co-ordinate Geometry, Maxima-Minima as topics are pretty much useless.

A few other topics on which a question is almost never asked but still CAT aspirants spend a lot of time on:

  • Remainders
  • Probability
  • Trigonometry

Please note that not a single question has been asked on the above topics in the last couple of years in the CAT exam. And I doubt this year’s CAT is going to be any different. Also, these topics are hardly relevant for any other part of Quantitative Aptitude for CAT. So, any time that you are spending on the above topics is pretty much a waste.

If I am able to help even one student with this post make the right choices with their time, I would find this entire effort of creating this data useful. Special shoutout to Vivek, who tirelessly toiled through questions from the last two years of CAT Exam and categorized them in this format. Yes – some questions can be open to interpretation as to which category they fall into when it comes to Quantitative Aptitude, but broadly speaking – this data won’t lie.

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Regards,

Ravi Handa,

Founder & Mentor,

Handa Ka Funda

CAT 2019 Official Notification Here

Other posts related to Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry

Geometry Basics for CAT – Triangle related questions and problems
Mensuration Basics and 3-Dimensional Geometry Concepts for CAT

CAT Questions related to Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry

All questions from CAT Exam Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Triangles – Q1: Let P be an interior point of a right-angled isosceles triangle ABC with hypotenuse AB.
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Triangles – Q2: Let ABC be a right-angled triangle with BC as the hypotenuse. Lengths of AB and AC are 15 km and 20 km, respectively.
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Triangles – Q3: From a triangle ABC with sides of lengths 40 ft, 25 ft and 35 ft, a triangular portion GBC is cut off where G is the centroid of ABC.
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Circles – Q1: ABCD is a quadrilateral inscribed in a circle with centre O. If ∠COD = 120 degrees and ∠BAC = 30 degrees
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Circles – Q2: Let ABC be a right-angled isosceles triangle with hypotenuse BC. Let BQC be a semi-circle, away from A, with diameter BC.
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Coordinate – Q1: The points (2, 5) and (6, 3) are two end points of a diagonal of a rectangle. If the other diagonal has the equation y = 3x + c, then c is
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Coordinate – Q2: The shortest distance of the point (½, 1) from the curve y = |x -1| + |x + 1| is
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Mensuration – Q1: The base of a vertical pillar with uniform cross section is a trapezium whose parallel sides are of lengths 10 cm and 20 cm
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Mensuration – Q2: A ball of diameter 4 cm is kept on top of a hollow cylinder standing vertically.
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Mensuration – Q3: A solid metallic cube is melted to form five solid cubes whose volumes are in the ratio 1 : 1 : 8: 27: 27.
Quantitative Aptitude – Geometry – Polygon – Q1: Let ABCDEF be a regular hexagon with each side of length 1 cm. The area (in sq cm) of a square with AC as one side is
 

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