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Preparation Tips for Quantitative Ability (QA) Section in CAT
  • Last Updated : 30 Jul, 2019

The CAT exam (Common Admission Test) is a computer-based entrance exam in India for students wanting to secure the coveted MBA seats in various management institutes of the country such as IIM’s, FMS, DMS, etc. CAT is conducted every year by the IIMs on a rotational basis and it scores the candidates using three sections, namely Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) as well as Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR).

Among these three sections, Quantitative Ability is perhaps one of the most important sections. This is because it also helps in the Data Interpretation section if prepared throughly. Also, 34 questions out of a total of 100 questions in CAT are asked from this section alone, so it’s importance cannot be overstated. So this article focuses on some important Preparation tips for Quantitative Ability so that you can best prepare and consequently ace the CAT exam!!!

Pattern for Quantitative Ability in CAT

To devise an overall strategy for the QA section in CAT, it is important to first understand its overall pattern. So the pattern for CAT 2017 is given as follows:

The CAT 2018 paper was comparatively difficult, so the number of good attempts were reduced by nearly 5. The admission process for aspirants who had given CAT 2018 is still going on so it’s difficult to give the exact percentile and score which will help you land a seat in a good college. Further, individual profiles of aspirants also play a critical role in admission.

Please see the actual score card of CAT 2017 topper for reference,

Now, the important thing to note here is that this is not his actual score but rather his scaled score.

There are two types of scores in CAT, the raw score and the scaled score. The raw score is the real score that you get i.e. +3 for one correct answer and -1 for an incorrect one. While the scaled score is calculated by the IIM’s hosting the CAT. The scaled score is calculated because CAT is conducted in two slots and to make sure all the students are evaluated on the same level of difficulty, scaling is done. But from experience, it can be seen that this score varies in the range +/- 0-12 from your raw score.

One thing that an aspirant need to keep in mind is that the result you get is percentile and not the percentage. So, depending on the paper each year, the number of attempts and the percentile changes. While giving your mocks you will notice that when you found the paper difficult so did the others and as a result, you will be getting greater percentile for less score and vice versa.

Preparation Strategy for Quantitative Ability

Now that we have better clarity of the pattern for QA, let’s move to the preparation. The first two to three months of CAT preparation (depending on the time you are left with) should be devoted to religiously completing the syllabus. This is a list of all the areas you need to cover in this period.

1. Improving calculations

  • Learn tables till thirty
  • Learn Squares, cubes, and reciprocals till 30.
  • Power of 2 up to 12
  • Power of 3 up to 7
  • Power of 4 up to 6
  • Power of 5, 6 and 7 up to 5
  • Power of 8, 9 and 10 up to 4
  • Power of 11, 12, 13 up to 3
  • Square roots and factorial till 10

Please note that even though the calculator is provided in the exam, it will be as useful as the calculator at your home because if you honestly have to use it, you are not there yet.

2. Learning Formulas
While doing the chapters, learn all the formulas and make a cheat sheet for them. When you finally solve the questions, don’t look at this sheet. You should have learned it by heart and if you are unable to recall it then learn all the formulas again and do the question again the next day.

Also, make a biweekly plan for revision and allocate 15 minutes for it. Put up the formulas in front of you wherever you sit or carry them with you when you travel.

3. Chapter Weightage and Syllabus
Now let’s move to the syllabus for Quantitative Ability. You can use any book of your liking in which you are able to understand all the concepts. There is only one advice here, choose a book in which you can understand the explanation given for the questions.

Attempt multiple mock-tests for preparation

People argue that there are no hacks for getting a good score in CAT but there is one, it’s called giving MOCKS.

So you should attempt as many mocks as you can and ANALYZE them. This point can’t be stressed enough but just to emphasize again, ANALYZE MOCKS AFTER ATTEMPTING. Please remember is that this is not an exam for just hard-working people but for both hard-working and smart-working people. So be smart and attempt the maximum number of EASIEST questions in Quantitative Ability. Remember that all correct answers will fetch you a +3. There are no brownie points for attempting the hard questions.

Also, everyone has a different definition of easy, so play to your strengths. However, it might happen that the area you are confident in has the hardest questions. Don’t fall for that trap, move to the easy questions immediately and don’t let it affect your ego.

Go Round-Robin: These are some of the steps you need to follow when giving the exam.

  • Start from question number 1 read it, see if you can do it in a minute or less i.e. if its formula based and there are not multiple cases and possibilities then go ahead and solve it. If you think you can solve it, but it will take 2-3 minutes just note it down on the rough notebook provided.
  • Repeat this for all the 34 questions. By this time, around 30 minutes would have elapsed and assuming an average paper you would have attempted around 15-18 question. Now two things have happened, with decent accuracy you have managed to get around 97 percentile and have seen all the questions.
  • In round 2, look at the list you have prepared, attempt all the questions you have marked which were easy but would take 2-3 minutes. The good thing about this strategy is that your mind will subconsciously be working to solve these questions and you will be able to solve them even faster than you would have, had you solved them on the first go. By the time you complete it, there is a very good possibility that the time will be up but if you manage to solve a couple of the hard ones then kudos to you.

Some General Tips for Quantitative Ability

These are some general tips you can follow while preparing for the Quantitative Ability section of CAT:

  • In CAT examination, a notebook is provided and there is no dearth of paper so while solving questions solve them neatly because sometimes you are unable to solve the question and have to skip it as it is taking longer than expected. In this case, when you come back to re-attempt the question, instead of starting from the scratch you can pick up from where you left.
  • While practicing try and evaluate how much time you are taking to solve the question. You need not start this practice right away but after you are done with basic questions, try to time yourself.
  • Most questions are designed to be solved under 2-2.5 minutes so if you are taking longer than this period ask your peers for advice. Maybe they know an approach you aren’t aware of.
    • How to Implement these Tips in CAT Preparation

      All the tips that are provided above for Quantitative Ability preparation can be utilized to prepare for the intricacies of the CAT exam and eventually ace it! To implement it even more efficiently, GeeksforGeeks brings you the CAT Preparation Course 2019. This is a FREE course comprising of over 1500 questions on all three sections of the CAT exam that will provide more than adequate support for all sections of your CAT preparation.


      CAT Preparation Course 2019 will help the CAT aspirants track and improve the preparation through questions of various difficulty levels. There will be 3 full-length mock tests covering the whole syllabus of CAT. Tracks will cover the theory and quizzes related to all the topics while the Sectional Contests will have time-bound questions on those topics. The explanations for all the questions will be provided at the end of each quiz and tests. There will be 27 Sectional Mock Tests and 3 full-length Contests.

      You are just a click away to begin your CAT preparation journey. Register now for the CAT Preparation Course 2019 course by clicking on the button below.

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