CAT Preparation tips for Quants

CAT Preparation tips for Quants

Best tips to prepare for Quants in CAT: When it comes to appearing for the Common Admission Test (CAT), Quantitative Ability might be the section most dreaded by students across the country. The reason behind this is not because students score less in this section, but because it requires more dedication and concept-level understanding then the other two sections of CAT – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR). However, with simple tips and tricks that follow in the article below, we assure you that you will be able to ace what is thought to be the toughest section of CAT. Here are the best tips on how to improve Quant for CAT

What is included in Quantitative Ability section?

Quant syllabus: The Quantitative Ability section is usually considered the toughest section in CAT. Most candidates, usually students with non-engineering backgrounds, fear they would lose out marks on this section. In CAT, the Quantitative Ability section includes around 32 to 34 questions. The total marks for this section is approximately 102. Test takers get exactly 60 minutes to attempt and complete quants sections. This means that the biggest skill one needs while attempting Quantitative Ability is time management. This implies that instead of trying to learn everything about the topics, students should focus on learning the concepts and best tricks to solve a problem.

What is covered under the Quantitative Ability section of CAT:

The Quants section includes a number of areas in mathematics which are further divided into various topics. Some of the areas that are covered under Quants are: Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, Mensuration, and Numbers, etc. These are the topics covered under the mentioned areas:

  1. Geometry: Mensuration, Triangles, Straight lines, Circles,
  2. Pure Maths: Probability, Functions and Graphs, Trigonometry, Statistics, Permutation and Combination
  3. Airthmetic: Equations, Ratio, Variation and Proportion, Profit and Loss, Average, Mixtures, Alligations, Simple Interest and Compound Interest, Time and Work, Time, Speed and Distance, etc.
  4. Algebra: Indices and Logs, Progressions, Inequalities
  5. Number: Number theory and systems, Number puzzles and logic questions

According to experts, Algebra constitutes around approximately five questions in CAT quantitative ability paper, Arithmetic constitutes six questions, five questions come from Pure math, three from geometry and mensuration.

MBA preparation tips for Quants:

Do a SWOT analysis and focus on weak spots: Well, we have all come across the term SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. For the sake of context we will only consider the Strengths and Weaknesses, let’s understand what it would mean while attempting the Quantitative Ability section in CAT. While preparing this means:

  1. Finding are your strong areas is very important. Which are the topics you are confident about? Is it Profit and Loss, or is it Permutation and Combination, or maybe Time, Speed and Distance. Whatever it is, the first step is always to understand where your strength lies.
  2. Finding which are your weak areas? Do you find yourself struggling with Simple Interest and Compound Interest, or maybe Alligations? Once you know your strong areas, figuring out the one’s that you are weak at should not be much of a problem. However, there would certainly be topics where your concepts might be clear but you are not so confident. You might be confused whether to put them under your strong or weak area. The best thing to do in that case is to put them under your weak areas but devote less time as would in the other areas.

Create a preparation schedule: One of the first steps in preparing for the Quants section of CAT is to create a preparation schedule. The schedule should be made for each topic of area of Quants. However, the number of days a student puts in for any area would depend on their confidence level in that topic. For topics like Arithmetic or Geometry, it is best to give at least 8-9 of continuous and dedicated practice. For other topics like Permutation and Combination or Number Systems, a week for each is enough, although that would depend on your confidence and knowledge of any topic.

Basics first: Most candidates who are unfamiliar with CAT jump onto learning the tricks the problems solved. But, you have to hold your horses there. Acing the Quantitative Ability requires more than just learning tricks and tips. It requires aspirants to get their concepts clear. This is one of the best tips to prepare for Quants. Once the concepts are clear, candidates do not have to worry about mugging up a trick to solve any problem related to any topic.

Time management: This is an age-old quant preparation tip practiced by every student. Time management is very important which means that maintaining your speed and accuracy is key to crack this section. The best thing to do here is to break down the time management across sections. Students get exactly 60 minutes to complete 30 questions in the Quantitative Ability section, which gives you hardly 2 minutes to figure out the solution for any problem. That is where the time management skill comes in. To ensure that you get the right answer you also have to make sure that your concepts are right. You might not always have questions in a said pattern. Some might include the application of more than one concept. Thus, clarity in concepts helps you in finishing the section on time.

Take at least one mock test every week:

Now that we have established that learning time management is an effective quant preparation tip for CAT, this step is to learn how to exactly manage our time. The best way to do that is to take as many mock tests as possible. Mock tests act like simulated tests, which means students can take the test in the same given time and environment. In fact, mock tests help ensure that you score high in the Quantitative Ability section of CAT. If you were wondering how you would solve a quants problem in less than two minutes, mock tests are the best way to figure that out. A word of caution: you might not be able to manage your time and score high in the first couple of mock test. That’s why it’s important that you take at least one mock test every week. That would give you an idea of what level you are at with your preparation.

Best books for Quants preparation:

Books form a very important part of the quant preparation for CAT. While there are innumerable study materials available to students, there are some selected by experts which have been proven to help previous CAT toppers. Here is a list of some of the best study books for Quants:

Best books for Quants Author and Publisher
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT and Other MBA Entrance Exams Trishna Knowledge Systems (Pearson)
How to Prepare for the CAT Common Admissions Test Muhamed Muneer (Om Books)
The Complete CAT Digest Arun Sharma (Tata McGraw-Hill)
How to prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT Arun Sharma (Tata McGraw-Hill)
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations Abhijit Guha (Tata McGraw-Hill)
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT Sarvesh K Verma (Arihant)
Quantitative Aptitude R.S. Aggarwal
Quant study modules Arun Sharma


Quantitative Ability tips by toppers:

While working hard is one of the important part of the quants preparation tips, it is also advisable to adhere to some tips that CAT toppers have shared over time. We have filtered out some fast learning tips from CAT toppers across India.

Here are some quick tips for Quantitative Ability of CAT:

  1. Amar Agrahari, CAT 2018 Topper, 99.67 percentile: I analyze each mock as soon as possible and figured out all the recurring mistakes that I made. Not only that, but I also tried to look for a better approach for any of the problems. I penned down in a notebook carefully and kept going back to my notes to check my improvement.
  2. Dinesh Reddy, CAT 2017 Topper: The more you practice, the more you can remember the formulae, and the faster you can solve. This section is all about practice and solving different models.
  3. Saakshi Goel, CAT topper, 99.57 percentile: Solving even half a number of questions in QA can lead to a fairly good score. The amount of time is also such that not all the questions can be solved.
  4. Vatsalya Kumar Srivastava, CAT topper, 99.76 percentile: Quants is vast and not everything can be captured within a limited time of preparation. You must practice through as many examples as possible. Learn the concepts and then practice the example.
  5. Aniket Upadhyay, CAT 2016 Topper: QA is totally about how much time and practice you can put in. After understanding the basic formulae, I used to only practice questions from study material and appear for mocks.
  6. Adarsh Anand, CAT 2017 topper: Mock tests played a very crucial role in my success. Join at least two institutes for mock tests. Two mock tests per week are good enough. Analyse your weak and strong points both and work on them accordingly.
  7. Mradul Verma, CAT 2018 topper, 99.81 percentile: You might think that your Arithmetic is stronger and your Algebra is weaker, but you’re able to solve questions of Algebra not Arithmetic, then you should focus more on Arithmetic.

About CAT 2019:

CAT is an all India level management entrance examination which facilitates entry into the top business schools in the country including the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Central and State business schools and other private management schools. The 20 IIMs and over 100 other business schools accept CAT score every year. CAT 2019 is expected to be held in the last week of November. It is a computer based exam conducted for 3 hours. The exam will be held in two slots- Forenoon from 9 am to 12 pm and Afternoon from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Over 2.5 lakh students appear for the exam across majority of the cities in India.

The test is held in the Multiple Choice Based Questions format and includes 100 questions. It tests students’ ability in three sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability. Test Takers are awarded three marks for every correct answer and one mark is deducted for a wrong answer.

Candidates who clear CAT are called for further rounds of the selection process which might vary among institutes. Usually, these selection rounds include Written Ability Test (WAT), Group Discussion (GD) and Personal Interview (PI).


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