MBA Study Guide: 8 Steps to improve calculation speed

Make your CAT quantitative aptitude preparation easy with these 8 tips that will speed up your calculation. Use these tips in the upcoming CAT, MAT, XAT, IIFT, SNAP, NMAT, IBSAT and other MBA Entrance Exams.

Feb 6, 2020 16:08 IST
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Calculation speed
Calculation speed

It’s said that calculation is an art you are born with, but we believe it is not the fact always. Calculation indeed is an art, but it can be acquired as well with consistent practice and persistence. When preparing for MBA entrance exam, calculation is one tool that can help you achieve accuracy and precision in the exam. Therefore, candidates aiming for high scores in the exam must put effort in improving their calculation speed. This skill will not only help you with time management in the exam but will also save you from the crisis of potential negative marking.

Considering all these challenges, it is a win-win situation if an aspirant brushes up calculation skills before appearing for any of the MBA entrance exams such as CAT, MAT, XAT, IIFT, SNAP, NMAT, SNAP, etc. as all of them carry a dedicated section of quantitative aptitude, comprising of not less than 25 questions. While there is time, you can develop you speed and a little hard work, time, practice and passion is required in the whole exercise.

A good exercise or a list of certain problems would be great to have. So follow these tips and become a maestro of calculations to ace you upcoming MBA exam:



Yes, morning is the time, where you can work with the highest efficiency. Get up early in the morning; go for a walk first, so that you are completely fresh; then sit up and start your calculation practice. Well, it could be the same for some people who work at night as well; however, morning time is something that is preferable above all.

MBA Quantitative Aptitude– Averages Set-I



Now, when I mean when I say hierarchy, I mean start with beginning. Go for calculations which are easy, then slowly proceed to the intermediate level, then to the advanced level. Start with as simple calculations as you can. Could be multiplying a three digit number with a two digit number, or adding three to five numbers of 4 digits each, or even something less than this level?




Now, set fixed schedules for practicing. Practice daily, at least for thirty minutes. I don't think that is too much. But yes, please don't settle at thirty minutes. Keep increasing your practicing duration. Keep a check on the speed daily. Set targets, try to accomplish the targets. In no circumstances, there shall be a drop from your previous ones. It is important to work out of comfort zone, and when I say comfort zone here, I mean time. Say I can multiply 3265 with 33 in 65 seconds, next time I should try calculating 3652 with 52 in 62 seconds. Time, speed, and obviously accuracy do matter.




Now, what I mean is learn by heart the tables up to 20 at least, or 30. There is no end to learning. By heart those as you know "A to Z, or the table of two. Knowing tables simplify various questions involving multiplication, division, square, square roots, LCMs, HCFs, etc.

MBA Quantitative Aptitude – HCF and LCM Set I



Now, this is really interesting. Why not use such numbers which you take out of the stuff that is interesting to you. Say, you are practicing finding average of numbers, then why don't you chose this number out of an activity that is interesting; like finding the average score by Sachin Tendulkar at ODIs. Or if cricket is not your type, then go for your type of game, or could be anything else.



Though this does not work out in all the situations, but it can be handy at few situations. You could evaluate answers on the basis of options given, that too in case options are not alike (not ideal for descriptive papers). Say, you need to find what is 39657595*95863. Now, straight away cancel the options not having 0 or 5 in the unit place. With time and practice, you will be able to cancel the options at least.



Success does not have short cuts, but it does have the alternate ways which could be shorter than one another.


Say 25*12=300, which could either be written as (25 * 10) + (25 * 2) = 250 + 50 = 300.


There are certain other methods which you could use. Probably tricks to solve the questions. You know with practice, you will be able to tailor some even. You could probably use Vedic mathematics techniques as well for the calculation.


Say, you need to find out: 45*11. Now, instead of multiplying it conventionally, go for the Vedic mathematics technique, explained below:


45 * 11= 4 ( 4 + 5 ) 5 = 495


35 * 11= 3 ( 3 + 5 ) 5 = 385


In the above example, what we have one is kept the tens digit and unit digit as it is and left a blank between them, which is the sum of both the numbers.


Another, such trick could be used for finding the square of numbers.


Let's say, we have a three digit number 166, which needs to be squared.


Step 1: Choose last two digits of 166, and add to the number:


166 + 66 = 232


Step 2: Multiply 100 with the result obtained above:


232 * 100 = 23,200


Step 3: Now multiply 66 with 66


66 * 66 = 4,356


Step 4: Now, add values from the step 2 and 3:


23,200 + 4,356 = 27,556


The result obtained is 27,556.


Some of us might be thinking it is a long method, but trust me with practice, you would find it is really short and does not involve any sort of complexities, thus making the task simpler.

MBA Quantitative Aptitude – Ratio and Proportion Set-I



I won't leave the concept of "comfort zone", till I get on being better than I am. Though I have explained in the very first point of hierarchy, that start with easy ones, and move to tougher, I believe, this should not end. Even, nor does Mathematics numerals end. So keep challenging yourself to the toughest level, you can. Remember, it's not important what you start with, important in this case is what you end at. After a level, try calculating in mind. Do not use paper or pen. At first, it might be difficult but it really is not. The technique saves a lot of time as well. the mind works faster than your hands can.


CAT and Calculation Speed:


As we have already discussed above that there are 28 questions for quantitative aptitude, it becomes important for you to excel at calculation. The speed comes in importance when you know you have limited time to attempt these questions. Remember, you do the easy questions first. The questions which you think would take you more time, leave them for later on. Obviously, accuracy is must. Do not make mistakes in the haste. Be focussed. Exam is not the right time to develop tricks, please mind it. It's important in developing ways, you do not lose on attempting other questions.




I hope, you practice hard and develop new ways and shortcuts for calculation.


At the end I would like to quote words truly said by Paul Halmos:




"The best way to learn Mathematics is to do Mathematics"


This signifies that practice, practice and practice can make you excel at Mathematics.

More Exercises on Speedy Calculations


MBA Quantitative Aptitude Formulas on Averages


MBA Quantitative Aptitude Formulas on Percentages


MBA Quantitative Aptitude Formulas on Profit and Loss


MBA Quantitative Formulas for Speedy Calculations: SI & CI


MBA Quantitative Aptitude Formulas on Ratio and Proportion


MBA Quantitative Aptitude Formulas on Speed, Time and Distance

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