The title of this post can be slightly misleading. Calling a tip, ‘any tip’ as the ‘best tip’ to crack the Quantitative Aptitude section in the CAT exam is slightly unfair if not downright incorrect. Having said that, there are few things that can be done and I have seen students make huge gains once they have followed the tips mentioned below. Quite a few of my students for the online CAT coaching course, often ask me for such tips and I do try and help them the best way that I can.
Do not skip any topic
A very common tendency among students is to skip a few topics. Some students do not like Geometry, while there are others who are not comfortable with Permutation and Combination or Probability. CAT aspirants often think that the best way to deal with such issues is to skip them because the number of questions that get asked on a topic is limited. For example, you might get 1 question on probability or maybe you won’t even get that. So, does it make sense to skip ‘Probability’ if you are not comfortable with it? The answer, without any doubt, is NO. You should not skip any topic and the reason for that is the fact that you don’t know if you would get an easy question or a difficult question from that particular topic. What if – you get a really simple question on probability and you don’t attempt it because you are not comfortable with the topic. Leaving a CAT question, specially an easy one that you would have marked correctly in less than a minute, will have a huge negative impact on your final percentile. And before you actually get into the exam, you will never know where the easy question is coming from. So, you must be comfortable with each and every topic so that you can solve at least the easy questions mentioned there. To summarize, you should not skip any topic while preparing for Quantitative Aptitude of CAT exam – at least cover the basics so that you can solve the sitters.
Avoid distractions (Pagalguy, Facebook Groups, WhatsApp)
A large number of students get distracted in their CAT preparation because of the deluge of user generated content. Earlier, it used to be limited to specific forums like Pagalguy. Then it moved on groups on Facebook and the latest trend seems to be WhatsApp groups. As someone who has been a active part of all the above medium and sometimes even in a moderation / admin role, most of these tools do more harm than good to an average student. They give the user an illusion that he / she is studying whereas, more often than not, he / she is just wasting time on stuff that is of no relevance for CAT or even other MBA entrance exams. You don’t need to find out complex remainders using Fermat’s / Euler’s / Wilson’s Theorems. You don’t need to calculate complex probability questions using Bay’s Theorem. You don’t need to solve Permutation and Combination question where you need to form 5 cases and count them out. As a matter of fact, if there is a Quantitative Aptitude question that uses a theorem or concept that a class 10th student would not know or if it has a solution that will take more than 2-3 minutes, it is extremely unlikely that it will get asked in the CAT exam. Even if in the highly unlikely scenario, that a question like that gets asked in the CAT exam – it will not be a good idea to attempt it. This typically happens with topics like Number System, Permutation & Combination, Probability, etc. CAT aspirants, coaching institutes, and online tutors like me post such content on the mediums mentioned primarily to increase visibility and sometimes even to show off. Getting caught in that loop is harmful to students. The ideal way to use these groups / forums is to get your doubts clarified and that’s where it should stop. If you use them beyond that – as a tool of learning – it will do more harm than good. However, they do add value to a small minority (1%) who is well prepared and just looking to practice some stuff to keep in touch. The other 99% just follow the vocal ones and get distracted and hence harm their CAT preparation.
Focus on Geometry and Algebra (Functions)
A lot of students are not very well aware of the split that is there in the CAT syllabus on the topic wise basis. Let me give you a brief of the same. Out of the 34 questions that will be asked in the Quantitative Aptitude in the CAT 2015 exam, here is what I think the split is going to be:
Number System: 5 – 6 questions
Arithmetic: 6 – 7 questions
Algebra: 8 – 9 questions
Geometry: 8 – 9 questions
Modern Maths: 5 – 6 question
As you can clearly see, Algebra and Geometry are the bigger areas of the two. Another point to note is that in terms of number of subtopics that need to be covered, both Algebra and Geometry aren’t too big. They are definitely smaller than something like Arithmetic or Modern Maths. Most of the questions in Algebra are based on basic applications of functions whereas most Geometry questions are based on 2-D geometry topics like triangles and circles. If you can master just few of these, you can do really well in the quantitative aptitude of the CAT exam. So, the next time you are trying to learn the formula for finding out the rightmost non-zero digit of a factorial, try to put your time to a better use by putting that effort into practicing a few questions on functions.
I hope I have been able to add value to your learning process with respect to Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT exam. In case you have any further questions about the same, do use to comment section or get in touch with me via social media. . If you liked it, do not forget to share it on Facebook / Twitter. Also, I teach an online course for CAT 2015 on my website Handa Ka Funda – do check it out.
Ravi Handa, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, has been teaching for CAT and various other competitive exams for around a decade. He started online courses on his website Handa Ka Funda in 2013 and 10000+ students have subscribed for them since then.