It would be the right thing to say that syllabus wise, the Quants section boast of being the heaviest of the 3 sections in the CAT paper. Even though it comprises of basic understanding of class 10 maths, we still fail to solve the paper in the stipulated period. The main reason being lack of practice for so many years, non-engineers might not have a hang of maths, we forgot the formulas and the topics. Now, when we finally start preparing for quants, some of us often feel that the syllabus is too huge and it would not be possible for us to cover the entire syllabus. Now here comes the big question. Should we cover the entire syllabus?
The Syllabus Dilemma
The syllabus looks big but there is a catch. It can be managed. Most of us forgot a major chunk of the maths lessons we received during school. Also, engineers get an edge over the non-engineers as engineers have had a habit of solving maths MCQ questions. But several chapters are quite simple and need just a little brush-up. A chapter like logarithm is considered to be pretty simple and you can expect 2 questions from there. So, the job at hand is to realize which topics need revision and which topics do not. So, we do not need to go through the entire syllabus.
Topics Which Need Revision
To find out the topics which need revision, the first thing to do is to give a Quants mock test. A one-hour quant test will at least help you to find out the topics which need no revision. After 2-3 tests, it becomes quite clear the topics you are weak at. Now comes how to prepare for the topics you are weak in. Only giving the exam would not suffice. Proper analysis should be done after the exam and have a look at the solutions to understand whether a particular sum could not be solved due to lack of understanding regarding the subject or is it because you forgot a relevant formula. List those topics and revisit them in a standard text book.
How to Prepare for The Weaker Sections
Quants are covered quite extensively in the classroom programs of various institutes. But if you want to work on it on your own, the best way is to do one topic at a time. And when you revise the topics, keep a handbook of formulas handy. Topic-wise tests are necessary to understand the level of competency. Websites like lofoya.com and various other free websites can be used for this purpose which provides topic-wise free quants content. Every mock test provider gives small topic wise exams. They do come in handy during preparation. It will help you understand if you are being able to apply the concepts or not.
The Exam Scores and Practise
Initial scores in quants are meant to be less because that is the learning phase. As you practice more and more, the speed and accuracy increase. Practicing quants regularly is a must and iQuanta Facebook group provides regular practice. Normally, accuracy is an issue in quants. The CAT paper has a history of having both easy and difficult Quants paper. As long as the basics are strong, the paper would be a cakewalk. Accuracy is the key in quants. Last years, an attempt of 20 out of 34, questions in 1 hr with 95% accuracy will fetch you a score of 60+ which can be enough to have a more than 99%ile plus in quant.
Attempting the Quants Section
There are various ways in which the paper can be solved. The usual way is to scan the paper and find out the easy ones. I used to start solving from the first question and skip those which were lengthy for later. Normally when people come to this section, they are tired after solving a VARC section and a historically difficult LRDI section. Normally I used to skip the geometry questions as they used to take more time than usual. The aim is to solve as many as possible and not to miss out on the easy ones.
The D Day Quants Paper
The CAT paper has a history of having both easy and hard quants section. The one who holds his/her nerve to solve the last section of CAT aces it. The 2017 CAT paper had a very easy quants paper where a scaled score of 74 fetched 99%ile, whereas, in 2018, 99%ile was achieved at a score below 60. I had a scaled score of 61.84 in CAT 2018 and it fetched me a Quant Percentile of 99.61%
My Strategy for getting 99+ in Quants
My Strategy was no different from what I mentioned above. I started by giving a quants sectional exam, then identified the weaker sections, made my basics right, created a formula handbook for every topic, focussed on the accuracy, and then gradually increased the speed. Being an engineer, my quants score was never very poor. I started by getting a 90%ile and then slowly it increased to 98%ile+ approx. in the mocks. The thumb rules of getting a 99+ in CAT was simple. 1) Get 99%ile+ in one of the sections 2) Get 95%ile plus in the rest 2 sections. I always banked on quants to cross that 99%ile marks. Even though I had a poor score of 93.93%ile in VARC, 98.76%ile in LRDI and 99.61%ile in Quants made my overall reach 99.45%ile. On D-Day, I attempted 24 questions out of 34 and got 21 of them correct. I had a raw score of 62 which was scaled down to 61.84. For me, accuracy was always the key and I couldn’t attempt a lot of questions in 1 hr in a difficult paper.
All the best!