Tips to ace the quantitative section by a 99.31 percentiler

The most scoring section which I feel in the CAT examination is the quantitative section. Be it that you’re an engineer or not; getting a 99+ percentile in the quantitative section of CAT is easy as long as you’re clear with your basics and are able to figure out which questions are sitters and which ones are better left in the first go. I call this ‘Art of Leaving’. This basically means that the difficult questions are better left in the first attempt and should be kept after all the other questions are attempted. In this article, I will explain how to prepare for the quantitative section. I scored 99.76 in the quantitative section in CAT 2019 where I correctly answered 25 questions and got only one incorrect.

Prioritizing the topics

The topics which get the lions share of questions are arithmetic and geometry. Both of these topics should be focused on at first before going to other topics like functions, number system, probability etc. Firstly, one should get accustomed with calculating easy sums in their heads. (For ex 1/5 is 20 percent). Time Speed Distance, Time and Work, Ratio proportion and SI,CI are some of the topics which always get featured in the examination from the arithmetic portion. From geometry, circles and triangles is something the paper setters focus on at time. Squares and cubes should be memorized. Although there’s a calculator given but using it is time taking. This is because on the day of examination, an on-screen calculator and you might use up a lot of time clicking the numbers. 

Preparation Strategy

Practicing the questions from your coaching classes can be beneficial. It must be kept in mind that there’s always a shorter way to solve the problem. You must always time your attempt to solve a question. Make sure whenever you’re attempting quantitative section in mock tests, you’re not investing more than 1 minute on a question in the first go. This way you’ll eventually develop a habit of identifying easier questions the set. The moment you get all the easy question correct; you are already in the 97 percentile league in that section. The moderate to difficult should be attempted after attempting the easy questions. Getting even half of them correct would get you above 99 percentile.

Speed vs Accuracy

A common issue which some people might face in this section is the speed-accuracy tradeoff. At times you can get a very question wrong because of a silly mistake. Usually, it happens when you’re in a hurry to solve the question. For eg. the question may lead you towards finding the given variable, but the question would ask you to mark 50% of the value of the variable and in by hurrying you might mark it wrong. Therefore, it is important to read the last line of the question again before marking the answer. However, if your accuracy is taking a hit you may want to slow down on your pace until you get the accuracy right. For a 99+ percentile you need to at least get 60 marks. (As per CAT 2019). I had a very high accuracy which resulted in a 99.76 percentile in quantitative. I had attempted 26 questions out of which 25 of them were correct and only a TITA question was wrong. That simply means that I didn’t lose a single mark to negative marking. So accuracy can work wonders if you’re not very good with the quantitative section.

Importance of mocks

Mocks are the best way to gauge how well prepared you are for the final examination. Analyzing your performance comes even more handy than taking the mock tests. It gives you an idea about what are your weak areas and what are your strong points. You can take good quality mocks from IQuanta for practicing. Using that analysis, you can get an idea on where to improve. Mock tests would also give you alternate solutions. So, even if you find a question which you have done right, make sure you see the solution given by the expert so that you have more than one method to solve that particular problem.

Discipline goes a long way!

For a very strong hold on the quantitative section, you should be very disciplined and regular in solving questions. I used to solve at least 20-25 questions every day for a particular topic. The more you practice, the quicker you become in solving easy questions. And as I have already mentioned that getting the easy questions right is the first step, this also boosts up your morale. Another thing to keep in mind is that there may be 3-4 difficult questions which would come consecutively, and you would lose your momentum. The smart thing to do here is to skip the questions in the first go and keep your head cool. Questions like these can be taken up after all the easy and moderate questions have been attempted. Sometimes you can also start the paper from the 34th question if you feel the first few questions in the set are very difficult.

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