Are you appearing for CAT 2019 exam? If yes, you must be preparing for CAT through some top CAT coaching institute in your city. Along with proper coaching and mentoring you also need to have a clear understanding of the various segments of CAT 2019 syllabus.
In this blog, we are providing the best tips to prepare for one of the most crucial sections of CAT syllabus which is the Quantitative Aptitude segment.
With 34 questions, Quantitative Aptitude has a section weightage of 34% in CAT 2019 exam. So, let’s discuss the steps to prepare for this important segment.
Although 90% of questions in CAT are from Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry, it is still advisable to cover the basics of all the topics related to Quantitative Aptitude for two major reasons –
- CAT is considered one of the toughest exams so the questions are not asked simply. Many a times a single question requires understanding of multiple concepts from different topics. Skipping the basics of any topic would create hindrance in solving such questions.
- The second reason is, CAT exams are unpredictable. There are chances that question pattern might change next year. Therefore, in order to counter these changes, it is advisable to get the basics clear.
IDEAL ORDER TO PREPARE FOR VARIOUS TOPICS
If you are a Marvel Studio’s fan, you must have come across the ideal order of watching Marvel movies to have a better understanding of the storyline, the characters and their impact on overall story development. Similarly, it is vital to define the ideal order of preparation for various topics/ sections of quantitative aptitude segment.
We divided the syllabus of CAT quantitative aptitude into five major sections. However, it is important to understand that any of these topics are not independent of each other.
Based on our experience of more than a decade in CAT coaching, we recommend to study topics in the following order:
- Number System
- Geometry (mensuration, trigonometry, and coordinate geometry)
- Modern Mathematics
You should start with the number system and arithmetic topics such as percentage, ratio and proportion, and averages. These topics are very helpful in solving many problems related to arithmetic and it is less time-consuming. You must focus on the relationship between percentage and ratio and memorize the necessary conversions between them.
In the number system, you should give more importance to the following topics:
- Elementary Properties of numbers
- Divisibility Rules
- Elementary concepts of remainders
- Concepts of digits
- HCF and LCM
In Algebra, must do topics are:
- Linear and quadratic equations
Geometry can be taken in any order, as the concepts, and the topics, are distinct and have no connection with other areas. To solve the questions from geometry, you need to have a very good understanding of the fundamental theorems of geometry, and an idea of geometrical constructions.
Within geometry you should focus on problems based on the basics of triangles, Pythagoras theorem, similar triangles, and fundamentals of the circle; most of the geometry problems in the past CAT exams were based on these concepts.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW THE ORDER?
The order is important because the concepts from one segment can be used to solve questions from the other segments. Let us understand this with the help of a problem which appeared in past CAT exam:
Using digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 only, how many 5 digit numbers can be formed (without repetition) such that the numbers are divisible by 4.
This problem falls under the category of permutation and combination. But, to solve it, we also need to apply divisibility rule of 4. Divisibility rules come under number system. Thus, the order in which you learn is critical.
TESTING YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND TIME MANAGEMENT
After completing the basic concepts of each topic or subtopic, you must test it by trying some easy to moderate difficulty level problems on those topics. Try solving previous year questions as quantitative aptitude questions from previous years’ CAT exams are unarguably the best source for practice. Solving this pool of questions serves two purposes:
- First, it helps the aspirant to understand how the questions are framed to test the concepts.
- Second, being able to solve these questions gives psychological satisfaction and motivation to the aspirant.
Once you are satisfied with your own performance, subscribe to online tests and experience the thrill of solving questions in a real exam like environment. It will help you find out your strengths and weaknesses. Every student should analyse their strengths and weaknesses and prepare accordingly. But here are the suggested steps for better preparation –
- Try to approach the problem without using pen and paper, i.e., mentally try to solve the problems. Do not bother about the time you take. The prime objective is to develop the habit of solving the questions mentally.
- Not all questions can be solved mentally. However, you should be able to answer questions on simple concepts. In case you fail to solve mentally, try solving them using pen and paper. The next step is to figure out alternate methods of solving the problems. Often, there is more than one way to approach CAT Quantitative aptitude questions especially in questions from Geometry or trigonometry.
- The third and last step is to go through the explanations provided for the questions. At times you will find that there is an entirely different method used for solving the questions. Weigh your approach and the method given in the explanation. If the approach used in the explanation is better than yours, do try to learn them.
MAJOR CHALLENGES AND TIPS TO OVERCOME THEM
Sometimes, even after understanding the concepts of a segment, you might find it difficult to solve practice questions of decent difficulty level. There can be multiple reasons, some of them are:
- The problem is not based on the application of the direct use of a formula or a concept. The question also has some additional conditions, and you must get the solution under those constraints.
- Remember that you are preparing for CAT quantitative Aptitude test, where just memorizing the formula won’t work. To enhance your learning, you must go through the solution of the question and focus not only on the method used but also on the approach applied to counter the constraints.
Doing this repeatedly will help you overcome most of the issues of preparation for quantitative aptitude. Ask your mentor or quantitative aptitude faculty about the tricks or shortcuts to help you get the answer in the least possible time. Do try to figure out why that trick or shortcut formula works! This process will not only strengthen your understanding of the trick but also provide you the insights of their applicability and relevance.
CAUTION ON USING SHORTCUT FORMULAS/ TRICKS
Many aspirants make the mistake of stressing too much on the shortcut formulas, instead of focusing on the basic concepts. They feel that by using these shortcut formulas, they can solve the questions easily and quickly. They also assume that it will take less time and effort in the preparation of CAT 2019.
There are two major shortcomings of shortcut formulas/ tricks:
- For each type of question, there is a specific shortcut formula derived, but that is applicable only to that particular question . We know the fact that there is no limit on types of questions in CAT quantitative aptitude exam. Hence, it is difficult and confusing to remember so many shortcut formulas for each type of questions.
- In the CAT exam, most of the questions cannot be solved by just applying any shortcuts. CAT exam wants to check the aspirants’ fundamental concepts and not how well the shortcuts can be applied.
In our next blog, we will cover the tips to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). In between, if you have any queries regarding the Quantitative Aptitude segment, please share it with us in the comments section
Amit Sen is the Founder, Director, and Faculty of English, Reading & Comprehension at CF Patna. His aim is to play a major role as a mentor, guide and facilitator to every student.