Crack Quantitative Ability in CAT 2019: Quantitative Ability is one section in the CAT exam which has the potential to lower the confidence of a vast majority of CAT aspirants, in any given year. Over the years, this section of the CAT exam has managed to evoke a formidable image in the minds of serious aspirants vying for admission into one of the top management institutes, including the prestigious IIMs. Before we delve deeper into the details of this monster of an area and learn how to tame it, let us first try to understand what QA is all about, how it can be aced through Online CAT Coaching and how it is relevant for an exam like the CAT 2019 exam.
First things first, the name ‘Quantitative’ Ability’ can interchangeably be used or appropriately be seen as ‘Problem Solving’ Ability. This is so as to enable students to relate with it without having to conjure up a gory mental image of difficult mathematical formulas, abstruse equations and a scratch paper which resembles a mini battlefield, albeit doused with ink!
Problem-solving, on the other hand, is something we all do most of the time; the only difference being we employ common sense, personal judgement and emotions instead of mathematical formulas, concepts and equations.
The QA section of the CAT exam is not the dry, vague and academic kind, but rather application-oriented, which is meant to test one’s command over the fundamentals in areas like arithmetic and algebra, and beyond everything, your ability to use information/concepts in an integrated manner. The questions from this section can sometimes be based on more than one topic and would require a combination of concepts to crack them.
For example, a question might simultaneously involve concepts from both ‘Geometry’ and ‘Time & Distance’. The questions, in general, do not usually get very technical in terms of the concepts; however, they are challenging in the ways given below:
- Challenging when it comes to comprehending the information or conditions given in the problem.
- Correlating them with known concepts, and then
- Finding the solution to the problem.
The third aspect, which is the actual solving process, is rarely lengthy or complicated. It is only the first two aspects which are the most critical to acing the QA section in an exam like the CAT 2019 exam.
The next logical question that arises is that, ‘How important is it know Quantitative Ability well?’ Directly put, ‘What is the weightage given to Quantitative Ability in the CAT 2019 exam?’
Notably, the exact weightage of the QA section in several management entrance exams varies between one-fourth to one-third of the total marks. For over a decade, the CAT exam has accorded close to one-third weightage to Quantitative Ability.
Most premier institutes hold a cut-off for the QA section of the CAT exam which can be as high as 85 percentile or more. Considering the fact that QA is an individual section, one really has to pull up their socks and manage a decent performance in QA (i.e., rank among the top 10-15% of the test-takers, in terms of their overall score in the QA section) to ensure one clears the sectional cutoff to qualify for the next stage of the selection process. This might come across as intimidating, however, it is not as scary as it sounds.
Now, since we have gained an appreciation of what exactly is the QA section of the CAT exam all about, we would now focus on what it takes to get a decent score in the CAT exam. Read on to find out how to get and maintain and the right perspective and mindset for QA preparation in the coming months, a broad plan of action for this section for the coming exam and test-taking strategies for maximising your performance for the actual CAT 2019 exam.
Crack Quantitative Ability in CAT 2019
Complete Approach and Attitude
- With only a few months to go for the upcoming CAT 2019 exam, you should already start laying down a foundation for yourself in QA and go on to building a sound strategy for tackling it in the CAT 2019 exam with a view to maximise your performance.
- Enrol yourself into a structured training programme since you cannot take this exam lightly, considering the difficulty level of this exam and the tremendous competition you would be facing. An Online CAT Coaching, especially an Online Quant Coaching would be ideal since it provides you with the necessary guidance and support and you can avail it from the comfort of you home.
- Start working on the basics already and take your preparation forward from there. Preparing for this section without polishing basics is half the battle lost already.
Developing a Sense of Purpose
- Trying to accomplish something which does not come naturally to you or for which you are not completely convinced that it was necessary for you would be difficult, as trying to accomplish something without really believing in it or having a sense of purpose is complicated and makes your endeavor difficult. Here, the real difficulty does not lie in the task itself, but in the laxk of purpose and motivation to complete it.
- Therefore, develop a hunger and thirst to master this section, especially those who are not very comfortable with this section and come from a non-math background. Working out QA problems will help you obtain a sharp mind and great analytical by flexing your otherwise atrophying grey cells. Just keep going at it and avoid looming into despair because there is no way you will lose at this section with solid motivation and intense practice.
Make Commitment and Hard Work your Fuel
- Get ready to burn the midnight oil as no pain, no gain. You need to be ‘doggedly persistent’ to be able to achieve your goals and let nothing come in the way. Commitment to the task at hand and the willingness to single-mindedly devote yourself to you goal will help you achieve it.
- Depending on how strong you are in the QA section, you need to proportionately devote 1-2 hours of time towards your QA preparation. If in case devoting two hours every day is not feasible to you, try to do four-hour marathons on the weekends. Try to avoid distractions as an ill-focused study time will not really help you learn and build on your concepts and you will stand where you currently are in terms of your preparation. Try and attend all or as many classes as you can if you have enroled in a traditional or Online CAT Coaching or an Online Quant Coaching. Ensure that whatever you leanr during the class is also practiced and revised at home. This commitment will definitely guarantee a high percentile in the CAT exam.
- Last but not the least, shining confidence and ‘stick-to-it-iveness,’ a term coined by Edison will not only help you ace the CAT exam but also ace life! There would me moments of despair and discouragement, but you should not think of it as permanent doom but rather tough times which pass and take it in your stride.
Prefer Quality over Quantity
- Quality of preparation is something which is underrated for many CAT aspirants. However, this is the secret ingredient to cracking the CAT exam because the exam is more smart work rather than mere hard work. Most students finish of all the study material at hand and proceed to practicing more of it, which is a really unproductive way to prepare for this exam. The learning not lies is practicing and solving as many questions as you can but in maximising your preparation by maximising your understanding for each question that you solve. You need to analyse and dissect each question, especially the difficult ones to understand the nuances of each topic and improve upon your skill and knowledge.
- It is also recommended to revisit your exercises and test papers a few weeks or months after first covering them, and poring over them afresh to see if you still remember the earlier takeaways from them. See if you can manage to find any alternative methods/strategies to solving the same questions, garner an ability to identify patterns and peculiarities in solving different models of questions, and identify steps where you tend to falter usually and fix them. It is also advisable to seek guidance from your faculty and peers to see if you are going wrong in any of your approaches or have missed out on anything. Underrated, yet it might be a crucial aspect of your preparation which makes or breaks your chances of success in the exam.
CAT 2019: Pacing your Preparation
Since June is nearly over and you must already be working on one or more sections from the syllabus, we will share with you a broad, month wise study plan which you can use to pace your preparation in the coming months.
- These months should be devoted to going through basic study material and practice exercises for all the topics in QA relevant for the CAT. Ensure you work on the exercises for every topic covered in class. In fact, ideally, you would already have covered most topics in class with only a few topics to go. Make a strategy to finish the basics of all the topics by end of August.
- QATs: For every topic covered in class, work out the QAT related to it.
- Online Practice Tests: Presuming you have enrole into an Online Quant Course and work out all the basic level QA sectional tests which you have covered in class. Also work out some of the intermediate level tests which are available on your student homepage.
- AIMCATs: Take the AIMCATs conducted every week, without fail. For each AIMCAT taken, ensure that you analyse and assess your performance in QA giving yourself sufficient time for this purpose.
- Complete any remaining topics from your basic study material that you may not have completed yet.
- QATs and TGs: Work out the QATs related to the remaining topics and the Test Groups.
- Online Practice Tests: Finish up all the basic and intermediate level QA sectional tests provided on the student home page. Work out at least a few of the advanced level tests also.
- AIMCATs: Keep up with taking the AIMCATs regularly, always following up with proper analysis of your performance.
- Online Practice Tests: Work out more of the advanced level tests.
- AIMCATs: Continue to take the AIMCATs regularly. Come second week of October, do a comprehensive, topic-wise review of all the QA questions of the AIMCATs which you have taken so far.
CAT 2019: Test Taking Tips
Given below are some of the test-taking tips for maximising your scores during tests:
When it comes to test-taking approaches, you should always look for the easy and doable questions in the QA section. Identifying and cracking such questions is a major part of the challenge which can be made easy with the tips given below:
- Stay focused and disciplined in your approach as it will help you to maintain a cool head which will help you perform better in the exam.
- Remember there are no marks for ‘trying’ and neither are any extra marks allotted for solving difficult questions. So, do not waste time on questions you struggle with and return to them only when the time permits.
- While tackling this section approach it in a group-wise manner. This means you should read through a group of 4-5 QA questions at a time by using the ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons in the online interface, before actually delving into any of them. This way you will be able to choose the right question(s) to attempt, which will help you in both optimising your time and number of attempts. Out of nearly five questions, consider attempting around 2-3 questions. Consider attempting more only if you find them really easy.
- While attempting any question, jot down all the given information and decide if you are in a position to move further, else leave that question and move on.
- Look out for alternative approaches like elimination/substitution of choices, which both save time and pay rich dividends. These can be mastered only through practice.
- Another important aspect of the CAT exam is the on-screen calculator provided during the exam. While the utility of this calculator is less in QA than DILR, there might still be some questions where using the calculator would help save time. In order to make the most of the features, you should ensure that you get enough practice with it.
- Actively mark questions for review. In case you feel you can solve them with more effort, so you can come back to them if time permits. This way, you would be working through the 34 QA questions in around 7 groups of about 5 questions each. Every group should take you about 5 to 6 minutes, thereby completing one round of the section in 35 to 40 minutes. By then you should have attempted anywhere from 14-18 questions already, with at least another 20 minutes or so to return to the questions marked for review. This strategy of managing about 15 to 20 minutes of spare time will work wonders for you if you implement it well, wherein the extra time at the end could also bring another 8 to 10 questions into play.
The real difficulty is not the exam but your approach and if you work on it, Crack Quantitative Ability in CAT 2019 will become a cakewalk. Good Luck!