Quantitative Ability is probably the scariest section for most students preparing for CAT Exam. The syllabus is quite vast, the list of formulas is endless and there is always a shortcut trick that you are not aware of!!! While there are students who can solve extremely difficult looking Quant questions in less than a minute on Whatsapp and Facebook groups – and here I stand!!! A lot of these problems arise because of the notion that a lot of people have – MMT-Math Means Trouble!!! This may be true in some circumstances but as far as getting good precentile is concerned, it’s farther from the truth. Let me explain that with the help of some data.

Score Vs Percentile in CAT Quantitative Aptitude for CAT 2016 and CAT 2015

Given below is a chart to help you figure out the number of questions you are required to solve correctly (Y Axis) to score percentiles in the 90-99 range (X Axis) in CAT 2016 and CAT 2015.


As you might notice, the number of questions required in CAT 2016 was 3 or 4 questions lesser than the number of questions required in CAT 2015. This is a clear indication of the fact that CAT 2016 was tougher than CAT 2015. It is incredibly hard to suggest what would be the difficulty level of the paper in CAT exam but thumb should be – do not attempt something that you are not sure of. Negative marking can really wreck havoc on your score in the Quantitative Aptitude section if you go in with a premeditated target score in mind. As shown above, the difficulty level of the paper will make a significant difference to so called ideal number of attempts.

Another thing that I think this chart highlights is the fact that you do not really need to do a majority of the questions in CAT. There are 34 questions in the CAT Quantitative Aptitude section. Even if you are able to do half of them, in almost all cases, it will get you a really good score. That means you can actually leave half of them. This is a really important point that you should keep in mind while preparing for CAT Quantitative Aptitude. A lot of students run after difficult problems that they find in ‘Level of Difficulty – 3’ of books or ‘Type – C’ in coaching institute materials. Please understand that you do not need to do solve tough questions in the paper. To do well, you just need to solve all easy questions and a few medium difficulty level questions. Try and master this art when you are preparing for CAT – it will improve your score significantly. Do not bruise your ego over a question that you cannot solve or over a solution that you do not understand. Skip it!!!!!!

Break-up of questions in Quantitative Ability 2017

Area No of MCQs No of Non-MCQs Total
Arithmetic 8 3 11
Numbers 4 1 5
Algebra 5 2 7
Geometry/Mensuration 8   8
Pure Math/CG 1 1 2
Venn Diagram 1   1
  19 7 34

Now, you must understand there are three aspects to solving aptitude problems:

  • Conceptual Clarity
  • Application
  • Practice

So, how to achieve these three:

  • One has to cover all the chapters in each area thoroughly and understand the formulas and shortcuts involved
  • Its a time taking process and should be done very patiently and systematically.
  • Time Frame = 1 to 2 months
  • QA is not just mathematics, Its applied mathematics. How well you have understood the concepts will decide how well you can apply them.
  • Solve at least 50 standard questions from each area to understand how the theorems or formulas are applied.
  • Now to get more than 99 percentile in QA, as per the current pattern, you need to solve at least 18 questions correctly (rough estimate). This is around 62% of the total number of questions.
  • To solve 62% of the questions, you need to be strong in any 3 areas out of the given 5. How to build the strength?
  • Solve at least 100 questions from each chapter of those areas to get that confidence and coverage.
  • Practice the mock tests and previous CAT papers on a regular basis to get acquainted with the test environment.

Having said all these, you need to define your own preparation plan and strategy. This is just a broad framework to start with. You should develop a natural inclination to solve quint’s.

All the best!


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