CAT Quantitative Aptitude: Important Topics, Section Wise Syllabus, Analysis and Tips

    Anam Shams Anam Shams
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    CAT Quantitative Aptitude section covers numerical problems in order to test mathematical skills, accuracy and speed of the candidates. In this section candidates are required to have the deep knowledge of basic and elementary mathematics to solve the questions. Aptitude questions contribute 34% share in overall CAT Examination. Time allotted to this section is an hour. This section is divided into topics like Algebra, Number System, Geometry, and Modern Maths. Check Complete CAT Exam Pattern

    • Overall CAT consists of three sections:- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Quantitative Ability (QA). It’s a three hour (180 minute) online exam divided into one hour each section.
    • It is a 300 mark paper with 100 questions, candidates are awarded 3 marks for each correct answer while one mark is deducted for every incorrect response. No marks are awarded or deducted for questions that are not answered. 
    • Sectional cutoff for Quantitative aptitude in IIMs ranges between 70 to 85 percentile. thus If we go through CAT Syllabus, then we have seen the most decisive section in the exam is quantitative aptitude, which helps a candidate to improve /reduce his score substantially.
    • Raw scores are converted into percentiles through the process of normalization to ensure equity among all candidates. Your percentile refers to the percentage of students who scored below you. (80 percentile means you scored above 80 percent students.

    Also Check

    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Highlights

    Candidates, who will appear for CAT exam, must be perfectly acquainted with CAT quantitative aptitude syllabus which has been determined on the basis of the past years question papers

    CAT 2020 Syllabus for QA Section

    PatternDetails
    Total Questions in CAT Quantitative Aptitude Section34
    Total Marks in Quantitative Aptitude For CAT Section102
    Type of Questions in Quantitative SectionMCQs and TITA (non-MCQ)
    Total MCQs in Quant for CAT Section24-26
    Total Non-MCQs (TITA) in QA Section8-10
    Difficulty in Quantitative Aptitude For CAT Section

    CAT 2020 Syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude 

    Coordinate Geometry

    Mensuration

    LCM & HCF

    Set theory & Function

    Probability

    Quadratic and Linear Equations

    Number System

    Averages

    Complex Numbers

    Ratio, Proportion & Variation

    Speed, Time and Distance

    Geometry

    Compound Interest

    Profit, Loss and Discount

    Algebra

    Trigonometry

    Permutation and Combination

    Progressions and Series

    Quantitative Aptitude Questions

    Quantitative Aptitude Shortcut Techniques for CAT

    Number System Shortcut for CAT

    Shortcuts in Averages

    Remainder Concepts

    Circles

    Factorials

    Power Cycle

    Relatives Speed

    Arithmetic Progression

    Polygons

    Harmonic Progression

    Quadrilaterals

    Points, Lines and Planes

    Circles

    Angles

    Geometric Progression

    Weighted Average

    Graphical Division Geometry

    Similar Triangles

    Derangement

    Applications of Averages

    Conditional probability

    Application of Power Cycle

    Constant Product Rule

    Laws in Set Theory

    Properties of Ratio

    Triangles

    Boats and Streams for CAT

    Escalator Questions for CAT

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    Detailed Topic Wise Syllabus of CAT QA

    Detailed Topic Wise Syllabus of CAT Quantitative Aptitude

    Below We Have Discussed Important Sections for each Topics 

    Percentages: Expect questions mostly from change in percentage; increase or decrease. Go through the basic percent formula. 

    Profit, Loss, and Discount: This section simply revolves on the topic of percentages. Questions are mainly from profit, loss, cost price, selling price, discount, and market price. You can also expect questions from false wights. Learn all the formulas for profit and loss along with tricks for shortcuts. 

    Simple and Compound Interest: The number of questions from this section has been mostly low. the one might expect mostly calculation based questions. Basic formulas of Simple and Compound Interest are adequate. Questions related to the rate of increase of population are not to be missed.

    Ratio and Proportion: A wide variety of questions based on multiple and fundamental concepts are important. You will find the basic concepts handy in solving questions time, work, time speed, distance, mixtures, allegation, geometry, and more. 

    Averages, Mixtures, Allegation: This topic is quite important in CAT. questions such as “which two elements are mixed together in different proportions to get a new mixture”. This topic combines other topics like ratio and proportion, averages, and percentages.

    Time and Work: There can be more than one hundred varieties of questions from this section. Pipes and cisterns, which make the core concept are also included. The method of LCM is recommended over formulas as there are over 20 of them. 

    Time, Speed, and Distance: expect questions from average and relative speed, meeting points, boats, streams, are important. Proper knowledge of relative speed and shortcut on meeting points should suffice. 

    Equations: Stress on questions from quadratic equations. Don't miss out on topics like integral solutions for variables. Learn the concepts of nature of roots, quadratic equations, and integral solutions.

    Progression: stress on arithmetic and geometric progressions. Do not miss out on summation of series. Put effort on formulas from areas like number of terms, cum of AP and GP series, and their means. 

    Functions and Graphs: Mostly questions are on functions of simplification. Other sections like modulus functions and graphs have also occurred frequently. Trying to understand the graphs of a few functions such as modulus, log, greatest integer, is helpful. Do not miss out on functions and composite functions.

    Practice With CAT Sample Papers

    Maxima Minima: Mostly 3 types of questions (maximum in equation form); AM-GM concept, polynomials, functions/graphs. Learn the method for solving each of these problems.

    Properties of Numbers: Expect questions from topics such as perfect squares, prime numbers, fractions, integers. Learn the elementary concepts along with the properties of numbers. Level of difficulty of questions is moderate to hard.

    Divisibility Rules: Questions from this topic are expected to to be pretty to the point. Expect problems based on divisibility rules on the initial sets of natural numbers. Learn the divisibility rules of these numbers - 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ,7 ,8, 9, 11, 12, and 13.

    Remainders: Difficulty level of questions from this topic are mostly easy to moderate. This is not a very important topic as over the past few years, questions from this section were not set. Learn the basic concepts like remainders and negative remainders. 

    Factors, HCM & LCM: This too is not a very important topic. Previous CAT papers featured questions from factors and remainders. Focus on prime factorization and the approaches involved in finding integral solutions. 

    Factorials: Not an important topic, problems are mostly based on finding the number of zeros that are trailing. 

    Unit and Last Two Digits: Questions are based on finding the last or second last digit in the expansion from a single digit number raised to exponent is given. Learn power cycles and last 2 digit tricks.

    Base System: Not an important topic. Learn the fundamental concepts of the base system. Questions are based on the method of converting numbers from a given base to another. Learning fundamental concepts of the base system should suffice.

    Triangles: Questions from this topic mostly test the fundamentals theorems of triangles. This is an important topic and candidates should focus on pythagoras theorem, various degrees of triangles like isosceles, equilateral, and mass point geometry. 

    Circles: Another important topic in geometry, you can expect questions which test the basic concepts, problems involving multiple circles, tangent is important. Focus on learning the theorems, formulas, segments, and tangent circles.

    Quadrilaterals: Expect questions mostly from parallelogram, trapezium, squares, and rectangles. Learn the formulas of areas for all quadrilateral figures and their perimeters.

    Polygons: Not an important topic. You can expect questions on hexagon. Shortcut tricks and direct formulas hexagon diagonals should suffice. 

    3D mensuration: This topic is now quite frequent in CAT. learning the formula for area and volume of cones, cylinders, cube, cuboid, spheres, and cylinders should do the trick. 

    Coordinate Geometry: Not at all an important topic: learn the basics of coordinate geometry. The conic section can be ignored. 

    Permutations and Combinations: Moderately important topic. You can expect questions mainly from committee formation, arrangements, and counting. You should learn the elementary formulas for this topic. Do not ignore the fundamental principles of counting. 

    Probability: You can ignore this topic completely as problems from probability have stopped coming altogether.

    Set Theory: Variable venn diagram problems that include minima and maxima are important. Get a working knowledge of venn diagram concepts. 

    Numerous candidates face difficulty and get confused during preparation of CAT Quant test, because CAT exam does not have a predefined syllabus. But it should be noted that the questions are generally asked from a few repeating concepts every year. So, candidates are suggested to check the past year question trends and get well versed with the related information and prepare accordingly. Some of the topics are expected to repeat in CAT 2020 on the basis of previous year question paper analysis.

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    Weightage and Number of Questions in CAT QA

    Weightage and Number of Questions in CAT QA

    It should be noted that the topics mentioned above are not the only topics required for CAT exams. So, the Candidates are suggested to have a thorough knowledge of broader topics related to quantitative section. This section is very crucial for CAT since almost 34 questions are asked from this section which involves a wide range of numerical topics. Since Quant 2020 will test you on Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Modern Math among other important topics, the most important of the Quantitative Aptitude Tricks is to strengthen your basics followed by Quantitative Aptitude Practice Questions for CAT. Some of the most important topics in this section include:

    Topic Name

    Expected No. of Questions

    Difficulty Level

    Number System, Basic Arithmetic

    5-10 Questions

    Moderate

    Geometry & Mensuration

    7-8 Questions

    Moderately Difficult

    Algebra

    6-7 Questions

    Moderate

    Permutation & Combination

    1-2 Questions

    Easy

    Probability

    1-2 Questions

    Moderate

    Time, Speed, and Distance

    1-2 Questions

    Moderately Difficult

    Trigonometry, Logarithms, and Sets

    1-3 Questions

    Easy

    Profit, loss, and Discounts

    1-2 Questions

    Moderately Easy

    Interests (SI, CI)

    1-2 Questions

    Moderately Difficult

    Time and Work

    1-2 Questions

    Difficult

    Preparation tips for Quantitative Ability Section

    All the topics of the above table, which can be included in the exam, are given. Candidates are suggested to check the weightages of these and prepare accordingly.

    • It is advised to focus more on the Number system and geometry topics as they hold the maximum weightages Not only in CAT, but other Management colleges/universities also cover most of these topics from the QA section. When candidates are done with the basic concepts, they should pick up past year question papers and practice them.
    • To acquaint with the test pattern and timing and to get the real exam scenario solving CAT Mock Tests are very crucial and it helps to analyze the preparation level. By going through the previous year papers helpfully to analyze the question pattern and its difficulty level.
    • As numerous MBA aspirants are registering for CAT every year, so the competition is very high over the years. So, well-focused and dedicated candidates for the exam with sincere preparation, are able to solve the question easily and score good percentile to get the admission in the IIMs or any other prestigious B-School.
    • To get more than 95 percentile in this subject, the candidate is advised to answer perfectly more than 25 questions.

    Best Books and Resources for CAT QA

    Best Books and Resources for CAT Quantitative Aptitude

    In fact, the best books for CAT Quantitative Aptitude Section should be of latest edition carrying the latest features as per the current CAT exam pattern with Quantitative Aptitude Questions and Answers.

    Now the question is- which is the best book for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT. Out of 35 odd CAT preparation books on Quant 2018 preparation, in opinion of CAT toppers and experts is Quantitative Aptitude Book by Arun Sharma. Other best books for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT are:

    Name of the BookName of the Author
    NCERT Mathematics Books (Class 6 to 10)NCERT
    How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CATArun Sharma
    Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CATSarvesh Sharma
    Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive ExaminationsAbhijit Guha
    Quantitative Aptitude for CATNishit Sinha

    Best Study Material for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT

    In case a candidate is preparing for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT with the help of a coaching centres, or wish to go for a mix of coaching supported preparation and self preparation to get the best of both in CAT Quantitative Aptitude preparation, along with the best book for Quant 2020 preparation, he will be getting the best study material with more Quantitative Aptitude Practice Questions for CAT.

    Best Coaching Institutes like TIME, CL, and IMS study materials for quantitative aptitude could be very helpful to prepare Quantitative Aptitude for CAT. Because the study material on Quant Preparation for CAT of top coaching centres is updated as per the latest and expected changes in CAT exam pattern and also consist of Quantitative Aptitude Tips & Tricks by CAT experts.

    The preparation material will contain the following apart from other key features:

    • Quant 2020 study material to strengthen fundamentals with CAT 2020 Quantitative Aptitude Tips
    • Quantitative Aptitude Questions for CAT with Solutions
    • Quantitative Aptitude Tricks by experts on how to solve the questions faster with accuracy
    • Quantitative Aptitude Practice Questions for CAT of varying difficulty level

    With the help of this preparation material you will be able to develop your own Quantitative Aptitude tricks to crack the Quant 2020 questions quickly.

    Common Mistakes to avoid while attempting QA

    Common Mistakes to avoid while attempting Quant Section

     As per CAT experts and Toppers’ statement following common mistakes are done usually made by candidates while attempting CAT aptitude test.

    1.  Do not attach to any question for more than 1.5 minutes.

    If one cannot understand where and how to start after reading the question for more than once, quickly give it a shot with not spending more than 90 seconds on it. The point is not to get entangled in the question and lose the track of your time.

    1. Double-check while solving (to reduce errors and use this in formula-based questions)

    When one has decided his formula and approach, just before he inserts the numbers from the question statement, verify the substitutions. This will reduce the chances of any silly mistakes that one might commit during the steps. Double check where one can.

    1. Not able to decide when it is the right time to leave the question?

    Identify early when to give up and move on to the next question. This might hurt ONE’s sentiment and ego a bit, but it is definitely not worse than leaving questions un-attempted towards the end. Do not let his emotions play havoc with his question paper. Do not get emotionally invested in a question: there is always another one waiting for him..

    1. Not able to identify strength and weak areas

    During the mock tests, identify one’s key strength topics that contribute the maximum towards one’s score and build a habit of solving those topics first. Do not waste time in the initial half of the hour in testing one’s ability on any untouched topics or weak areas that have not given any marks in the past. The first 40 minutes of the allotted time should be spent on hunting and striking down easy-medium questions to boost one’s score and confidence early in the test.

    1. Keep the performances of sections independent of each other.

    If Quant is not the first section that appears on the screen (as has been the case for the past few years) please remain calm and composed and one should not be worried. Start the section with a fresh mind without feeling too nervous about the previous performance.

    Topper Tips to Attempt CAT QA Section

    Topper Tips to Attempt CAT QA Section

    The Quantitative Ability is usually the crucial section for candidates without a technical, engineering or commerce background, but a strongest section for technical background candidates. With 34 questions, the QA section is also very important for candidates. Generally, most toppers remark that they focused on making their concepts of the section stronger.

    • Rahul Manglik who obtained 100 percentile in CAT 2019, remarks, “I learnt some Vedic maths tricks to speed up my calculations. I think that that extra speed helped me gain an edge over and above the normal preparation.” Read More 
    • Rickshesh Manchanda advises CAT aspirants to make the concepts strong as the concept of a Quant topic matters a lot. Read More
    • Soumyajeet Ghosh (2018, topper) says – “QA section demands a lot of practice and to save time for practicing more, one should adopt all small and simple tactics to increase his practice and reduce his errors.”
    • Ankit Desai got 99.91 percentile in CAT 2019, he shared his experience to handle Quant section, Ankit says- I was weak in Geometry and Numbers. So, first I revised all the formulas and wrote them down. After that, I solved around 50 questions more on these topics to understand the concepts better.

    The general advice of most candidates securing 99+ percentile is to attempt as many mocks as possible. After attempting mocks, analyse what questions went wrong for you. Identify your weak sections and devote your time to practice the questions.

    Know How Rishi Mittal Scored Perfect 100 Percentile in CAT 

    CAT QA Cutoff for IIM

    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Cutoff for IIM

    The following table enlists the released CAT 2019 cut off for all participating IIMs for general candidates with individual cut offs for QA, sections:

    Most of the IIMs will conduct their own admission process according to personalized guidelines except for the 10 third-generation IIMs who will partake in a common ability test and personal interview through the Common Admission Process (CAP). Check IIM Wise Cutoff for CAT

    The following table enlists the released CAT EXAM 2019 cut off for all participating IIMs for general candidates with individual cut offs for QA, sections:

    Institute

    QA Percentile

    Overall Percentile

    IIM Ahmedabad

    70

    80

    IIM Bangalore

    75

    85

    IIM Calcutta

    80

    85

    IIM Kozhikode

    75

    85

    IIM Shillong

    75

    80

    IIM Lucknow

    85

    90

    IIM Raipur

    80

    95

    IIM Rohtak

    70

    95

    IIM Kashipur

    80

    90

    IIM Ranchi

    80

    90

    IIM Indore

    80

    90

    IIM Tiruchirapalli

    80

    95

    IIM Udaipur

    80

    90

    IIM Bodh Gaya

    80

    90

    IIM Amritsar

    75

    80

    IIM Nagpur

    72

    85

    IIM Jammu

    80

    90

    IIM Visakhapatnam

    80

    90

    IIM Sambalpur

    80

    95

    IIM Sirmaur

    80

    95

    CAT 2019 QA Paper Analysis

    CAT 2019 Quantitative Aptitude Paper Analysis

    The level of difficulty of QA was between that of CAT 2017 and CAT 2018. There were a high number of questions from Arithmetic and Algebra. It is evident from both the slots that there were extremely few questions from Numbers.

    • Overall, the slot 1 of CAT 2019 was not more difficult than last year except that one or two RC passages and a few questions in DILR were found a bit more difficult than last year. Your raw score of an overall raw score of around 155-160 is expected to award 98 – 99 percentile this year
    • Overall, the slot 2 of CAT 2019 was moderate as compared to last year except that one or two RC passages and a few questions in DILR & QA were found a bit more difficult than last year. Your raw score of around 160-165 is expected to award 98 – 99 percentile this year.

    A 99%ile in QA would be anywhere between 57 and 60 marks. The cut off for QA is expected to increase by about 5-7 marks from last year, which is about 1-2 questions extra from CAT 2018.

    Slot 1 Analysis

    Quantitative Ability (QA) section in slot 1 of CAT 2019 exam had the highest number of 11 Non-MCQs out of 34 questions. The section was found on moderate difficulty side and was similar to last year.

    • The 3rd section in slot 1 of CAT 2019 exam was on Quantitative Ability
    • The QA section had 34 questions.
    • Non MCQs were 11 without negative marking
    • QA section has maximum number of Arithmetic based questions
    • More calculation intensive and formula based questions appeared in QA section
    • Ideal attempts in QA section would be 22-24 questions with 90% accuracy
    • 48-55 marks could fetch a percentile between 97-99
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

    QA Sectional Composition in CAT 2019 slot-1

    Number of Questions

    Difficulty Level

    Arithmetic Based Questions

    11-12

    Moderate. Percentage, Time-Distance, Time Work, Men & Machine, interest, Profit & Loss

    Algebra based

    6-7

    Moderate – more formula based

    Geometry/Coordinate Geometry

    6-7

    Moderate-based on Triangle, radius, circle etc

    Number System/Roots/Under-roots/Log/Probability

    8-11

    Moderate

    Also Check CAT Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning 2019 Paper Analysis

    Slot 2 Analysis

    Quantitative Ability (QA) section in slot 2 of CAT 2019 exam had 34 questions. The section was found on moderate difficulty side and was similar to morning session

    • The 3rd section in slot 2 of CAT 2019 exam was on Quantitative Ability
    • QA section had 34 questions.
    • QA section has maximum number of Arithmetic based questions
    • More calculation intensive and formula based questions appeared in QA section
    • Ideal attempts in QA section would be 23-25 questions with 90% accuracy
    • 50-55 marks could fetch a percentile between 97-99
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

    Question Topics

    Number of Questions

    Difficulty Level

    Number System

    4

    Moderate to Difficult

    Arithmetic

    13

    Easy to Moderate

    Algebra

    9

    Moderate to Difficult

    Geometry & Mensuration

    6

    Moderate to Difficult

    Modern Math

    2

    Easy to Moderate

    CAT 2019 Section wise & Overall Cut offs

    CAT 2019 SectionCAT 2019 percentile Cut offRaw Score required
    Section-3: Quantitative Ability (QA)97-9950-55
    Overall Score in CAT 201997-99160-165

     So, the MBA aspirants are suggested to be well-focused and dedicated for the exam. With honest preparation, the questions can be easily solved and admission to the IIMs or any other prestigious B-School can be easily acquired.

    CAT Quantitative Aptitude FAQs

    Ques: What comprises CAT Quantitative Aptitude section?

    Ans:CAT Quantitative Aptitude simply means the ability of an individual to solve numerical and mathematical calculations in a limited time. It assesses the capability of playing with numbers in a logical manner. This is very often required in most of the competitive exams.

    Ques: How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT 2020?

    Ans: Quantitative Aptitude demands a lot of practice and to save time for practicing more, one should adopt all small and simple tactics to increase his practice and reduce his errors.”He should given frequent mock tests and strengthen the fundamental concept and basics by going through different study materials and different Quantitative Aptitude books.

    Ques: What are the topics covered in the Quantitative Aptitude for CAT Syllabus?

    Ans: Following are the most crucial topics to prepare for CAT quantitative Aptitude Test. Permutations and Combination

    1. Percentages
    2. Profit and loss
    3. Probability
    4. Time and work
    5. Simple and compound interest
    6. Time, speed and distance
    7. Number systems
    8. Ages
    9. Averages
    10. Calender and clock (not too imp)

    Ques: What are the important CAT 2020 Quantitative Aptitude Tips to crack the exam?

    Ans: CAT is not having any defined syllabus. So, candidates are required to prepare from various topics and more or less relied on previous year question sets of CAT. Thus, to solve this dilemma, they should follow the toppers trick and the expert opinion. Simultaneously a candidate should try to appear frequent mock tests available online.

    Ques: Which are the best CAT experts Quantitative Aptitude Tips & Tricks to score high in Quant 2020?

    Ans:Weightage of each topic must be checked by candidates in order to decide how much time they wish to devote to that particular topic. It is recommended that candidates should focus more on the basic topics number system and geometry as they hold the good amount of weightage in CAT entrance exam. Not only in CAT, but other top business institutes who also cover most of these topics from the QA section. When candidates are done with the basic concepts, they should pick up past year question papers and practice them.

    Ques: Which are the best books for CAT Quantitative Aptitude Section?

    Ans: Previous years papers are the best to practice and check your preparation. Practice and practice because it will make you perfect . You can refer some of the best books like NCERT , ARUN SHARMA , ABHIJEET GUHA ETC .

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College

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