CAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation: Topic Wise Tips, Online Resources and Study Plan

    Anam Shams Anam Shams
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    Quantitative Aptitude segment of CAT is among the most important section as it has a significant potential of achieving 100 percent. Within Quants, the number of questions has ranged over the years from 20 questions to 50 questions. This section is considered tough by CAT because usually, many of the questions asked do not have a direct application of formulas. Additionally, the questions are very lengthy and it takes candidates a while to even understand what is being asked. Owing to its importance, aspirants must prepare well for Quantitative Aptitude

    Update: CAT 2020 notification has been released on July 29 by IIM Indore on official website Exam is scheduled to take place on November 29, 2020. Check Details Here

    • The topics covered are from Number System, Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, Mensuration, Modern Math, etc. Concept based learning and regular practice will help prepare quants in a better way. There are a total of 34 questions from Quants with both MCQ (24-27) and Non-MCQ (7-10) type of questions.
    • As per 2019 analysis of QA, Airthmetic aced the section with a total of 14 questions followed by Algebra with 11 questions in both the slots. Geometry and Mensuration covered an important part with 6 questions in both the slots.
    • A decline was seen in questions from Modern Maths with mere one question from P and C Venn Diagrams ach in slot one and 3 questions in slot 2. 

    Common Admission Test is a standard aptitude test in the country which is a pathway to 20 IIMs and more than 1200 B-schools. CAT is administered by IIMs through the online mode in over 156 cities during the month of November. The test is conducted in two slots, and the question paper contains 100 MCQs from Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA). Each year, more than 2 lakh candidates answer the CAT. In 2019, the number of applicants for the exam was 2,44,190 lakh and 2,09,926 candidates answered the exam. 

    QA Preparation Tips for Beginners

    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation Tips for Beginners

    Practice one chapter after another 

    There is a distinction between being able to solve a problem without effort and solving the same problem with effort. Based on the test paper's level of difficulty, 15 to 25 questions must be of an easy to moderate level. Practicing easy to medium difficult level questions of all the chapters will allow a candidate to pass the questions easily. It is essential for you to know the basic theories and formulas of all chapters. 

    Use short methods and take part in group studies 

    Nothing can increase a candidate's confidence better than a question he/she can solve without having to lift the pen in an ongoing test. More the presence of such questions, the higher would be the score. This can be done by enhancing mental estimation and having a concentrated study group to explore unconventional approaches. Sometimes, it requires the brainstorming of options to get the right answer. Have a regular discussion of short methods with a focused study group for smart preparation. 

    Use the appropriate online resources for preparation 

    Learn from YouTube channels like Career Launcher and Handa ka Funda for enhanced preparation. Websites such as BodheePrep and Youth4Work can also be used for CAT QA preparation. 

    Develop testing skills

    A predictable scenario in a Quant section of CAT is having 10 to 30 percent of the problems as speed-breakers. The trick is to be able to discover them without wasting any time in solving them. It is a skill that can be attained by adequate practice of enormous numbers of problems and by going through a good number of mock papers. Make a plan to attempt a minimum of 20-25 mock tests. 

    Learn mental calculation 

    CAT 2020 will give all exam takers a basic calculator. This also does not negate the significance of mental estimation. As it is an on-screen calculator, in most situations, mental calculation will prevail over the given calculator with regard to time consumption. Practice this technique more with fractions, basic summation, tables, and subtraction. 

    CAT vs XAT QA Preparation

    Get acquinted with CAT section wise Syllabus and Pattern

    Strategy and method of preparation play an important role in CAT. Candidate needs to have a proper plan and needs to manage their time well so that they do not skip any topic and also learns every topic very well.

    When to start CAT QA Preparation ?

    The best time to start preparing for CAT or its Quantitative Aptitude section is around February and March, especially if a candidate has not studied mathematics in his/her graduation. 

    However, no candidate is advised to take the start of preparation beyond June as the syllabus of Quantitative Section is huge and takes around 3 to 4 months to complete, for most of the students. Candidates starting in June should make sure that they complete their syllabus by the end of August or at a maximum 2nd week of September, but not later than that.

    How much time should be devoted daily to CAT QA?

    This thing depends upon the proficiency level of a candidate in mathematics and also the total hours a candidate can devote to CAT preparation daily. If an applicant is a non-working aspirant and is fully devoted to CAT preparation, then 3 to 4 hours of time daily is enough.

    However, if a candidate has time constraints due to the job and other factors, he/she must devote at least 1.5 to 2 hours daily. Seeing the other way around, a candidate must at least target to solve 20 questions every day in the initial days and may take this number to up to at least 40 or higher than this in last 2-3 months of preparation.

    Scheduling of chapters

    If a candidate is taking coaching for CAT, then the question of which chapter is to be studied when does not even arise. If a candidate is relying totally on self-study, then the preferable order of topics is First Arithmetic, then Geometry, Number System, Algebra, Modern Mathematics and then other left over topics.

    However, this order is completely subjective and a candidate may adjust this order of chapters according to his/her own strength and weaknesses.

    Mock tests

    Mock Tests are the most important part of CAT Preparation. Candidates must enroll for at least one Mock Test Series and should start taking a mock test before or from June. Test Series’ Institutes like TIME, IMS and CL are considered to be the best, as the most number of students take these.

    However, a candidate may also refer to the other test series, as per his/her preference. While attempting mocks, candidates should be as serious as they would be in actual CAT exam. Candidates must look to identify easy questions first and solve them quickly and accurately.

    CAT vs XAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation

    Common Admission Test (CAT) and Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT) both have the section of Quantitative Aptitude. However, they have several differences between them. 

    1. Although the weightage of QA is lesser in XAT when compared to CAT, it is important to note that preparation for XAT Quantitative Aptitude must be stronger than for CAT Quantitative Aptitude. This is because the questions asked in XAT QA are tougher than those asked in CAT QA. 
    2. Although the same practice books are used for both exams, XAT will require more books like Abhijit Gupta and R.S Aggarwal for more strategic preparation. 
    3. QA comes with DI (Data Interpretation) in XAT. Therefore, the division of questions will vary from CAT where QA is an independent section. Preparation must be structured accordingly. 
    Partnership (Accounts)Partnership (Accounts)
    Profit and LossProfit and Loss
    Ratios and ProportionRatio and Proportion
    Inequations, Quadratic and linear equationsInequations, Quadratic and linear equations
    Surds and IndicesSurds and Indices
    Number SystemNumber System
    Geometric ProgressionGeometric Progression
    Work and TimeWork and Time
    Pure Maths

    Read Best Android Mobile Apps for CAT Preparation

    CAT vs XAT Quantitative Aptitude Exam Pattern

    Number of Questions3419
    Total Marks10219
    Negative Marking+3 marks are provided for each correct answer -1 mark is deducted for every incorrect answer+1 mark is awarded for every correct answer – 0.25 mark is deducted for every incorrect answer. 0.5 marks will be reduced for over 8 unattempted questions. 
    Number of Choices for MCQs44
    Sectional Time LimitYesNo

    Best Books for CAT QA Preparation

    ReadHow to Prepare for CAT Using Arun Sharma Books

    Best Books for CAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation

    It is essential for you to refer to only the best books while preparing for CAT QA. NCERT books from classes 6 to 12 can be used for preparation. NCERT is not sufficient for CAT Quantitative Aptitude preparation. However, NCERT books are very helpful in brushing up on fundamental concepts and formulas. They will close the gaps in your learning, if any. This will help you in moving onto the more complex parts of the QA chapters. Know  Best Books for CAT Preparation 

    Some of the other books that can be referred to are given below - 

    CAT Preparetion books

    How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT

    • Author: Arun Sharma
    • Publication: McGraw-Hill Education
    • ISBN: 978-9353160180
    • Latest Edition: June 5, 2018
    • Sources: Online shopping portals such as Flipkart and Amazon 

    ‘How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT’ by Arun Sharma covers all the topics as required for CAT 2020. This book is highly recommended because the examples given in it are elaborate and easy to understand. It is also divided into three levels of difficulty to help you structure your preparation accordingly. 

    Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT

    • Author: Nishit K. Sinha
    • Publication: Pearson Education
    • ISBN: 978-9332570016
    • Latest Edition: May 30, 2016
    • Sources: Online shopping portals such as Flipkart and Amazon 

    The structure of ‘Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT’ is quite good. It is broken down into five modules for easy understanding. Practice tests are provided according to levels of difficulty. Questions are posed along with their detailed solutions. 

    Quantitative Aptitude Quantum

    • Author: Sarvesh K. Verma
    • Publication: Arihant Publications 
    • Latest Edition: June 10, 2019
    • ISBN: 978-9313195283
    • Sources: Online shopping portals such as Flipkart and Amazon 

    ‘Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh K. Verma is one of the best books for CAT QA preparation. The book is structured according to topics. Practice tests are also given. The most interesting feature is that for each question, more than one way to reach the solution is provided. 

    Read more  CAT Preparation Tips for Working Professionals

    Ideal Approach to Solve CAT Quantitative Aptitude Section

    In order to solve the CAT Quantitative Aptitude section, you must understand the syllabus, weightage, and how to deal with more important topics. 

    TopicsExpected number of questionsWeightage 
    Logarithms1 question1%
    Data Sufficiency1-2 questions1-2%
    Progressions and Series3-5 questions3-5%
    Probability and Combinatorics2-3 questions2-3%
    Functions and Graphs1-3 questions1-3%
    Venn Diagrams1-3 questions1-3%
    Geometry7-8 questions7-8%
    Time, Speed, Distance and Work4-6 questions4-6%
    Ratio, Proportions and Mixtures2-5 questions2-5%
    Profit, loss and Interest4-5 questions4-5%
    Inequalities1-2 questions1-2%
    Polynomial Equations0-2 questions0-2%
    Quadratic Equations0-2 questions0-2%
    Linear Equations1-2 questions1-2%
    Number System1-3 questions1-3%
    Divisibility, Remainder theorems, LCM-HCF0-2 questions0-2%

    Topic-wise Preparation Tips for QA

    Know  Management Colleges other than IIMs

    Some more strategical tips for CAT QA

    Here are some other tips of relevance for candidates:

    • Candidates must not ignore their strengths, the topic which seems or easy or in which they are more comfortable should be started first.
    • The focus should be more on accuracy than merely going for a high number of attempts.
    • Candidates must not leave practicing concepts throughout the phase of preparation, as practicing helps a candidate to remember the concepts more effectively.
    • Candidates should first learn concepts than just remembering or cramming formulae.
    • Candidates should also try to have a good calculation speed.
    • Assuming an easy to moderate paper, a score of 60 out of 102 can lead to a high percentile (98+), therefore, candidates should not try to attempt every question; rather they should look to attempt easy and moderate questions with a high level of accuracy.

    How to Deal with Important Topics in CAT Quants?

    The most important topics in CAT QA are Progressions and Series, Geometry, Time, Speed, Distance and Work, and Profit, Loss and Interest. These topics must be allotted more time and effort. Ensure that you study these chapters in the first month of preparation. While preparing, make a note of all the important concepts and formulas pertaining to these topics. Refer to NCERT books and additional practice books like Arun Sharma and Nishit K. Sinha for improved practice. 

    Topic-wise Preparation Tips for CAT Quantitative Aptitude


    • Around 40% of questions from CAT QA come from Arithmetic which includes chapters like speed and distance, percentages, mixture and alligation, averages, time and work, and ratio and proportion. Therefore, it is essential to prepare well for the topic. 
    • Begin with studying easier chapters like percentages, averages, and speed and distance. Then, study slightly more complex chapters such as time and work, mixture and alligation, and ratio and proportion. 
    • Compartmentalize topics according to your comfort level and dedicate more time to those in which you think you are weak. 
    • Write down formulas from all the chapters under Arithmetic and revise them frequently. 
    • Refer to educational YouTube channels for improved preparation.
    • Take mock tests online 


    • This segment carries a weightage of around 25% in CAT QA. Chapters from Algebra include progressions, linear and quadratic equations, functions, and logarithms to name a few. 
    • Since algebra is variable-based, ensure that you are intensive in your preparation of the basics. This will allow you to easily apply formulas to questions asked from algebra. 
    • While referring to online sites, ensure that they are genuine. It is highly recommended that you look for PDF documents from recognized sources on variable-based math for CAT. 
    • Mastering word problems is very essential to successful solving of algebraic questions. Understand the problem statement clearly, identify the unknown variables, and form equations accordingly. 
    • Since Geometry is often used in Algebra, make yourself familiar with various formulas for area, diameter, radius, length, height, and volume. 


    • About 20% of questions from CAT QA are asked from Geometry. These include chapters such as triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, and mensuration. 
    • Understand how word problems work in geometry. The best manner to do this is through a diagram of what you understand from a particular question. 
    • Make yourself master the basic concepts and tricks for calculation in geometry so that you will be able to easily apply them to questions. You must also practice to apprehend diagrams well.
    • Arun Sharma is considered to be the best to prepare for CAT Geometry. 


    • Around 2% of questions are asked from Numbers in CAT QA. Some chapters include LCM and HCF, Remainders, Factorials, Factors, and Prime and Composite Numbers. 
    • Use the higher base to solve problems from the Base System. 
    • Understand and memorize the cyclicity of numbers. 
    • Watch online tutorials from educational YouTube channels to aid you in solving complex questions like finding the last two digits of a power expression in a quick and easy manner. 

    Modern Mathematics 

    • Typically, this topic carried a weightage of around 2% in the CAT QA section. Chapters that will be tested include probability, permutation and combination, set theory. 
    • When questions come with conditions such as “at least” or “at most”, they become pretty complicated. With sufficient practice, you reach a point where you are comfortable with questions revolving around 3 or 4 sets. 
    • Master the usage of Venn diagrams by watching online tutorials. 

    Tips and Tricks for QA

    Tricks for Prepare Notes

    1. In case you have notes obtained from your coaching class, then you will not have to make concise notes again. 
    2. We recommend that you improve the utility of your class notes by highlighting important concepts. 
    3. Another trick is to add a few popular questions which you have previously answered. By doing this, you will come across them again during the time of revision. 
    4. Mention tips or tricks in the space provided for margins in order to steer clear of any errors you have made before. 
    5. You could also make detailed notes along with short notes. Bear in mind that this will take up a lot of time. 
    6. Ensure that you do not write your notes again and again.

    Tricks for Memorising Formulas

    1. It is necessary that you build an interest in the concepts and formulas that you come across for QA. Otherwise, you might not be able to remember the formulas for a long time. 
    2. Make use of your visual memory to make connections between concepts and their formulas. This will help with faster and more efficient memorization. 
    3. Practice the formulas whenever possible. The more the practice, the better the understanding of formula application to questions. 
    4. We recommend that you write down the formulas several times. 
    5. You could also write the formulas on a sheet of paper and stick them on a well so that you will see them repeatedly. 
    6. Recollect the formulas before going to sleep each day. It will help in better retention. 

    Coaching or Self Study

    Studying Quantitative Aptitude for CAT: Coaching or Self Study

    In order to get a good score in CAT QA, you can opt for either coaching or self-study. Keeping in mind your productivity levels and lifestyle, make a well-informed choice. 

    Benefits of Preparation by Coaching 

    For those aspirants who are more productive in a formal setting and routine, the coaching method is suitable. 

    Some of the benefits of the coaching method for CAT QA preparation are - 

    • You can focus better in a classroom setting because it is solely an educational space. 
    • Your peers can facilitate improved learning. 
    • The established class duration can help you stick to a consistent routine for CAT QA preparation. 
    • The coaching institutes offer a study regime for a fixed period of time. This regime is always designed in a way that prevents overexertion or underpreparedness. 
    • You will not be interrupted much within the space of a coaching institute. 
    • Coaching institutes offer study materials so you will not be required to spend any more time in searching for them. 
    • You will have the advantage of the regular presence of teachers to clarify any concepts and formulas.
    • Your doubts can be immediately clarified. 
    • A few coaching institutes even provide mental support so that you do not burn out during preparation for CAT QA. 
    • Teachers will evaluate mock tests that you give and this will help you identify your strong and weak areas. 

    Benefits of the Self-Study Method 

    If you are a student that prefers independent learning, the self-study method is ideal. 

    Some of the benefits of the self-study method for CAT QA preparation are - 

    • You can prepare more effectively for CAT QA as more time can be dedicated to each chapter instead of studying them in bulk.
    • There is a high possibility that you will learn more through self-learning. Deeper learning happens. In situations where questions are structured in a complex manner, you will be better equipped to answer them well. 
    • Your confidence will receive a boost because you have prepared for CAT QA on your own.
    • The biggest advantage is that you can prepare at your own pace and time. You can plan to study at times when you feel most productive without feeling bound by rigid timings. 

    Online Preparation for QA

    Online Preparation Tips and Resources for CAT QA

    The current challenging times have led to online resources for CAT QA preparation becoming even more popular. After choosing the right resource, you can engage in a self-study session with it and enjoy the self-confidence you will feel.

    • Learn from mock tests : Attempt as many CAT QA mock tests as you can. Carry out an analysis of the results of the mock tests and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Make a note of questions which consume a lot of time as well. Then, work on improving your performance in the required areas. 
    • Do a revision of the basics: Allot at least an hour or two each day to revise the basic concepts and important formulas of CAT QA. This will help you to remember better on the day of the exam. 
    • Make use of your notes: Keep referring to your notes and practice more on any topic that you feel you are still weak in. 
    • Ensure that you have covered the syllabus: We recommend that you finish your preparation and revision for CAT QA at least 2-3 days before the day of the exam. 

    Best Youtube Channels for CAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation

    Handa ka Funda

    Handa ka Funda is a YouTube channel that has over 50 demo tutorials and 600 video tutorials. Quantitative Aptitude for CAT is covered by this channel in great detail. Ravi Handa, a very experienced mentor, has prepared the content. It simplifies preparation by offering mocks tests and video-based learning. 

    To access Handa ka Funda’s YouTube channel, click here.


    This YouTube Channel has a vast database of learning material, tips, and tricks for CAT QA. Simple techniques are provided to explain complicated concepts. 

    To access 2IIMCAT’s YouTube channel, click here.

    Career Launcher

    Career Launcher is one of the most trusted education providers. In addition to online preparation series and classroom coaching, it also has a free YouTube channel for CAT QA aspirants. Career Launcher is a very trusted and experienced education provider. It is pioneered by IIT-IIM alumni. Established over 21 years ago, it is the one-stop solution for CAT QA coaching. It even offers online preparation material. Relevant study material is provided to CAT aspirants.

    To access Career Launcher’s YouTube channel, click here.

    Takshzila Shikshak

    Takshzila Shikshak is an extensive YouTube channel that provides very useful and engaging preparation material for CAT QA. 

    To access Takshzila Shikshak’s YouTube channel, click here.


    Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt.Ltd. (T.I.M.E.) is famed as the country’s leading coaching institute. It extends to 119 cities in India. Indeed a great space for obtaining adequate CAT QA preparation, the training offered here is excellent. Classroom and correspondence courses are available. The All India Mock Series is part of this program as well. 

    Other Online Resources for CAT Quantitative Aptitude

    Apart from YouTube channels, the online resources available are - 

    BodheePrepOver 850 questions are available on the BodheePrep website to help you gain more practice for CAT QA. Explanations are also provided along with the questions. You can choose any topic and attempt questions asked from them.
    Youth4Work Another website that has a curated list of questions, Youth4Work is a great online resource to enhance your CAT QA preparation. These questions are given in the form of short online tests with around 10 questions in each. You will have to sign up on the website in order to attempt these tests. 
    TathaGat TathaGat is a coaching institute that offers a lot of free content for CAT QA preparation. 

    6 Month Study Plan for CAT QA

    6 Month Study Plan for CAT Quantitative Aptitude 

    MayBegin your preparation with Basic Arithmetic Skills, Probability, Number System, and Geometry and Mensuration
    JuneContinue preparation with Percentage, Time and Work, Profit and Loss, and Set Theory
    JulyPractice Progression, Logarithms, Simple and Compound Interests, Inequalities, Permutations and Combinations, Functions, and Equations
    AugustRevise the topics learnt in May and half of those learnt in June
    SeptemberRevise the topics remaining from the chapters learnt in June and July
    OctoberMemorize formulas  Solve at least 1 mock test in 2 days Revise all important concepts

    FAQs on QA

    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation FAQs

    Ques: How do I prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude?

    Ans: To prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude, it is essential for you to know the complete syllabus and exam pattern. Choose the best books for preparation like Arun Sharma and NCERT. Dedicate more time to important topics like Arithmetic and Algebra. Solve as many mock tests as you can. 

    Ques: Why is CAT QA tough?

    Ans: CAT QA is considered tough by most candidates because most of the questions do not have a direct application of the formulas. The questions tend to be lengthy and time consuming as well. However, with adequate practice, QA can be the most scoring section in CAT. 

    Ques: Will NCERT be enough for CAT Quantitative Aptitude?

    Ans: No, NCERT will not be sufficient to prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude. It is essential that you refer to books like Arun Sharma, Nishit Sinha, and Sarvesh K. Verma for enhanced practice. 

    Ques: Is Arun Sharma good for CAT Quantitative Aptitude?

    Ans: Arun Sharma is great study material for CAT Quantitative Aptitude. The examples given in this book are quite descriptive and easily understandable. The book is categorized into three difficulty levels to help you with structuring your preparation.

    Ques: How to score 100 marks in QA? 

    Ans: To score 100 marks in QA, it is essential to develop a strong study strategy. To do this, you must know the weightage of all topics and focus more on the ones with higher weightage. 

    Ques: What are the online resources available for CAT Quantitative Aptitude?

    Ans: Online resources are gaining great importance during the current times. They are usually more effective when coupled with regular study material. YouTube channels like Career Launcher and 2IIMCAT can be accessed for CAT QA preparation. Websites such as BodheePrep can be referred to for online study content. 

    *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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