How to Prepare Quantitative Aptitude for CAT?

    Anam Shams Anam Shams
    Content Curator

    Quantitative Aptitude Section of CAT is generally considered the toughest section by many of the aspirants, especially if they have not studied mathematics after their Class 12th or 10th. However, this section of can be cracked, if a candidate follows a proper strategy, and manages to create a good mixture of concepts and practice, along with usage of the proper type of study material.Some important points to ponder before beginning the preparation for CAT Quantitative Aptitude (QA)-

    • CAT 2020 QA Exam Pattern is expected to remain same, 34 questions which need to be done in 60 minutes.
    • QA is generally of easy to moderate on the scale of level of difficulty.
    • CAT Syllabus for Quantitative Section includes Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Number System and Modern Mathematics mainly
    • Arithmetic has been the topic with maximum weightage from past two years.
    • Candidates are advised to start CAT Preparation by now and devote at least 2 hours to this section daily.
    • They can also purchase a national level Mock Test Series for CAT, which plays a very important role.
    • Books by Arun Sharma, Nishit Sinha, and Sarvesh Verma are the most recommended books for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT.
    • Concept based learning and regular practice is the key to success in this section.        

    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Pattern
    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Pattern

    As per Exam Pattern of CAT the Quantitative Section will look like this:

    CAT  Quantitative Aptitude SectionPattern
    Total Number of Quant Questions34
    Type of Questions

    24-27 MCQ questions

    7-10 Non MCQ Questions

    Marking Scheme

    +3 for Correct Answer

    -1 for an Incorrect Answer

    Negative Marking

    MCQ wilth Negative Marking

    Non MCQ without Negative Marking

    Difficulty LevelModerate to High
    Time duration to Attempt Quants1 Hour

    CAT Analysis 2019 for QA

    CAT Paper Analysis 2019 for Quants

    As per experts the section provided ample opprtunity to score well if candidates were able to segregate questions as per difficulty and attempt it. Though there were do able questions, there was presence of substantial difficult questions as well. 

    CAT 2019 Slot 1 QA Paper Analysis

    ChapterNumber of QuestionsDifficulty Level
    Airhmetic14Easy to Moderate
    Modern Maths2Moderate

    CAT 2019 Slot 2 QA Paper Analysis

    Comparing slot 2 quants with slot 1 there was no difference in difficulty and distribution of questions. Though there was complete absence of Modern Math and questions in Numbers increased to 3.   

    ChapterNumber of QuestionsDifficulty Level
    Airhmetic14Easy to Moderate

    CAT Syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude
    CAT Syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude

    IIMs do not provide any specified CAT Syllabus. But from the observation of past year papers of CAT, no question in quantitative ability has come from outside of the scope of these heads or to say it in a more simpler way, we can divide the syllabus of Quantitative Aptitude section of CAT in following heads:

    • Arithmetic: Ratio, Percentage, Averages, Profit and Loss, Time Speed and Distance, Simple and Compound Interest, Time and Work, Alligations and Mixtures, Pipes and Cisterns.
    • Geometry and Mensuration: Lines, Circles, Triangles, Other Polygons, Cylinders, Cones, Spheres, Co-Ordinate Geometry, Trigonometry etc.
    • Number System: Remainders, Factors, Factorials, LCM HCF, Prime and Composite Numbers etc.
    • Algebra: Quadratic Equations, Linear Equations, Lines and Slopes, Functions, Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions, Modulus
    • Modern Mathematics: Permutation and Combination, Set Theory, Probability etc.
    • Others: Clocks, Calendars, Logarithms, and Indices etc.

    Weightage of Different Topics in Quantitative Aptitude Section

    The questions asked in CAT Quants are unpredictable, and its level of giving surprises to candidates is even more in Quantitative Aptitude. Therefore, candidates are advised to maintain a balance of all topics rather than focusing on two or three heads from the ones listed above.

    CAT pattern has remained same since 2016, 34 questions in Quantitative Aptitude section and duration of 1 hour. From the trends of past two years, weightage of each heading can be expected as in the table given below:

    c Topics Number of Questions Arithmetic 10-11 Number System 5-6 Geometry and Mensuration 5-6 Algebra 4-5 Modern Mathematics 3-4 Others 1-2

    Candidates must note that these are mere expectations. CAT has been highly unpredictable, no one can tell exactly how many questions will come from each topic. However, the weightage of Arithmetic heading has remained constant in the past two years, so candidates can assume it to be the most important topic for CAT.

    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation Tips
    CAT Quantitative Aptitude Preparation Tips

    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.

    Here are some CAT preparation tips for Quantitative Section:

    When to start?

    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?

    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.

    Some more strategical tips

    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.

    If a candidate is taking coaching for CAT Exam, he/she may refer to the coaching material provided by the institution. However, there are some good books available in the market that are studied by many aspirants, irrespective of the fact that they are taking coaching or not.

    Therefore, here are the top most recommended books for CAT Quantitative Aptitude:

    CAT Preparetion books
    Books NameAuthor/Publisher
    How to Prepare for Quantitative AptitudeMcGraw Hill Mr. Arun Sharma
    Quantitative Aptitude QuantumArihant Publications Mr. Nishit Sinha
    The Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation for the CATPearson Publications Mr. Nishit Sinha

    In addition to these books, Candidate must look to solve past CAT papers also. There are a lot of books also which offer solved past question papers. Solving past CAT papers is very important, as it makes candidate understand that what actually is to be studied and which type of questions are asked in the exam.



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