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How To Prepare For Cat Quantitative Ability 

Are you weak at CAT quantitative ability? Find out how you can improve your quant in CAT by following these tips from IIM Skills- online CAT coaching




In this article, you will learn about several quantitative ability CAT tips, the syllabus of quant for CAt, and why it is important in the CAT exam. Let us first read the syllabus based on the previous year’s CAT papers.



  • Syllabus for quantitative ability CAT
  • How to prepare
  • Why is quant in CAT important
  • Why CAT
  • Why MBA


Syllabus for Quantitative ability CAT

  • Number Systems
  • Mean median mode (statistics)
  • Averages
  • Percentages
  • LCM and HCF
  • Time and Work
  • Ratio and Proportion
  • Profit, Loss, and Discount
  • Speed, Time, and Distance
  • Quadratic Equations & Linear Equations
  • Complex Numbers
  • Simple and Compound Interest
  • Logarithms
  • Sequences and Series
  • Linear equations
  • Inequalities
  • Probability
  • Surds and Indices
  • Set Theory & Function
  • Permutation and Combination
  • Mixtures and Alligations
  • Trigonometry
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Geometry
  • Mensuration



Expected pattern of quantitative aptitude in CAT


The quantitative Aptitude section of CAT syllabus can be divided into 4 parts.


SectionschaptersEstimated number of questions
ArithmeticNumbers, Percentage, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Profit & Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Partnership13 to 15
Advance MathematicsPermutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression, and Series4 to 6
GeometryLine, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Co-ordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, 6-9



Considering the quant section has 34 questions


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How to prepare for quantitative aptitude for CAT


The quant section in CAT is considered the most challenging section of CAT out of the whole syllabus for CAT. If you look at the previous years’ papers of CAT, you will see that the quantitative aptitude for CAT is the most difficult section, comparatively. This is why it is important to know How to prepare for quantitative aptitude for CAT. Our experts at IIM Skills online CAT coaching, bring you a complete guide on How to prepare for quantitative aptitude for CAT


You cannot ignore quant in CAT since, in order to get a call from the IIMs, you also need to clear the sectional cut-offs in each section, which means the quant too. Generally, you have 34 questions (considering the pattern of CAT 2020) to be answered in 60 minutes. 


Students who do not come from engineering or any other technical backgrounds find it a challenge to score high on quant. But there is no way around it. You absolutely cannot skip or be lazy when it comes to quantitative ability CAT. There is a limit of 60 minutes for every section in CAT and you cannot move to other sections. That means you will have to do something. Sitting idle during the exam is a crime.


In fact, mastering the quant in CAT will probably give your percentile a big boost and get you that precious call from the big league institutions.


The most helpful result of practicing a large number of questions in quant is that it becomes very easy to decide which questions to attempt and which ones to skip in CAT. Since you get 60 minutes, no more no less, to attempt the quantitative aptitude CAt section, you need a good strategy in addition to skills, on how to approach the questions, if you want to get a good score in quantitative aptitude and get a high percentile in CAT.


How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)


To understand the basics on how to increase your quant score and how to prepare for CAT quantitative ability, you need to follow the given steps:


Read the syllabus


The absolute first thing you should be doing is reading carefully the CAT quantitative ability syllabus. You always need a roadmap since the whole preparation for quantitative ability CAT is going to take at least a few months.


Get the basics right


Getting the basic concepts of quant right and strong should be your first priority once you start your preparation. Whenever you start a new topic, read the theory very carefully.


To build the concepts, solve as many easy questions as possible. Don’t think you only need to solve tough questions. Easy questions build speed and foundation so you can solve tough questions quicker than others.


Solve the easy ones and move to the difficult quant questions only when you think you have mastered the concepts of that topic in the quant CAT syllabus.


This step is even more important for candidates with a non-technical background. In order to be as good in CAT quantitative aptitude as a candidate with a technical background, you need to follow every step on how to prepare for quantitative aptitude CAT carefully and properly.


Best Books for CAT Quantitative Aptitude preparation


It is important to get the right books. As a general rule, your CAT coaching course material and another practice book like Arun Sharma Quantitative aptitude CAT are more than enough.


Learn the concepts and solve easy questions on that concept. Then move on to the difficult ones gradually. Finally, solve the mock tests given in the books.


You can know more about the complete list of best books for CAT preparation here.


NCERT Mathematics (class 6-10)


It’s a nice idea to spend some time on the basic NCERT books before starting your preparation full throttle. NCERT will ensure you get your basics right first. There would be no issue with the fundamental concepts after this. And it also won’t take a lot of time. You just have to skim through it. 


How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma


This book by Arun Sharma is one of the most popular reference materials among CAT candidates and it’s really clear and simple to follow.


This book has 3 levels of difficulty. You move up the levels as you practice. Just be careful of the wrong answers sometimes. Arun Sharma’s books are designed in such a way that they first concentrate on explaining the fundamentals before increasing the difficulty level. They are also helpful for other management entrance exams like XAT, MAT, FCAT, IIFT, GMAT, etc.


Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by Abhijit Guha


This book by Abhijit Guha is a quite comprehensive book for various competitive exams. However, some applicants think this book is better suited for improving speed rather than skills as it has fewer tough problems. It can be useful for CAT but also exams such as Bank PO.


Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma


This is also a common book among CAT candidates. It includes the basic concepts at the start of a section after which follow questions of various difficulty levels. Students consider this a complete preparation material.


Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Sinha


This book’s author is an alumnus of IIM Lucknow. It contains many tips that have been proven successful time and again. The book explains concepts nicely but may not be the best option when explaining solutions to difficult problems, especially for students who are new to Quantitative aptitude.


Plan your preparation schedule


Before you start your preparation and start solving questions, make a study plan first. Your study plan for CAT should ideally contain:


  • How many hours every day, you give for each section
  • How much time(days) you spend in each chapter
  • How many of those days will you spend on theory and how many practice questions?
  • Time for mock tests (at least once a week. Part test or full test)
  • Time for revision (once a week)


A clear vision in the form of a timetable is essential. As you make a good plan and stick to it, you do most of the work. Following the timetable consistently for the whole preparation period hold the key to your success in CAT. This is probably the most important tip on how to prepare for the quantitative ability CAT.


Give a sufficient number of days to topics you are weak in and do not leave any topic at this stage. Ideally, you should complete more than 95% of your syllabus for quant. You also have other sections of CAT to study. So you cannot give more than 90 minutes to 2 hours on quant every day. Try to make the most of it.


An example of how you should allot the number of days is here. Give more days to the topics that have more weightage in CAT. But do not skip any topic.


Number System: 20% of the time

Algebra: 30% 

Geometry: 30%

Permutation & Combination/Probability: 20%

Make a schedule that fits your requirements.


Take Mock Tests


Mock Test for CAT 2020 is an important part of the plan of “How to prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability”. It helps the aspirants get acquainted with the kind of questions that are asked in quant CAT. After attempting a mock test, a candidate can assess his/her performance and review in which fields he/she needs to work on. Mock tests play an important part in judging the level of preparedness for the actual CAT.


Ideally, you try to give at least one mock test a week in your preparation stages. When you are done with all the topics and all there is left to do is practice, solve two mock tests in a week. Keep track of your progress. There are two things you have to learn from giving mock tests for CAT:


  • Finding your weak and strong points
  • A strategy to attempt the question paper


Finding your weak and strong points is of great advantage in the actual CAT. Attempt those questions first that fall in your strengths category. This will help you score higher. Since all questions carry equal marks it doesn’t matter to CAT whether you solve an easy question or a tough question.


In the meantime keep working on your weak areas and keep practicing. You should never try to attempt all the questions ever. A good target is 50%. It’s already great if you can achieve that. Then gradually increase your target by 5%. It is important to solve correctly at this point than to try to attempt more questions. Increase your correct percentage and decrease negative marking.


Practice with sectional time


Now that CAT has a sectional time limit of 60 minutes, always solve your mock tests at that time. Even when attempting full tests, do not spend more than 60 minutes in any section. Take the first 3-4 minutes to skim through the whole paper and mark the questions that you are going to attempt and not attempt. The target for 40-50% of the paper. Try to get them right. Only attempt more after ensuring you got every question correct and there is time left. Leave some time for revision. Keep tweaking your strategy to reach the best strategy for CAT.


2 minutes is sufficient time to give to each question on average, if you are nowhere near the solution after 2 minutes, leave that question. The more you solve mock tests, the better you will become at picking the right questions that will increase your CAT score.


Focus on Weak Areas


The thumb rule during the preparation stages is to concentrate on the weak sections and analyze the errors and problems that are coming. It could be possible that you did not give enough time to some topics in the preparation stages. During the course of preparation, you must concentrate on learning the theory and basics, practicing and reviewing the subjects in which they are weak will build up concepts and speed.


If you think you are weak in the whole quant section in CAT, solving even 50 % of the questions can give a good score provided you solve them correctly. Anyway, there is not enough time to solve all the questions. 


Mental Calculation


Our thinking speeds are far more than our writing speeds. When practicing try to solve questions sometimes without using the pen and paper. Just in your mind. Start from easy and short questions and do the difficult ones. As you practice you will get better at coming up with solutions without even using the pen. 


CAT offers a Basic Calculator to all the candidates on screen. But this is not a reason for not doing some mental calculations. Doing calculations mentally reduces so much time that you otherwise would have wasted in unnecessary movements. 


For starters, you can do basic arithmetic, the addition and multiplication of large numbers, and move up to difficult calculations as you practice. 


General tips for the CAT quantitative ability


There is no fixed syllabus for CAT in the notification. Given this reality, it is not possible to accurately predict any topic or area that may be more significant than others for CAT. However, if we look at the previous years’ CAT question papers, the fields in Quant that one needs to be precise is are Numbers and Geometry & Mensuration. 30% of the problems in the Quant part could solely be from these two areas.


Number System

Ensure that you are comfortable with the basic theories of this topic.


Though Arithmetic has a vast number of topics in itself, in the last few years, only a handful of questions have come from this topic


This is one of the most prevailing topics in CAT in the last 3-4 years, it would be smart to put extra weight on this topic


Many topics have come from geometry in the last 3-4 years. 

Permutation & Combination/Probability

You can expect 1-2 problems from this in CAT.


Importance of Quantitative aptitude.


So why are there problems with Quant?

Today, all companies require new employees to provide a specific level of quantitative ability. CAT is not the only exam that tests the Quantitative ability of the candidate. Many competitive exams other than CAT do too. Now we will explain why a great Quantitative aptitude is so significant for management schools as well as businesses.


An aptitude test is intended to determine the prospects of the success of the candidate. In this way, quantitative ability CAT estimates the chances of success of a candidate in the management course and career.


The aptitude tests are usually used as a practice in various organizations to screen job applicants. Aptitude tests help in estimating your strengths and weaknesses on different parameters. It is a way to test the analytical ability and understanding of the applicant.


Quantitative ability analyses the numerical ability and problem-solving abilities of applicants. It forms an essential part of every competitive exam in India as well as abroad, such as in CAT, XAT, MAT, CMAT, IIFT, GMAT, and so on.


An applicant with great Quantitative Aptitude is likely to identify and process numerical to perform elementary arithmetic methods and perform calculations. The applicant is likely to be fast in analyzing cases based on the provided information and shows an extraordinary level of concentration in solving difficulties.


A good score in the quantitative aptitude in CAT proves that you are well-equipped in the following areas:

  • Mental alertness: Quantitative aptitude score is the degree of your mental alertness. The business environment is difficult and practical. You will confront many expected and unexpected difficulties. Successful businesses need to be alert to the competition and always need to be one step ahead of others. 
  • Problem-solving: Industries have a lot of departments such as finance, strategy, human resources, legal, etc. There are many hurdles to face in the business world every day. You need to be able to identify, think over, and find solutions quickly. A high Quantitative aptitude number shows that the applicant is has a talent for thinking critically and resolving problems. 
  • Analysis: One implication of being skilled in quantitative aptitude is solid analytical skills. Data Analysis forms the backbone of companies’ operations in today’s era. It helps a company decide on short-term and long-term projects that are crucial for growth. A candidate with a high quantitative aptitude is adequately suited to analyze and make inferences. 


Almost 3 in 4 tests in the world have a quant section. This is really important as recruitment is not only about the candidate’s desires but also about what the company desires. 


An unsuitable employee could probably be a misuse of the company’s time and resources and also damage the reputation of the company in front of the clients. It would also be a waste for the applicant since he/she can fit somewhere else better.


There are so many applications for so few seats in the management colleges that organizations need a way to grade students in a process that can make a differentiation among lakhs of applications. 



Why CAT?


CAT is required for admissions to almost all prestigious MBA schools in India. CAT is designed to test the applicants in many fields. It measures how competent and successful they can be as business managers. Almost all management schools in India shortlist and call applicants based on their CAT scores.


CAT is an online test. It has 3 different divisions:

  • Quantitative Ability (QA)
  • Verbal Ability (VA) & Reading Comprehension (RC)
  • Data Interpretation(DI) & Logical Reasoning (LR)


The Quantitative ability or quant(QA)  part consists of elementary arithmetic, based upon 10 + 2. Questions come from various topics such as Number systems, Geometry, Algebra, profit and loss, permutations, simple and compound interest, and Commercial Mathematics. The idea is to analyze the candidate’s ability to use basic maths to find solutions to real-world challenges.


The DILR section has puzzles that come in sets. There are usually 4-5 sets and each set has a group of data and consists of 3-4 questions based on that data. Data Interpretation questions check how the candidate makes use of the data that is available and their expertise in solving questions accurately. 


The Verbal Ability (VA)  segment has problems with knowledge of the English language and practices of grammar. Verbal Ability questions analyze the candidate’s linguistic knowledge like arranging paragraphs in proper order, deciding the tone of narratives, and completing the statements


The test is organized by the Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) to rank candidates seeking admission into management colleges. All the IIMs take turns preparing the question paper every year. CAT scores today are used by almost every management school including the ones in IITs and IISc.


The marking scheme in CAT is simple and clear. Each correct answer awards 3 marks to the candidate. A wrong answer decreases 1 mark. 


There is a lot of competition in CAT and a good percentile in CAT is needed to get a seat in the most sought-after management schools in India. 


A great CAT number ensures a great learning atmosphere whichever college you choose to go to. You make a large and amazing corporate network lasting a lifetime. You get to meet and have conversations with the biggest industry leaders and distinguished economists. You get a great start to your career. The topmost B-schools present great internship opportunities and even possess a 100% placement history.


Check out other helpful articles on how to prepare for CAT.


Gaurav is a Content Writer at IIM Skills. He has a B.Tech. degree but then he switched to the creative side by doing his master's in advertising and public relations. Gaurav is also a part-time blogger and graphic designer currently living in Mumbai

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