Quantitative Aptitude – Preparation Plan

Traditionally CAT has tested aspirants on four basic aptitude skills: Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability. Except for CAT 2008, Quantitative Aptitude has been occupying 1/3rd of the CAT test paper year after year. CAT 2016 should be no exception. Though we are still awaiting clarity, if it remains a 100 Question test paper, 33-34 questions in the Quant Section is a safe assumption. There is little doubt in the fact that Quantitative Aptitude should be the last section of the CAT 2016 as well. We have tried to suggest a preparation plan keeping all these facts in mind. Let’s start with the understanding of this subject.


IIMs have never shared syllabus of CAT officially. But the fact that aspirants targeting CAT come from very diverse backgrounds, a syllabus of Mathematics till 10th Standard is a safe assumption. Barring an exception or two, last 10 years’ CAT papers have followed this syllabus.Quantitative Aptitude section can be divided into 4 parts.

Major Areas Chapters Expected number of Questions*
Arithmetic Numbers, Percentage, Profit & Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Partnership 13 to 15
Algebra Linear Equations, Quadratic Equations, Inequalities, Logarithm, Surd- Indices, Functions 6 to 8
Advanced Mathematics Permutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression and Series 4 to 6
Geometry Line, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, Co-ordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry

6 to 9


*For a Quant section having 34 Questions.

Many of the chapters have a good size of theory portion. But most of the times, the theory is used for application in problems only. A question directly asking a property is a rarity.

Difficulty Level:

If we look at last 10 years’ CAT papers, CAT has done all the experiments. Number of questions in a Quant section has varied from 20 questions to 50 questions. Cut-offs for top IIMs have varied from 1/3rd of the section to more than 80% of the section. But by looking at last two years’ trends, Quant should be more or less of moderate difficulty level.

Mantra of successfully cracking a Quant Section:

A CAT paper is not about how much an aspirant knows, but about how much can he apply in the given time limit with the given constraints of sectional partitions. Some of the points to be taken care of are:

  1. Practice chapter by chapter:
    There is a difference between being able to solve a problem and solving the same problem effortlessly. Depending on the difficulty level of the test paper, 15 to 25 questions should be of easy to moderate level. Practice of easy to medium Questions of all the chapters would enable an aspirant to sail through the questions easily.

Our Advice: Know basic theories and varieties of problems of all chapters.

  1. Short methods and Group Studies:
    Nothing boosts the confidence of an aspirant more than a question which he can solve without lifting pen in an ongoing test. More such questions, better the score. This can be achieved by improving mental calculation and by discussing unconventional methods with a focused study group. Many times it involves the use of options to get the correct answer.

Our Advice: Two is more than one. Three is even better. Do a regular discussion of short methods among your focused study group.

  1. Building Stamina:
    Quant should be the last section of the test paper. That means aspirants would reach this part of the paper in the 121st minute of the test. An aspirant who hasn’t prepared himself for stamina in the last hour would be challenged to deliver his regular performance.

Our Advice: Study for 3-4 hours at a stretch while doing practice.

  1. Testing Skills Development:
    Having 10 to 30% of the problems as speed-breakers is an expected situation in a Quant section of CAT. Being able to find them without wasting time in solving them is the key. It’s a skill which can be achieved by sufficient practice of a huge number of problems and by going through a sufficient number of mock papers.

Our Advice: Plan to write approximately 20-25 Mock CAT papers.

  1. Mental Calculation:
    CAT 2016 will offer Basic Calculator to all the test takers. This will still not reduce the importance of mental calculation. Since it’s an on-screen calculator, mental calculation will win against the calculator in time consumption in most of the cases.

Our Advice: Do enough practice of basic summation, subtraction, tables and fractions.

Remember, first time solving of chapters teaches you Mathematics. Second time solving brings the speed in solving. Aspirants are advised to solve all chapters twice to get advantage of speed in the test paper.

All the best..!!

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