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CAT 2018: Improve Your Percentile In Quant Section; Follow The QUANTASTIC Approach.

The CAT aspirants who are from mathematical background need to be extra careful

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There is a common apprehension among CAT aspirants especially those who belong to the non-engineering or non-mathematical background that quant section is probably the most difficult section to crack. On the contrary, the fact is the other way around. The CAT aspirants who are from mathematical background need to be extra careful.

Mantra-1: Even if you are very good at mathematics and have an excellent formulation and calculation skills, you still need some time to react even after the proper comprehension of the question. Test takers are advised to invest a maximum of 10 seconds in the interpretation part after a proper understanding of the questions. As soon as you are done with interpretation part start solving the question with mathematical, logical or combination of mathematical/logical approach if the question is defined as doable in the time limit. The best way to solve any problem is to solve it in the way you are most comfortable with.

Mantra-2: The test makers of CAT are masters in the art of mixing up easy, moderate and difficulty level questions.  Scanning as per the strength or weakness is the hallmark to excel in quant. Scanning is a very subjective thing and there cannot be any generalization. You can devise your own rule on the basis of what you have experienced and learned in the past AIMCATs. Please keep two simple facts in your mind while you scan the paper 

1. Shortlist the question on the merit of that question i.e. What is given and what is required is more important rather than the appearance, length, face value of the questions or the chapter it belongs to. If I look at from the test makers perspective, there are no chapters in quant. Quant section as a whole is a level playground and even the basic mathematical concepts till class Xth are sufficient to get a decent percentile score. Chapters are basically the virtual boundary that we test takers have created for convenience in preparation 

2. Be practical in scanning. Even if the question is from your comfort zone, if it is either calculation/formulation intensive or requires rigorous case analysis then you are advised to move forward or leave it to the end of the question paper. At the same time, do not leave too many questions to the end. Doing so will only create unnecessary pressure and you may lose some really easy questions.

Mantra-3: Observation skill is the necessary attributes of every successful aspirant. It is essentially required when you want to solve the questions without mathematical approaches. The attributes of good observation skill are a holistic view, a relaxed brain and a test taker who is a keen observer. It might be possible that the requisite observation skill strikes late. In this scenario test takers are advised to switch to the observation skill as soon as they realise that the question is doable from some other approach.

Mantra-4: Try to solve as many questions as possible from the alternative approaches. Every test taker thrills to find simple, elegant solutions to seemingly difficult problems. Such resolution is called an “Alternative Solution”. If you have the habit of switching to alternative approaches like answer option elimination through observation skill and other methods like finding the range and getting the answer, generalized questions specific answer approach etc., you can save your precious time for the next questions in the queue. At times alternative approaches are surprising, stunning and scintillating. They reveal the beauty of brain mapping tests like CAT. Excessive reliance on mathematical approaches is the sole reason of wastage of time for most of the test takers. But remember, it works when you follow the Mantra 1 and 3.

Mantra-5:  There is a slight chance of wrong selection as one cannot be always perfect in scanning. When you realise that your equation has begun to become bigger and uglier and there is no real progress in reaching towards the answer, none of the alternative approaches is working and even after 5 Mins you are still where you had started, you should move to another shortlisted question. Don’t think of the five minutes already wasted; rather think of the ten minutes that you might further waste.

Mantra-6: “Generalised question and specific answer” is another unconventional approach which can be used frequently in a test like CAT. Test takers are advised to use this technique in the questions of sequence and series, functional equations and any question which is generalized in nature and takes smaller value or simpler cases helps in to identify the pattern and getting the answer.

Mantra-7: There are many techniques in quant to get the guesstimate value of the range of your probable answer. Believe me, it helps you a lot in the elimination of answer option once you have a holistic view of questions together with the answer options. Analysing the range of answer and identifying the correct answer option is the key technique.

Mantra-8:  It is a common dictum that “low flying objects are not detected by the radar”. Once you realised that question is very easy and on the set pattern or very known to you then take a small pause and be extra careful and avoid the common trap planned by the test makers, if any. On the test day, you may still make mistakes. You are bound to allow the margin of error but at the same time, you are required to be extra careful in areas where you have proven weaknesses. 

Mantra-9: The most expected pattern in CAT-2017 is the unexpected. CAT is known for its unpredictability. There should not be bias and prejudice regarding the number of questions or the marks you target for neither your special liking for a particular chapter is going to help you. After analysing, it evinces that so many very easy questions remain untouched even though they are extremely easy. Contrary to the common belief that they are from so-called difficult chapter! 

The 60 minutes of the quant section test your stamina and thinking performance. The good time management is the right combination of knowledge, approach and skills. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Pradeep Pandey

The author is Academic Head of T.I.M.E.

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