Mock strategy for CAT quant

CAT Quant Mock Strategy and Analysis [CAT 2019]

Before we discuss the mock strategy for CAT Quantitative Aptitude (QUANT) section, I would like to talk a little about the CAT 2018 Quantitative Aptitude pattern. This will help us prepare for this section, keeping in mind the most recent CAT exam.

Topicwise CAT quant questions


TopicNo. of questionsToughness level
Arithmetic14easy – moderate
Algebra10-11moderate
Geometry7easy – moderate
Number system + Modern Maths2-3moderate – difficult

By now, many of you must have become familiar with the fact that the Quantitative Aptitude section of CAT 2018 was more on the difficult side. People getting more than 38 marks managed to cross 95 percentile. This means that in CAT 2018 Quantitative Aptitude section, to cross the 95 percentile mark a student would have had to get just 13 questions correct! Just 13 questions out of 34. What do we learn from this?

The first thing is that a particular section of a CAT mock, or for that matter the actual CAT paper, is like a cricket pitch. On an easy wicket, a score of 320 might not be a good score, whereas on a difficult wicket a score of 200 might be easy to defend.

Remember, it all depends on the wicket, not on the capability of the batsmen and the bowlers. Something similar happens in CAT papers, in an easy section getting 25 correct of 34 questions might not be enough, while in a difficult paper even 12 questions might be good enough to see you through. It all depends on the difficulty of the paper.

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So the first thing that you must do before you set out to solve the section is to assess the difficulty level of the paper. This is paramount. You must have a fair idea of how the paper is, how the questions from different topics are distributed, what is their difficulty level, and the like, something that will give you a fair idea of what could be a decent attempt in such a paper.

Let’s discuss the time allocation strategy for the entire section.

Strategy to allot section time for CAT Quant:

You can divide the sectional time into four parts:

  1. The first 10 minutes to scan the section and solve the 2-3 easy questions, simultaneously noting down the topic-wise distribution of the moderate difficulty questions that you think you can solve later
  2. The next 30-35 minutes to solve the moderate difficulty questions
  3. The next 10 minutes to solve slightly higher difficulty questions, only if you are really good with Quantitative Aptitude and have correctly solved all the easy and moderate difficulty level questions. Many of you might not even reach this stage, because you would have spent the greater part of your time in solving the easy and moderate difficulty level questions.
  4. The final 5 minutes to scan all the questions that you have solved and to double check whether you have made any silly mistakes, or see if there were questions that were left midway and could now be solved again.

CAT Quant Strategy: The first 10 minutes

This is the most crucial stage. You are new at the crease and must focus on understanding the wicket and settling down. You shouldn’t take unnecessary risks and must focus on getting the easy ones and twos. You must give at least 10 to 12 minutes to scan the section.

The very first thing that you must do once you start with the quant section, is to scan all the 34 questions. While scanning the section, you are bound to come across a few questions that we teachers call ‘sitters’. By sitters we mean those questions that you can solve in less than 30 secs, assuming that you know the basic concepts and have gone through a decent no of mocks, which might have prepared you for this.

How many such sitter questions should you expect in a paper? In an easy paper, you might come across at least 10 sitters, while in a difficult paper you will definitely come across at least 4 to 5.  There cannot be paper in which no such questions are found, for the simple reason that it defeats the whole purpose of an aptitude test.

In these 10 minutes, you should be able to pick at least 5 easy questions and get them correct. This will go a long way in motivating you and keeping your confidence quite high. There will always be questions with which you would be familiar, i.e. questions that you will feel like having solved before. These are the ones that you must latch on to, ensuring, at the same time, that you don’t fall in for subtle traps, and don’t commit any silly mistakes.

While scanning the section, you should also take note of the moderate difficulty questions with which you are familiar and which you think can be solved in less than 180 seconds. Though 180 seconds is a little on the higher side, you must not devote more than 180 seconds, if you feel that you are nowhere close to the right answer yet.

CAT Quant Strategy: The next 30 minutes

Usually, you will take at least 15 minutes to settle down. By this time, you would be familiar with the section, the overall difficulty and question distribution. The next thirty minutes is the consolidation time. Whether you would be scoring a 99 plus or a mere 80 depends on how well you do in this phase. Even in this phase, you should focus on the more familiar types of questions; both memory and previous learning will come to your aid in using the right concepts.

This is where confidence and previous learnings come in handy. If you spoil the first 15 minutes and let your anxiety get the better of you, your memory and previous learnings will be less active, and you may not be able to make the most of the moderate questions.

The other thing that you must guard yourself against is ‘overdoing something’. In a simple question, the road to the right answer is simple and straightforward; in a moderate question, the road is simple but not straightforward, there will be a catch somewhere, which you must overcome to arrive at the right answer. Sometimes, we know that we are close but still haven’t found the right answer.

Our advice is that you should not overdo, flag the question so that you can come back to it later. The idea is to avoid frustration. Regardless of the difficulty of the paper, there will always be at least 10-12 moderate difficulty questions. You must try to get them correct

You will find that even in the hardest of papers there are around 15-17 easy and moderate difficulty level questions, which can be solved by an aspirant who has worked hard and has gone through most of the concepts that are often tested in aptitude tests. If you get all these correct, you will definitely be in the 99 plus range.

The difference between a 99 percentiler and 99.99 percentiler is the number of difficult questions that latter got correct but the former could not.

CAT Quant Strategy: The next 10 minutes

By now you have consumed 45 minutes of your time. Most students would never reach a point where they can say that they have finished solving all the easy and moderate difficulty questions correctly. For some who do reach this stage, it is all about getting a score of 99.5 percentile plus. Here too we have the same suggestion: focus on that with which you are familiar. We would not discuss this phase because a very small percentage of test takers will ever reach this stage. Like the first 15 minutes, the last 5 minutes are critical.

CAT Quant Strategy: The last five minutes

You must reserve the last 5 minutes to scan all the attempted questions so as to ensure that you haven’t made any silly mistakes. Most of you would clearly remember the question, what it had asked and whether you marked the right answer or not. Many a time students put in all the hard work, but end up marking the wrong choice. Sometimes, an unwarranted assumption or a silly calculation blunder ended in the aspirants’ marking the wrong choice.

In the last five minutes, you should scan all the questions that you have solved. Also, you must carefully read the last part of the question to ensure that you have worked out the right thing. For instance, the question asked the diameter, but you marked the radius as your answer.

How many questions to attempt in Quant Section

It all depends on how difficult the paper is.  A realistic answer to this question would vary from person to person. However, for us, a good attempt is the total of easy and average questions that come in a particular section.

What is good accuracy in CAT Quant Section

Ideally, you must aim at 100% accuracy, but the accuracy of 90% should make you happy. If your attempt is the total of the easy and average difficulty questions in the section, and accuracy is above 85%, then you are definitely going to score more than 98.5 percentile in the quant section.

Throughout the mock keep the following things in mind

  1. Keep a sense of urgency so that you do not get stuck in one question and waste time. No question should be given more than 3 minutes
  2. Don’t be emotional with the questions from your favourite topic. Don’t blindly fall in love. Instead, you must be a good flirt. If the thing is gettable, it will drop in your arms or else you will keep on running after it, without any reward.
  3. Give priority to questions that look familiar, instead of wasting on those that are entirely new

Post Mock Analysis

  1. Don’t jump to refer to the solution immediately.
  2. Solve questions which you got wrong, without any time limit. Look for what went wrong
    • Wrong concept
    • Silly mistakes
  1. Solve unattempted questions without time limit
    • Check how good you are at gauging toughness level of a question
  1. Refer to the solutions of the rest of the questions to compare their method with yours
    • You may discover a better method to solve the same question
  1. Make notes of all the silly mistakes you make
    • Refer to the notes before taking the next mock, to consciously avoid repeating the same mistakes again
  1. Calculate your efficiency quotient $\eta$ for each mock

$\eta =\frac{x}{y}\times 100$

Where,

x=marks you actually got in the quant section

y= marks you could have got had you solved all questions which you could have solved depending on your potential.

Target Efficiency quotient should be greater than 70%.

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