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How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude

“What is mathematics? It is only a systematic effort of solving puzzles posed by nature.” — Shakuntala Devi, Indian writer, nicknamed as ‘human computer’

Quantitative Aptitude, the last section of CAT, plays a huge role in the overall success in the CAT exam and can become an important key to secure an entry into the topmost B-schools of India. The Quantitative Aptitude section includes numerical questions to test the mathematical acumen, accuracy and speed of the candidates. The questions in the Quantitative Aptitude section of CAT are mostly aligned to the concepts learned in basic and elementary mathematics. Candidates are required to be completely well versed with the basic concepts to solve them. 

Quantitative Aptitude, as a section, can fetch cent percent marks, leading to a substantial increase in the overall CAT percentile. All it requires is a good hold on the concepts and thorough practice. This article sheds light on how to prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability Section in such a way that it becomes your biggest strength during the exam. 

Exam pattern of CAT QA Section

For each of the previous three years – CAT 2017, CAT 2018, CAT 2019, the pattern for the Quantitative Aptitude section has remained largely the same, as illustrated below:

Number of Questions 34
Time Allocated 60 minutes (80 minutes for PwD category)
Types of Questions TITA questions  – 11

MCQs – 23

Marking Scheme +3 for every right answer; -1 for every incorrect answer; No negative marking for unattempted questions and TITA type-questions)
Difficulty Level Moderate to High

CAT Quantitative Aptitude Syllabus

The questions in the Quantitative Ability section of CAT are based on the topics mentioned below:

Partnerships Averages LCM and HCF
Percentages Speed, Time and Distance Time and Work
Compound Interest Simple Interest Progressions and Series
Trigonometry Permutation and Combination Algebra
Number Systems Probability Mixtures and Alligations
Ratio, Proportion and Variation Profit, Loss and Discount Geometry
Set Theory & Function Logarithm & Surds and Indices Complex Numbers
Coordinate Geometry Mensuration Quadratic and Linear Equations

How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude – Tip 1

Strengthen your Basics

Brushing up your basic skill-sets is the first thing you should do to excel in the Quantitative Aptitude section of CAT. Each and every question is based on the basic concepts of Mathematics with twists here and there. Start with understanding the basic concepts and solving easy maths questions. This will help you get a brief idea about what each topic is about, and the type of questions that are mainly asked.

Without your basics right, you are more likely to get lost in the complexities of advanced questions and make unnecessary mistakes. 

Read More : Top Preparation Tips to Crack CAT

How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude – Tip 2

Practice Practice Practice

Once you are well acquainted with the basic concepts and have solved a lot of basic quant questions, it is time to move ahead to the moderately difficult ones. The moderately difficult questions usually take the major share of the Quantitative Aptitude section. To ace the quant section, candidates need to practise the moderate questions with rigour.

If the basics are the cornerstone of your preparation, then practice is the cement that keeps it fixed.

How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude – Tip 3

Hone your Approach

The Common Admission Test, just like many other entrance examinations, tests the conceptual clarity as well as the speed of the candidates. When it comes to Quantitative Aptitude, the questions can mostly be answered by a well-prepared candidate, but what makes them hard is to get them right in the time allotted. 

What comes handy in such a situation is your approach to solve a particular question. Mathematics is like poetry, which has various layers to its comprehension. The real skill lies in finding out the most lucid layer. A sum can have more than one approach to be solved. Find out the best approach (the one that reduces the time taken to solve a particular question) which can reduce complexities. Look at a problem from a different perspective.


Also, many times, a question requires 2-3 concepts together to solve it. This is where knowledge of basics becomes so important. Once you have control on your basics, you can adapt to solve any complex question. Thus, change your approach towards complex questions to improve your scores.

You have just 1 hour to solve 34 questions! However, to target a raw score of 135 to be able to enter the 99 percentile bracket in CAT, candidates need to solve 22 to 25 questions in the Quant section with a 100% category. 

How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude – Tip 4

Solve Mock Tests

Keep taking mock tests at regular intervals to understand if you are on the right track. As always, mocks are going to be the most important weapon in your CAT preparation strategy. CAT mock tests are the best tool to analyse preparation, exam performance and identify weak areas. Depending on the analysis, you need to work hard on the weaker topics and focus on solving more questions from those topics. This exercise is to master each concept well before the exam. 

These time-bound mock tests also help in improving your speed and accuracy in solving the questions.

How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude – Tip 5

Keep the Formulae Handy

Maths means formulae. Although we aren’t in favour of rote learning, it’s advisable to always keep the important mathematical formulae handy and on the tip of your tongue for a speedy solution of your problems. 

It is important that candidates are well versed with the basic formulas required for solving questions with higher accuracy and in the least time.

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