CAT 2021 preparation strategy, at this point, should be pivoted around how much and how well a CAT aspirant has covered and is covering their Quant syllabus. And when it comes to Quant, there is a perception that scoring well in this section could be a Himalayan task. Here in this article, we are demystifying that and giving you some ideas that will make it easy for you to be assured of a 90th percentile at the least. Non-engineers, engineers afraid of Math, Math prodigies who have somehow flunked the Quant section previously, and all you CAT-o-sapiens, this one’s for you!
CAT 2021 preparation strategy – The Quant game
There is only one statement, for anybody who gets jitters when the word, ‘Quant’ is mentioned – “Start with Arithmetic“.
What exactly is Arithmetic?
To give a brief one-liner, Arithmetic is the backbone of Quant. To be a bit more elaborate, Arithmetic comprises topics such as Percentages, Profit and Loss, Simple Interest and Compound Interest, Averages, Ratios and Proportions, Mixtures and Alligations, Pipes and Cisterns, Time Speed and Distance, Races, and Progressions, etc. I would even go on to the extent of adding Linear and Quadratic Equations, Inequalities and Functions to this bucket.
The following video gives an overview of sorts on how you can go about preparing for Arithmetic.
Why does this become important?
The more obvious reason from an academic standpoint is that the major chunk of the Quant questions – to the tune of 50% of the section – comes from Arithmetic.
Wow, that is interesting! Anything else to add to that?
Of course, there is. The non-academic reason that is also equally significant is that these are the topics where you can read a question and relate to it in an instant. Be it a tiger chasing a deer, or a milkman cheating the customer by adding a lot of water, or a tank overflowing in half-an-hour, and so on. There could obviously be variants of these questions, but the ideas are relatable in real life.
Exploring more on the academic standpoint
For a moment, forget the uncertainty around the examination pattern of CAT 2021. If it is a three-hour paper, there are going to be around 15 to 17 questions, in any case (and this proportion does not change even when it comes to a 2-hour paper).
The first and foremost idea is that if you can get these 15 questions right, without any mistakes, you can cross the 90th percentile conveniently. This will especially come in handy for those whose overall percentile has been touching the 95+ horizon, but Quant has always been pulling them down with a 72 percentile or a 66 percentile.
Will this be enough as my CAT 2021 preparation strategy for Quant?
Not really. And not always. If you can finish off your Arithmetic, and top it off with a bit of Geometry, Functions and Inequalities, you are conveniently looking to go beyond the 90th percentile without breaking a sweat.
The last phrase is interesting. Breaking a sweat?
Haha, yes. There is a reason. In the actual CAT examination, there are going to be several aspirants who would try frantically to solve every single question that is part of the Quant section. If they are trying to solve 30 questions, for example, they first need to look at these 30. Then, they need to process these questions, and figure out a way to solve them and arrive at the answer.
If the said candidates are naturally inclined towards Math, and have a flair for it, they will be able to do this feat.
For the others…
If you are someone who has been hustling trying to solve all the Quant questions in a paper, OR have been bordering on the 90th percentile or less for several other reasons, you might want to try the following.
Attempt the 15 questions and make sure you get all of them right without any mistakes.
What is the advantage if I choose to do this?
The first and foremost advantage you gain is that you have more time per question. In the case of a 60-minute paper, you get slightly more than 3 minutes per question and still be left with enough time to recheck your answers, and try a couple of other questions.
In a nutshell!
If you are someone who feels like tougher ideas in Math are proving to be your nemesis, it is high time you start giving the Arithmetic section the respect it deserves. The trends from the last 4-5 years clearly state that this will help you walk away with a 90th percentile comfortably.
Stay safe and best wishes for CAT 2021 preparation.