In order to be fully prepared for something, one must first spend all their time learning as much as they can about it. Yes, it’s kind of a no-brainer, but a reiteration of this fact seems to be in order. 😛 The CAT tests your time management, temperament and thinking ability. In order to crack this exam, starting off from the CAT syllabus and learning all about the three sections is a good starting point. Yes, there are 3 sections! How many topics come under these sections? How many questions are likely to appear from an xyz topic? Read on to find out.
Preparing for CAT 2021 is a wonderful project. Let’s familiarise ourselves with the CAT Syllabus as much as we can. We’ll start with the Quant Section, jump on to the VARC Section, and then finish with the DILR Section.
Quantitative Aptitude – CAT Syllabus
The Quant Syllabus is easily the vast one among all 3 sections. In order to better understand the syllabus, we will divide the Quant Syllabus into 4 major chunks:
- Number Theory & Modern Math
Historically, the Quant Section has been the one that most CAT Aspirants prepared for for a long time. This section is what most coaching institutes place a lot of emphasis and focus on because, as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of syllabus to cover.
There are 34 questions from the Quant Section, with over 8-9 TITAs (Type in the Answer Questions) with the rest being MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions).
There are about 30 topics that you need to cover, in detail and from the scratch (for most aspirants). After this, you’ll move on to solving CAT level questions from these topics, usually in the form of mocks.
That being said, let’s start off with these 4 broad topics and then see what topics lie under them. We will also see the order of importance of these 4 topics in the Quant Section.
If I had to define Arithmetic, I would say that it is something that you can relate to in real life. For example, consider a watchman who turns on the pump and returns when the tank is overflowing; a leopard chasing a deer…does the deer escape?; 2 trains travelling in towards each other…at what point in time and space do they meet? How many litres of milk does a milkman add to a quantity of water in order to deceive his customers?
These are ideas that one can relate to in real life, wouldn’t you say? It’s easier to relate to this than 3^9 and its implications in real life. At least, this is the case with me.
The following are the topics and ideas that are covered under CAT Arithmetic:
Arithmetic and Geometry take up the biggest chunk of your Quant Section. In case of Arithmetic, a solid preparation from your side can allow you to get 90th percentile in the Quant Section. This has been the case for the last 4 years at least. Around 15-17 questions are usually asked from Arithmetic, so you can see why it is vital to prepare well for it.
In order to learn how to prepare for CAT Arithmetic, do watch this wonderful video that talks about the same in detail.
Let’s move on to Geometry now. Geometry is second in the order of importance for the 4 broad topics under the Quant Section. You can split Geometry across different parts in the following way:
The first chunk within Geometry consists of Triangles, Circles and Quadrilaterals. These are the core chunks of Geometry. Beyond this we have Allied Geometry which comprises Coordinate Geometry, Trigonometry and Mensuration.
Geometry is second in line because it contains about 9-10 challenging but doable questions; if you get the hang of it, then you’re through. In any Geometry question, you’ll know if you are able to solve it or not. If you look at the image given, and know what to look for…then you’re through.
One of the most important things to keep in mind w.r.t Geometry is that it is learnt iteratively and it is crosslinked with all the other topics within it. Too often, a student prepares for all these topics, takes a mock and ends up flunking it only because they aren’t able to identify which topic under Geometry the questions come under.
Do check out this insightful article on CAT Geometry preparation!
That concludes the two biggest chunks within the Quant Section of our CAT Syllabus. Let’s move on to Algebra.
Algebra is the section that follows Arithmetic and Geometry, in that order. It involves variables, x’s and y’s, progressions, functions, linear and quadratic equations, polynomials, and inequalities. A point to note is that Algebra has become more and more important in the last 3-4 years.
These are the ideas that you can put under the bucket labelled ‘Algebra’. Watch this video to learn how to prepare for CAT Algebra the right way. There are usually 6-7 questions from this topic.
The final topic within the Quant Section is Number Theory & Modern Math.
4. Number Theory & Modern Math
I wouldn’t call it the least important broad topic out of the 4 that we have listed…but in some sense it is. CAT Aspirants agonise too much over solving and learning uber tough number theory questions, abstruse remainder theorems and almost impossibly tough combination questions.
My humble request is: Know the basics, solve and practice but do NOT over do it. There are usually around 3 questions from Modern Math and 2 questions from Number Theory.
There are around 11 months to prepare, so definitely do not skip NT and Modern Math. Do learn these ideas but keep in mind their level of importance. It can be intimidating at first so definitely keep this in mind.
A Note: Between Modern Math and Number Theory, go for Modern Math. Modern Math will be helpful for your DILR Section!
These are the topics under Number Theory & Modern Math:
Logarithms can technically be classified under Arithmetic and Algebra as well. It is an important topic so do not skip it. In the interest of picking out important topics, definitely look to prepare well for Set Theory, and some amount of Permutations and Combinations as well. Prepare for all of them but keep in mind the importance of this section!
For an overall view into Quantitative Aptitude Preparation, check out this fabulous article.
That concludes the Quant Section within the CAT Syllabus. Let’s move on to VARC now.
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension – CAT Syllabus
What are the ideas that are being tested within the VARC Section? There are usually 5 types of questions:
1. Reading Comprehension
2. Verbal Ability
- Para Jumbles
- Pick the Odd Sentence out
- Para Summaries
- Sentence Completion and Correction
How does one go about preparing for these types of questions?
Head on to these links to learn how to ace the VARC Section in CAT 2021. It is a treasure trove of knowledge and information!
- How to Read for Reading Comprehension for CAT
- CAT Verbal Ability Preparation
- CAT 2021 VARC Preparation
Reading is everything when it comes to this section, so head on to Bharath’s Curated Reading List for your daily reading needs. 1000’s of CAT Aspirants are utilising this…are you?
W.r.t to the number of questions, the VARC Section has around 34 questions, inclusive of 7-8 TITA Questions. RC’s occupy a massive chunk for the questions from this section with 24 questions split across 5-6 RCs.
There are usually 2-4 Parajumbles, 3-4 Para Summaries and 2-4 Pick the Odd Sentence Out Questions within Verbal Ability. Sometimes, 1-2 questions can also appear from Sentence Completion and Correction Questions. Definitely peruse the links provided above for VARC Preparation!
Now, onto the final section: DILR – an increasingly vital and unpredictable part of the CAT Syllabus and Exam.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning – CAT Syllabus
The DILR Section has been very elusive in the last 4-5 years, especially from CAT 2015.
Data Interpretation constitutes the following:
You can have either 1 or a combination of these given to you in a DI Set. Or there will be tables with missing information or data, which you will have to extract and fill. It used to be computation heavy 4-5 years ago.
The Logical Reasoning Section usually contains the following:
These are the types of puzzles that usually appear within the Logical Reasoning Section. Definitely prepare for them and practice these types of puzzles. Why?
Because they will give you a good handle on your approach towards data. A certain logical intelligence is built as one continues to solve this section.
How is DILR defined now?
Nowadays, you’re more likely to face data sets and graphs with puzzle elements embedded within them. You need to plug in constraints and then extract the data. You may also have a properly challenging Logical Reasoning Puzzle with some computation required to crack the puzzle.
Templatization of DILR has been taken out of the game and now they give you the question and test how well you can process the data and how you approach the solution. This has become more important than standard templates and computation heavy sets. Not that they aren’t important of course.
So where do you begin?
Set your basics well. Practice tons of sets from Previous Year CAT Papers (2IIM’s Question Bank contains video solutions to these so check them out), familiarize yourself with the extraction of data and playing with the possibilities offered by constraints.
There are around 32 questions that appear in the DILR Section, with 8-9 TITAs within them.
Head on to this article in order to decode the best way to ace the DILR Section.
This marks the end of the entirety of the CAT Syllabus.
A Final Note
Now that you know the syllabus, and have (hopefully) read the attached preparation articles, what could you do next? Well, you could consider learning with a teacher who places extreme emphasis on learning from first principles and makes math fun! It doesn’t hurt that they’ve cracked CAT with a 100 percentile 4 times either 😛
Head on to this link for the best Online CAT Coaching you can get. Register as a trial user and sample our content for free. You don’t have to take our word for it!
Stay Safe and Best Wishes for CAT 2021!
Written by Saahil R Bhatt.