Unfortunately, more than 70 per cent of the students find Quantitative ability difficult. Every year after CAT exam, I get mixed reactions about this section.
Analysis of Previous CAT papers
One needs to go through the previous CAT papers to get the idea about areas and types of questions from which most of the questions are asked and their level of difficulty. If you look at CAT 2006 and CAT 2007 Quant section, in both these papers there were 25 questions of 4 marks each. So it gives a feeling that they are pretty similar. But there were many differences.
There were no Data Sufficiency questions in CAT 2005 and CAT 2006. But students got stumped when they faced Data Sufficiency questions in Quant as well as DI section in CAT 2007. Expecting that the CAT paper will be of 25 questions this year or that it will be similar to the paper of the last few years would be the greatest mistake you can make. This means that you should practise all types of Questions and from all areas/topics. If you look at the CAT papers, you see that most of the questions are based on Std X concepts.
Focus on fundamentals not on shortcuts
Go through the basics of each topic. Do not bother about short cuts. Understand fundamentals very well. Know the key points of every topic. For example, if you prepare a topic called HCF and LCM, then just knowing their meaning and method of getting them is not sufficient. You should know the key points like HCF is a factor of LCM or that HCF of two numbers is a factor of their sum as well as the difference. Divide topics into three categories, Arithmetic, Algebra and Pure Math.
The important topics are Numbers, Algebra (Quadratic Equations) and Geometry. These topics contributed around 70 per cent to the quant section for the past few years. But that doesn't means that other topics are not important. There are no fixed marks for any topic.
In CAT 2007 only two questions were from Geometry compared to four questions in CAT 2006. Keep in mind that any topic is not easy or difficult. Applications of that topic use to frame a particular question can make that question easy or difficult. You can face a very difficult question on the simple concept like Even and Odd numbers or an easy question on a complex topic like functions and graphs.
Percentage is also a very important topic. There are very few direct questions on this topic given in the CAT paper, but knowing the fundamentals will help you do DI section in a much better way. Basics of Ratio and proportion can be effectively applied to solve the questions of the topics like Time and Distance, Time and work, Mixtures without forming equations.
Do the basics of all the topics and get exposed to the CAT level questions. Practise 40 to 80 questions from each topic covering all types of questions. While solving these questions do not bother about speed. At this stage you should be more concerned about getting exposure to different concepts and their applications.
After doing all topics individually, start taking sectional tests i.e., test on all topics of quant together. Four to five sectional tests are sufficient to judge your preparation. Revisit the fundamentals of the topics in which your accuracy is not good. Here the basic idea is to get out of the fear factor in these topics. At the same time, it is imperative that you solve questions in topics where your accuracy is good. It is very important that you should believe yourself that you can crack Quant section. Don't give up just because you find one or two topics difficult.
(Amol Kokate is Sr Faculty in T.I.M.E. Mumbai)