How to Prepare for CAT Mathematics Subject?

My maths sucks, how can I prepare for CAT?

Mathematics is a subject that brings nightmares to almost every student at some point. But it also is a very important subject for almost all the competitive exams at present. The mathematics section of CAT is known as Quantitative Aptitude.

So if you are bad at mathematics that means you cannot have a decent score at Quantitative Aptitude which in turn also affect your Data interpenetration and Logical Reasoning because DI-LR also requires skills like calculation, interpreting Data etc.

First of all, CAT doesn’t check any high-level mathematics. It’s almost of the 10th or 12th level. So you first need to make your concepts clear and basics strong.

In the QA section of CAT, the mathematical questions are based on logic and theories. Quantitative Ability is said to be the most important section of the test and the difficulty level of this section, based on past years trend, has mostly been of difficult to moderate level.

You have to clear not only the overall but the sectional cutoff as well and in order to get a call from an IIM; you must not lose the chance by compromising on sectional performance.

As per the exam pattern of the CAT, Quantitative Ability or QA will have around 34 questions to be answered by the candidates, mostly dealing with arithmetic progression and modern mathematics.

Students, especially those who are from non-engineering backgrounds and are not too comfortable in QA, must focus on this section to improve their sectional scores.

As CAT exam has a sectional limit of 60 minutes, it is important to strategically attempt each section of the test in order to score an overall high percentile.

How to Prepare for Quantitative Ability (QA)

 level of maths in cat

The more you practice, the more you can remember the formulae, and the faster you can solve. This section is all about practice and solving different models.

Practicing a lot of questions helps for Quant in the sense that it becomes easy to decide which question is worth giving time during the test and which one is not.

Some tips in order to understand how to prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability section for the aspiring candidates are:

  1. Start with the basics

 quant basics for cat

Make a conscious effort to learn theory from basic ideas. Getting your concepts clear is the key for Quant. The candidates should start by learning the concepts which are used to solve questions in this section. QA is difficult to master since the range of questions is very varied.

When you know the basic concepts, you need to practice them via examples. It is important to follow the concepts learnt and practice each concept by solving simple examples first, and gradually moving towards the difficult ones.

We have a tendency to ‘jump’ steps when we get familiar with a topic. Resist the temptation to use plug-and-play formulae and learn the theory with an open mind.

After understanding the basic formulae, you must practice questions from study material and appear for mocks.

To prepare for Quant section of CAT books are the best source to learn the concepts and enhance your knowledge on a topic.

Practice a lot of questions from the book, online resources and study materials from your coaching institute.

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  1. Preparation schedule

 quant basics for cat

Besides learning the concepts for Quant, it is equally important to not leave any topic uncovered. As one of the important strategies to cover each topic, it is required to make a Day-wise preparation plan and schedule some number of days to prepare for each topic.

Some important topics should be given more importance and time. You can allot the following number of days to the below given important quant topics-

  • Number System: Five days

  • Algebra: Eight Days

  • Geometry: Eight Days

  • Permutation & Combination/Probability: Five Days

  • Miscellaneous Topics: Five Days

  Giving proper and sufficient time to each topic is as important as practicing all the questions. Just go for the right book, with lots of questions and tests and solve it daily in the planned time.

Give more time to the topics that are important and seem difficult for you and then go for the easy topics. Also, save sufficient time for revision in your schedule.

  1. Take sectional Mock Tests on QA

how to study maths for cat

A mock test is a practice exam or a revision test to make student prepare for an upcoming examination. Practice and practice all starting with pen or paper and then move to solve in without any props. In this way you can build your QA skills.

Then test yourself regularly through any of the national level standard test series, focus should be on raw numbers and never on percentiles.

Mock test plays a vital role to determine the level of preparation for the actual test. After taking a mock test, a candidate can evaluate his performance and check in which areas he requires hard work. Join at least two institutes for mock tests.

Two mock tests per week are good enough. Analyze your weak and strong points both and work on them accordingly. Self-analysis should be done by an individual question wise, topic wise and section wise. And then work on the areas which are lagging behind.

Also Read:- Best CAT Preparation Books

4.Work on speed

 cat maths questions

You get limited time in the examination to solve the questions and to achieve maximum marks with accuracy; you need to work on the questions with a great speed.

And speed comes with practice. Since CAT has a sectional time limit of 60 minutes to answer one section, the strategy is to solve the entire section before time.

You must keep a buffer time of minimum 10 minutes to complete one section while taking the mock tests as it will let you complete the exam beforehand, thus saving the time. But you will be able to save time in the examination only if you follow the same strategy on the test day as well.

Practice maximum questions of all the topics with the tricks in order to achieve the speed required to solve the paper within the given time.

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Best Books to prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude Section

The quants section of the test checks the problem-solving approach of the aspirants. With high difficulty level, it covers the topics like Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Number System, Modern Mathematics and other questions related to Higher Mathematics.

The best books to prepare for this section of CAT are listed below:

  1. Arun Sharma’s ‘How to prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT’ (published by Tata McGraw Hill)

This book follows the latest pattern of the exam with its focus on the most important section of the test i.e. Quants with all the tricks and the shortcuts.

  1. Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by Abhijit Guha (Tata McGraw-Hill)

This book provides you with a comprehensive step-by-step problem-solving guide for the quants section.

  1. How to Prepare for the CAT Common Admissions Test by Muhamed Muneer (published by Om Books)

This book is quite simple and easy to understand and provides with mock tests and solved CAT papers from previous years to help you with practicing the questions as much as required.

  1. Quantitative Aptitude for CAT and Other MBA Entrance Exams by Trishna Knowledge Systems (Pearson)

This book contains many practice exercises in increasing difficulty for a gradual transition.

  1. Arun Sharma’s The Complete CAT Digest, by Tata McGraw-Hill


Just cover all the topics and clear the concepts while going through the schedule and practice as much as you can because practice will help you get the speed and accuracy required to clear this section of the examination.

Solve test papers within the time provided in the examination of the section and then go for the examination with full confidence.

All the Best!!!!

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By Sourav Pathak

A Guy Without a "Title". Good friends, Good Books, and a Sleepy Conscience: That Sums of My life.

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