The Quantitative Aptitude (QA) section can be tricky. Hence, students from Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) share how they aced it

Quantitative Aptitude (QA) is the last section of the Common Admission Test (CAT) exam. What are the preparation strategies? Let’s hear from those who excelled in it

The Quants section in CAT tests a candidate's problem-solving & logical thinking in mainly Algebra, Arithmetic, and Geometry, and even if a person is moderate in one of these and great in the other two, they can sail through (unless you have bad luck. In our slot, if I remember correctly, there were fewer geometry problems — something I was good better at).

Mastering the section requires not only a solid understanding of the concepts involved but also the ability to solve the questions quickly, even if approximately. Deduction works well here since these are Multiple Choice Question (MCQ), except for when there is NOTA (None of the Above).

I know people who were so fast in QA that they could go through the whole section three times.

On the first attempt, they’d solve the easiest questions; in the second, the harder ones or the ones which required them to recollect a key shortcut and so on, and in the third, the toughest ones, which take a lot of time but help one in achieving the last few decimals of that 99 percentile.

Talking about the importance of Quants in MBA and beyond, many case studies and case competitions involve handling scenarios that require data analysis, financial calculations, and decision-making based on quantitative insights. These are crucial and test analytical skills for roles in finance, marketing, and other domains.

With regards to IIM Calcutta, there's another Quant test once the admissions are completed. If the students do not clear it on their first attempt, they are required to attend classes for a few months and are given a few chances.

Quant has often been touted to be the make-or-break section in CAT. But just like any other section, one needs a strategy to tackle it. Quoting the MBA gurus, you need to answer only half the paper to score a 99. But how do you go ahead with it? The key lies in choosing the right sections to target. Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry together cover about 10-12 questions. Given the familiarity with these topics, they are always a good place to start.

The constant practice would help navigate the tougher questions. Next comes picking up the low-hanging fruits. Number systems and probability always have a few questions on the easier side and identifying the same is crucial.

Acing one section and doing moderately well in the others is a good strategy. If Quants are the strength, then one cannot afford to be picky with the topics. Sometimes even the options can be used to answer the question. In the days leading up to CAT, continuous revision, practice and attempting mock tests build the tolerance needed to crack the exam.

Having a formula book eases the preparation, and the same should be customised and worked upon as we navigate the journey. Solving a variety of questions is also important to know how to approach a question. That being said, do not get stuck on a question. You have only 40 minutes, and if time permits, you can come back to it. CAT is not the time you would want to take things on your ego!

With just about a month to CAT, the focus must be on solving mocks and constantly revising the topics. This would build confidence — the most underrated element to crack CAT. Believe that you can solve any question they throw at you and trust the preparation. Good Luck!

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