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CAT: Tips to crack Quant & DI

Last updated on: June 10, 2009 14:35 IST
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Almost every B-school aspirant knows that the CAT is a test of comparative intelligence and NOT individual excellence. Still many test-takers spend 60 per cent of the time measuring individual performance in the regular tests. Moreover, with the CAT 09 becoming a computer-based test this year, the share of comparative intelligence tests is expected to decrease further to 20 per cent because of the lack of preparedness of many national CAT prep organisations.

What is comparative intelligence?
Think about yourself and another 2.75 lakh waiting for the 10 deciding days of CAT 09. A number of them would have some trainer directing them for the big day; they will have a deep knowledge of the previous CATs. Then what makes you superior to them? How will you be the first among equals? Being first among the equals requires you to compete regularly with all of them rather than spending the last two months learning and achieving percentiles.

And that's the reason CAT aspirants are turning towards online test providers more than those who offer mere learning experience that lacks 'benchmarking' on a larger scale, on daily basis. Moreover, many have already joined one online testing programme over and above the classroom programmes in order to stay abreast on both fronts.

Comparative intelligence in Quant & DI
Quantitative ability and data interpretation have consistently been rated as difficult and challenging. Even though there have been times when people find the verbal section extremely difficult, still quant and DI have always been characterised by the 'tricky' and 'logical-input based' questions. Thus, in order to ensure a balanced score-card one has to give due importance to achieving comparative intelligence in these two 'logic' based sections.

Therefore, the importance of measuring and improving your speed, accuracy, attempts and percentile in each online test that you take cannot be over-emphasised. The daily online practice and evaluation of the ability to calculate faster will not only help in speedily maintaining the blend of speed and accuracy but also in reassuring yourself that you are ready for Tech-CAT. Hence, expertise in Quantitative reasoning ability needs to be reassured on daily basis through regular online testing and analysis.

This makes it vital to study not only the nature of Quant and DI sections in a CAT but also to learn ways to master them online.

Meeting daily ranking challenge
Is it really a challenge?

Yes! It is, especially for those who are struck in the middle of their CAT offline preparation and expected to have access to online resources only after September 09. Moreover, offline organisations that responded faster to the computer-based CAT challenge are still struggling to provide the right testing interface to their students.

At this crucial juncture, websites like are trying to fill the need-gap by offering a free online CAT course ( The programme also provides audio-visual lectures, test analysis and daily ranking ( in each test. There are lso tools like the Test Generator ( and Challenge Zone (

Whatever be your testing vehicle for CAT 09, you have you ensure that you are testing yourself on a daily basis.

Meeting Quant / DI challenge
Experts from offer the following tips to help recall tools to counter the challenges at this stage of your preparation:

1. Method(s) of solving questions
You can use any of these four methods to answer the question in Quant or DI section.

  • Direct or convectional method as you did in your school days, going from the question to the answer. This method, however, is least preferable.
  • Eliminating the options or going with the options. This is always the best and quicker way to reach the required answer.
  • Substitution of some values in the question. This method is very much useful for algebra problems
  • Using the direct method and elimination method simultaneously.

2. Selection of questions

One needs to be careful while selecting the questions to attempt. In exams other than the CAT, the focus is on solving the maximum number of questions. On the other hand, it is possible that a test-taker leaves nearly half the questions and still makes it to the top. The ability to select questions with easy statements and not-so-close answer choices can be developed by analysing your Mock CATs regularly at this stage. The expectation that CAT 09 will be linear and NOT adaptive further emphasises the need of better selection of questions.

3. Improving speed of calculation

The time spent by a student in Quant and DI section on calculation is about 20 per cent and the rest is spent on comprehending the concept of the question. So beside your basic concepts you should have to work more on your calculations. It is recommended to spend at least 15 minutes daily on practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Also the ability to recall tables, squares and cubes up to 30, and multiplication between some common numbers like 13 x 12, 18 x 24 etc will be handy in getting the best out of that 20 per cent.

4. Accuracy

The time constraint does not permit test-takers to solve all the questions. Therefore, it's important to make sure that one solves 65 per cent of the questions at an accuracy rate not less than 80 per cent rather than doing 80 per cent of the questions with a 60-per cent accuracy rate.

5. Dodging traps in the language of the question

A well-prepared student can fall into the traps of a few questions in CAT. You have to clearly see what is being asked in the question. For example, consider the following question:

Question: A student is expecting of getting 90 marks in the math paper and overall 75 per cent marks in five papers but he actually gets only 80. What percentage of marks does he finally get if the marks in other four papers are the same as expected?

Solution: Well, the very first answer from majority number of students will be 73 per cent as they themselves imagine the maximum marks of a paper as 100, which is the trap in the question. This happens because in many examinations maximum marks are 100, but this does not hold true in this situation.

So the answer for these questions will be 'data insufficient' or 'can't be determined'.

6. Preparing for a changed CAT-Quant pattern

Be prepared with every type of permutation and combination for the pattern of CAT 2009. Will it have 5 or 4 options per questions; is it going to be 1/4th negative or 1/3rd negative for a wrong answer; will the number of question decrease or increase; will the sections have sub-sections and further sub-sub-sections with varying marks per question or not; which topics will be more visible in the CAT 2009; what adjustments should be made in the attempt pattern if there are more questions from an unexpectedly less preferred topic like time and work etc. All these uncertainties should be addressed and discussed with your online trainers at this stage only in order to be prepared for the same.

In order to reach the 99.99 mark it becomes imperative not only to have familiarity with different ways of managing the attempt and finding the answers to the optimum number of questions but also adding a proven strength to the prevailing methods of testing to get daily ranking vis-a-vis the rest of India.

TCY ( features the most advanced and user-friendly online testing engine and a host of FREE services like FREE online CAT course and numerous tests for other exams like MAT, SNAP, IIFT etc; Test Generator; TCY Analytics and Audio-Visual Lectures for CAT 09 preparation.

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