It is almost impossible to get through any MBA entrance exam without scoring well in Quantitative Aptitude (QA). Unfortunately, QA is a nightmare for Non-Engineers and Engineers a like.

It is a myth that Engineers are good at Math. Barring a very few students whose Math in School was good, almost every one else finds this area to be the toughest nut to crack.

But, as is my wont, I would ask any student just two questions.

  • Have you passed your 8th, 9th and 10th standards?
  • Have you passed these classes on your own (without help from others ).

If the answer to the above two questions is a YES, then it is extremely easy to sail through the Quant portion of any aptitude exam including CAT.
CAT, XAT, SNAP, NMAT, and CMAT – The weightage for QA in every one of these exams is significant and more often than not, QA is given as a separate section in these exams.


Key to QA is Confidence –Unless one is confident that one can score well in this area, it is almost impossible to get marks. To gain this confidence one has to be good at Calculations viz., Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Mathematical Tables, Fractions and Conversion of Fractions to Percentages to Decimals. Practicing for increasing calculation speed is to be done till the day of the exam.

The improvement in speed in calculations is helpful for both QA and DI.

Classification of QA topics

While Mathematics is a very wide area, the beauty of almost all MBA entrance exams including CAT is that the questions are asked in some very fundamental areas that have already been covered at the high school level.

These areas can be divided into

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Geometry & Mensuration
  • Pure Math

CAT 2014 is around four to five months away and hence it is also imperative to have an overview on the number of questions one may expect in the CAT section and workout your plan accordingly.

The table below gives a snapshot of the areas and the number of questions one can expect in each of the topics under an area in CAT.

Quantitative Ability

Subject Description No of Question
Arithmetic Ratios, Proportion, Variation 0-2
Percentages 0-2
Profile & Loss 0-2
Simple Interest, Compound Interest 0-1
Averages, Mixtures, Alligations 0-2
Time & Work 0-2
Time, Speed & Distance 0-2
Algebra Simple Equations 0-2
Indices and Surds 0-1
Logarithms 0-2
Quadratic Equations 1-2
Polynomial Equations 0-1
Progressions 0-2
Inequalities 0-2
Functions & Graphs 0-2
Permutations & Combinations 0-1
Probability 0-1
Pure Math Numbers & Number Systems 3-6
Statistics 0-1
Coordinate Geometry 0-1
Geometry_& Mensuration Geometry 3-5
Mensuration 1-2
Total   20-21



First Fifty days: Each topic has some concepts, formulae and application of these formulae. In the first Forty days of prep, you have to finish going through the basics of concepts and formulae and solve at least Fifty questions in each topic listed above. This will ensure that you would have solved close to One Thousand questions in the first round of Forty days. (Vista Mind’s class handouts alone would be good enough for this first round of preparation).

Revision Fifty days: Take topic wise tests as well as area wise tests. Every concept needs to be revisited here from the basic handouts. After every test, re-solve every question once again to gain confidence in solving.

Last  Thirty days: Solve every question from the Mock CATs (Smart CATs) that you would have written. A detailed plan of how to use the last Thirty days would be given in this same column.

Target 15 Attempts

In CAT, the target should be to attempt Fifteen questions out of the Twenty/Twenty One questions in around Forty Five minutes. In other words, close to Three minutes are available for solving one question. Even if you get Eleven/Twelve questions correct from the Fifteen, you would be well on your way to get more than Ninety Five % ile in QA alone. Add DI area and you would be closer to getting the coveted IIM call! (at least for this section!)

So go ahead and make your plan for tackling the Quant Section.

November 10, 2014


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