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CAT: Tips for Quant, Reasoning and DI
October 11, 2006

Data Interpretation/ Reasoning

In the last few years, these sections have usually featured around seven to 10 sets of data. Each set has around three to five questions on an average. If you have been taking the MOCK CAT regularly, you should have around 15 to 20 MOCKS with you already (not including the ones you will answer in the next few weeks).

These MOCKS have been designed to give you a feel of CAT and bring to you the type of sets that have a chance of appearing in this year's test. If you have 20 of them, you have close to 150 sets to 200 sets of data (with questions) already with you.

As you can see, not all of these sets have different concepts. However, you have never done them on the trot. Besides, each paper had a gap of a week or more between them. This makes it is difficult to relate one set to the other.

What you need to do is become familiar with the concepts and grasp the content of each set without wasting too much time. It is now time for you to pick up these MOCK CAT papers, and original question papers from the earlier CATs, and solve five to eight sets every day. Bear in mind that seeing the solution does not constitute solving it.

If you are unable to understand the concept, by all means see the solution. But, after understanding it, redo the set once again. Solve it again the next day so you do not forget the concept. A common mistake students make: they see the solution and assume they will remember how to solve a similar set if it appears again.

When we are talking about sets, it includes the Reasoning sets too. Hence, there is no need to do them separately. Do these sets every day for at least one hour.

CAT 2006 will have the questions from DI and Reasoning. There is a good chance that the number of sets would range from six to eight. By practising these 150 to 200 sets, you would have effectively covered all the sets that can appear in the paper. Even if there are a couple of sets which seem new, there is no way a CAT paper can appear without involving concepts from among these 150 odd sets you would do in the next few weeks. This way, even if you solve four sets overall in the actual CAT; getting scores close to 15 would be a cinch. It is pertinent to note that the cutoff for DI/ Reasoning section last year was around 11-12 marks ONLY.

Quantitative Ability

This area dreaded by many is not so difficult if you undertake a systematic preparation.

Divide and study

Quant can be divided into four sets of topics so that you can plan your preparation better.

Set I: Numbers, Geometry and Mensuration, Quadratic Equations & Progression and Permutations & Combinations -- these form the most important set of topics for the CAT exam. Over the last two years, close to 50 per cent of the questions were from these areas.

Set II: Equations, Ration Proportion Variation, Percentages & Profit and Loss, Averages and Mixtures, Simple Interest & Compound Interest, Time & Work and Time & Distance -- all these form the core arithmetic topics. The number of marks expected from these areas is close to 15.

Set III: Indices, Logs and Surds, Inequalities, Functions & Graphs, Coordinate geometry -- these form the group of topics that have not come consistently in CAT papers. However, whenever they have featured in CAT, there were close to three to four questions in each topic.

Set IV: All other topics and logic puzzles.

Study tips for Quant

Tackle each topic separately. For instance, in Numbers, list all concepts on a sheet of paper (call this a concept paper). This could take up to an hour. Then, refer to the basic books you have on this topic and check whether you have covered all the concepts listed in your paper. If not, write down the ones you have missed out on and make sure you know these concepts too.

Now, gather all the MOCK papers in your possession, pick all questions in this area and solve them. Once you have solved all questions pertaining to this area, tick them off in the concept paper. Also write down the reference number for each of these questions in your concept paper. Continue until you have solved all concepts, or as many as possible, listed in the paper.

By the time you finish this exercise, you should have done close to 100 to 120 questions in just this one topic. In addition, your concept paper would also have the reference numbers of all questions which have used a particular concept.

This entire exercise can take anything between five to 10 hours, depending on your state of preparedness. By the end of this gruelling session, there will be hardly any concept you don't understand or any question you cannot solve.

If you find you cannot do this in one sitting, spread this exercise over a period of three to four days (two hours each). Similarly, Geometry and Mensuration can also take close to three to four days.

Repeat this exercise for the rest of the topics as well. You should not have to devote more than one day per topic.

In the next 20 to 25 days, you would have revised all concepts from every MOCK paper you've attempted till date. You can revise these concepts once again in the last two weeks before CAT. This time, you will have the concept paper and the reference codes, so it will be much faster.

This is almost a foolproof method to ensure you perfect your knowledge of every concept in Quant. However, you still have to take decisions on which type of questions to attempt and which ones to leave as per the difficulty and length of the question.

Tomorrow: Study tips for Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability

Part I: Only 40 days to CAT 2006