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CAT 2016 Quantitative Ability Important Topics & Preparation Tips

Last Updated - August 16, 2016

Quantitative Ability (QA) is unarguably one of the most difficult sections in the CAT Exam. Many students who take the CAT Exam fail to clear this section. What could be the reason behind this failure? Is it because there are a lot of formulae to be learnt? Or is it the sheer lack of practice? Let us try and put some light on what are the different points to keep in mind while preparing for the Quant (QA) section.

The countdown to CAT Exam 2016 has begun! Most students are now fretting over the very little time that is left till the D-Day - December 4, 2016.

CAT 2016 SyllabusCAT 2016 Eligibility CriteriaCAT 2016 Exam PatternCAT 2016 Expected CutoffCAT 2016 Practice Papers

What should you do with the limited time that you have in hand? With less than four months, how should you prepare for the QA Section? Before we get into the tips to follow for preparing, let us first explore the CAT 2016 Syllabus that are covered in this section of the CAT Exam.

Important Topics


This topic covers a vast number of sub-topics such as Number Systems, LCM, HCF, Set Theory, Time-Speed-Distance, Ratio & Proportion, etc. It has been observed that this section takes the most number of questions in the CAT exam. Doing well in arithmetic requires one to learn the shortcuts for quicker calculations. If one’s calculations are fast and accurate, it makes the task of attempting this section slightly easier.


One must pay extra attention to the algebra section as it has been one of the most dominating topics in the CAT  Exam  previous year papers. It includes chapters such as Theory of Equations, Permutation and Combination, etc. Let us emphasise on the fact that even though some of the topics fall into the category of higher aptitude mathematics but for CAT Exam preparation, all that one need is basic understanding and visualization in a practical way rather than memorising.

CAT 2016 Multiple Choice QuestionsCAT 2016 Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation


This is another important topic where you can devote your time and effort. Geometry includes topics such as Angles, Lines, Triangles, Circles, etc. This section consists of trigonometry as well. This is the one of the important categories from which a lot of questions appear in the CAT Exam each year. CAT 2015 saw about 6-8 questions from Geometry. To attempt the questions from geometry, one needs to look into the key areas of the problem. Learning up the intricacies of various theorems will help you in saving a lot of time during the exam.


The Mensuration section requires judging the problem before solving it. It also needs a lot of rigorous calculations while solving the questions. Therefore, one needs a lot practice to solve such problems. The section essentially includes topics such as area and volume of various 2-D and 3-D figures.

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Preparation Tips

Plan Ahead

It is the most clichéd advice, but the most useful one. It is extremely important for candidates to plan ahead their study schedule. One must make sure to provide adequate amount of time to each section and topic. You can make a schedule, wherein you can list of the number of days or hours you would give to each topic. This will help you meet the deadline of finishing your course on time. We know how difficult it is to follow a time table but we strictly advise you to do the same.

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Conceptual Clarity

Cracking the Quant Section for CAT Exam is no rocket science! One can easily perform well in this section by brushing up the basic concepts from each topic. Even for attempting the more difficult questions, one needs to be clear of the basics. Before you start solving questions, you need to be thorough with the concepts so that you can solve questions with greater ease.

Strengths vs. Weaknesses

While studying a particular topic, one can easily analyse their strong and weak areas. It is of prime importance to identify the areas which are stronger for you and the ones which are not. One should try to work hard on their weaker areas so as to strengthen them. Also remember to further strengthen your forte!

Answer by Substituting Options

Another way to save a lot of time is by substituting the options in the problem and attaining the answers. Use the answer options to solve the questions whenever and wherever you can. This will surely save you a lot of time during the exam, you can use the time saved to pay extra attention to your weaker areas.

Practice with calculator

From CAT 2015, the IIMs have permitted the use of an on screen calculator for basic calculations. This change helped the students perform accurate calculations. Make sure you practice this section using the calculator. This will help you get used to it. 

Beat CAT 2016 Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation

Record Your Learning

Learn, record, revise.

One should note down all the formulae and concepts in a single notebook. Keep noting these down during the course of your preparation and keep revising the topics from time to time. It is always a better idea to revise from one’s own handwritten notes than any other resource. The recall factor is much higher in case of handwritten notes!

Solve previous year CAT question papers

Many a times, what happens is that students feel that they do not need to solve CAT 2016 Practice Papers.They feel that they have solved those questions while studying each chapter individually, which is not wrong. But what they forget is that the CAT Exam is time-based and questions from different topics are asked in one go! It is highly recommended to solve as many practice papers as one can. Also, one must make sure to time their test duration. This will help you sticking to the limited time that you will have to attempt this section – 60 minutes.

CAT 2016 Books to Refer

Apart from following the above tips, you can refer to some preparation books which are popular amongst the students for preparing the QA Section of CAT Exam. Some of them are listed below:


S. No.TitleAuthor/Publication
1.How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CATArun Sharma, Publisher- Tata Mcgraw Hill
2.Pearson Guide to Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation for CATNishit Sinha, Publisher- Pearson
3.Quantum CAT: Quantitative Aptitude Common Admission Test for Admission into IIMsSarvesh K. Verma, Publisher- Arihant
4.Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examination Tips, Techniques, and Short-cut MethodsAbhijit Guha.
5.Mathematics books for class 8th, 9th, 10th and 10+2.  NCERT

Read More

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