CAT Quantitative Ability Strategy and Tips
We tackle the third section today and as always, maintain the same approach: put on your ‘hustling shoes’ and take your prep to the next level!
As with the first two articles, the theme for this one remains the same: you need to put on your hustling shoes and be up to speed.
How do you HUSTLE?
Well, in simple terms, you need to comb through your daily activities and weed out everything that does not have any value addition for your CAT preparation. You can take tomorrow off and celebrate the festival of Diwali, but that should be just about it: work up a frenzy for the next 30 days and make sure you make the improvement required. Remember, nothing else matters but your score and performance on the D-Day. So, stop wasting time on ‘what-ifs’ and focus on the action points.
CAT Quantitative Ability Action Plan
Now let’s get to the strategy bits for the CAT QA Section.
Step-1: Understand your current preparation level; carry out a SWOT analysis
The first thing you need to do is carry out a SWOT analysis for CAT. Read this post on how to do so.
In short, what you need to do is go through all the topics and make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Look at your Mock scores, go through data and figure out your strong/weak areas.
Once you have done the above, it is time to move to the next step.
Step-2: Maximise your strengths
You need to understand one fundamental fact of competitive aptitude exams: you don’t ace these exams by trying to solve all the questions, but you ace them by solving the maximum number of questions from your strength areas (in the minimum amount of time).
Remember, questions from your weak areas will not only challenge you but also take up a lot of your time. Based on this simple fact, the first thing you need to target is the list of your strong topics. Make them rock solid and make sure you maximise your gains from these topics.
Step-3: Cover the basics for majority of the topics
Make sure you cover the basic concepts for the majority of the topics. I know this is conflicting advice with regards to step-3, but there are occasions when basic level questions appear in the exam. These questions are based on simple concepts and direct application. You should not miss out on these questions, and by covering the basic concepts for these topics, you will be able to answer these questions.
Step-4: The time for exploring new concepts in detail is gone
If you exceptionally weak in a topic, say P & C, then the time for learning this topic in an in-depth manner is gone. The last month is about maximising your knowledge and maximising your gains; it is not about learning new things. Therefore, do not confuse yourself by digging into these topics at this stage.
Step-5: Base your preparation on facts and not hearsay
There is an extremely disturbing trend in play with respect to CAT preparation. I see so many of these Facebook groups and so-called preparation gurus featuring all sorts of questions (most of these are picked up from +1/+2 books or Olympiad books). All these advanced concepts and problems that are floating around actually do not appear in the exam. The CAT exam is a logic driven one, and most of the problems require you to use a combination of basic mathematical skills and logic to solve questions. Refrain from solving such problems and focus on your preparation.
Step-6: Do not worry if you are not scoring well
The last tip is for those who are struggling with their Mock scores. In case you are not able to solve a lot of problems or get flustered during the exam, then you need to sit back, relax and use this simple trick to improve your performance.
Most of the times, when we take exams, we try to attempt as many questions as possible. We challenge ourselves constantly and by doing so, place ourselves under a lot of pressure. This pressure takes a toll and has a huge impact on our preparation. It is time to offload this pressure. The next time you take a mock, do not put yourself under pressure to solve the maximum number of problems. If, for example, you can solve only 8-10 QA problems in a mock, then in the next mock your target should be 12 problems. That is all. The mock following this one, try to increase the attempt by another two questions. This way, build your confidence and learn to identify the problems you should be solving in the exam. Remember, there are enough easy problems in the exam. It is all about identifying the right set of problems.
In short, take the pressure off yourself and try to maximise your attempt 2 questions at a time.
This completes the strategy article for CAT Quantitative Ability. In case you have some doubts, you can post them as comments.