CAT 2021 seems to be approaching faster than the speed of time and Quantitative Ability (QA) section & Data Interpretation (DI) of CAT gives the impression to be the favorite of the exam setters.
Tips on QA and DI
What basic ideas should be kept in mind while preparing for the QA and DI section of CAT?
For QA, you need to revise your basics thoroughly and focus on your speed and accuracy of calculation to reduce solving time, as well as decrease mistakes and increase accuracy.
DI checks the candidate’s ability of studying and analyzing the data that is given in the question. DI entails a lot of calculations and to get correct answers in as less time as possible, becoming well-versed in Vedic Mathematics is a great idea.
What are the topics from which questions are asked?
Quantitative Ability section tests knowledge of mathematics-based questions, from areas like arithmetic, algebra, geometry/mensuration, etc. Students need to practice well and decide according to their interest the relative importance of various chapters like numbers, geometry, time-speed-distance, time-work, permutations-combinations, etc. The proportion of questions from any topic is unknown and CAT is known to throw surprises.
The DI section is almost completely application-based, requiring knowledge as well as on-the-spot deduction. This section tests understanding of the given information (charts, graphs, case lets, etc.) and using the relevant data from the information given to answer the questions. It requires calculations as well as reasoning or interpreting the data visually. There are more data question types e.g. Venn diagrams, routes and networks, 3-d or spider charts, games and tournaments, etc. which appear in various exams, including CAT.
What strategies can be followed to increase accuracy and reduce time wastage?
QA mostly tests applications of simple, mostly class X level concepts. Thus, conceptual knowledge has to be combined with lots of practice – what helps this is trying out many types of questions to increase one’s comfort level with as many chapters as possible. In questions on algebra and numbers, sometimes, substituting the given options can answer questions straight away, instead of solving them for the unknown quantity. For topics like geometry, surds, logarithms, and progressions, students must memorize the standard properties and formulae.
In DI, look through all the sets and then begin attempting the set which seems familiar. Do not gauge the difficulty level of the set based on the data alone, have a look at the questions as well. It is quite possible that the same DI set may have 1-2 easy questions and 1-2 difficult questions. It makes sense to answer the easy questions out of the 3-4 questions, and increase the number of sets attempted using this strategy.
What pitfalls should one avoid to reduce the risk of negative marks?
Although CAT has the reputation of being one of the, if not the, toughest exams, it is obvious that each paper will still have enough solvable questions. The biggest hurdle to avoid is to panic during the exam. Through practice, the procedure of identifying the easier and solvable questions and answering them correctly must be developed and honed. This will also help avoid a common error which many students make, which is that they tend to struggle with a question that seemed easy, even when they realize that it has proved tricky upon attempting, and hence the best way forward is exactly that – to move forward and leave alone that question and dedicate the time remaining to identifying other questions that are answerable.