3 And A Half Mistakes I Made In Quant, Which You Shouldn’t
Quantitative Aptitude, a section which evokes mixed responses amongst various CAT takers. For engineers, it is expected to be a scoring area; whereas aspirants from non-math background often have to pull their socks harder.
To the very contrary, I am an engineer whose quantitative aptitude section has been pathetic. In CAT 2014, when there were only two sections QA-DI and VA-RL, I had scored close to 99%ile in the Verbal section but my Quants score was pathetically low and I couldn’t fetch any decent IIM call. In CAT 2015, history repeated itself; while my scores in other 2 sections were good enough to get a call from IIMs (few Old, New and Baby), Quant wouldn’t agree to push itself beyond 71%ile mark. With a mix of luck and hard work, I am currently in the second year at IMT Ghaziabad.
At InsideIIM, you would read many stories on ‘x’ things to do score very well in Quants. This article is different; I am going to tell you things which you must not do if you want to score really good in quants.
It contains my experience and inputs from many classmates.
1. Lack of Practice:
I was working with an IT MNC; my work didn’t give me much room to self-study. So, with limited available with me, I took an approach where I solved only a few questions from each chapter and for the rest, I used to look at the solutions. This approach fatally backfired, as I knew the ways to solve questions but always missed out on 1 or 2-minute details which in turn made it impossible to get the correct answer in many questions.
Learning: Whatever topics that you, do it perfectly, with a great practise.
2. Spending more time on Certain Topics and Tough Questions:
Certain topics like Numbers, Geometry used to dominate CAT 5-6 years earlier which in turn led to aspirants directing their sole focus on these 2 topics. In last 2-3 years, topics like Arithmetic have witnessed greater share in the number of questions. So as an aspirant, I went on to fall for the hype and spent the majority of my preparation time on Numbers and Geometry while totally ignoring Modern Math. Result: I could not solve Arithmetic and Modern Math with speed and accuracy.
There is also a tendency to practice questions which are really tough, again due to the historic impression of CAT. During whatever practice I did, my focus was always on tough and complex questions whereas quant questions in CAT 2015 which I attempted were fairly easy and needed speed. The result: I couldn’t attempt questions despite the fact that they were easy, as my mind was conditioned to solve really tough questions.
Learning: Spend equal time on all the topics and don’t focus only on tough questions when game is about speed.
3. The Hype:
This point doesn’t come from my personal experience but from a friend whose scores are total opposite to mine. This friend of mine had close to 99%ile in Quant whereas he didn’t do that good in other sections.
So how did this happen? He spent a significant amount of his preparation efforts working on just Quant. For a lot of people, CAT is about only Quant, I don’t know the exact reason but an honest guess says, it may be due to the hype created because of the historic difficulty level.
Aspirants need to realise that each of the 3 section carries 33% weightage each and they can’t choose to ignore any of them. Some people are good in any one section and they keep on practising again and again over the time but only a balanced score in other 2 would fetch calls from Top 10. One more downside of the hype is the performance pressure that it generates.
3.5: Use of on-screen calculator:
Honestly, this isn’t an independent mistake to be given a separate point but not small enough to be ignored. So, as per ancient CAT gyan, you must know shortcuts to calculations inorder to ace quant. But in the modern times, CAT paper has an onscreen calculator and it is fairly easy to use, if one has practised.
I ended up spending much more time doing things manually and mentally, while I had a TCS designed test software which could have done those calculations for me way easily. When you need to do a question in 105 seconds, every second saved can make a difference.
Everybody has their own unique set of mistakes, they may be similar to my 3.5 mistakes or maybe not, end goal is to score good by leveraging strengths and minimising the impact of limitations that we already know of.