It is a common phenomenon in the MBA world to see people coming from a Non-Engineering background struggle with the Quantitative Ability section of CAT, XAT and other OMETs. No matter how easy and straightforward the syllabus seems or actually is, it is indeed true that people from Non-Engineering backgrounds, including me, had to and have to put in more effort in this one section to be able to shine through.
What exactly then helped me perform so well in the section? Well, it was not just one factor but a multitude of it and here I'm going to enlist some not-so-traditional ones.
Music: Yes, you read it correctly. I used to listen to music, anything ranging from Bollywood to Pop, while practicing QA questions. How it helped me, in the long run, was that I started associating a particular song with a particular chapter/question/formula. Now, whenever I would listen to the same song later, it would take me back to whatever I was studying along with it. It helped me wonders.
Meditation: QA has the ability to frustrate you and maybe even wear you out. Get stuck on one question and you might end up wasting your whole day after it. I soon realized the importance of having a calm mind while practicing QA and achieved it by meditating for just 10-15 minutes a day. It is definitely more difficult to sit still with your thoughts for even 10 minutes than to sit with a question for 10 hours, but you eventually get there. Practice here, practice there, right?
Physical Activity: I used to go out for walks every day, clear my head space, gather my thoughts, and reflect on how far I have come. Sweating it out is the new cool and there is no lie in that! It often used to happen to me that while walking and thinking about a particular question, the answer used to strike me more conveniently than while I was sitting at home and thinking about it.
QA demands extra efforts from us non-engineers. While someone with strong command in maths will be able to solve a question on functions by using differentiation, the rest will most probably deal with it using formulas. However, for how long do we remain behind and employ the traditional methodology? The answer, in my opinion, is as long as it takes. It is only after I had built a strong foundation and had a good understanding of the concepts that I was able to think for out of the box solutions and to do that, I did the following things:
Maintained a formula book: Is it compulsory to make one? No. Is it extra effort? Yes. Did I still make it? Of course. Well, writing something in a notebook is more effective than just reading it. At the start of every chapter, I would note down all the formulas there were and then start with the questions. Not only did it help me remember them well but also became more convenient whenever I had to refer to them.
Tips and tricks are not a myth: I got a question in CAT 2020 correct even without solving the question. It was on the roots of a quadratic equation. How many roots can a quadratic equation have? Two, right? Well, I entered 1 as the answer and luckily, it turned out to be correct. An extra 3 marks in CAT is a blessing. You'll come across a lot of shortcuts during mock analysis or even in Arun Sharma. Note them down then and there.
Mocks and Sectionals do the work: At times I used to get really frustrated for not being able to solve even 5 questions correctly in QA sectionals or get exhausted by the time I'd reach this section while giving a mock. However, as time passed, with more sectionals and mocks under my belt, I started having fun. Yes, I still used to struggle with certain questions but I also learnt how to strategize and identify easy and medium difficulty level questions easily. Use mocks to devise strategies that suit you, to understand your strong areas and topics that need more work. %iles are only secondary.
It is only till the time you don't understand something that you're unable to do it properly. Understand the basics, build your foundation, write down those formulas, revise your tables, listen to music, meditate or even go to the gym: there's no stopping you from getting your desired results. Just practice, practice, and constant practice!
Since you have come to the end, here is a small giveaway from Team InsideIIM. You have access to 2 free sectional tests of Quant!