Candidates appearing for CAT 2010 should practise on their speed and reflexes when faced with quantitative aptitude questions during the preparation stage.

CAT 2010 is round the corner and aspirants are now seriously focusing on the test and their performance. The obvious question would be ‘how do I enhance my test scores?' This article focuses on methods to improve your scores in the quantitative aptitude section.

The quantitative aptitude section can be divided into six major blocks.

Block 1: number systems and progressions

Block 2 and 3: topics like averages, alligations, percentages, ratio and proportions, time and work, time, speed and distance

Block 4: geometry and mensuration

Block 5: functions, inequalities, logarithms and quadratic equations

Block 6: permutations, probability and sets

The first thing you need to focus on is an analysis of your knowledge level in each of these six parts. Introspect honestly whether there is a knowledge/ ability issue in any of these areas. In order to do so, the typical question you should ask yourself is:

For the next 100 questions I face in each of these areas, how many would I be able to handle comfortably?

Think of a number as an answer to this question for each of the six blocks.

Based on your answer the following analysis would provide you a thumb rule which would tell you how much of a knowledge/ ability issue you have:

90 plus: You know pretty much every question type and variant in the area. You should focus your energies on other things rather than knowledge improvement in the area.

80 plus: Maybe you need to increase your exposure to questions by a little bit, around 200-300 more practice questions in that area would be sufficient.

60-80: You have a significant knowledge issue in this area. You might need to go back to the basics, but mainly it is likely to be less a theory issue but more an exposure to questions issue.

Less than 60: Issue in theory as well as question exposure; you need to work on both of these if you are looking for scoring marks in the exam out of this block.

Once you have analysed what the issue with you is in each area of the quantitative aptitude section, your focus should be on trying to complete things which you can complete in the limited time frame. In my opinion each of the following things can be achieved in a 30-day preparation framework:

Block 1: Increase the depth of preparation and knowledge by solving around 300-500 new questions.

Block 2-3: Pick up a few chapters like percentages, time and work, and time, speed and distance. (Ability in solving questions from these chapters can be improved in three days each)

Block 4: It may not be profitable to invest time on preparation at this juncture.

Block 5: Increase the depth of preparation and knowledge by solving around 300-500 new questions.

Block 6: The entire preparation of the chapters under this block can be feasibly done in a 15-day framework starting from the basics.

If on the other hand, you have already solved enough and prepared each area thoroughly, then your focus during the final 30 days of preparation should be on developing your speed and reflexes in quantitative aptitude. A common frustrating experience for aspirants while taking the test is the inability to recall a known logic for a particular question. Hence they are not able to score marks in such questions, with which they are very familiar.

Speed and reflex

In order to handle this problem, you would need to practice on your speed and reflexes when faced with quantitative aptitude questions during your preparation stage. In the actual test, once you have solved your ability issue in a particular block, you need to cash in on your improved ability of speed and reflexes while solving a question. Needless to say you would need to do this block wise.

So how to improve speed and reflexes? A few ideas:

The most crucial exercise here would be a comprehensive revision and review of each and every question you have solved previously.

A thorough revision on the theory of the block.

Solving as many tests as possible under actual test conditions, and one is not talking about simply full length tests, but also sectional and if possible block wise tests.

(The author is an IIM Bangalore alumnus. He has written a series of books on CAT, published by Tata McGraw-Hill. He is also CEO of Mindworkzz, the company's online CAT Training venture.)


Think beyond IIMsOctober 19, 2010

Gear up for CATSeptember 29, 2010