How to score in Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam


The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a pivotal entrance exam for MBA aspirants in India. Among its three sections, the Quantitative Ability (QA) stands out not only as the third and final section but also as a decisive one in the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam. Its significance is underscored by the fact that it can substantially elevate or diminish one’s overall CAT score. Comprising 34% of the total questions in the CAT exam, the QA section is undeniably a major component of the exam pattern. With a total of 66 questions in the CAT, the QA section alone presents 22 questions. These are further categorized into MCQs, which carry negative marking for incorrect answers, and Non-MCQs, which are free from such penalties. To navigate this section successfully, aspirants must be well-versed with its exam pattern, key topics, and effective preparation strategies in the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam. Additionally, insights from CAT toppers can provide invaluable guidance. This article delves deep into these aspects, offering a comprehensive guide to mastering the quantitative aptitude section in CAT 2023.

Understanding Quantitative Aptitude for CAT

Quantitative Aptitude (QA) is one of the core sections in the Common Admission Test (CAT), an entrance exam for MBA colleges in India. Let’s break down what this section is all about in simple terms in the context of the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam:

What is Quantitative Aptitude? At its heart, QA is all about numbers and calculations. Think of it as advanced math that tests your ability to solve problems using arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and more.

Why is it Important in CAT? The QA section can significantly impact your overall CAT score. It’s not just about knowing math but understanding how to apply it in various scenarios, which is a vital skill for future managers in the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam.

What’s Inside the QA Section? The QA section in CAT consists of 22 questions. These questions are a mix of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Non-MCQs. While MCQs have options to choose the right answer from, Non-MCQs require you to type in the answer. Remember, while MCQs have negative marking for wrong answers, Non-MCQs don’t. So, it’s essential to be cautious while answering MCQs in the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam.

What Topics are Covered? The QA section touches upon various mathematical areas. This includes basic arithmetic (like addition, subtraction), algebra (solving equations), geometry (shapes and their properties), and even some advanced topics like trigonometry and calculus in the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam.

CAT Exam FeaturesCAT Quantitative Aptitude Details
Total number of Questions in QA22
Type of Questions in QAMCQs, no negative marking
Marks for Each Correct Answer+3
Negative Marks for Each Wrong Answer-1
Difficulty Level of QAGenerally Moderate to High

Composition of the Quantitative Aptitude (QA) Section in the CAT Exam

The Quantitative Aptitude (QA) section is one of the three primary sections of the Common Admission Test (CAT), an entrance examination for MBA programs in India. This section is designed to assess the mathematical skills, numerical ability, and problem-solving capabilities of the candidates. Let’s delve deeper into the composition of this section:

Number of Questions:

The QA section typically consists of 22 to 24 questions, making it a significant portion of the CAT exam.

Types of Questions:

MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions): These are questions where candidates are presented with multiple options, and they have to select the correct one. The number of MCQs can vary, but there are usually around 14 to 18 MCQs in this section.

Non-MCQs (Type-in-the-answer Questions): These questions require candidates to type in their answers, without any provided options. The section generally contains 6 to 8 of these questions.

Scoring Mechanism:

For every correct answer, candidates earn 3 points.

Incorrect answers in MCQs result in a penalty of 1 point. However, there’s no negative marking for incorrect Non-MCQs, making it risk-free to attempt all of them.

Time Allocation:

Candidates are given 40 minutes to complete the QA section. This time constraint makes it essential for aspirants to practice time management skills during their preparation.

Difficulty Level:

The questions in the QA section can range from moderate to high in terms of difficulty. Some questions might be straightforward and based on basic mathematical concepts, while others could be more challenging and require deeper analytical thinking.

Topics Covered:

The QA section encompasses a wide range of mathematical topics, including:

Arithmetic: Topics like percentages, profit and loss, time and work, and ratios.

Algebra: Concepts such as quadratic equations, sequences, and series.

Geometry: Questions on shapes, their properties, and mensuration.

Number Systems: Understanding of integers, fractions, and basic number properties.

Advanced Topics: Some questions might touch upon higher-level math, including trigonometry, calculus, and coordinate geometry.

CAT QA TopicsNo. of QuestionsIdeal Attempt
Algebra52 -3
Geometry & Mensuration32
Number System21-2
Modern Math1 0-1

Strategy for Attempting:

Given the mix of MCQs and Non-MCQs, and the penalty for incorrect MCQ answers, candidates should be strategic in their approach. It’s often advised to first attempt questions one is confident about, then move to the more challenging ones. Non-MCQs, due to the absence of negative marking, should be attempted even if the candidate is unsure, as there’s no penalty for guessing.

Preparation Strategy for the Quantitative Aptitude (QA) Section in the CAT Exam

The Quantitative Aptitude (QA) section of the CAT exam is a crucial component that tests candidates’ mathematical and analytical abilities. Excelling in this section requires a well-thought-out strategy, consistent practice, and a deep understanding of the underlying concepts. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help aspirants prepare effectively for the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam:

CAT QA Preparation

Back to Basics:

Why It’s Important: Before diving into complex problems, it’s essential to have a solid grasp of fundamental mathematical concepts. These basics form the foundation upon which advanced topics are built.

How to Approach: Revisit school textbooks or basic math books. Focus on arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and number systems. Engage in exercises that reinforce these concepts until they become second nature.

Regular Practice:

Why It’s Important: Mathematics, especially for the Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam, is a skill. The more you practice, the better you become at identifying patterns, shortcuts, and techniques.

How to Approach: Dedicate specific time daily for QA preparation. Use a mix of textbooks, online resources, and mock tests. Challenge yourself with varying difficulty levels to ensure a holistic preparation.

Use Previous Papers:

Why It’s Important: Past year papers offer insights into the actual exam environment, type of questions asked, and areas of emphasis.

How to Approach: Source previous year CAT papers and simulate exam conditions at home. After attempting, analyze your performance to identify strengths and areas needing improvement.

Stay Updated:

Why It’s Important: The Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam pattern and emphasis on topics can evolve. Being updated ensures you’re preparing for the current pattern.

How to Approach: Regularly visit the official CAT website and participate in forums where CAT aspirants discuss recent trends. Adjust your preparation strategy based on the latest insights.

Reference Books:

Why It’s Important: Quality reference books provide in-depth explanations, diverse problems, and shortcut techniques.

How to Approach: Research and invest in well-reviewed CAT preparation books. Work through these books methodically, ensuring you grasp each concept.

Coaching Material:

Why It’s Important: Coaching institutes specialize in CAT preparation. Their material is curated from years of experience and insights.

How to Approach: If enrolled in a coaching institute, review their material regularly. Attend doubt-clearing sessions and ask questions to clarify concepts.

Learn from the Best:

Why It’s Important: CAT toppers have traversed the journey you’re on. Their strategies can offer invaluable guidance.

How to Approach: Seek interviews, webinars, or blogs by CAT toppers. Note their tips and incorporate their advice into your preparation plan.

Time Management:

Why It’s Important: The Quantitative Aptitude CAT Exam is time-bound. Efficient time management ensures you can attempt maximum questions accurately.

How to Approach: Practice with a timer. Set time limits for each section and strive to improve speed without compromising accuracy.

Organize Your CAT Quantitative Aptitude Study Plan

Preparing for CAT Quantitative Aptitude demands dedicated practice, and a well-structured schedule is essential. Adequate time and attention should be allocated to each topic. Distribute the CAT syllabus evenly to ensure comprehensive coverage. A strategic approach involves recognizing weaker sections and dedicating more time to them. Formulate a daily schedule and adhere to it consistently.

CAT Exam 2023, scheduled for November 26 in three sessions, retains the familiar exam pattern. As candidates gear up for this challenge, it’s crucial to bear in mind the aforementioned aspects when gearing up for the Quantitative Aptitude section. Consistent practice and thorough revisiting of essential formulas remain key strategies to secure a strong performance in the CAT 2023 Quantitative Aptitude segment.

Also read: CAT Question paper


How many questions are there in the QA section of CAT?

The QA section comprises 22-24 questions.

Which books are recommended for CAT QA preparation?

Books by Arun Sharma, Nishit K Sinha, and Sarvesh K Verma are highly recommended.

What is the weightage of the QA section in the CAT exam?

The QA section contributes a 34% share in the overall CAT exam.

Have there been any recent changes in the QA syllabus pattern?

Yes, the QA section now focuses solely on Quant-based questions, with DI being a separate section.

Do all questions in the QA section have negative marking?

No, only MCQs have negative marking. Non-MCQs do not have any negative marking.

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