Quantitative Aptitude : biggest challenge for CAT

Posted on the September 15th, 2009 under CAT by rishir

The quantitative aptitude section is perhaps one area which represents the biggest challenge for students appearing for the CAT. If you need proof of this, all you need to do is consider the following facts about the CAT 2008 paper:

Fact #1 : With 0 marks (yes, zero), you would have scored 20 percentile in quants. In CAT 2008, of the approximately 2.75 lakh students who appeared for the exam, 55,000 students did not even make it to 20 percentile in the quants section, ie, they were not even able to ensure a positive score.

Fact #2 : On the other hand, if you scored 12 marks in the quants section in the paper, your score would shoot up to 65 percentile. This essentially means that the approximately 1.8 lakh CAT 2008 aspirants, who were unable to score 65 percentile or more, didn’t manage to notch up even 12 marks out of 100 in the quants section.

What is even more amazing is that every question carried four marks, which means that in order to score just 12 marks, you would only need to solve three questions. This in turn means that if you distributed your time equally across three sections, you would have 50 minutes to solve just three questions — a mind-boggling 16 to 17 minutes per question.

Fact #3 : If you were to count the number of questions that appeared from the chapters ‘Number systems’ and ‘Progressions’ (just two of the 18 or 20 chapters a CAT aspirant will cover, or as we are about to define below, one of the six blocks of chapters you have to study for the quants section of the CAT), hold your breath. There were 10 questions from these two chapters alone.

Moreover, this question distribution pattern is an open secret as far as the CAT preparation goes. Over the past 15 years, 40% of the marks in the CAT have comprised questions from the chapters on ‘Numbers’ and ‘Progressions’. Hence, everyone who took the CAT in 2008 should have been aware of this fact.

So why didn’t CAT 2008 aspirants manage to secure the necessary percentile in the quants section? Was there an aspect that was not apparent to them? What did students who prepared for CAT 2008 miss out on? This is hardly new for the CAT — students have always missed fairly obvious aspects during the test. If you were to look at some of the questions, which have been tested in the CAT quants section over the past decade, you would be forced to rethink whether the CAT really is as tough an exam as it’s made out to be.

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