Quant In CAT Is Not Pure Maths !!!

 | August 07,2010 03:48 pm IST

"Oh my GOD! CAT did not test me even on a single Mathematics question that I had prepared throughout the year..

Most of the questions were weird statements."


These are the words of Nitesh Bhargav, a CAT aspirant, immediately after the CAT was over last year. This statement can be an indicator of insufficient preparation or stress or lack of confidence or... But an in-depth analysis will make it clear that the only mistake Nitesh committed was that he confused his Mathematics preparation with CAT Quantitative preparation. So what is the difference and why is it that CAT pundits say that "CAT has no Mathematics, only Quantitative Techniques". Let us try to understand the difference between Mathematics and Quantitative techniques.


Mathematics is the science that deals with numbers, quantities, shapes, patterns, measurements, concepts related to them and their numerous relationships. It includes arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc., where as quantitative techniques section in CAT is more of an application of the fundamental rules of mathematics in real life situations. The following illustration can help us understand the real facet of Quantitative techniques.


Suppose you watch a light flashing every 2 seconds, and another light flashing every 3 seconds, how would you calculate when the two lights would flash together? For someone devoid of the basic weapons of mathematics, this would be a labyrinth. But is it really? To unravel this enigma all we need to do is use simple logic. Let's see how - the first light flashes after an interval of every 2 seconds, this implies that it would flash at the intervals of 2, i.e., after 2 seconds, 4 seconds, 6 seconds, 8 seconds, and so on... Likewise, the second light will flash after 3 seconds, 6 seconds, 9 seconds, and so on... We, thus, observe that the two flash together after every 6 seconds.


Now this is a direct application of a very simple concept the LCM, i.e., Least Common Multiple (LCM of 2 & 3 is 6), a concept which all of us have studied in our junior school. Obviously, as a CAT aspirant you won't be asked a direct question to calculate the LCM of 2 & 3. The questions would be application based, and therefore. be asked in a disguised manner. The real test is of one's analytical skills to fathom what is being asked. There are similar illustrations of most basic concepts, which we have studied till our Xth grade and these questions check our ability to apply the concepts, which we have learnt to real life situations.


One may ask as to why such questions in an MBA entrance. Very simply - because as a manager one must exhibit good decision making capabilities. Tomorrow you may be standing with the CEO of a big petroleum conglomerate on a highway and analyzing a situation where in hoardings of two rival companies are flashing and you have to take a decision to exhibit your hoarding after a certain time interval. So one should have the ability to apply his acquired knowledge in real life situations. Thus, CAT is not a test to judge your pure subject knowledge as opposed to pre-engineering / pre-medical entrance examinations, where the test is of your knowledge in core technical subjects, but CAT is a test of your inherent smartness. How smartly you pick some questions and more important how smartly you leave others.


Consider another illustration of a CAT question - "Deepak starts from A at 10.00 am at a speed of 45 km/hr and Sudhir starts from B at the same time at speed of 50 km/hr towards each other. They meet at 10.11 am but keep moving till they reach at ends (Deepak at B & Sudhir at A), then they turn back and keep moving. At what time do they meet again?" The solution to the question can be found by different methods but what matters is smartness.


Let us understand how this question will be cracked by a smart CAT aspirant. In this question, speed and distance are both irrelevant because the relative speed and the distance will stay constant, only time is variable. So if they have together covered some distance (whatever it may be) in 11 minutes, before the next meeting, they have to cover twice of that distance, requiring 11 x 2= 22 min. So they meet at 10.33 am. This takes less than a minute but the conventional way will be to find the distance with the help of relative speed and then find time, which will take more than 2 minutes.


Performance in CAT depends heavily on Quantitative Ability and it is not just CAT that needs good ability in Quant - any MBA entrance exam you take has its own share of Quant. Fortunately, the prescription is the same for all the exams - a good amount of practice with high quality questions.


Most of us tend to forget the concepts we have studied till Xth. So the real preparation starts with concept building. Once thorough with the concepts or the accuracy part, start working on your speed. Even when you are practicing at home, do questions in a stipulated time period. You may start by allotting 2 min/question, and than gradually reducing time to 1 min/question and so on.


Preparation for CAT is an eye-opener for oneself. So many myths and prejudices about oneself just whisk away after a year-long preparation. One gets clarity about one self as to what he/she actually wants in life. So all it requires is smartness and aptitude. Also the need of a good mentor who can inspire you to perform to the best of your capability.


Contributed by -
Jatinder Vohra is Quantitative Assessment Expert at Top Careers & You www.tcyonline.com, the leaders in MBA, MCA, GRE & GMAT preparation in Punjab. 



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Guest on 09/29/10 at 09:36 am

Its very nice

Samriddhi Jain on 09/07/11 at 11:12 pm

Wonderful write up... kind of eye opener.. I am preparing for CAT 2011, can you provide me any other material if you have..