How much time one need to devote for Quant & DI section during CAT preparation? How to successfully handle time management in mock and actual test? Which specific section need more focus in Quant section?
These are some of the questions that MBA Aspirants asked to CAT Expert and Author Rajesh Balasubramanian to MBAUniverse.com as they seriously take plunge into their CAT journey which may lead them to dream B-schools like IIMs and other top institutions like FMS, JBIMS, SPJIMR, IMT etc.
Mr Rajesh Balasubramanian is an IIT, IIM alumnus, & 2011, 2012 CAT Topper and the author of CAT books published by ‘Access Publishing India’. He scored 100 percentile in CAT 2012. In the live chat, he shared success tips from his own experience of taking CAT, and guiding MBA Aspirants on Quant and DI sections.
In the first Live Chat session on May 24, Mr Abhishek Gupta, National Product Head, MBA Test-Prep, Career Launcher India had guided CAT Aspirants on their CAT preparation related queries. The second Live Chat on May 31 hosted Mr Sandeep Manudhane, Founder Chairman, PT Education to answer queries from CAT Aspirants. In another Live Chat CAT Expert & seasoned CAT Trainer Mr S K Agarwal guided Aspirants on verbal ability section.
This article brings you some questions asked by MBA Aspirants and answer shared by Mr Rajesh Balasubramanian during the Live Chat session on June 14, 2013.
Raghu: Sir, I am from engineering background and have good knowledge of mathematics. My accuracy is also good but speed is my problem area in Quant & DI. Please suggest way to overcome?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: Focus on accuracy. If your accuracy is good, speed will automatically come with practice. Therefore, don’t worry about speed. Attempt the right questions; get them right, and you will be through. Do not do anything specific to improve speed. That is distracting and usually affects accuracy.
Pankaj Virmani: How many questions are enough to get a percentile in quant & DI section? Can I skip DI section to make more attempts in Quant section?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: Your choice may vary from paper to paper. But thumb rule, attempt of around 17-19 fetches 99th percentile (assuming almost everything is correct). Do not go in planning to leave DI. This sometimes makes the decision-making very poor. You end up attempting all the wrong questions in quant because you have to hit your target within 20 questions. Balance is important to keep the decision-making correct. I will suggest you to not ignore DI.
Kaustav Sarkar: Sir, I took two full length mock tests. My quant score was good I also invited negative marks. How to overcome this problem?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: In initial stage of practice, focus on accuracy. Restrict your attempts. Bring attempts to a number where accuracy is near 100%. Then build from there. If you can attempt exactly 10 questions in a paper but get all of them right, that will take you close to 90th percentile. If you solve 3-4 more, you will come near to 95+ percentile. Remember, accuracy is key. When in doubt, just LEAVE the question.
Gulzar: What should be ideal speed for Quant questions? Please help on time management.
Rajesh Balasubramanian: Plan to attempt 14-15 questions in 55-60 minutes. That is 4 minutes per question. Do this in two rounds. For the first round, the rule is simple - When in doubt, leave. Hit whatever questions you know the method straightaway. If you have prepared reasonably, you should be able to hit 10 questions in this round, in about 40 minutes. In round two, hit 4-5 more that you have shortlisted in the next 18-20 minutes. Anything more from here is bonus. If you reach this level, your confidence level will be high and usually this will result in 2-3 more questions in the last 10-12 minutes. Therefore, you attempt 17-18 questions and you will be around 99 percentile. If the paper is considerably easy, add 2 more for each time segment
Pavan Kumar: Sir, I come from Commerce background and just started off my CAT preparation with QA. Is it possible to complete the syllabus in next 2 -3 months of time?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: The time remaining is definitely enough. Till 10 years ago, students used to start preparing only in August. Only recently has this trend of preparing for 12 months started. How intensely you prepare in your last 3 months matters. You can start now and crack CAT. Between the two sections, quant is considered tougher. So, students with math background might find it easier to start preparing. But keep in mind that the math level is only at the 6th to 8th standard level, so you can catch up easily.
Hareh Patel: Sir, while preparing topics for Quant, should I give more emphasis on chapters like geometry, menstruation, and probability than chapters like log, surds, number systems?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: You should spend more time on Geometry and Number Theory. In number theory, I would include polynomials, partial fractions also. These two topics are critical and can dominate a paper. So, focus more on these two.
Jaideep: Sir, how to find the right answer when we find two tentative answers? Please help.
Rajesh Balasubramanian: In practice papers, attempt all these questions and analyze them separately. It is important to know how to get the right answer after bringing it down to 2 choices. This should help you to drill down better. In the exam, back yourself but don’t guess if you have no clue. If your gut-feel suggests one choice, go for it. Sometimes you have to take some chances. But if you have brought it down to two choices and are clueless after that, then skip the question. When in doubt, just leave.
Shubhodeep: Sir, I have find it difficult to solve DI problems. It’s too lengthy to read and calculations some time goes to four decimal places. Please suggest?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: Remember that not all DI sets are calculation intensive. DI calculation could be also a fatigue issue. Very often our mind starts fading out if the data presented has many layers. This is because you are tired. If this is the case, you have to build stamina. Try to take DI-only tests. But do these with a plan. 1. Forget about speed 2. Attempt ALL questions (Don’t select questions) 3. And try for reasonable stretch of time without drop in concentration. This can improve your stamina.
Basant Maheshwari: Sir what is difficulty level of exams like CAT XAT SNAP GMAT?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: CAT is the most standardized among Indian exams. The exam level is reasonably consistent. SNAP is usually a watered-down version of CAT. Far simpler but with higher number of questions. XAT is unpredictable but usually with quant as tougher than CAT. GMAT is a very standardized exam. GMAT quant is far simpler than CAT. GMAT verbal, especially RC and Sentence Correction, is tougher than CAT.
Karnav: How many hours need to put for Quant section on daily basis, ideally?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: For the first 6-8 weeks, 10-14 hours per week would be sufficient. The next 6-8 weeks, one should do 16-18 hours. The final few weeks, one should shoot for 25-30 hours
Ansh: How many mocks need to attempt before exam?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: More the merrier. One should shoot to attempt at least 7-8 mock tests. 10-12 would be ideal. 15+ would be great.
Anil Sawant: As I know, only 15-20% questions come from Arithmetic, but the chance of error is also high there in terms of calculation. How do I develop some short tricks for problem solving?
Rajesh Balasubramanian: The challenge in this exam is to get to the best method quickly. Focus all your energies on getting the approaches right. Computation speed is usually not such a big deal. You do not need to learn how to do 33.5 * 48 quickly. If you can get to the best method quickly enough, you will have time to burn in this exam. I am not that quick in computation but consider the quant to be a major strength. So, do not worry about multiplication/division speed. Sometimes agonizing over this is a distraction
Leela: Sir, I am weak in DI section. I have practiced a lot of caselets given in the booklets. But it consumes a lot of time on the cost of Quant section. Please guide.
Rajesh Balasubramanian: You should aim to hit overall 15 questions in quant. Usually, one of the 3 DI sets will be doable. Try to finish one set of questions in DI and 7-8 other questions in the first 40 minutes of the section. In the second 30 minutes, you have to find 7-8 questions from somewhere. If DI is not that easy, you might still be able to crack the exam on the strength of quant. You will box yourself into a corner if you decide before the paper begins to skip all DI questions. But if you get one set out of the way, you have more wriggle room.
Kavita: Sir, please tell me the areas where an Aspirant is likely to commit mistake during CAT preparation.
Rajesh Balasubramanian: Most common mistakes are as follows 1) Focusing on shortcuts rather than fundamentals 2) Focusing on speed instead of accuracy 3) Analyzing percentiles after taking mock CATs instead of analyzing the paper
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