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CAT Tips for Non-Engineers: Strategies to Crack CAT 2024 Without Mathematics in Class 12

CAT Tips for Non-Engineers: Strategies to Crack CAT 2024 Without Mathematics in Class 12

Edited By Team Careers360 | Updated on May 22, 2024 07:33 PM IST | #CAT

The Common Admission Test (CAT exam) is the gateway to the world of management for a student in India. People who did not study maths after class 12th face some difficulties in the CAT QA section. So, this article provides some effective CAT tips for non-engineers.

With question papers including Quantitative Analysis, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, prepared by the top IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) of the country every year, the CAT exam easily creates a niche for itself among the top admission tests of the country’s academia.

Even though the recent CAT exam papers have become somewhat easier, especially in the quantitative part, CAT is still a major challenge for non-engineers that requires a more than considerable cerebral, discipline and time investment on behalf of the student attempting it. So in the article, we have provided CAT preparation tips for non-engineers to help them prepare for the QA section.

CAT Tips For Non-Engineers

Non-engineers who didn’t have maths in class 12th face some difficulties in the CAT exam due to the mathematics-heavy Quant and DILR sections. However, following a strategic approach and starting CAT preparation many months before the exam can help candidates get over their fear of maths and score well in all the sections of the CAT exam.

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Some CAT tips for non-engineers are:

  • Break down complex questions

  • Focus on time management

  • Build confidence through regular practice and revision

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Understanding the CAT Exam: Does Educational Background Matter?

The syllabus of the CAT exam is only what you have studied in your schools till the tenth standard. However, no specific syllabus exists. As an Indian, irrespective of wherever in India you hail from and whatever Board and medium you have studied in, you all have studied the same fundamentals of mathematics.

So, how can a Non Engineer crack the CAT exam? Well, apart from the fact that a student who is a non-engineer without mathematics in the twelfth standard is a bit out of practice, there is not much of a difference, and all are on an even playing field in CAT.

The CAT exam is usually held on the last Sunday of November (24th November being the last Sunday of the month in 2024) in three separate slots: morning, afternoon, and evening. All the slots have different question papers. In case of a difference in the difficulty level of the question papers in the three slots, while declaring the results the scores are scaled up accordingly to counter the difference. In short, the CAT exam is also a level playing field across all slots.

CAT 2023 was the 40th anniversary of CAT examination, and after having undergone quite some changes, it has evolved into a two-hour online examination, with 40 minutes for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (Section A), 40 minutes for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (Section B) and 40 minutes for Quantitative Ability (Section C).

The sections appear in the above order and you have to mandatorily attempt them in the same order. Once the first 40 minutes are over, the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section permanently becomes inaccessible, after the next 40 minutes the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section becomes inaccessible, and so on. A timer showing the time left for a particular section is present on the screen.

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension has 24 questions. In CAT 2023, 21 of them were MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions with 4 options each) and 4 TITAs (Type In The Answers).

  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning has 20 questions (4 sets having 5 questions each). In CAT 2023, 14 of them were MCQs (with 4 options each) and 6 TITAs.

  • Quantitative Ability has 22 questions. In CAT 2023, 14 of them were MCQs (with 4 options each) and 8 TITAs. A total of 66 questions, out of which in CAT 2023, 49 were MCQs (with 4 options each) and 17 TITAs.

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Each correct answer fetches 3 marks. Hence the total marks of the CAT examination is 66*3 = 198. However, there is negative marking for incorrect MCQ answers, each incorrect answer fetching 1 negative mark. Hence you should refrain from clicking an option as an answer unless you are 100 percent sure the answer is correct. There is no negative marking for incorrect TITA answers.

An onscreen non-scientific calculator is also there, though one should use it only in the most extreme circumstances, as it has been found to be more a curse than a blessing.

The Most Important Topics in CAT QA

Arithmetic has been the main player in the CAT Quantitative Ability section for quite some years now with 8-9 questions, with Algebra being a close second with 6-7 questions. They account for almost 68 to 75 percent of the total questions in the section.

The modern mathematics topic of Numbers and Number Systems generally has 3-5 questions. Geometry (Euclidean Geometry, Coordinate Geometry, and Trigonometry included) too has around 4 questions. 1-2 questions are from the rest of Modern Mathematics topics like Indices, Surds, Logarithms, Functions and Graphs.

Deductive ability has always been the preferred area of evaluation in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, especially deductive ability using quantitative skills.

Overcoming Mathematics Challenges: How can a Non-Engineer crack the CAT Quants?

Mathematics, or rather mathematics learned till the tenth standard, is an intrinsic part of the CAT exam. It is a cent percent necessity for the Quantitative Ability section of 22 questions and is also a necessity for almost eighty percent of the 20 questions of the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section. However, as daunting as it may look, it is not an insurmountable hurdle for the non-engineering student without mathematics in the twelfth standard to master mathematics.

Break down the question

The CAT exam does not test advanced analytical skills. You should never expect long-drawn calculations or an overt application of high-end theory and formulae in the process of solving a sum. One has to understand the problem (often apparently complicated) created in the sum, see through it, and utilize the minimum of analytics and theory and a maximum of logic and common sense to coolly solve it in the minimum time possible. Never has till date a CAT exam question been repeated, so trying to remember a process of solution or by-hearting is useless.

Time management

Time management is a necessity for the CAT exam. 66 questions in 2 hours imply an average of 1 minute 49 seconds per question. It includes the time to read the problem, comprehend it, plan out the solution, and execute it. To get the highest ranking possible (99.99 to 100 percentile) in a section you do not need to solve all the problems.

15-16 questions correct out of 22 in Quantitative Ability, 13-14 questions correct out of 20 in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and 17-18 questions correct out of 24 in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension are more than enough to ace all the sections individually (provided you do not click wrong answers inviting negative marks). But that too means 16+14+18 = 48 questions in 2 hours, which is an average of 2 minutes 30 seconds per question.

So to read the problem, comprehend it, plan out the solution, and execute it, all in 2 minutes 30 seconds, you need to be very very good in your basic fundamentals, the same which was taught to us in school, and to understand the fundamentals that well so as to have a very good grip on procedural short-cuts. That is the key to success in the CAT exam, especially for a student who is a non-engineer without mathematics in the twelfth standard.

Build confidence through regular practice and revision

To achieve the above the secret is practice. Practice with a timer in front of you, to be more precise. And give as many CAT mock tests and solve as many PYQs as possible. You must remember one very important but basic fact - every problem in the last 40 years history of the CAT examination can be solved in 2 minutes, provided you deduce the problem and utilize your short-cutting skills and basic fundamentals to solve it. Swift calculating skills also help. This mastery over shortcuts and basic fundamentals will only come with regular revision and extensive practice.

And it is of no consequence whatsoever as to whether you are a non-engineer with no mathematics in your twelfth standard. In CAT 2020, 2021, and 2022 there were quite a few 100 percentilers who were B.Com graduates.


Strategic Preparation Approach: CAT Preparation Plan for Non-Engineers

What should be the strategy of preparation for CAT 2024 for a student who is a non-engineer without mathematics in the twelfth standard? Read the following pointers to find out.

  1. Devote a solid three and a half hours per day for the CAT preparation for a period of seven months. One and a half hours for Quantitative Ability, and one hour each for Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. Be strict in this aspect. Discipline will make a big difference.

  1. First, sharpen your numerical calculation skills. As in basic additions, subtractions, combinations of additions and subtractions, multiplications, squares, cubes, square roots, and reciprocals to decimal and reciprocals to percentage conversion. This will not only be an asset to you in Quantitative Ability but will be tremendously helpful for the calculations involved in the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section of the CAT exam.

  1. Then focus on Arithmetic topics. Ratio and Proportion, Variation, Percentage, Profit and Loss, Average, Alligation and Mixtures, Time Speed and Distance, Time and Work, and Simple and Compound Interest. Focus on understanding the basics of the topics. Intensely focus on the shortcuts. The first six topics mentioned above act as the biggest catalysts in Quantitative Ability. Solve as many problems as you can, but always timing yourself, and taking care to see that your timing is improving.

  1. You are now ready to attempt Line Graphs, Bar Charts, Pie Charts, and other special graphs in the domain of Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. Use your numerical calculation ability and the arithmetic ability newly acquired. Solve as many problems as you can, but always timing yourself, and taking care to see that your timing is improving.

  1. Now focus on Algebra. Especially First Degree Linear Equations with their graphical implications, Quadratic Equations with their graphical implications, and Basics of Polynomials and Inequalities and Inequations. Solve as many problems as you can, but always timing yourself, and taking care to see that your timing is improving.

  1. Next is the turn of Geometry. Lines and Angles, Triangles, Right-angled Triangles, Circles, 2D and 3D Mensuration, Trigonometry and Coordinate Geometry. Again, solve as many problems as you can, but always timing yourself, and taking care to see that your timing is improving.

  1. By now you should be ready for the Deductive Reasoning problems of Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. Solve as many problems as you can. Here solving is primary, and timing is secondary.

  1. Move on to Number and Number Systems of Modern Mathematics. Plus other essential Modern Mathematics topics

  1. Parallelly focus on Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. Brush up your grammar. Practice Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions on a daily basis.

  1. Do not stick to one chapter because you are unable to solve a few questions. Move on, there might be another concept to that question you have not learned yet, once you are done with the new concept, go back and solve the former.

  1. Once the basics are over, which it should be in three months, just focus on mocks and practice. Time yourself diligently. Give one CAT mock a day. Analyze your mocks after giving them. Redo all the questions after the mock. Slowly increase the level of difficulty of your practice questions. And do not forget to revise the fundamentals and short-cutting techniques on a regular basis.

Maintaining motivation during CAT preparation

During your preparation journey, there will be times when you may feel demotivated. However, it is important to understand that this feeling is temporary and you have to crack the CAT exam. So, set clear, achievable goals from the beginning of your preparation. Make a study schedule for each day so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. On days when you feel a lack of confidence or motivation, take a break for a while, and then solve a few easy questions from your most preferred topic to get back in the groove. Keep calm and maintain a positive mindset.

Conclusion

Non-engineers without mathematics in the twelfth standard perceive themselves to be at a disadvantage in the CAT examination.

In reality, if one thinks carefully, it is the opposite. An engineer, or someone with mathematics in the twelfth standard is habituated to analytical solutions of problems and relies on formulae and theory a lot. The CAT exam problems appear like googlies to them. In order to play the googlies they first have to get out of their already created habit, and then inculcate the fundamentals and procedural short-cuts. Whereas the non-engineer without mathematics in twelfth standard is like a clean slate, and has the job of just getting the fundamentals and shortcuts right.

With a little bit of discipline, sincerity, and following CAT preparation tips for non-engineering students, there is no reason why a non-engineer cannot succeed. If needed, the help of a coaching center can also be utilized. However, he/she alone is also enough.

Download Free Practice Questions with Detailed Solutions for CAT Quantitative Aptitude (QA) - MCQ PDFs



Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. What does it take to crack CAT, especially for non-engineers without mathematics in twelfth standard?

Self-belief, discipline, and the urge to succeed are important. Planning a proper strategy and following it helps. But primarily getting strong on fundamentals and short-cuts is the key.

2. What is the percentage of non-engineers without mathematics in twelfth standard who score above 97 percentile?

Before 2010 the percentage was about 18-20% on an average in the IIMs. But the percentage has steadily increased in the last fourteen years, being around 38-39% on average in the IIMs in 2022.

3. How can I prepare for CAT 2024 without coaching?

You can prepare for the CAT exam without coaching, provided that you are disciplined enough and ready to work hard. Start by going through the syllabus of CAT and preparing a study schedule accordingly. To brush up the concepts, you can take the help of CAT preparation books as well as online lecture videos. You can buy previous years’ papers or download them online and practice questions from them daily. Take mock tests and analyze them to assess your preparedness for CAT.

4. I have not been in touch with mathematics since the last two years. Should I prepare for the CAT?

Yes by all means. The CAT syllabus includes mathematics studied till the tenth standard.

5. CAT is about entry into management institutes. Then why are mathematics and verbal ability tested in CAT?

Don’t perceive it as mathematics. Perceive it as a problem that has to be solved as early as possible using your basic knowledge, a basic knowledge that every Indian student who has studied till the tenth standard has. That is one of the primary skills needed for a to-be management candidate. So what you perceive as mathematics is basically to test how quickly you can analyze and solve a problem. And verbal ability is a test of your cognitive and communication skills.

6. Can I crack CAT if I didn’t have maths in 12th?

Yes, a lot of students from non-maths backgrounds crack CAT each year. You just have to work harder and start your preparation earlier to gain a thorough understanding of the basic maths concepts relevant for the CAT exam.



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Questions related to CAT

Have a question related to CAT ?

Hello aspirant,
The CAT exam syllabus is not officially prescribed, but it generally includes topics from the following sections:

1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)
2. Data interpretation and logical reasoning
3. Quantitative ability

  • Arithmetic

  • Algebra

  • Geometry and Mensuration

  • Number System

  • Modern Math

It seems unlikely that you would be able to get admission in the BTech CS branch at BIT Sindri or Mesra with a CML rank of 2058 and category rank of 433.

Key points:

1. The search results indicate that a CML (Common Merit List) rank of 2058 is quite low for admission to premier engineering colleges like BIT Sindri or NIT Mesra.

2. The cutoff ranks for BTech CS branch at these institutes are usually much higher, often in the range of 1000-2000 for the general category.

3. With a category rank of 433, you may have a better chance of getting admission in the reserved category quota, but the competition is still quite high.

4. The search results do not provide specific cutoff details for BIT Sindri or NIT Mesra, but the general trend suggests your current ranks may not be sufficient for the CS branch in these institutes.

My advice would be to:

1. Check the latest cutoff ranks and admission criteria on the official websites of BIT Sindri and NIT Mesra.

2. Explore other options like state-level engineering colleges or NITs where your current ranks may have a better chance of securing admission.

3. Consider improving your performance in the next attempt of the entrance exam to increase your chances of getting into your desired BTech program.



For VARC, read daily from diverse sources (newspapers, novels, journals) to improve comprehension and vocabulary. Practice RC passages and verbal ability questions regularly. For DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning) and QA (Quantitative Aptitude), solve previous years' papers and take mock tests to identify weak areas. Join a coaching institute or online courses for guidance and stay consistent with your study schedule. Review and analyze your performance in mocks to understand mistakes and improve. Maintain a positive mindset and stay disciplined in your preparation.

Hello aspirant,

Every year, IIMs conduct the Common Admission Test (CAT), a national MBA entrance exam, in rotation. For admission to over 1,200 institutions and premier B-schools in India, as well as PGDM, Executive MBA, PhD, and FPM programmes, the IIM CAT exam is regarded as one of the most difficult MBA entrance exams to pass. One of the best MBA schools in India, IIMs offers PGDM and MBA programmes for students who pass the CAT exam with scores in the 82nd to 99th percentiles.

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Thank you

Hope this information helps you.

Hello!

The educational qualification required for CAT exam is bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a recognized university with minimum of 50% for the open category and 45% for the SC/ST/PwD category. Since you have secured more than the required percentage in your bachelor's degree, you are eligible for CAT exam.

For more information, please visit the website by clicking on the link given below:

https://bschool.careers360.com/articles/cat-eligibility-criteria

I hope you will find this information helpful. Best wishes ahead!

View All

1-radian measures 600. (True/False)

Option: 1

True


Option: 2

False


$111111^2$ = 

Option: 1

123456654321


Option: 2

123454321


Option: 3

123454321


Option: 4

12345654321


1111112 =___________ 

Option: 1

 123456654321


Option: 2

1234554321


Option: 3

123454321


Option: 4

12345654321


159702 is divisible by

Option: 1

7


Option: 2

9


Option: 3

11


Option: 4

6


1600 satellites were sent up by a country for several purposes. The purposes are classified as broadcasting (B), communication (C), surveillance (S), and others (O). A satellite can serve multiple purposes; however a satellite serving either B, or C, or S does not serve O. 

The following facts are known about the satellites: 

1. The numbers of satellites serving B, C, and S (though may be not exclusively) are in the ratio 2: 1:1. 

2. The number of satellites serving all three of B, C, and S is 100. 

3. The number of satellites exclusively serving C is the same as the number of satellites exclusively serving S. This number is 30% of the number of satellites exclusively serving B. 

4. The number of satellites serving O is the same as the number of satellites serving both C and S but not B. 

Question:

What best can be said about the number of satellites serving C? 

Option: 1

Must be between 450 and 725 

 


Option: 2

Cannot be more than 800 
 


Option: 3

Must be between 400 and 800 

 


Option: 4

Must be at least 100 


1600 satellites were sent up by a country for several purposes. The purposes are classified as broadcasting (B), communication (C), surveillance (S), and others (O). A satellite can serve multiple purposes; however a satellite serving either B, or C, or S does not serve O. 

The following facts are known about the satellites: 

1. The numbers of satellites serving B, C, and S (though may be not exclusively) are in the ratio 2: 1:1. 

2. The number of satellites serving all three of B, C, and S is 100. 

3. The number of satellites exclusively serving C is the same as the number of satellites exclusively serving S. This number is 30% of the number of satellites exclusively serving B. 

4. The number of satellites serving O is the same as the number of satellites serving both C and S but not B. 

Question:

What is the minimum possible number of satellites serving B exclusively? 

Option: 1

100


Option: 2

200


Option: 3

500


Option: 4

250


1600 satellites were sent up by a country for several purposes. The purposes are classified as broadcasting (B), communication (C), surveillance (S), and others (O). A satellite can serve multiple purposes; however a satellite serving either B, or C, or S does not serve O. 

The following facts are known about the satellites: 

1. The numbers of satellites serving B, C, and S (though may be not exclusively) are in the ratio 2: 1:1. 

2. The number of satellites serving all three of B, C, and S is 100. 

3. The number of satellites exclusively serving C is the same as the number of satellites exclusively serving S. This number is 30% of the number of satellites exclusively serving B. 

4. The number of satellites serving O is the same as the number of satellites serving both C and S but not B. 

Question:

If at least 100 of the 1600 satellites were serving O, what can be said about the number of satellites serving S? 

Option: 1

At most 475 

 


Option: 2

Exactly 475 
 


Option: 3

At least 475 

 


Option: 4

No conclusion is possible based on the given information 


1600 satellites were sent up by a country for several purposes. The purposes are classified as broadcasting (B), communication (C), surveillance (S), and others (O). A satellite can serve multiple purposes; however a satellite serving either B, or C, or S does not serve O. 

The following facts are known about the satellites: 

1. The numbers of satellites serving B, C, and S (though may be not exclusively) are in the ratio 2: 1:1. 

2. The number of satellites serving all three of B, C, and S is 100. 

3. The number of satellites exclusively serving C is the same as the number of satellites exclusively serving S. This number is 30% of the number of satellites exclusively serving B. 

4. The number of satellites serving O is the same as the number of satellites serving both C and S but not B. 

Question:

 If the number of satellites serving at least two among B, C, and S is 1200, which of the following MUST be FALSE? 

Option: 1

The number of satellites serving C cannot be uniquely determined 

 


Option: 2

The number of satellites serving B is more than 1000 
 


Option: 3

All 1600 satellites serve B or C or S 

 


Option: 4

The number of satellites serving B exclusively is exactly 250 


2839155 is divisible by

Option: 1

2


Option: 2

7


Option: 3

55


Option: 4

None of the above


'a' for which x^{2}-ax+9= 0 can be written as square of a linear factor is

Option: 1

6


Option: 2

-6,6


Option: 3

\left ( 6,\infty \right )


Option: 4

\left ( -\infty,-6 \right )


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