How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)
Updated on Dec 4, 2019 - 11:55 a.m. IST by Richa Kapoor
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How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA) - It is said that Mathematics in a certain way is a poetry of logical ideas. This syncs perfectly with the QA section of CAT, wherein the mathematical questions are based on logic and theories. Solving QA section can be quite challenging for the test takers as the difficulty level of this section, based on past years trend, has mostly been of difficult to moderate level. In this feature by Careers360, we bring a guide for CAT 2019 aspirants on ‘How to prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability’ section, which is said to be the most important section of the test. Since you have to be clear about not only the overall but the sectional cutoff as well to get an IIM call, you must perform well in this particular section. Quantitative Ability or QA, as per the exam pattern of CAT 2019, will have around 34 questions to be answered by the candidates, mostly dealing with arithmetic progression and modern mathematics. Registration for CAT 2019 has been closed, correction window was available from September 28, 2019 at 10:00 AM onward.
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Students, especially from non-engineering backgrounds, who are not too comfortable in QA, must focus on this section to improve their sectional cutoff in CAT 2019. Hence, the question that baffles them is "How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)." As CAT exam has a sectional limit of 60 minutes, it is important to strategically attempt each section of the test to score an overall high percentile. Konreddy Varun Kumar Reddy, CAT Topper from MDI Gurgaon supports by saying, “Practicing a lot of questions helps for Quant in the sense that it becomes easy to decide which question is doable and which one is not."

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Despite being weak in Quantitative Ability, Commerce graduate Saakshi Goel cracked CAT with 99.57 percentile and secured admission in SPJIMR Mumbai. She says, “For me, QA was a challenge since I knew I had to compete with Engineers who are well versed with the subject. Hence, I dedicated 75 per cent of my time to QA and the rest of the time was devoted to practising VARC and DILR.”

How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)

Let’s start with the quote of one of the CAT 2017 Toppers, Dinesh Reddy, who is currently studying at IIM Shillong, on how to prepare for CAT quantitative aptitude. He says, "The more you practice, the more you can remember the formulae, and the faster you can solve. This section is all about practice and solving different models."

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To understand how to prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability section(most important part for CAT 2019 syllabus), aspiring candidates need to follow the tips given below.

Start with the basics

Getting your concepts clear is the key to successfully solving quantitative ability questions. It is important for the candidates to start by learning the concepts which are used to solve questions in this section. Vatsalya Kumar Srivastava, who secured 99.76 percentile in CAT 2016 shares, “QA is difficult to master since the range of questions is so varied that you can’t keep track of time sometimes.”

When you know the basic concepts, you must practice by solving more and more questions. It is important to follow the concepts learnt and practice each concept by solving simple examples first, and gradually moving towards the difficult ones.

Aniket Upadhyay, CAT Topper from IIM Shillong, mentions, "I feel QA is totally about how much time and practice you can put in. After understanding the basic formulae, I used to only practice questions from study material and appear for mocks."

To prepare for Quant section of CAT books are the best source to learn the concepts and enhance your knowledge on a topic. Subhrajyoti Saha, CAT 2016 Topper and IIM Shillong student prepared from books and practised from the practice papers available in the books. He says, “I practised a lot of questions from the book and also from online resources. I referred to Arun Sharma books on Quantitative Aptitude and study materials from my coaching institute.”

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Best Books to prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude Section

The QA section tests the problem-solving approach of the aspirants. QA covers topics like Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Number System, Modern Mathematics and other questions related to Higher Maths. It is important to check the books from where the candidates can prepare for quantitative aptitude for CAT. Here is the list of best books to prepare for this section of CAT:

  • Arun Sharma’s ‘How to prepare for Quantitative Ability for CAT’, published by Tata McGraw Hill. The book follows the latest pattern of CAT with a focus on one of the most important components of the CAT exam is Quantitative Aptitude.

  • Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by Abhijit Guha (Tata McGraw-Hill) has a comprehensive step-by-step problem-solving guide.

  • How to Prepare for the CAT Common Admissions Test by Muhamed Muneer, published by Om Books, is another book that is simple and easy to understand, and has mock tests and solved CAT papers from previous years.

  • Quantitative Aptitude for CAT and Other MBA Entrance Exams by Trishna Knowledge Systems (Pearson) has many practice exercises in increasing difficulty for a gradual transition.

  • Arun Sharma’s The Complete CAT Digest, by Tata McGraw-Hill, is a must-have for any CAT aspirant.

Plan your preparation schedule

A clear cut time table holds the key to crack CAT. When one is wondering as to how to "How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)," then in such a scenario a realistic time table is very important. Candidates, after going through the syllabus and exam pattern, should assess how much time they will need to prepare for each topic and ensure that one does not leave any topic uncovered. One of the important strategies to cover each topic is to make a Day-wise preparation plan and schedule some number of days to prepare for that topic. Allot the following number of days to the below given quant topics,

  • Number System: Five days

  • Algebra: Eight Days

  • Geometry: Eight Days

  • Permutation & Combination/Probability: Five Days

  • Miscellaneous Topics: Five Days

Take sectional Mock Tests on QA

Mock Test for CAT 2019 is part of the strategy of "How to prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability" and is an essential part of preparation as it helps the candidates to familiarise themselves with the type of questions that are asked. After taking a mock test, a candidate can evaluate his performance and check in which areas he or she requires to work hard. The same applies for CAT 2019, where mock test plays a vital role to determine the level of preparation for the actual test.

IIM Kashipur student Adarsh Anand says, “Mock tests played a very crucial role in my success. Join at least two institutes for mock tests. Two mock tests per week are good enough. Analyse your weak and strong points both and work on them accordingly.”

Adding to the importance of analysis of Mock Test for Quant, Adarsh mentions, “First analysis should be done by the experts after which self-analysis is necessary. self-analysis should be done by an individual question wise, topic wise and section-wise. And then work on the areas which are lagging behind.”

It is important for a candidate to put all his focus on his weak topics in QA and take mock tests to prepare for the same. Whether, you take coaching or not, practicing from test series and sectional Mocks will go a long way in securing a high percentile in Quant section.

Practice with sectional time

Since CAT 2019 has a sectional time limit of 60 minutes to answer one section, as part of "How to Prepare for CAT Quantitative Ability (QA)," candidates must aim to solve the entire section ahead of the scheduled time. Keeping a buffer time of minimum of 10 minutes to complete one section while taking mock tests will let you complete the exam beforehand and will ensure that you have adequate time to revise. However, candidates will be able to save time in a section, only if they follow the same strategy on the D-Day.

Konreddy Varun allocated two minutes per Quant question, which according to him is enough time to decide whether the question is doable or not. He says, “QA was my strength and I didn’t have any strategy as such. One thing I followed was to stick to the two-minute rule. If you can’t solve a question within two minutes, move on to the next one. Practicing a lot of questions helps for Quant in the sense that it becomes easy to decide which question is doable and which one is not.”

Focus on Weak Areas

The thumb rule of a great preparation is to focus on the weak areas and overcome the mistakes that one is making. During the course of preparation, one must focus on learning, practicing and revising the QA topics in which they are weak.

Sakshi, whose weakest area was Quantitative Ability, shares her strategy, “in the QA section, I focused on understanding concepts rather than tricks to solve the questions. Solving even half a number of questions (correctly) in QA can lead to a fairly good score (The amount of time is also such that not all the questions can be solved). So, I focused on the topics which were my strengths and did not give much time to those that I was struggling with.”

Tips for CAT 2019 Expected Quantitative Ability Topics

Arks Srinivas, CEO, VistaMind mentions, "There is no syllabus prescribed for CAT. Given this reality, it is almost foolhardy to predict any particular topic or area that may be important for CAT. However, given the history of CAT, the areas in Quant that one needs to be thorough is are Numbers and Geometry & Mensuration. One-third of the questions in the Quant section could be from these two areas alone!"

QA Topics and Subtopics


Topic wise Preparation Strategy

QA Topics

Tips and Strategy

Number System

Ensure that you are clear with the basic concepts of this topic.


Though Arithmetic has a vast number of sub-topics, in the last 3 years, only a couple of questions have featured from this topic


Considering this has been one of the most dominant topics in CAT in the last three years, it makes a lot of sense to place extra emphasis on this topic


Another topic which has featured quite a lot in the last 3 years

Permutation & Combination/Probability

This is another topic that contributes around 1 to 2 questions to the exam

Miscellaneous Topics

This includes Set Theory, Trigonometry, and Logarithms

CAT 2019 was conducted on November 24, 2019, Sunday, in online mode. The official notification for the exam was announced on July 28, 2019. More than 2. 4 lakh registered for CAT 2019. The registration for CAT 2019 has been closed on September 25, 2019 at 5:00 PM, correction window is available from September 28, 2019 at 10:00 AM onward.

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 8021 out of 8021 Questions

My cat score is 90.83. Colleges that I can apply for?

Manisha Gupta Expert 28th Jan, 2020

Hello Aspirant,

As a general Category the chances are very less to get a call from IIMs. The other colleges you can apply in colleges-

DMS, IISc Bangalore

K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai

TAPMI, Manipal

Goa Institute of Management

Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, New Delhi

But CAT marks are not the only parameter involved in the selection procedure. After CAT exam every college in which you apply prepares a merit list to call students for next round of interview based on your aggregate score which comprises of many parameters such as CAT marks, 10th, 12th and graduation percentage, work experience etc. whose weight age varies for all different colleges. After the round of interview again a merit list is prepared which includes marks of your interview, GD and WSAT which along with CAT marks generally have the highest weightage.

You can also use CAT Pathfinder tool given below to know your other admission possibilities.

Good Luck!


Hi Team Careers360, my cat 19 score is 95.49. I am fresher, nonengineer, male general. Can i expect a call from IIMs CAP? if not what are the other alternatives?

Sampriti Student Expert 28th Jan, 2020
You have a pretty good CAT percentile and considering the fact that you are a fresher you can expect a call from the new IIMs. The new IIMs are yet to declare their shortlist and the newest IIMs will release their list on their respective websites soon whereas IIM Bodhgaya has already declared their list. Depending on your academic background you'll receive a call from the newer IIMs now.

The selection process will take place with the new IIMs in the CAP round.

Good Luck

i scored 86 percentile in jee main 2020(7 jan ,2 shift) can u tell that can i get any govt engineering college in india me from general cat?

Raj Aryan Sharma 28th Jan, 2020

Hi Ayushi.

The official cutoff of JEE Mains will be released long with the final results after the April Mains. The NTA will announce category wise cutoffs then. But you can still check your estimated rank using the formula (100-your total percentile)*869010/100. So with this percentile, you estimated All India rank is around 1,21,000. Now, if the number of candidates giving the exam in April increase, you rank will go higher up.

Well, yes with that percentile, you might be able to get some GFTIs like (Mentioning refering to Other State quota) -

  • Agricultural Engineering in Assam University, Silchar .
  • You can get other GFTIs given they are in your Home State.

You can refer to the following link -

Also, to predict your college, you can use this college predictor-

All the best!


could you please tell me the best authour for cat preparation???

Kanupriya Gupta 28th Jan, 2020

Dear Aspirant,

Preparing for CAT is a step towards fulfilling your dream of an MBA, so how you choose to prepare becomes the deciding factor of your exam. It is not an easy exam because of being one of the most competitive exams in the country. So here are some basic steps to prepare and ace it!

Know the exam pattern and syllabus in detail : The duration of the exam is 3 hours and you will roughly have an hour to complete each section. This will be a computer-based test with a total number of 100. Each correct answer will secure 3 marks and there will a negative marking of 1 mark for every wrong answer. There are three sections: Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR). Out of this DILR will have 32 questions and the other two sections, i.e., QA and VARC will have 34 questions. There will be 7-10 non MCQ type questions in each section.

The syllabus is-

DILR- Bar Graphs, Caselets, Column Graphs, Tables, Blood Relations, Calendars, Cubes, Clocks, Number and Letter Series, Binary Logic, Seating Arrangement, Line Charts, Venn Diagrams, Pie Chart, Combination of two or more types linked to each other, Syllogism etc.

QA- Trigonometry, Arithmetic, Higher Maths, Mensuration, Algebra, Geometry, etc.

VARC- English Usage or Grammar, Jumbled Paragraph, Close Passage, Verbal Ability, Reading Comprehension, Synonyms Antonyms, Verbal Reasoning, Facts-Inferences-Judgements etc.

Choose your study material wisely : To prepare for CAT, here are some books you can consider.

  • NCERT books from class 6th to 10th
  • Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Saxena
  • Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Sharma
  • How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma
  • Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations by Abhijit Guha
  • High School Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis
  • How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension For The CAT by Nishit Sinha
  • Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT by Nishit Sinha
  • A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning by R.S. Agarwal
  • How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT by Arun Sharma

Other than this, solve question papers . Find one of the question banks here:

This will help you analyse your progress so far and what are your strengths and weaknesses and aid your course of preparation.

Be sincere, confident and dedicate your time religiously to the discourse of preparation. Be with people who motivate you to move forward in this discourse and use the internet for guidance from time to time.

Hope this helps. All the best!


Hi All, I want to apply for IIMs and I have a query regarding EWS certificate. I had applied for EWS but I got it in my regional format (marathi). The college I am applying is not accepting this format. And I am confused of how to apply the format that they want. Does that format has any name ? TIA

Akram Khan 28th Jan, 2020


Many institution give the format of the document required in their information brochure or at the official site. So visit the official site of CAT exam. There in the certificate section you will find the format of all the certificate required.

From there download the  EWS certificate. And after proper attestation submit it.

Hope it helps.

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