How to utilize calculator in CAT 2019
Sreetama Datta, 19 Mar 2019, #CAT
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CAT or the Common Admission Test is famous for throwing surprises every year. It was in 2015 that the IIM introduced screen calculator along with a host of other changes. The objective to provide on-screen calculator is to help the candidates carry out basic computations. Careers360 spoke to experts who shared spoke about the use of the screen calculator and the impact on the students who are not very comfortable using it.

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The experts believe that the introduction of calculator will definitely boost the morale of those candidates who are weak in the Quantitative Ability area or from non-engineering background. As Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher says, “I am sure the introduction of calculator has been welcomed by almost all the candidates. While many students might interpret that the provision of calculator will mean that questions will be more calculation intensive but that is unlikely.”

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While on screen calculator is not exactly uncommon as SAT and GRE exams already have this feature, for CAT takers, it is definitely something new. Although the introduction of calculator is meant to save your time and ease your preparation for calculation intensive questions, you need to adapt yourself with it in order to utilize the tool. In this article, we bring to you the methods on utilizing the calculator to improve your performance in CAT 2019.


Practice using on screen calculator – In order to be able to utilize the on screen calculator to the fullest, you must practice before hand. Use the calculator on your computer screen while taking mock tests or test series. This will give you an idea how much time it takes for you to solve a problem with or without the calculator. Vinayak Kudva, Product Head, IMS Learning says, “While the CAT never had too many calculation-intensive questions in the past, the introduction of the calculator will definitely help students while performing calculations in Data Interpretation and maybe a few Quantitative Ability questions.”

Identify the questions where you can use calculator – Although you will get the on-screen calculator, it does not mean that you need to use it for each and every question. Since you will get a basic calculator, solve Arithmetic and Data Interpretation questions. Pranay Jha, Education Consultant, BYJU’s Classes shares, “Calculator shall play a very important role when it comes to DI where generally a lot of calculation is involved. Quant questions with roots and fractions should become easy as well.” 

Know the short tricks of calculator usage – Like the short cut methods you use for solving Quant problems, there are short tricks for using the calculator as well. For example, if you are to calculate the 30% of 60, rather than dividing 60 by 100 and multiplying with 30, simply multiply 60 and 30 which is 1800 and remove the 100s, which make it 18. If you have practiced speed calculations or Vedic calculations, you will be habituated with the shortcut methods. Do not stop practicing the speed calculation techniques owing to the presence of calculator.

Avoid using more time than necessary on calculator – Although you might be lured to use calculator for every possible question, you may avoid the usage for questions which are not too calculation intensive or does not involve decimals. The speed calculation which you can do in your mind would be less time consuming compared to that of the usage of calculator. As Arks Srinivas, CEO, VistaMind Education says, “The student, as they normally are, would happily stop working on the speed calculation part and would end up actually taking more time with the calculator than without one.”

Ensure Accuracy - If you are weak in calculation or have a tendency to commit silly mistakes, it is better to use the calculator for every calculation specific questions you are attempting. Even if you are comfortable with your calculation skills, ensure the accuracy during revision by checking the answers with calculator. This would help you avoid unnecessary negative marking.

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