Sound Fundamentals and Good Ttiming is Key in CAT Exam - By: MKT Mukesh

With less than two months left for the new- format of CAT Exam 2011, focused learning is the only option you have. The three sections of the old test format, as we have reported in our recent articles, have made way for two - Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation (QA + DI) and Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning (VA + LR) - but their components will remain the same, which means it's not going to be all that unfamiliar.

The earlier Quantitative section of CAT Exam is now QA + DI. It will include Mathematics, mostly of the Class X level, including Arithmetic, Algebra, Mensuration, Trigonometry and Geometry. DI will be all about interpreting and drawing inferences from data presented in pictorial forms, like a table, bar chart, pie chart or histogram. Algebra and Geometry can prove to be the most unpredictable as you'll need to comprehend the questions and re- frame them mathematically.

Functions, number system and time, speed and distance are the key chapters, but their relative importance keeps changing from year to year. So be thorough with the chapters you're comfortable with and don't waste time on others. Time management is very important in the new format of CAT Exam and this section will have 30 questions to be attempted in 70 minutes. Do one chapter at a time and solve as many questions as possible over a week or ten days. Master the chapters and be confident about the questions.

Best to focus on a few chapters to land the maximum marks. For arithmetic, ratios, percentages and numbers are the foundation blocks. Their applications are tested in areas like profit and loss, averages, mixtures and alligations, speed/ distance and time/ work. In algebra and allied areas, equations are the base for questions across areas. Finally, sequences, permutations and combinations, probability, and logarithms are extension of numbers and counting principles. The point to remember is that answering questions may require you to tap fundamentals and concepts from more than one area, so don't ignore any unit from arithmetic or algebra.

Most questions on numbers are based on three main concepts - prime numbers, factors and remainders, so for such questions, substituting suitable values rather than trying to solve them algebraically can come in handy. And for surds, indices and logarithms, try and remember the various properties.

Typical questions expected in this section would require an understanding of the basics. Take, for instance, this question: Using bricks of 6x8x10 cubic units, what is the minimum number required to make a solid cube. The trick here is that you should know that a cube has equal length, breadth and height, so the side of the cube will have to be a common multiple of 10, 8 and 6 - that is, the LCM of 10, 8 and 6, which is 120.

The number of bricks required therefore would be (120x120x120) / (10x8x6) = 3600." Begin by taking a good look at the questions and allocate about 2 minutes and 30 seconds for each of them. If a question, you feel, will require more time, skip to the next.

Pre- judging the difficulty level of questions from any chapter or unit will not help. The length of CAT Exam's questions and their difficulty level are unrelated. Get your fundamentals right and practice under pressure to improve speed. And finally, don't fix any target for the minimum number of questions to be attempted.

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