CAT Quantified

The quant section of CAT has gone through many changes in the last 10 years. There was a time when this section consisted of 50 questions with a good attempt being about 30 questions. This was the time when the emphasis was largely on arithmetic topics like number, properties, percentages, ratio proportion and speed. The questions were mainly formula driven an the focus was on solving this questions quickly and maximizing the number of attempts students had to know different short cuts and non conventional methods to solve a questions. The number of questions in this section reduced to 30 in CAT 2005 and to 25 in CAT 2008. The questions were reasoning oriented and the standard formulae did not work. Students needed to spend some time on every question and understand the underlying logic behind it. The good attempts in this section reduced to about 10 to 12 questions. The focus shifted from speed to accuracy. The selection of questions became an important factor in cracking the quant section.

The 2009 CAT had 20 questions in this section, and to everyone’s surprise the focus shifted back to attempts. Many students managed as high as 16 to 18 attempts. On reason that could be attributed to this shift may be that for the first time the CAT went online and the IIMs had to make 20 different papers (that happened over the 10 days of testing window). So how is the quant section of CAT 2010 going to be? Difficult to say however, if one were to analyses the quant section f the CAT over the last 10 years, one would realize that only the form has changed but the change but the substances has remained the same. In other words, the manner in which the questions are asked has changed (from direct formula oriented to indirect reasoning oriented); however the relative importantly of different topics has remained more or less consistent over the last five years. Here are the important topics and the types of questions that you need to practice if you are a serious IIM aspirant.

Number properties

Historically number properties has been the CAT examiners favorite questions based on divisibility of numbers, the last few digits of an expression, the remainder when two numbers are divided have been commonly asked in the CAT .


Algebra accounts for the highest number of questions in quant section of the CAT. It includes questions based on linear / quadratic equations inequalities functions graphs and maxima minima. The questions on these topics are a nightmare to any student because of the sheer variety of questions asked and because f the depth of conceptual grasp required to solve them

Apart from number system and algebra it would be wise to revise al the important concepts in geometry and solve the geometry questions from the earlier CAT papers. Also, revising the fundamentals of permutation combination is advisable. In addition to the above topics there are some categories of questions that are very common in the CAT.

Paten based questions: In these questions you are required to generate a pattern of behavior, which can be extrapolated to get the answer. It is impossible to compute the answers manually without generating the pattern.

Simulation based questions

These questions require you to compute the value of an expression or an equation containing big values. However, you can solve these questions easily by simulating the same questions and in the same form but using smaller values. At times you may also have to use the answer options judiciously/.