Year after year, lots of questions keep pouring in to know ways and methods to get a 99+ percentile in the QA section of CAT. While attempting QA section in mocks, students are unable to choose the right questions and end up attempting difficult questions that not only take time but also get them negative marks. However, after the paper, while analyzing the Mock or going through the solutions, you discover that there were many easy questions that could have been attempted in the paper. Over the years, watching so many make the same mistake I’ve realized that this usually happens because either you’re not aware of your strengths and weaknesses in different topics of QA or you’re just plain afraid of leaving questions!
When you’re taking a competitive exam like the CAT, it’s not important whether you know more than the others. How you attempt the paper makes all the difference. In the one hour at your disposal for the QA section, correct attempts have to be maximized by attempting all the questions from your areas of strength. Let us first understand what the level of difficulty and raw score for a 99+%ile in QA section was in the past 3 years. In 2015 a raw score of 67 led to a 99%ile, in 2016 the raw score for a 99%ile dropped to 53 marks while in 2017 it went up to 78 marks. 2016 and 2017 saw a rise and fall respectively in the level of difficulty of QA section. So, keeping the 2017 CAT-QA trend in mind, I have to attempt a meager of 26 questions with 100% accuracy for a 99%ile. However, if the level of difficulty rises in 2018, the raw score required for a 99%ile would fall, thus, leaving me with more options to pick from. And I use this to my advantage by being picky and hence, no matter what the level of difficulty is, I’ve always achieved very high scores in QA and cleared many competitive tests due to the way I attempt the section. I have devised seven simple rules for myself – and they work every single time!
Rule 1. I believe that a paper is not a place for R&D; hence I attempt only those question types that I am familiar with. I do not want to attempt any new kind of question in the paper. R&D has to be done at home and not in the examination hall. Basis CAT’17 expected trends, I know that I should first pocket 60+ marks in QA for a 99 percentile. Therefore, I focus on getting 20-22 questions right in the first round and then I go for the others.
Rule 2. I believe in attempting the QA section in 3 Rounds starting with the easiest questions and am not afraid of leaving difficult questions unattempted.
Rule 3. In Round 1 (R1), I will go through the questions sequentially but will attempt only those questions:
a. that are from my area of interest or topics that I am comfortable with
b. that are not lengthy
c. that do not confuse me in the first reading
d. that can be attempted in about 90 seconds
Rule 4. Lengthy or difficult questions from my area of interest will be marked in Round 1 and attempted only in Round 2 (R2).
Rule 5. If time is available, I will attempt remaining questions in Round 3 (R3).
Rule 6. My attempt preference in the QA section is:
a. Number system and rest of Arithmetic
b. In Algebra, I am partial towards progressions, inequalities, quadratic equations, maxima-minima and operators.
c. In Algebra, I prefer solving questions by substitution of choices and avoid questions that have to be solved by the conventional methods.
d. Maxima – minima questions, I usually solve them by differentiation.
e. I attempt most of the Mensuration questions.
f. I avoid questions from Geometry and P & C in Round 1 unless I have solved a similar question earlier.
g. I attempt Probability questions that do not require fundas of P & C in Round 1, the ones that need P & C are usually attempted in Round 2.
h. I usually attempt Grouped questions in Round 2 since logic has be cracked in most cases which can be time consuming.
Of course, this preference is based on my strengths and weaknesses and will differ for everyone.
Rule 7. I read the choices along with the question as it helps in deciding the amount of calculation, elimination of choices and in substitution.
One can look at allocating 30-35 minutes for Round 1, 20 minutes for Round 2 and the remaining time for Round 3. Considering the one-hour time limit, for some students there might not be any Round 3 which is perfectly fine.
What Next: Based on your strengths and weaknesses work out a similar set of rules for yourself and attempt a Mock CAT using them.
In the next blog-post, you will discover “7 Rules to Excel in VA” followed by a similar post discussing my “Rules to Excel in DILR”
All the best.