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Common Mistakes To Avoid In The Quant Section

By Author: PrepWiz
Total Articles: 686

For most candidates taking the help of best teachers for CAT preparation, Quantitative Aptitude is the most difficult section of the CAT to master. You should have developed an idea of your strongest and weakest areas during your preparation, or at least during your full-length test-practice stage (if you haven't, do so as soon as possible!). It is critical to understand both your strengths and weaknesses).

Quant can be the most difficult nut to crack for a variety of reasons. Most students have a solid understanding of the fundamentals. But when a difficult question arises, they are all at sea. Most students also struggle with time management. After high school, some students may have lost touch with the fundamentals of mathematics. Some people do not have the raw speed of formulation and calculation that most "math whizzes" do. Whatever your story, remember that the whole point of the CAT preparation exercise is to identify your weaknesses and work to improve them.

A few common traps and pitfalls are discussed in the following article. On the day of the exam, be wary of these. ...
... But don't fall into the trap of thinking that these tips should only be read once before the exam. You may need to go over these during the test practise stage (and possibly even during the preparation stage) in order to identify and correct your "favourite" error area. The following are some common pitfalls in the Quant section:

1. Problem vs You
The CAT test creators are skilled at combining easy and difficult questions. When you take the CAT, you will notice that there are a few extremely simple questions that you could have answered in 7th grade. There will also be extremely difficult questions. This isn't done to find and select math majors! The variety of questions of varying levels of difficulty is intended to reflect real-life situations. However, given the time constraints, you must select and target the lowest hanging fruits.

The CAT will undoubtedly contain difficult problems, and there's a good chance you'll begin solving them and get stuck somewhere, only to realise eight minutes later that you're not making any progress. So, what are your options? Leave it at that and proceed to the next question. But what do you do in the meantime? Spend another three minutes attempting to solve the problem and demonstrating who is in charge!

Getting into a literal "fight" with the problem, where solving one problem becomes more important than getting a good sectional score overall, is probably the most common trap. This is a sure way to waste valuable time that could be spent more productively elsewhere.

So, how do you avoid falling into this trap? First and foremost, be aware of it when it occurs. When you realise you've spent more than a reasonable amount of time on a question and are still no closer to finding an answer, it's time to consider moving on. How can you tell if you're falling into this trap?

Here are some indicators that may assist you in making your decision:
1. Your equations start getting bigger and uglier.
2. You've completed half of the rough-sheet but have made no real progress.
3. None of the answer substitution or elimination techniques appear to be effective.
5. You notice the clock ticking and realise you haven't even attempted the majority of the section.
6. Most importantly, you've already spent five minutes on this question and are back where you started.
What should you do in this situation? Do you become overwhelmed and give up? This will give you a sense of failure, which will affect not only the rest of your Quant section, but will also most likely spill over into the Verbal section. At the same time, you can't keep devoting time to the same problem.

The best way to deal with this situation is to avoid it altogether. Make a point of answering the easiest questions first. Then, proceed to the marked questions that you believe can be answered with some effort. Finally, only after you have attempted every easy or medium-difficult question should you consider taking up questions from areas you are unfamiliar with.

Maintain your cool throughout the section.
If you find yourself in this situation, know when to give up and move on to the next question. Your ego may suffer a minor setback, but it is far preferable to leaving questions unanswered near the end.
2. Knowing a formula is not the same as Understanding a concept
Many students taking the help of best online teachers for GMAT exam or CAT, especially in the later stages of preparation, claim to understand all concepts, but when it comes to problem solving, they get stuck in the question interpretation or formulation stage. For example, you "know" what a number's modulus is. You've read and memorised all of the definitions, and you recall the textbook example vividly. You also know how to solve each type of equation, but when you see an equation like this one, you're stumped:

|2x - 5| > 2

Now consider this: Does knowing all of the formulae, theorems, and definitions in a topic mean that you truly "understand" the topic? The ability to reproduce or replicate a stated theorem or a solved example does not constitute "understanding." When you can visualise a concept and then use your imagination to formulate and obtain a non-mathematical model of something as "dry" as a modulus equation, you have grasped it.
In this case, |a - b| represents the distance between points "a" and "b" on the number line. As a result, the distance between points "2x" and "5" is greater than two units. Alternatively, "2x" is either greater than or less than 7. As many concepts as possible should have a good visual parallel. This not only saves time in solving problems, but also provides clarity of thought.

This is a common pitfall for students. The CAT test includes more math problems than memory questions. They assess your ability to adapt to new situations and apply simple concepts to complex problems. Be aware of this from the start of your planning. Spend more time on the fundamentals. If you have difficulty understanding a concept at first, think about it until it makes sense. This is more important than answering a dozen questions solely on the basis of formula application.

3. Poor time management
Another common pitfall for test takers is a lack of proper time management. Given that each section contains only 30 questions and that over two lakh students take the CAT, the difference between an extremely high and a low percentile could be as little as one question. You must ensure that you have seen and attempted all of the questions in each section, or you will miss out on easy questions near the end. This will take a lot of practise. Perform as many full-length practise tests as possible to become accustomed to the rigours of a full-length test. You must maintain your concentration throughout the test, and you must have the endurance to finish with nearly the same energy and alertness as when you began.

Don't leave too many unanswered questions until the end. This will only make you feel more nervous, and you may miss out on some really simple questions.

4. Improper reading of the question
Sometimes you solve an entire question correctly only to discover that you misread the question. Even though you did everything correctly, your answer was incorrect. Such reading or interpretation errors indicate a lack of focus in the early stages of solution.
1. You may need to slow down while reading the question, and perhaps even read it twice, to fully comprehend it. At this stage, do not try to save time!
2. Pay close attention to words and phrases in the question whose incorrect interpretation could drastically change the answer. Examples of such words include:
Distinct, Integer, Positive / Negative / Non-negative, At least / At most, Odds in favour / Odds against, Some / All, And / Or, Not less than / Never greater than; etc...
3. After answering the question, you can double-check your answer by comparing it to the scenario presented in the question. You may not always have time to double-check every solution during the test, but if you have a serious doubt, you can always use this option.
4. Read the question again after you've gotten the answer because it may ask you to process the solution before arriving at the answer. For example, you may have solved an equation for x, but the question may require you to calculate x + 10. Reread the question to be certain.

5. Silly errors
This is most likely the most aggravating. Everything about your solution was correct, except for a silly addition error in the final step, which cost you everything. Errors in calculation or solution happen to the best of us, and they are never good.

Can you improve your accuracy and cut down on the number of silly mistakes you make? Yes, absolutely. Simply slow down when solving equations or be more cautious with calculations. Also, practise, practise, practise. Understand multiplication tables and ratio charts. Put in the effort. That is adequate preparation. Will this, however, completely eliminate calculation errors? Unlikely.

Humans are prone to making calculation errors. It is impossible to completely eliminate calculation or solution errors. You can, however, improve your accuracy with the help of best online teachers for CAT preparation and reduce the time it takes to perform calculations.
Here is what you can do:
1. Determine your strongest and weakest points. Determine where you need to improve the most. Is this about multiplication tables? Is it solutions to quadratic equations?
2. Concentrate on increasing your speed and accuracy in those areas. Continue to work on it on a daily basis. There will undoubtedly be an improvement in performance.
3. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse.
4. Accept that you may still make mistakes on the day of the test. Allow for a margin of error, but be especially cautious in areas where you have a proven weakness. If possible, work backwards from the answer options to double-check your answers.

All of this is easier said than done, and it is always easier to look back and compile a list than it is to log your mistakes and rigorously practise on a daily basis. But keep in mind that no matter where you start, you can always, always improve. And, regardless of your level of preparation, exercising caution on the day of the test will undoubtedly pay off handsomely.

7. Build your Eye for detail
Train yourself to spot anomalies relentlessly. We had jumped from point 5 to point 7 on this list, if you hadn't noticed! Make a mental note to look or detail every time you let something like this pass you by. Simply becoming more 'on' makes a big difference and can be developed with practise.

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