How to Improve Your QA Percentile: Unlike the other two sections, QA is a section that has a direct link to what you have done in school and college. Most of the topics that are tested on the CAT have also been a part of the school curriculum. This I feel is the biggest roadblock in front of test-takers wanting to achieve higher scores on the CAT Quant because high Math scores during X and XII exams do not automatically imply doing well on CAT Quant. This has to do with the simple fact that test-takers never fully grasp the difference between the two formats since they are as different from each other as chalk and cheese.
So high is my resentment for the way they taught Math in school that I can write an entire blog post on that! But I will try to condense my grouse to this — we were never taught how to solve, we were only taught us solutions; we never learned to solve, we memorised solutions. If you want to get better at CAT Quant you should stop memorising solutions and start solving problems. When I mean start solving problems I mean literally start solving a problem the way a mechanic will fix a bike.
Do mechanics memorize the way they repaired each and every bike?
Do mechanics start fixing a bike or car before they understand the problem?
Do mechanics need to constantly revise the basics of how an automobile works before they begin to fix every new vehicle?
The answer to all the above questions is a resounding NO! So the first step is to make this perceptual shift in your mind before you can think about increasing your scores on CAT QA.
Leave No Concept Unturned | Improve Your QA Percentile
While the QA section of the CAT might seem like one big block of Math, nothing could be farther from the truth. Each of the topics on CAT QA is a different ballgame altogether and one can’t club it all under a big Math umbrella. This is the reason why test-takers have such varying degrees of expertise across the areas within CAT QA — some are exceptional at Numbers but poor at Arithmetic, some are great at Arithmetic and Geometry but really bad at P&C, some find P&C and Probability solvable but find functions a problem.
This in itself indicates how each topic on Math ends up testing a different kind of mental skill set, making the QA section similar to a Heptathlon or Decathlon, which requires you to be good at 7 and 10 different events. To compete in such an event you need to first know how to perform in each individual event. ‘
You cannot know how to perform only 5 out of 7 events in a heptathlon (100 meters hurdles, High jump, Shot put, 200 meters, Long jump, Javelin throw, 800 meters) and then try to compete. It goes without saying that to succeed at such an event you need to be above average in all events and great at a few, success on the CAT requires something very similar — you need to know the basics of all the topics and be competent enough to solve Easy and Medium questions from all of them. So I hope after this no one will ask what the important topics for CAT QA are (that indicates the mindset of Board Exam preparation and not CAT prep) and Improve Your QA Percentile.
The Building Blocks
Once the basics are in place, the three building blocks to get better at CAT QA are Accuracy, Selection & Speed.
Why Accuracy is the First Thing You Need to Work On
The first thing How to Improve Your QA Percentile you need to do is to fix the machine or rather ensure that the machine churns out a very high percentage of items within the quality standards. While achieving 6-sigma levels of accuracy is a very high benchmark to set, you should strive to have an accuracy rate of at least 80 per cent. Irrespective of the how many concepts you know, if your machine has an error rate of 35% then you are always going to be performing below par.
65% Accuracy versus 80% Accuracy
|12 Attempts||15 Attempts||18 Attempts|
|65% Accuracy||19, 26||24, 33||29, 40|
What should you focus on — attempts or accuracy — given that you are taking the CAT to enter the world of business? Obviously, accuracy since you will always look to squeeze the maximum out of every dollar invested (unless you run an e-commerce business and have investors to watch your back, albeit not for perpetuity). What do you think is easier to achieve? an increase in attempts from 12 to 15 or an increase in accuracy from 65% to 80% If you accuracy is low then trying to dramatically increase attempts will only further bring down your accuracy. If at your current speed you are prone to crashing 3-4 out of 10 times then at a higher speed you will only crash more often. So, fix the machine to get the most out of it.
Diagnose the Reasons Behind Your Low Accuracy
Good accuracy is a function of two things — your solving technique and your choice of questions. Since we will take up selection in the next section of this post, here we will deal with just solving technique. Since we have undergone the induction process of learning solutions during the long formative years of our education, we don’t really know the technique of problem solving as such. So we usually attribute our mistakes to that worn-out phrase — silly mistake.
If we continue to use that phrase then neither can I nor can anyone can else help you out since the only solution is to stop being silly! Even if you tell yourself that you will be serious, that you will concentrate hard, it is not going to work since they are just words or attitudes and not process changes. To improve your accuracy on CAT QA, you need to first stop viewing your mistakes through the silly-mistake lens, and view them through the process-mistake lens. These are the big process mistakes to which most errors can be attributed and Improve Your QA Percentile.
Missing Crucial Information in the Question – MISREADING
We are always in a tearing hurry to read the question, so it is not a surprise that we tend to misread the parts of the question, usually the first parts (if n is an integer) or the last part (if they work on alternate days). Since we are always trying to map a question to a pattern we have previously learned or to a formula, we tend to ignore the unique aspects of the question in front of us and tend selectively pick-out information that either matches a pattern or can be put into a formula.
Taking Your Eye Off the Ball While Calculating – MISCALCULATION
Keen followers of cricket will know how Sunil Gavaskar always gets agitated when a batsman gets run out because of not grounding the bat. For him it is unpardonable since grounding the bat is part of the process of batsmanship and more importantly, it is a case of throwing away one’s wicket. He is known to have been such a stickler for correctness — he always took an extra run before celebrating after reaching a 100 since the manual scorer could have made a mistake — no wonder he gets so incensed! Just like running between the wickets is the hard (or donkey) work in cricket, the calculation part is the hard (or donkey) work in the CAT QA.
You can either choose to just run without really being alert and present or be vigilant & fast at the same time a la Dhoni & Virat. If you watch those two they don’t just run blindly, they have their eye on where the ball has gone and on the fielder, that is what makes them exceptional. They are as alert during the running phase as they are when they are facing up to the ball and playing a shot. I am sure some of you with the number of miscalculations you make would give Inzamam a run for his money.
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