We have articles all over the web suggesting “how to prepare for quantitative section of an aptitude exam”; however very few explain in detail “how to ideally practice for this section”. We would detail you in most simplistic terms as to how to do just that and also show you links on this site where those “laws” have been used and explained in an easy-to-learn fashion:
- No Fundamentals, No Practice, No Test:
- Go slow and peak at the right time
There is NO BIGGER truth than this- if you do not have the right fundamentals , you will lose out at the start itself. Some students start practising questions and tests in the beginning itself & eventually get very low scores; there cannot be a bigger disservice that you do to yourself than getting yourself demotivated at the start. So, idea is to go slow at the start and ramp up gradually. A bigger task can be achieved if you could divide it into chunks and devour them one at a time. For those who think they are good enough should also brush their fundamentals with may be bigger chunks.
- Know the “nature” of examination
When we are talking about fundamentals it is NOT ONLY ABOUT the various sections and topics therein but it is also about the “nature” of examination one is preparing for. There are hundreds of examinations and each one of them have their unique way of testing out aspirants. Thus, it is very important to know this “nature” and prepare accordingly [remember even a war have rules]. If you don’t go by what an examination generally asks and prepare accordingly, you would lose time in solving unnecessary questions or topics; you could have used that lost time to study something more relevant. These differences between the examinations could be the sections involved, topics within each section, type of questions within topics, level of questions, element of “surprise” (read new-types-getting-introduced). Therefore, it is of prime importance that one reads the brochure detailing the examination- if you are already familiar with the examination pattern you should quickly glance through the FAQs to find out if there has been any new rule addition in the current examination calendar.
- Befriend the “GIANTS”
- The question is “WHO ARE THESE GIANTS?”
After training aptitude aspirants for years for various examinations we have noticed that there are two chapters in quantitative aptitude or numerical ability who/which are actually GIANTS in the sense that their IMPACT on all other chapters are huge and they are invariably very useful in calculations across almost all the topics.
These two GIANTS are:
It really helps to know “Number System” and “Percentages” in and out. Sometimes you look at a number or percentage in a question and you can form maps in your mind even before you have actually started solving it.
For example, looking at:
288, you can think of something that is “twice the value of a perfect square” [2*144].
111, you can think that the factors are 3 and 37.
6446, you can form a map that this number is divisible by 11
1236432, you can think that it is a multiple of 16.
14.28%, you can imagine this to be a reciprocal equivalent of 1/7
83.33%, you can imagine this to be a reciprocal equivalent of 1/12
4913, you can think that it is a perfect cube
And so on and so forth…!
Learning squares till 25, cubes till 20, reciprocal-percentage equivalence till 1/20 or 1/30, multiplication tables till 20, divisibility tests may seem to be “HARD WORK” at first but believe us when we say this “HARD WORK” learning can be exploited to make it “SMART WORK” in the longer run!
- Impact of the “GIANTS” on others
Talking about “Percentages” there is no denying the fact that it spans other important chapters like “Profit & loss”, “Simple and Compound interest”, “Ratio and Proportion”, “Averages and Alligation”, “Time and Work”, “Time, Speed and Distance”, “Set Theory”, Data-Interpretation or passage based quantitative reasoning sections and so on. Permutation and Combination is another dreaded chapter that relies on these two chapters for making tougher questions.
- More Than One Method
- Take the LOGICAL path
Once you have worked out on the fundamentals and befriended the GIANTS, you must adopt the strategy of solving the questions in more than one method. By that we mean, we should try solving it in convention methods first that may involve formulae, basic concepts and so on and then try something “weird” or “outrageous” to solve it in an altogether different way. When we say different we don’t mean “WRONG” approach absolutely; we mean something that is sensible and logical route or which seemingly is obvious but is rarely taken by 95% of the aspirants or exam takers. More than 75% of the questions on this site mention multiple methods to solve questions.
- Form “mind maps”
Different ways of solving create “brain maps” or “readymade maps” that tell you in the examination hall which one would be faster [you would agree that an average aptitude examination can be made tougher by examiner by timing it short] . So, do not stop after solving any question just once even if it is of average difficulty. You can also refer to the alternate solutions given in the resource materials and consolidate your learning.
- “Together we can”
One very obvious method to practice to solve any question in more than one way is to study in groups. You can share your method with others and learn something new from theirs; it is always a win-win situation.
- Learn the law of “Rejection”
- “Why work on non-sensical options”
In examinations with multiple choice answers, this is utmost important that you learn the “art of rejecting out options”. These options which are rejected are actually junk values that don’t make sense given the conditions of the question.
“Suppose that a question has 4 options and you mark any one option by fluke. What will be the probability of getting that option as the actual answer? You will definitely speak out loud “25%”. Think about the case where you could reject out 2 out of 4 choices based upon the given conditions. Now, what is the probability of getting that option as the actual answer? Yes, it is “50%”. Your success probability for the question increases from “25%” to “50%”. Even if you are solving the last 2 questions and time remaining is 2 minutes, you could atleast attempt those two questions with “50%” probability of getting the selected answers correct [assuming you rejected 2 out of those 4 given choices].
- “This must be a HABIT”
We are not saying that you go on to reject 2 options out of 4 in all the questions. Instead, we are recommending that you inculcate a habit of “rejecting out options” as “an alternate way of solving” in questions wherever possible. [Remember, in the 3rd law above we discussed the importance of attempting questions in more than 1 method. Thus, you can think “rejecting out options” to be one of the method.]
You can refer to some questions that have been solved on the site using this law:
Caveat: DO NOT PRACTICE THE LAW OF “REJECTION” DIRECTLY IN THE EXAMINATION HALL. If you have not practiced this before examination, this will not help you much there!
- “Level up Practice”
- “What can be a confidence-booster in the long run?”
This law has roots in the first law of “fundamentals”. Remember, we talked about learning the “nature” of an examination. Once we have known and understood the “nature”, we should start our practice of “befriending the giants” , solving questions in more than one method, rejecting out options. You would agree that question patterns are different for each of the aptitude examinations. Also, there is a “thing” about difficulty level of the questions. GMAT questions might be one level up compared to the SAT questions. But most of the aptitude questions are based upon familiar topics that are generally covered within standard Xth of schooling. So, we advise that once your basics are brushed up, you should try attempting difficult questions for every topic. The idea is not to overwhelm you with unnecessary or difficult questions; but it is that solving tougher questions would prepare you well for surprises in the examination hall. Also, you could get the confidence booster that since you are well able to solve tougher questions, chances are that no easy or average level question will escape you.
- Simulate the actual “conditions”
Once you have concretized your learnings following your first 5 laws (or atleast the first 4), you need to take “mock tests” similar in nature of the actual examination you are aspiring for. These tests could be individual sectional tests or a full-fledged one that involves all the sections. You can search in the internet what “test-series” would work best for you in terms of number of tests included in the package, whether you can take test online or at a venue or some other important parameter that you think is essential. Once you have taken a test, you need to spend enough time to try solving every question that you could not solve before referring to the solution. If you had solved a problem correctly, you would also like to learn about any “alternate” method of solving if your method was different while solving it during the exam or test.
Some sectional tests that have been made available here:
More test links will be made live soon; so bookmark this page for updates!
- “Enjoy the Ride” or you will…”
Although this has been pushed to the last but it is equally important to enjoy the entire preparation period. Also, if you really do not take a break in between your preparation, you will not be able to peak at the right time. We do not want to preach on the significance of this but we must underline that we would not be able to rejuvenate and perform our best- who knows you might stumble upon a “new” idea/method to solve a certain kind of question.
Please do share your feedback and let us know if you also have some golden “rules” that have worked “wonders” for you; you would like others to gain from your “insights”!!!
All the best for your examination and more importantly the “PREPARATION” part!!! 🙂