CAT Syllabus 2021: Quantitative Aptitude Notes - Quant

Quant: CAT Syllabus 2021: Quantitative Aptitude Notes - Quant

The document CAT Syllabus 2021: Quantitative Aptitude Notes - Quant is a part of Quant category.
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CAT Syllabus 2021

As a CAT 2021 aspirant, the first thing you need to do to prepare is to understand the CAT syllabus. Knowing the CAT syllabus is one thing, and understanding the contents of that syllabus is quite another. By the contents of the syllabus, we mean the individual topics and subtopics that fall in that syllabus.

We recommend you to understand the syllabus so that by getting into the details of the different topics and subtopics, by understanding the different types of questions that have come from those topics and subtopics, and by understanding their relevance in the context of the latest CAT exam pattern you’ll be able to prepare well.

Before we go any further, we would like to let you know that there is no official syllabus of CAT. The syllabus that you see here and that you come across through other sources is just an accumulation of topics in the recent CAT papers.

To create a list of subjects, our experts at EduRev reviewed last year's papers and listed the topics that are important from the CAT exam’s perspective. For many years, the subjects and sub-topics have been quite consistent.

The CAT exam tests the aspirants’ aptitude in three areas

  • Quantitative Aptitude 
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

The syllabus for CAT Quantitative aptitude is discussed below:

CAT Syllabus: Quantitative Aptitude

We can categorise the CAT quant syllabus into five broad topics

  • Number System 
  • Arithmetic 
  • Geometry 
  • Algebra 
  • Modern Maths

A common mistake made by a first-time applicant is that each subject is equally essential for the preparations. But 90% of the questions are from these three topics, namely arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Therefore, we suggest you focus more on these three topics to prepare for the CAT quant section.

CAT Syllabus: Arithmetic

In the CAT quant section, more than 40 % of the total questions are from arithmetic. As a result of recent changes in the cat quant section, students from non-mathematical backgrounds have gained significant relief. As the number of questions arithmetically increases, questions from all the arithmetical subtopics are now emerging. In addition, it is easy to moderate the level of arithmetical problems.


  • Percentages questions are mainly around the percentages change (increase/decrease). 
  • Basic percent change formula and understanding of percentage base are primarily tested.

Profit Loss and Discount

  • Profit and Loss questions are just an extension of the concept of percentages. The questions revolve around the relation between profit/loss, cost price, selling price, discount and market price. Questions on false weight are also popular in this segment. 
  • Fundamental concepts of percentages along with basic formulas of profit loss and discount. Some shortcut formulas and tricks give ease in solving such questions quickly.

Interest (Simple and Compound)

  • These questions have appeared less frequently in CAT. However, the nature of the questions on SI CI is mostly calculative.
  • Straightforward formulas of CI, SI and Installments are sufficient to get the answers. The formulas are also essential for questions related to the rate of increase in population etc. 

Ratio and Proportion

  • A wide variety of questions have appeared from ratio and proportion. The questions generally are based on multiple concepts, in which the fundamental concepts of ratio and proportion are also used to get to the answer. 
  • Concepts of ratio and proportion are vital in solving many problems on time and work, time speed and distance, mixtures and allegation, geometry etc. Typically, ratio concepts are used as shortcut tricks to avoid heavy calculations in many arithmetic based questions.

Averages, Mixtures and Alligations

  • Questions from both topics have frequently featured in the CAT exam. The problems are mainly based on "which the two things are mixed in different proportions to get a new mixture." 
  • The beauty of these topics is that it collates concepts of averages, percentages, and ratio & proportion. Direct formulas for mixture and alligation are also available to solve the problems. We also recommend learning the method of deviation for averages.

Time and Work

  • The variety of questions on time and work in more than 100. Questions on Pipes and cisterns are also included in this section, as the core concepts used to solve them are the same. 
  • If you go by the formula, then you need to remember at least 20 of them. 
  • The smartest way is to use the basic concepts of ratio and proportion and apply the LCM method, which is often preferred over formulas to get to the answer quickly.

Time Speed and Distance

  • The topic is quite vast and is a favourite of test setters. The questions from the topics like average speed, relative speed, meeting points, and boats and streams get preference over the rest of the topics like circular races and escalators.
  • A sound understanding of relative speed and shortcut tricks of meeting points based problems are sufficient to solve most of the problems on this topic.

CAT Syllabus: Algebra

An increase in the number of questions from algebra in recent CAT has compelled aspirants to ponder in depth on this topic. Questions from algebra have appeared in decent numbers throughout the past CAT papers. The detailed CAT syllabus for algebra and its important components are as follows:

Quadratic Equations & Linear Equations

  • Questions on quadratic equations are the most widely found in past CAT papers. Often, the questions ask you to find integral solutions for the variable. 
  • Concepts on the fundamentals of quadratic equations, nature of roots, and integral solutions.

Progressions (Sequences & Series)

  • Usually, the questions are on arithmetic and geometric progressions. At times, questions on the summation of series too have been seen. 
  • Working with formulas on the number of terms and sum of AP and GP series and knowledge of their means are sufficient.


  • Basic questions on functions that require simplification have predominantly appeared. Modulus functions appear frequently. Questions on graphs, too have been seen on a couple of occasions. Types of questions based on 1. AM-GM Concept 2. Polynomials 3. Functions / graphs.
  • Basic definition and understanding of functions, working with composite functions are a must. Understanding of graphs of some functions like modulus, greatest integer, log, etc gives an extra edge.


  • In recent CAT exams, we saw the maximum number of questions from logarithm. Most of the questions are in the form of equations. 
  • Elementary properties of the logarithm, in addition to the basic formula on algebra, are commonly used to arrive at the answers.

CAT Syllabus: Number System

Questions on the number system dominated the CAT quant section over the decades. It was very popular when CAT used to be pen and paper-based. Over the years, it lost its weightage. However, to be good at CAT Quantitative Aptitude, it is vital to be good at number systems. The fundamentals of the number system are crucial in all other topics. Like Arithmetic, the Number system too can be divided into various heads. We are discussing all the number system subtopics, keeping in mind their relevance to the CAT exam.

Divisibility Rules
  • Straightforward questions which test the various divisibility rules of a few initial sets of natural numbers. 
  • Divisibility Rules of numbers like 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13.
  • Few easy to moderate level questions have appeared in past CAT exams. In recent years, questions from the remainder have not been seen. 
  • Basic concepts of remainders and negative remainders are sufficient to tackle problems. 
  • However, very advanced theorems like Fermat, Wilson, Chinese Remainder theorem etc, are also included; but looking at the recent trend, you can keep them on low priority.
  • Questions on finding the number of integral solutions and HCF-LCM have appeared. Some questions requiring multiple concepts of factors and remainders have also been featured in past CAT papers. 
  • Prime factorisation and approach of finding integral solutions
Base System
  • The questions check the method of converting numbers from one base to another. 
  • Questions on prime numbers, perfect squares, integers, fractions etc are the most frequently found. Usually, the questions are moderate to tough. Fundamental concepts of base system

CAT Syllabus: Geometry

Though Geometry has a vast syllabus and varieties in questions, CAT has kept itself limited to testing the elementary concepts of well defined geometrical figures like triangles, circles, quadrilaterals, polygons and mensuration.

Below are the details of the CAT geometry syllabus:


  • Triangles
  • Typical questions which test the fundamental theorems on triangles in geometry. 
  • Pythagoras theorem, special triangles like 30-60-90, isosceles, equilateral mass point geometry etc., important Theorems on triangles, and concepts of similar triangles. 
  • Circles
  • Questions that test elementary concepts on the circle. Questions involving more than one circles tangent each other or any other geometrical figures. 
  • Elementary theorems on the circle. Formulas for areas of the sector, segment etc. Tangent circles concepts.
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Questions on Rectangles, parallelogram, trapezium and squares are more popular.
  • Formulas of perimeters and areas of various quadrilateral figures. 
  • Polygons
  • Not many problems on polygon have appeared. But, problems on Hexagon have been the most popular.
  • Basic formulas of interior angles and exterior angles. Some shortcut formulas on the hexagon 
  • Direct Formula of number of diagonals in a polygon.


  • Problems on mensuration have consistently started featuring in CAT.
  • Area and Volume formulas for Cylinder, Cone, Cuboid, Cube, Sphere etc.

Coordinate Geometry

  • Not very Popular in the CAT exam.
  • Just remembering a few formulas of the basics of coordinate geometry is sufficient. You can completely ignore the conic section.

CAT Syllabus: Modern Maths

Permutation and Combination

  • Questions which are based on counting, the formation of committees and arrangements have been favourite from P and C.
  • Fundamental Principles of Counting. 
  • Elementary formulas of permutation and combinations. 
  • Note: The topic has gained more importance in the LRDI section


  • Questions on probability have almost stopped featuring in the CAT exam. 
  • You can keep this on low priority.

Set Theory

  • Two and Three Variable Venn diagram based problems including maxima and minima
  • Get a complete understanding of Venn diagram and its concepts to solve set theory-based problems. Note: Very important for LRDI section
The document CAT Syllabus 2021: Quantitative Aptitude Notes - Quant is a part of Quant category.
All you need of Quant at this link: Quant
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