In 2015, the IIM introduced on-screen calculator along with a host of other changes. The objective to provide on-screen calculator is to help the candidates carry out basic computations.
The introduction of calculator will definitely boost the morale of those candidates who are weak in the Quantitative Ability area or from non-engineering background. While many students might interpret that the provision of calculator will mean that questions will be more calculation intensive but that is unlikely.
While on screen calculator is not exactly uncommon as SAT and GRE exams already have this feature, for CAT takers, it is something new. Although the introduction of calculator is meant to save your time and ease your preparation for calculation intensive questions, you need to adapt yourself with it in order to utilise the tool.
In order to be able to utilize the on screen calculator to the fullest, you must practice before hand. Use the calculator on your computer screen while taking mock tests or test series. This will give you an idea how much time it takes for you to solve a problem with or without the calculator.
While the CAT never had too many calculation-intensive questions in the past, the introduction of the calculator will definitely help students while performing calculations in Data Interpretation and maybe a few Quantitative Ability questions.
Although you will get the on-screen calculator, it does not mean that you need to use it for each and every question. Since you will get a basic calculator, solve Arithmetic and Data Interpretation questions.
Like the short cut methods you use for solving Quant problems, there are short tricks for using the calculator as well. For example, if you are to calculate the 30% of 60, rather than dividing 60 by 100 and multiplying with 30, simply multiply 60 and 30 which is 1800 and remove the 100s, which make it 18.
If you have practised speed calculations or Vedic calculations, you will be habituated with the shortcut methods. Do not stop practising the speed calculation techniques owing to the presence of calculator.
Although you might be lured to use calculator for every possible question, you may avoid the usage for questions which are not too calculation intensive or does not involve decimals. The speed calculation which you can do in your mind would be less time consuming compared to that of the usage of calculator.
If you are weak in calculation or have a tendency to commit silly mistakes, it is better to use the calculator for every calculation specific questions you are attempting. Even if you are comfortable with your calculation skills, ensure the accuracy during revision by checking the answers with calculator. This would help you avoid unnecessary negative marking.