The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of India’s most competitive and challenging entrance exams for students aspiring to pursue MBA programs at prestigious institutions like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other top B-schools. Given the level of difficulty in sections such as Quantitative Aptitude (QA) and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), candidates often wonder if they can use calculators during the exam.

In this article, we’ll address whether calculators are allowed in CAT 2024, how to use them effectively during the exam, and some tips for managing time efficiently when working on numerical calculations.

**Are Calculators Allowed in CAT 2024?**

Yes, calculators are allowed in the CAT 2024 exam. However, you cannot bring a physical or handheld calculator into the exam hall. Instead, CAT provides an **on-screen calculator**, which is a basic scientific calculator available to all test-takers during the exam. This is a feature embedded within the computer-based testing (CBT) system, which means it will appear on the screen of the computer on which the exam is being taken.

The on-screen calculator is designed to assist with basic arithmetic operations and simple calculations, helping candidates save time on tedious manual calculations while focusing on problem-solving.

**Types of Calculations Allowed on the On-Screen Calculator**

The on-screen calculator provided in CAT 2024 is a **basic scientific calculator**, which includes simple operations such as:

**Addition (+)****Subtraction (-)****Multiplication (×)****Division (÷)****Square roots (√)****Exponentiation (x^y)****Reciprocal (1/x)**

It does **not** include advanced functions like integration, differentiation, or logarithmic calculations, which are not necessary for the CAT exam. The calculator is meant to assist with time-consuming operations, particularly in the QA and DILR sections, allowing you to focus more on conceptual understanding and application.

**How to Use the On-Screen Calculator in CAT 2024**

To use the on-screen calculator during the exam, follow these steps:

**Step 1: Access the Calculator**

Once you’re on the section that requires calculations (usually Quantitative Aptitude or Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning), you will notice a **calculator icon** on the computer screen. Clicking on this icon will open the on-screen calculator.

**Step 2: Perform Basic Arithmetic**

You can use the calculator for basic arithmetic operations. For example, if you need to add two large numbers, you can type the numbers into the calculator using the keyboard or the mouse to click on the calculator buttons.

**Addition Example**: Enter`345 + 678 =`

, and the result will be displayed on the calculator screen.**Subtraction Example**: Enter`987 - 234 =`

, and the result will be displayed.

**Step 3: Using Square Roots and Exponents**

For certain questions in the Quantitative Aptitude section, you may need to use square roots or exponents. These can be accessed directly from the on-screen calculator.

**Square Root Example**: To calculate √144, click on the square root symbol (√) and then enter the number`144`

.**Exponent Example**: To calculate powers, such as`5^3`

, type`5`

, click the exponent button (x^y), and then enter`3`

.

**Step 4: Clear or Reset the Calculator**

If you make a mistake or need to start a fresh calculation, you can click the **C (Clear)** button, which resets the calculator. The **Backspace (←)** key can also be used to delete the last digit entered.

**Step 5: Close the Calculator**

Once you’re done with the calculation, you can close the on-screen calculator by clicking the close (X) button. This ensures that it doesn’t obstruct your view of the question.

**Sections Where the On-Screen Calculator Is Useful**

The on-screen calculator is primarily useful in the following sections of the CAT exam:

**1. Quantitative Aptitude (QA)**

The QA section tests candidates on their mathematical abilities, covering topics like arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and number systems. While many questions in QA require strong conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills, some questions may involve tedious calculations that can be time-consuming if done manually. For example, in questions involving compound interest, profit and loss, or speed and distance, the on-screen calculator can help perform basic arithmetic operations like multiplication or division, saving valuable time.

**2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)**

The DILR section involves interpreting data presented in various formats such as graphs, tables, and charts. Often, the candidate must analyze this data and perform calculations to arrive at the correct solution. For example, calculating percentages, ratios, or averages based on large datasets can be tricky and time-consuming. The on-screen calculator is a helpful tool to quickly calculate the required values.

**Best Practices for Using the Calculator in CAT 2024**

While the on-screen calculator can be a helpful tool during the CAT exam, it should be used wisely. Over-reliance on the calculator can waste time, especially if you use it for calculations that could be solved more quickly mentally or with approximate answers. Here are some best practices for using the calculator effectively in CAT 2024:

**1. Use It for Lengthy Calculations**

Reserve the calculator for **complex, lengthy calculations** that would take too much time manually. For simple arithmetic problems, such as adding or multiplying small numbers, it’s often faster to do it mentally or on paper. Using the calculator for every small operation may slow you down.

**2. Practice Using the On-Screen Calculator**

Before the exam, familiarize yourself with the on-screen calculator by practicing mock tests and sample papers. Understanding the layout and functioning of the calculator will save time during the exam, as you won’t waste precious minutes trying to figure out how to use it.

**3. Don’t Rely on the Calculator for Every Question**

Not all questions require precise calculations. In many cases, especially in the DILR section, **approximations** can help you arrive at the answer more quickly. For instance, when working with percentages, rounding off to the nearest number can provide an accurate enough answer, saving you the time you’d otherwise spend on detailed calculations.

**4. Cross-Check When in Doubt**

If you perform a complex calculation using the calculator, it’s always good to **cross-check** the result by re-entering the numbers or reviewing your steps. This reduces the chances of errors, especially if you accidentally entered the wrong digits or made a mistake in selecting the operation.

**5. Keep an Eye on the Clock**

It’s easy to get caught up in precise calculations when using a calculator, but always keep track of the **time**. CAT is a time-sensitive exam, and spending too much time on any one question could negatively impact your overall score. Time management is key, and sometimes it’s better to move on from a difficult question and come back to it later if time permits.

**Importance of Mental Math in CAT**

While the on-screen calculator is available, having strong **mental math skills** can give you a significant edge in the exam. Candidates who can perform basic calculations mentally or on rough paper are more likely to finish the exam on time and with greater accuracy. Developing mental math skills, such as estimating values, multiplying small numbers, and calculating percentages, will help you move through the paper more efficiently.

**Conclusion**

While a physical calculator is not allowed in the CAT 2024 exam, the on-screen calculator provides all the basic functions required to solve most of the complex arithmetic and data interpretation problems. However, it’s important not to over-rely on it. The key to succeeding in CAT lies in a combination of conceptual clarity, mental math skills, and efficient use of the on-screen calculator.

By practicing with the on-screen calculator during your CAT preparation, you can ensure that you’re comfortable using it in the exam environment. Combining smart use of the calculator with time management strategies and a strong grasp of basic math will maximize your chances of performing well on test day.