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CAT 2016 Analysis

This is the second part of the series based on CAT 2016. Click here to read the first part, which dealt with tips and tricks.

Slot 1:

Let’s analyse this year’s CAT question paper first. The paper was a tad bit difficult than last year’s, especially in the DI/LR section. The pattern remained the same as last year though there were rumours of extra questions in RC/Verbal section doing rounds before the exam. CAT has historically left pundits bewildered by the unexpected change in pattern and the number of questions. This year though, it remained the same in order to dispel the unnecessary advantage for Slot 2 candidates.

Reading Comprehension (RC)/Verbal questions:

Reading Comprehension (RC)/Verbal questions were easier than the other two sections. There were 3 RC passages with 6 questions each, and 2 passages with 3 questions each. In addition to that, there were 10 Non-MCQs in verbal section.Verbal questions were easy though all of them were Non-MCQs. The only change was that the RC and Verbal questions were mixed unlike last year where they were given separately. Though the passages were easy and interesting to read, the questions were not so direct. Often, the candidates would have found themselves stuck with two options, but a bit of careful reading of the passage again would have done the trick. Choosing appropriate conclusion for the passage questions, and choosing odd one out in logical sequence were particularly easy, and almost all the questions could be attempted in this section within the stipulated time.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI/LR):

The next section was DI/LR. This section happened to be the most difficult one in CAT 2016. Questions were lengthy as were the steps required to find out the answer. There were 7 sets of 4 questions each and 2 with 3 each.  Though there were one or two sitters, most would have not been able to identify them if they were stuck in the lengthy ones. Attempting only the easy ones with one or two questions in lengthy sets will be ideal. 16-18 correct attempts out of 32 available in this section would give you 99+ sectional percentile. Data Interpretation questions required lot of calculations and were a bit confusing. So, candidates who were in a position to identify the difference between easy and difficult questions in first glance would have made a cakewalk of it, and in turn, this would have been possible only if one had taken a tremendous number of DI/LR mocks.


The next section was Quants. Analysts say that this section was more difficult than the previous year, though there were up to 8 sitters which one could easily find out in the initial glance. Candidates writing in the slot 1 would have found that there were errors in at least 3 to 4 questions. Due to technical glitch or question setting error, square root symbol was visible as pi symbol which one could find out only when using the online calculator. Candidates stuck in these kind of questions will have attempted very less than normal and analysts say that CAT will not award grace marks. They will simply avoid these questions while calculating the total in quants section (only if they recognise the errors first!) and this will have no effect in normalisation what so ever. So, the candidates stuck in those questions are certainly unlucky but one hope is that total attempt in quants will invariably go down compared to last year. 17 correct attempts will land you 99+ percentile in quants section.

Hence in general, the paper was bit more difficult than last year. Total attempts will go down, marks will go down. 70 good attempts with 80 percent accuracy would land you a coveted IIM seat if you belong in general category.


Slot 2:

Reading Comprehension (RC)/Verbal questions:

This section was comparatively easy compared to other two sections. The passages were easy and hardly a couple of inference based questions only were asked. There were 3 passages with 6 questions each, and two more with 3 questions each. For the verbal activity section, paragraph jumbles and ‘choose the odd one sentences’ were asked; these were non-MCQ questions. Since they don’t have negative marks, the best tactic usually is to attempt them at the last.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI/LR):

This section could easily be stated as the potential game changer, which would decide the chances for people to get calls from IIMs .Last year’s (2015) DI/LR was tough and so is this year. There were 8 groups with 4 questions each.

For preparation, the best way to score well is by speeding up your calculation, because anyone can interpret a chart or a graph and answer the questions, but doing it in a restricted time will make you stand out amongst the lot. For LR, solve many sets of questions in mocks and practice tests; only then, you will come to know the types of problems that can occur. There is no basic preparation to be learnt for this; all you need to concentrate is to read the question correctly and thick critically.


This particular section could be rated as ‘moderate’. Around 10 questions were very easy and 5 other questions were based on direct formulas. Some geometry questions looked very vague.

Authors’ footnote:

Taking mocks isn’t related to your preparation. Initially, you find it difficult to sit through three hours of the test but you get used to it, or rather, you need to get used to it. Only on taking mocks, you would know where you are strong and where else you lag. The most important part is to analyse the results of the mock. Writing mocks without analysing is a total waste of time. Analysing will make you realise where you stand.

On the other hand, mock scores do not matter, because it all depends on your performance on that particular day. Build your confidence to face the result even if it is one-tenth of the topper’s sore or whatever. To add more to the point, confront yourself because

  1. Any question asked in mocks will not be asked in CAT
  2. Mocks are usually tougher that the actual exam, and some questions will be so difficult that you’ll be wondering how that would qualify for a 3-mark question.

One significant tip to such questions is to just ‘dump’ them. Get to know the solution for your sake of understanding, but those questions will not appear in CAT.

To finish it off, CAT isn’t an entrance exam, CAT chooses the people who are eligible for IIMs and filter people in the next step by WAT (Written Ability Test) and PI (Personal Interview). So, CAT is more of an elimination test. You don’t need to answer every question; all you need to do is manage time and use it efficiently. All the best!

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