CAT Exam Analysis

CAT 2018 Slot 1 Analysis

CAT came out of the bag with two thuds and one loud bang. The paper started with an ‘even easier than 2017’ VARC section. Then the level of difficulty of the DILR section provided a major reprieve to the nervous ‘jantaa’ as it broke with the trend of the last three years. It was a moderately difficult section, as compared to an out and out difficult section that has been observed over the last 2-3 years. However, this relief was short-lived as QA came out all guns blazing. IIM-C kept its reputation intact, with its emphasis on the QA section. So, the break-up of the paper was as follows:

CAT 2018 ANSWER KEY SHIFT 1 - CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

CAT 2018 ANSWER KEY SHIFT 2 - CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Exam Pattern

Section

No. of Questions

No. of non-MCQ questions

Difficulty Level

Good Attempts

Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension

34

7

Easy

28+

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

32

8

Moderate

16+

Quantitative Ability

34

12

Difficult

15+

Total

100

 27

 

60+

 

Let’s take a look at the three sections individually.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

VA & RC greeted students with an easier than expected paper. However, the pattern of the paper didn’t strictly match that of the sample paper provided by the CAT team. There were 34 questions with 7 Non-MCQ questions. There were no instructions provided for the number of questions in each passage. However, there remained 5 passages. One passage had 4 questions (the passage on Genetics) while the rest had 5 questions each. The topics of the remaining RC passages were also from familiar areas. They were easy to read. There were quite a few inference-based questions, but these were easy to attempt. The options were not really very close. Only 4-5 questions from RC were tricky. However, a student should have followed the POE (process of elimination) to be able to achieve a decent accuracy rate as the options were not straight forward. The VA section had one major change. There were 4 Subjective Para Jumble questions, and all of these had 4 sentences each. There were 3 Odd sentence para-jumble questions. These questions were easier than expected. A student could have easily managed to get 4 questions correct out of the 7 PJs. These were TITA questions. The three summary questions were difficult. The paragraphs focused entirely on research methodology and academic concepts. So, they were difficult to read and comprehend. However, the options were not really difficult. So, any voracious reader would have been able to attempt these easily. So, for many CAT aspirants this year (especially those who relied heavily on QA), VA may just turn out to be the saviour.

Major surprise: The para jumble questions were easy, and the sentences were really short.

Area

Topic

No. of Questions

Description

Reading Comprehension
(24 Questions)

Reading Comprehension

24

There were 5 passages – All of them had a similar word limit (around 500-550 words each). The passage on Genetics had four questions and it was slightly tedious to read. The other four passages came from familiar areas like India’s view on its legacy of Second World War, Plastic Pollution, Elephant society, and Consumer behaviour studies. Each of these had five questions. On an average, every passage had 1-2 inference based questions. The passage on 2nd World War would have been the easiest to attempt closely followed by the passage on plastic pollution. Options were not very tricky. A student could have attempted 20-21 questions easily with more than 85% accuracy.

Verbal Ability
(10 Questions)

Para-jumble

4

All had four sentences each and the sentences were pretty easy and concise. As these had no negative marking, one should have attempted all without wasting a lot of time. However, two of these would be tricky to answer without options. The trick was to identify the opening sentence and go ahead with the mandatory pair. There were quite a few clue words. Prior practice and awareness of deductive paragraphs were the key.

Summary

3

The paragraphs were short (within 80 words each). However, these were really difficult to read, and the options became confusing because of the genres of the paragraphs. So, only one of these should have been attempted. These questions carried negative marks.  

Para-jumble (Odd sentence out)

3

The question (the one on bumblebee) had an incomplete sentence. This coupled with the PJ on erosion would have been difficult. The other question was a sitter.

 

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

The next section was DILR. After three consecutive tragedies, DILR-2018 must have been a pleasant surprise. There were 32 questions in total with 8 Non-MCQ questions. Unlike last year’s paper, the theme of the sets was more conventional. With the smart selection, around 4 sets in the section could have been attempted very easily with good accuracy. A couple of sets had 1 ‘difficult to crack’ question each. And a student should have been wise enough to leave these aside. The calculation wasn’t required at all in the DI sets. On the other hand, the LR sets were easy-moderate in terms of the level of difficulty.

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable

Data Interpretation

Pie Chart-Annual/half yearly/Quarter Sales-Moderate

4

4

ATM -Denominations of 100,200 and 500-Moderate

4

1-2

Set Theory-1600 rockets were launched-Moderate

4

1-2

Logical Reasoning

Matrix-Adjacent cells-Easy

4

2-3

10 friends -scores in DI/WE/GK- Difficult

4

1-2

4 Females ,4 Males-Minor and major-Easy

4

4

3 Committees-research/teaching/economist – moderate

4

2-3

 

1-20 petrol pumps-Moderate

4

2-3

 

Overall,15-17 attempts, with an accuracy of 90% would be considered good. 

 

Quantitative Aptitude

In the end, came the real star of the show, the ‘infamous IIM-C QA’. For students who were already scared of this section, it could have felt like a nuclear disaster. However, for the ‘engineering-dominated’ group, this was not impossible to attempt. The questions were calculation and logic-intensive, not theory intensive. There were 34 questions of QA with 12 Non-MCQ questions. It was arguably the toughest QA section in the last four years. The questions were designed to test the grasp of basic fundamentals of the concepts. Arithmetic and Geometry questions dominated the section. In some of MCQs, options were very confusing to get the answer. Number System and Logarithm each had at least 2 questions.

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable

Quantitative Ability

Number System

2

2

Algebra

8

4-5

Arithmetic

14

6-7

Modern Math

3

2

Geometry and Mensuration

7

3-4

An overall attempt of 18-20 with 85% accuracy would be very good.

Overall, a 99 percentile score could reduce by about 15-18 marks as compared to last year. Thus, a score of 150-155 should fetch a 99 percentile.

 

CAT 2018 Slot 2 Analysis

 

The Paper Pattern:

'Forewarned is forearmed' is a piece of timeless wisdom. So, students who went into the second slot expecting a similar paper as that of the first slot (or for that matter the CAT 2017 paper) were on the right track. It too started with an 'easy' VARC section. The passages were on similar lines as those of the first slot. The DILR section continued to give a sigh of relief to the students. However, some are of the opinion that it was slightly tougher than the first slot's DILR section. Overall, it was of a moderate level of difficulty. And the reign of QA continued. It remained the toughest section in the second slot too.

The break-up of the paper was as follows:

Section

No. of Questions

No. of non-MCQ questions

Difficulty Level

Good Attempts

Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension

34

7

Easy

28+

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

32

8

Moderate

16+

Quantitative Ability

34

12

Difficult

15+

Total

100

 27

 

60+

 

Let's take a look at the three sections individually.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

VARC continued to be 'the feel good' section. The pattern remained the same as that of the first slot. There were 34 questions with 7 Non-MCQ questions. There were no instructions provided for the number of questions in each passage. However there remained 5 passages. One passage had 4 questions (the passage on 'Grover snails') while the rest had 5 questions each. The topics of the remaining RC passages were also from familiar areas. They were easy to read. There were quite a few inference-based questions, but these were easy to attempt, thanks to the option choices. The options were not really very close. Only 4-5 questions from RC were tricky. However, a student should have followed the POE (process of elimination) to be able to achieve a decent accuracy rate as the options were not straight forward. The VA section had one major change. There were 4 Subjective Para Jumble questions, and all of these had 4 sentences each. There were 3 Odd sentence para-jumble questions. These questions were easier than expected. A student could have easily managed to get 4 questions correct out of the 7 PJs (PJ and OSPJ) These were TITA questions. The three para-summary questions were of moderate level of difficulty. The paragraphs continued to be short in the range pf 450 to 500 words each. However, as compared to the first slot, the summary questions were slightly easier. Only one summary question appeared to be tough. So, VARC continued to be the 'easiest' of the lot.

Area

Topic

No. of Questions

Description

Reading Comprehension
(24 Questions)

Reading Comprehension

24

There were 5 passages - All of them had similar word limit (around 450-500 words each). The passage on Grover Snails had four questions. The other four passages came from familiar areas like Meritocracy and diversified teams, use of technology in essential services, rings of Saturn and their age, and a passage on human resource and learning. Each of these had five questions. On an average, every passage had 1-2 inference-based questions. The passage on white-lipped shelled snails would have been the easiest to attempt closely followed by the passage on essential services and technology. From the remaining passages, one was slightly tough to read. Options were not very tricky. A student could have attempted 20-21 questions easily with more than 85% accuracy.

Verbal Ability
(10 Questions)

Para-jumble

4

All had four sentences each and the sentences were pretty easy and concise. As these had no negative marking, one should have attempted all without wasting a lot of time. However, two of these would be tricky to answer without options. The trick was to identify the opening sentence and go ahead with the mandatory pair. There were quite a few clue words. Prior practice and awareness of deductive paragraphs were the key.

Summary

3

The summary paragraphs were easier as compared to those of the first slot. The paragraphs were short and slightly difficult to read. However, only one summary question can be called difficult.   

Para-jumble (Odd sentence out)

3

The questions were tricky, especially the one with the bird songs. This coupled with the PJ on business elites would have been difficult. The other question was a sitter.

Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning

The second section of the paper DILR continued to be a pleasant surprise. There were 32 questions in total with 8 Non-MCQ questions. Unlike last year's paper, the theme of the sets was more conventional. There was one very direct DI set with basic calculations. The focus and strategy should have been the quality of the selected sets rather the quantity of the numbers of questions attempted. A couple of sets did have a question each which should have been 'left alone'. Two sets included calculation but none was on the tougher side. On the other hand, the LR sets were easy-moderate in terms of level of difficulty.

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable

Data Interpretation

Currency Exchange and rate changes

4

2-3

Smartphones and market share

4

4

Box Diagram of 3 companies/products

4

1-2

Logical Reasoning

Interview Arrivals (Arrangement)

4

3-4

Coding (Alphabet/digits)

4

2-3

Set theory (3 games, Ludo, Kho-kho, Gilli Danda)

4

2

Institute Accreditation

4

2-3

 

Tickets to a show, old, young and middle aged people

4

2-3

 

Overall,15-17 attempts, with accuracy of 90% would be considered good.

 

Quantitative Aptitude

Once the QA section is over, students would have come out with much less satisfaction as they would have had they come out at the end of DILR! If you expected a happy ending in QA, you were definitely not paying attention to all the discussions following the first slot. IIM-C and its love for a tough QA section continued in the second slot too. The questions were calculation and logic intensive, not theory intensive. There were 34 questions of QA with 12 Non-MCQ questions. It was arguably the toughest QA section in the last four years. The focus of the aptitude questions continued to be on testing the fundamental knowledge of the students and their clarity of concepts. Arithmetic and Geometry questions dominated the section. In some of MCQs, options were very confusing to get the answer. Number System and Logarithm each had at least 2 questions.

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable

Quantitative Ability

Number System

2

1

Algebra

8-9

4-5

Arithmetic

13-14

8-9

Modern Math

3

1-2

Geometry and Mensuration

7

3-4

An overall attempt of 18-20 with 85% accuracy would be very good.

Overall, a 99 percentile score could reduce by about 15-18 marks as compared to last year.

Thus, a score of 150-155 should fetch a 99 percentile.

 

CAT 2017 Exam Analysis

 

The CAT examiners did not spring any major surprise in the exam. In terms of pattern, structure and difficulty level, the exam was very similar to the exam last year. Unlike the common beliefs, the CAT examiners seemed to focus on a candidate’s aptitude rather than testing student’s ability to handle a disruptive pattern.

Exam Structure and Pattern:

The paper consisted of three sections: namely, ‘Quantitative Aptitude (QA)’, ‘Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)’ and ‘Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)’, with 34, 32 and 34 questions, respectively. The order of the sections was fixed, with a sectional time limit of 60 minutes.

 

The sections contained the following segmentation for Slot I:

Section No. Section Name Total No. of Ques. No. of Multiple Choice Ques. No. of Non-MCQs (TITA Ques.)
I Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 27 7
II Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 26 6
III Quantitative Ability 34 27 7
  TOTAL 100 80 20

The sections contained the following segmentation for Slot II:

Section No. Section Name Total No. of Ques. No. of Multiple Choice Ques. No. of Non-MCQs (TITA Ques.)
I Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 27 7
II Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 24 8
III Quantitative Ability 34 23 11
  TOTAL 100 74 26

Section-wise Review of both slots

Verbal Ability Review: In terms of level of difficulty, the verbal section can be labelled as easy. In fact, most students have reported that they found RCs to be easier than last year. But then, in Verbal Ability, the accuracy is generally lower than the other sections.

As with the exam last year, the exam did not feature any question from Grammar and vocabulary. This effectively meant that the aspirants who were proficient in the topics that are reading-based would have been more comfortable in this section. There were Five RC passages out of which three passages had six questions each and the others had three questions each. Other questions were from sentence rearrangement, odd sentence out & para-summary. Some of the RC sources were www.bbc.com/future , The phone is smart but where is the big idea – nytimes.com (by Timothy Egan July 7, 2017), Why the death of malls is about more than shopping (excerpt from)
(by Brian Ulrich). In both the slots, the level of difficulty of this section was by and large the same

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: As with this section last year, this section was the most difficult this time too. In both the slots there were eight sets of 4 questions each. Analytical Reasoning and “Data & Reasoning” had equal weightage. This was the toughest section. However the slot II DI was easier than slot I. In general students reported an attempt of 2-3 more questions than slot I.

Quantitative Aptitude Review: The Quant section was of quite similar compared to last year, the difficulty level was moderate. Overall, the questions in Questions from traditional areas like Profit & Loss, Algebra & Geometry were higher in number.  Apart from this, there few one to two questions from areas like Puzzles, Logs, Chain Rule Permutation & Combination, Number System.etc Though the composition of this section was similar in both the slots , but second slot had 11 Non – MCQ questions as compared to 7 in that of first slot.

 

Attempts & Expected Percentile Table along with B-Schools Cut-offs

 

Table – Morning Slot

Overall Attempt VA & RCAttempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
74+ 28-31 14-17 28-30 166 99.5
68-74 27-29 12-14 24-26 155 99
62-68 24-28 10-12 22-25 133 97
55-62 22-26 08-10 18-22 122 95
48-55 19-23 07-09 15-19 106 90
42-48 15-20 05-07 13-17 86 80

Table – Evening Slot

Overall Attempt VA & RC Attempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
77+ 28-31 16-19 28-30 172 99.5
71-76 27-29 14-16 24-26 160 99
65-71 24-28 12-14 22-25 138 97
57-64 22-26 9-12 18-22 126 95
50-57 19-23 8-10 15-19 110 90
43-50 15-20 6-8 13-17 89 80

It looks like a normalisation of around 5% may take place to make both the slots at the same level.

 

B-School Cut-offs

CAT scores are used as a primary screening tool by B-Schools for short listing candidates for the GD/ PI round. Apart from CAT percentile other factors which are taken in to account for generating calls include academic performance in 10th, +2, Graduation, duration of work experience. Normally, the cut offs for old IIMs are higher than those for new IIMs. 

Level
(Approx cut-off percentiles  Gen.)
Institutes
99.5+ 3-8  Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S, FMS
99+ 1-2  Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S
And All other IIM calls, IIT B
98+ IIT-D, MDI-PGP, All IIMs except old 7
96.5+ SPJIMR, , NITIE, MDI- HR/IM, few new IIMs ( Latest 6)
94.5+ IIT-KH, IIT-KN, IIT-C, IIT-R, IISc-B, XLRI-Global BM, MDI-M, IIMA (Abm), IIML (Abm)
90+ MICA, IMT-G/N, XIMB, IMI-D, FSM, IRMA, GIM, TAPMI, KJSIMSR, SIMSREE, , UBS-CHD, SPJAIN-D/S, BIM, NIRMA,
87+ WIMDR-M, LBSIM, LIBA,  IMI-K/B, GLIM, BIMTECH-PGDM/IB, IBS-ICFAI, MFC-DU, IFMR, MIB-DU, MHROD-DU, IMT-H
85+ MISB, ISBM-P, WIMDR-B, BIMTECH-Retail/Insurance, IIFM, MBE-DU,

 

CAT 2016 Exam Analysis

So, finally CAT-2016 is done and here you are, reading the analysis for the exam.

Even though this is a rare exception, the CAT examiners did not spring any major surprise in the exam. In terms of pattern, structure and difficulty level, the exam was very similar to the exam last year.

Exam Structure and Pattern:

CAT-2016 First Slot Analysis

The paper consisted of three sections: namely, 'Quantitative Aptitude (QA)', 'Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)' and 'Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)', with 34, 32 and 34 questions, respectively. The order of the sections was fixed, with a sectional time limit of 60 minutes.

The sections contained the following segmentation:

Section No. Section Name Total Number of Questions Number of Multiple Choice Questions Number of Non-MCQs (TITA Questions)
I Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 24 10
II Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 24 8
III Quantitative Ability 34 27 7
  TOTAL 100 75 25

Attempts & Expected Percentile Table along with B-Schools Cut-offs

The following table gives overall & section wise attempt vis-a-vis probable score & percentile for different slots.

Table - Morning Slot

Overall Attempt VA & RC Attempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
72+ 26-28 16-22 24-28 170+ 99.5+
67-72 22-26 14-18 22-26 155+ 99+
60-67 18-24 12-16 18-22 140+ 97+
52-60 16-20 10-14 16-20 130+ 95+
44-52 14-18 9-12 13-16 122+ 90+
38-44 12-16 6-10 12-15 110+ 80+

Table - Evening Slot

Overall Attempt VA & RC Attempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
72+ 26-28 15-20 23-27 165+ 99.5+
64-72 22-26 14-18 22-25 155+ 99+
57-64 18-24 12-16 16-20 140+ 97+
46-57 16-20 10-14 15-18 130+ 95+
40-46 14-18 9-12 13-16 120+ 90+
35-40 12-16 6-10 12-15 110+ 80+

The tables have been updated after getting latest responses from students.

Kindly Note:

There was a discrepancy in the marking scheme mentioned for the for the exam. In the directions for the exam, the marks mentioned for questions were +3 for a correct answer and -1 for an incorrect answer choice. On the other hand, in the consolidated questions window, the marks mentioned for questions were +1 for a correct answer and -0.33 marks for an incorrect question. Either way, this does not impact the total scores as the proportion of negative marking is the same.

B-School Cut-offs

CAT scores are used as a primary screening tool by B-Schools for shortlisting candidates for the GD/ PI round. Apart from CAT percentile other factors which are taken into account for generating calls include academic performance in 10th, +2, Graduation, duration of work experience. Normally, the cut-offs for old IIMs are higher than those for new IIMs.

Level(Approx cut-off percentiles Gen.) Institutes
99.5+ 3-8 Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S, FMS
99+ 1-2 Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S And All other IIM calls, IIT B
98+ IIT-D, MDI-PGP, All IIMs except old 7
96.5+ SPJIMR,NITIE, MDI- HR/IM, few new IIMs ( Latest 6)
94.5+ IIT-KH, IIT-KN, IIT-C, IIT-R, IISc-B, XLRI-Global BM, MDI-M, IIMA (Abm), IIML (Abm)
90+ MICA, IMT-G/N, XIMB, IMI-D, FSM, IRMA, GIM, TAPMI, KJSIMSR, SIMSREE, , UBS-CHD, SPJAIN-D/S, BIM, NIRMA,
87+ WIMDR-M, LBSIM, LIBA, IMI-K/B, GLIM, BIMTECH-PGDM/IB, IBS-ICFAI, MFC-DU, IFMR, MIB-DU, MHROD-DU, IMT-
85+ MISB, ISBM-P, WIMDR-B, BIMTECH-Retail/Insurance, IIFM, MBE-DU,

Section-wise Review

Verbal Ability Review: In terms of level of difficulty, the section can be labelled as easy to moderate. In terms of level of difficulty, the exam was very similar to the exam last year. In fact, most students have reported that they found RCs to be easier than last year. But then, in Verbal Ability, generally the accuracy of students is lower than the other sections and any such review needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The 4 subjective para-jumble questions were again once tricky in nature and it is hard for a student to be sure of any particular order for these questions.

As with the exam last year, the exam did not feature any question from vocabulary, FIJs, Phrasal verbs and so on. This effectively meant that the aspirants who were proficient in the topics that are reading-based would have been more comfortable in this section. The RC passages were of moderate length, which varied between 400-600 words.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: As with this section last year, this section was again lengthy and time-consuming in nature. Overall, this was the toughest section in the exam.

Both the slots have reported that LR-DI was the toughest section in the exam. Students found it extremely time-consuming and you can expect the lowest cut-off for this section.

Quantitative Aptitude Review: In terms of the level of difficulty, the section was of moderate nature but the section was trickier in comparison to the last year. Therefore, you can expect the cut-offs to be slightly lower than the last year.

Overall, in the Quant Section there was a representation of almost all the areas. Commercial Math (Percentage, Profit & Loss & Ratio) had a good number of questions. Surprisingly, there was not a single question on probability. However, there was one question on Permutation and Combination. Time and Distance also had very few questions but otherwise traditional areas like Number System, Algebra & Geometry were present in a good number.

With respect to the first slot, there were a couple of issues reported in the exam. In the first slot, there were two ambiguous questions. Also, the square root symbol was displayed as a pie symbol in the exam. This caused confusion for some students. Clarification from the IIMs is certainly awaited on this issue. This would have an overall impact on the cut-offs. Also, students have reported.

The Verdict

Overall, this was slightly difficult paper as compared to exam previous year. The Quant section was Moderate to difficult, Verbal was moderate & LR was difficult. Those who attempted 72+ questions with decent accuracy can expect multiple IIM calls with 99.5+ percentile. For a lot of students, the LR-DI section will make or break section. The cut-off for this section is expected to be low.

 

CAT 2015 Exam Analysis

 

CAT examiners had few surprise for everyone this year again. The very 1st surprise was that the paper was in line with the sample paper CAT had given on their website – a first in the history of CAT.

The paper consisted of three sections: namely, 'Quantitative Aptitude (QA)', 'Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)' and 'Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)', with 34, 32 and 34 questions, respectively. The order of the sections was fixed, with a sectional time limit of 60 minutes.

The exam was conducted in two time slots. The pattern & style was almost similar in both the slots. Even the no of questions from particular area were also exactly same like both slot had one question on P&C & circular track…etc. However in the second slot, Quant as well as LR section was comparatively difficult than first slot.

DI & LR was the toughest section with hardly any easy questions. In the QA and VA & RC sections the level of difficulty was similar as both the sections had easy to moderate questions. There was a fair mix of subjective questions – 8-10 per section. The Non MCQ questions had No negative marking.

As such the number of attempts was more, and one cannot really judge the performance just by the number of attempts as there would be genuine attempts as well as mere guesswork.

 

Attempts & Expected Percentile Table along with B-Schools Cut-offs

The following table gives overall & section wise attempt vis-à-vis probable score & percentile for different slots.

 

Table – Morning Slot

Overall Attempt VA & RC Attempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
80+ 28-32 20-24 28-32 170+ 99.5+
72-82 24-29 16-20 25-30 150+ 99+
64-72 22-27 14-18 23-28 130+ 97+
54-64 19-24 11-15 18-25 118+ 95+
46-54 17-24 9-13 14-20 100+ 90+
40-46 15-21 6-10 11-18 82+ 80+

Table – Evening Slot

Overall Attempt VA & RC Attempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
77+ 28-32 18-22 25-29 160+ 99.5+
68-77 24-29 16-19 22-27 140+ 99+
60-68 22-27 11-16 20-25 125+ 97+
50-60 19-24 10-14 16-22 107+ 95+
42-50 17-24 7-11 12-18 90+ 90+
37-42 15-21 5-9 9-15 75+ 80+

CAT scores are used as a primary screening tool by B-Schools for short listing candidates for the GD/ PI round. Apart from CAT percentile other factors which are taken in to account for generating calls include academic performance in 10th, +2, Graduation, duration of work experience. Normally, the cut offs for old IIMs are higher than those for new IIMs.

Level
(Approx cut-off percentiles  Gen.)
Institutes
99.5+ 3-8  Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S, FMS
99+ 1-2  Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S
And All other IIM calls, IIT B
98+ IIT-D, MDI-PGP, All IIMs except old 7
96.5+ SPJIMR, , NITIE, MDI- HR/IM, few new IIMs ( Latest 6)
94.5+ IIT-KH, IIT-KN, IIT-C, IIT-R, IISc-B, XLRI-Global BM, MDI-M, IIMA (Abm), IIML (Abm)
90+ MICA, IMT-G/N, XIMB, IMI-D, FSM, IRMA, GIM, TAPMI, KJSIMSR, SIMSREE, , UBS-CHD, SPJAIN-D/S, BIM, NIRMA,
87+ WIMDR-M, LBSIM, LIBA, IMI-K/B, GLIM, BIMTECH-PGDM/IB, IBS-ICFAI, MFC-DU, IFMR, MIB-DU, MHROD-DU, IMT-H
85+ MISB, ISBM-P, WIMDR-B, BIMTECH-Retail/Insurance, IIFM, MBE-DU,

Section-Wise detailed Analysis

Quantitative Ability (QA)

The QA section was easy as it was in CAT 2014. Earlier CAT used to be known for its tough Quant Section, but looking at last two CAT Papers we can safely assume that CAT is trying to balance out in favour of Non-Engineers, which is a good sign. The Quant section had 15 subjective questions. Interestingly, most subjective questions were those, which would have been very easy even with options.

Overall, in the Quant Section there was a representation of almost all the areas. Commercial Math (Percentage, Profit & Loss & Ratio) had good number of questions. Surprisingly, there was not a single question on probability. However, there was a one question on Permutation and Combination. Time and Distance also had very few questions but otherwise traditional areas like Number System, Algebra & Geometry were present in a good number.

The second slot was slightly tougher than first slot. Students who were amongst the toppers of our Test Series reported attempt of 29 to 34 in this Section. However, the students who did not attempt subjective questions with guess work, for them attempt of 26+ should be considered good in this section.

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR)

This was the toughest section in the entire paper and the students were clueless about which sets to attempt and which to leave. Overall they were 4 sets of DI, 4 questions each and there were 4 sets of LR, 4 questions each.

The easiest DI set reported in the morning slot was of quarterly sales performance of a company. The easy set in LR included the Family & Laptop set and the moderate set was newspapers readership related, which was based on Venn Diagrams. Set related to cubes was tough. There was only one set on pure DI which was easy but was calculation intensive and one had to make good use of on screen calculator to solve this set.

In this section there were 8 subjective questions. The students with top performance in test series reported attempt of 20 to 23 in this section. However, an attempt of 16+ with good accuracy can be considered good.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

The relatively easy level of difficulty of the VA & RC questions may have pleasantly surprised the test-takers. The section consisted of 34 questions divided into two parts – Verbal Abilty (10) and Reading Comprehension(24). As expected the number of RC passages was more this year: 3 passages with 6 questions each, and 2 passages with 3 questions each. The Verbal Ability section had 3 questions on parajumbles, 3 on Critical reasoning (summary) and 3 on Critical Reasoning (Misfit).

Interestingly, the exam did not feature any question from vocabulary, FIJs, Phrasal verbs and so on. This effectively meant that the aspirants who were proficient in the topics that are reading-based would have been more comfortable in this section.

The RC passages were of moderate length, which varied between 500-700 words. Taking an obvious break from previous years trends, there was no RC passage from areas such as philosophy, sociology etc. The passages were based on areas like immigration and economy, economic inequalities, impact of technology, Impact of electricity and poverty, and importance of the study of Humanities. Most of the questions were inferential. Some of them were based on specific details - three questions on the opening sentences.

The 10 questions from the VA section were of easy to moderate level of difficulty and did not pose much of a challenge for serious test takers.

The paper required Speed reading skill. Students with speed reading skills had definite advantage. Students of Bulls Eye who have been scoring high percentile in our mock tests attempted more than 90% questions. Attempt of 25+ questions, for somebody with high accuracy should be considered good.

The Bulls Eye faculty were able to locate the RC passages which were excerpted from International publications like New York Times and Harvard Business Review.

RC Sources Morning Slot:

The Verdict

Overall slightly difficult paper as compared to previous CAT. Quant Moderate to difficult, Verbal moderate & LR difficult. Those who attempted 77+ questions with decent accuracy can expect multiple IIM calls with 99.5+ percentile. For lot of students LR section will be make or break section. The cut-off for this section is expected to be low.

 

CAT 2014 Exam Analysis

Computer based CAT 2014 was held on two days, 16th and 22nd November, 2014. The total number of questions were 100, with a time limit of 170 minutes. There was no time restriction for any section. Hence, one could switch over to any section during the exam. The overall impression of the paper was moderate, except for the AR and DI sections. In fact,Analytical Reasoning and Data Interpretation questions were relatively easy to moderate in the paper conducted on the second day i.e. 22nd Nov, as reported by the students.

 

Overview of the CAT 2014 Paper:

Time allotted 170 Minutes
Total no. of questions 100
Marking Scheme Correct Answer: +3 Marks
Sections 2
Number of choices 4
Negative Marking Wrong Answer: -1 Mark

 

CAT 2014 Sections:

Sr. No. Sections No. of Questions Time Allotted Difficulty Level
1 Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning 50 170 Minutes (For both sections) Easy to Moderate
2 Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation 50 170 Minutes (For both sections) Easy to Moderate

Expected cut off:

On the whole, it can be presumed that with an attempt of 75 - 85 questions with 70%+ accuracy you can expect calls from a few IIMs. Furthermore, with higher accuracy and perhaps slightly lesser attempts you can anticipate scoring a good percentile and expect calls from a few of the top CAT affiliated colleges.

Sectional Analysis of CAT 2014:

SECTION I: Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning

Sr. No. Area Tested Description No. of Questions Difficulty Level / remarks
1 Reading Comprehension 4 passages 16 (4+4+4+4) Moderate
2 Verbal Ability Grammar part error, Para Jumble, Critical reasoning, Misfit 18 Easy to Moderate
3 Logical Reasoning Circular Arrangement, Venn Diagram, Simple Linear Arrangement, Distribution of Objects 16 Easy to Moderate
Overall     50 Moderate

Evaluation: The overall level of the questions was moderate. Reading comprehension passages were manageable. Only 1 out of the 4 passages was tough. Questions on verbal ability covered only a few areas like critical reasoning, sentence rearrangement, and misfit among sentences given. Logical reasoning section had 4 sets with 4 questions each. The LR section was also moderate except one set on Venn diagrams which was comparatively difficult.

SECTION II: Quantitative Ability & DI

Sr. No. Area Tested Description No. of Questions Difficulty Level / remarks
1 DI: Data Interpretation Bar Graph, Table based questions 16 (4 sets*4 questions each) Moderate
2 Quantitative Ability Number System, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and P & C 34 Easy to Moderate
Overall     50 Easy to Moderate

Evaluation: The Quantitative Aptitude portion of the exam was significantly easier than the previous year's CAT papers. In terms of degree of difficulty, the section featured only a few probing questions and majority of the questions could be handled easily.

Overall Review:

Surprisingly on 22nd of November, the level of questions in Data Interpretation was easy as compared to day 1, as reported by the students. Traditionally, CAT is an aptitude exam that focuses on skill levels of students, and not necessarily the speed with which they solve questions. CAT-2014 sent this approach for a toss and the paper kept the student on their toes. The additional 30 minutes given in this year ensured that students had sufficient time to attempt a fairly high number of questions.

Other than the change in difficulty level of the exam, CAT 2014 did not have major surprises and did not introduce any new topics. Another key aspect of the exam was the fact that the slot did not see a variation in questions and the all the students got the same set of questions in the exam.

 

In the following sections, we provide an assessment of the individual sections of the exam:

QUANTITATIVE APTITUDE AND DATA INTERPRETATION

The Quantitative Aptitude section of the exam was significantly easier than the papers in the previous years. In terms of degree of difficulty, the section featured only a few probing questions and majority of the questions could be handled easily. In this year's paper, a few unique questions made an appearance but these were rare. Wise selection of questions was critical to avoid getting stuck on problems. It is important to note that the exam has enough easy questions for you to crack, hence, focus on identifying these rather than wasting time on problems you think you may be able to solve.

In general, the exam featured a uniform mix of questions from Number System, Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, P&C and Probability. In comparison to the previous years, CAT 2014 featured an increased number of questions from Arithmetic. Most of these questions were based on basic concepts and one could solve them if these were revised before the exam. Overall, the exam featured 34 Quantitative Aptitude problems.

This section of the exam also featured four Data Interpretation sets, each with 4 questions. The style of data interpretation sets was slightly different this year, and the questions were not purely calculative in nature. The questions had an element of reasoning involved in them, and in order to better gauge this style of paper, it is advisable to solve DI sets from the years 2003 to 2008.

The four DI sets featured in the exam were based on the following areas: Bar graphs, tables and reasoning-based. Also, this year Data Sufficiency was absent from the paper.

VERBAL ABILITY AND LOGICAL REASONING

The 'Verbal Ability' section of CAT underwent a transformation this year, and generally speaking, the level was easier than in the previous year. The section contained 34 questions from the following areas: 4 passages with 4 questions each, 4 critical reasoning questions (inference based), 3 summary writing questions, 4 para jumble questions, 4 odd sentence out questions and 3 grammar based questions.

This section did not contain questions from any of the following areas: vocabulary, FIJs, Phrasal verbs and so on. This effectively means that you did not need to worry about these areas and could simply focus on the reading-based sections of the exam.

The section featured reading comprehensions of moderate length, which varied between 400 to 550 words. An obvious break from the style of previous years was the fact that the RCs did not contain passages from areas such as philosophy, sociology etc. The passages were based on topics such as obesity, politics and so on. One thing that needs to be mentioned is that some of the questions were direct in nature and you should be fairly confident to attempt this section.

The logical reasoning section of the exam had 4 sets of four questions each. The questions in this section were slightly difficult and generally speaking, the reasoning portion of this exam has been reported as time consuming. Keep this in mind when you attempt this section, and do not place your complete focus on logical reasoning alone.

Summing up, as is evident from the analysis above, CAT-2014 was a relatively easy paper when compared to the previous year and by focusing on basic skills, you could easily perform well in the exam. You could solve a vast majority of the questions in the exam, and in general, maintain a fairly decent tempo throughout the examination.

The paper does not pose major difficulties but a few points should be kept in mind while solving the papers:

  • There was an increased focus on Arithmetic in the exam. Revise basic formulas and concepts for this area.
  • Vocabulary does not feature a threat in the exam and do not worry much but keep a hold on this area. FIJs and Phrasal Verbs do not feature in the exam.
  • CAT 2014 essentially tested your problem solving speed along with your ability to pick the right problems to solve. Majority of the problems faced in the exam could be solved without any time pressure but that does not mean that you spend time on questions that require lengthy analysis or calculations. You can always get back to such questions once you have solved the easy ones in the exam. Keep in mind that there are a fairly good number of easy problems in the exam.

The above are some tips that you should keep in mind for CAT and careful consideration of these will help to boost your score.