26 Nov 2018 18:57 IST

Changes in pattern, intensity make CAT challenging

Time-intensive sections, higher difficulty level may contribute to fall in cut-offs this year

Abraham Lincoln famously said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”’ If there is something that emphasises the sense of importance of good preparation in today’s academic world, it is CAT 2018.

The big day this year arrived with plenty of anticipation about pattern changes and difficulty levels. For sure, discussions will long be raging about this among student communities. Did CAT spring a major surprise this year? Well, no! Was CAT 2018 more difficult than CAT 2017? Maybe not!

The VARC (verbal ability and reading comprehension) section gave students a mild surprise across both slots. Out went the taken-for-granted 6-Q and 3-Q passages. Making a surprise entry were five-question and four-question passages. That would have straightaway increased the overall length of the content that needed to be read by test-takers to attempt the 24 RC questions. Decision-making for those who weren’t looking to solve all the RCs would have been trickier, what with all the RCs seemingly of similar difficulty level. The subjects covered were also more exotic than usual — environment, biology, sociology, and history were the flavours of the day.

Ups and downs

The slight upsurge in difficulty in RC was largely compensated for by easier VA sections in both slots, the big relief for students being four-sentence Para Formation Questions. Odd-Man-Out questions were also the low-hanging fruit, with the summary questions proving slightly trickier. All in all, the VARC section hovered around the same difficulty level as last year; those who hadn’t practised a lot might have found it a little tougher, given the nature of options in some questions and the intensity of the subjects.

The DILR (data interpretation and logical reasoning) Section was easier than in CAT 2017, but it was still challenging in both slots. However, unlike last year, there was at least one doable set in both slots along with some manageable/fight-worthy sets.

Both the slots saw some straightforward set-types — Distributions/Venn-Diagrams/Calculation based sets. Nevertheless, the time that these sets demanded was a dampener, which would contribute to lowering the cut-offs.

T.I.M.E. students reported that the LRDI in AIMCATs and the inputs they received from faculty in classes along with the study material helped them navigate this section with a lot of confidence.

Tough quant section

The Quant Section proved to be the high tide in both slots. It was easily a few notches higher in difficulty level compared to CAT 2017. This difficulty was induced largely by the need to work around fixed methods. There were no low-hanging fruit, and very few questions could be solved without breaking a sweat. The questions were lengthy, and some also had additional conditions (read twists) that the students needed to watch out for. The number of easy questions saw a conspicuously drastic fall from last year’s level, which will very likely contribute to a steep fall in the cut-offs this year.

The other apparent feature of the QA (quantitative ability) section this year is the continued focus on arithmetic. Pure-maths questions (on functions, P&C, CG, and so on) were present, albeit lower in number. Within arithmetic, a focus on the usual suspects, such as numbers, was very low in both the slots, while geometry, TW and TD had very good representation.

While a very well-prepared student would not have broken much of a sweat, those who were tentative on their preparation would have found that the going was not as smooth as they would have liked it to be.


CAT 2018 was a smooth experience for students across the country (as per reports received till now). We congratulate the IIMs for yet another seamless CAT.

From the students’ perspective, it turned out to be more or less on expected lines with a bit of fluctuation in the difficulty of sections here and there. The cut-offs are expected to be a tad lower than those of last year, overall, QA being the spoilsport this time around.