13 Sep 2021 19:50 IST

CAT 2021: Guide to getting LR and DI section right

Solutions of most DI-LR sets lie within the set itself. Select the right sets at the right time.

CAT this year is scheduled on November 28. Students from diverse backgrounds such as commerce, humanities, medical science, engineering , design and many others take CAT to get into IIMs. Irrespective of the academic background of the students, most find the data interpretation and logical reasoning (DI-LR) section difficult. But the fascinating truth is — solutions of DI-LR sets lie within the set itself in most cases and more so if the set seems intractable to solve at a cursory glance.

How well a student performs in DI-LR section of CAT has less to do with his/her background and more to do with his/her perseverance and receptiveness. This is a section where you have to optimise your resources to perform well. Selecting the right sets at the right time will maximise your score.

Phases of preparation

The section is less knowledge-oriented and skill-oriented. Recent years CAT paper patterns suggest that the majority of the question sets are an amalgamation of both DI and LR. This section is an equaliser in the true sense.

The first phase of your preparation should include acquiring a good conceptual knowledge of the analytical puzzles and venn diagrams. In the initial phase, you may take ten to twelve minutes per set, trying to focus on the solving-methods and the accuracy part. Later on, with practice one would like to bring it down to seven or eight minutes per set. Knowing the best techniques can save precious time. Puzzles have the answer intrinsic to their existence but remain elusive. Connecting disconnected/unconnected data and processing them in mind is “arting science.” The three basic skill sets here are comprehension, interpretation and analysis.

In the next phase, students also need to know the basics of percentages and how to compare fractions. For the past few years, the CAT has consisted of caselets with some information/data followed by 3 to 4 questions based on the given information/data. It is always suggested that you start with a statement that gives direct information and then pick a statement that is related to the previous statement and so on. If there are no proper links between the statements, then one can pick up the statement that gives the least number of possibilities and solve by trial and error.

Write online sectional tests

After your initial preparation is over start writing online sectional tests of DI-LR. Tests are one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal to help you fine-tune your performance.

Benchmarking tool

Tests are primarily intended to be a benchmarking tool, i.e., to help you honestly assess your level of preparedness for the DI-LR section and discover your strong and weak areas. Picking up the right question sets to solve requires skill and practice.

Developing the right test-taking strategy

Tests are also intended to help you develop the right test-taking strategy for the real CAT through a proper analysis of your performance in each test. The three most important things to look out for here are time management, selection of questions, and accuracy.

New problem-solving techniques

Finally, tests are here to help you to learn some advanced techniques, i.e., you may sometimes find some new and useful ways of applying the basic concepts.

After each test, spend at least 30 minutes analysing the section. This is undoubtedly the most enriching experience that you can extract out of the tests. You should continually keep checking your performance parameters. Observe any trends, like a steady improvement or stagnation in any one area, and try to remedy any issues that may need attention. If your preparation is lagging or is below par, then you should immediately plan for a complete round-up of the syllabus within a set time frame so that you have at least a month to go before the CAT for fine-tuning your preparation.

Some pointers

  • Do not start attempting questions without scanning the section in entirety. It may lead to wasting time on difficult sets and missing out on the easier ones.
  • After identifying the right set, read all the questions minutely. Then, start solving.
  • Time is the essence. Don’t get stuck in a particular set for too long. You should try to solve all the easy and moderate sets first and then attempt the difficult ones. Remember you also have a sectional time limit along with sectional cut-offs.
  • In some questions you can eliminate the incorrect options to get the correct answer, but you should strictly avoid guesswork.
  • Never give up. Don't lose hope if you find the section difficult. It may well be possible that all test-takers feel the same.

Remember the principle of perseverance. The competition is bound to intimidate you on more than one occasion over the coming few weeks ,and things will not always go the way that you may like them to. You should also be prepared for occasional spells of self-doubt, despair and discouragement — they are all a part and parcel of the game — which you will eventually become accustomed to, overcome and, hopefully, use as stepping stones to reach greater heights in your preparation.