25 Nov 2019 15:13 IST

CAT exam slot 1 analysis: VARC most difficult

The QA and DILR sections were relatively easier than in the CAT 2018 exam

CAT generates a lot of buzz and discussion every year for one simple reason: it is never the same, and it always has an ace up its sleeve, a new surprise every year. This year’s story was the same. While the verbal ability and reading comprehension (VARC) section was slightly more difficult than the relatively easier levels of the previous three years, quantitative ability (QA) came down a notch in difficulty level. The data interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR) section was easier as compared to the previous year.

The overall structure of the paper is provided below:


The pattern of VARC section was along expected lines. There were no changes in the pattern compared to the previous year — four 5-Q passages and one 4-Q passage with 10 VA questions split between 4 para formation questions, 3 odd one out, and 3 para summaries.

However, the VARC section tightened the screws a little bit, after three years of easy VARC sections. While the broader pattern remained the same — 24 RC questions and 10 VA questions — the difficulty level of the RC questions was a major digression from previous years’ difficulty levels. One can say it was not a breeze even for those well-versed with the language.

The DILR section, contrary to all expectations, was lower in difficulty level compared to what test-takers have been used to facing in previous years. While this doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that the section was easy, it wasn’t as challenging as it was in the last three years. While a couple of sets were relatively straight-forward, there were some sets which required a good deal of application. Identifying the easier, straight-forward sets in the paper would play a key role in boosting the score in this section.

The QA section did not spring any surprises either, with 34 questions from expected topics such as arithmetic (time, work and distance, P&L, ratios, equations, AMA and SI-CI), geometry and mensuration, numbers, algebra, trigonometry and, permutations and combinations. The difficulty level, one could say, was slightly lower than that of CAT 2018, but this section was by no means as easy as the QA section of CAT 2017. Further, the students who identified the easy questions and attempted those would have gained a significant advantage. A good number of questions also demanded the use of the on-screen calculator. It could be said that the section was, on the whole, of moderate difficulty level.

Overall, CAT 2019 appears a little easier than CAT 2018, with two sections (DILR and QA) being on the easier side than those of CAT 2018, and one section (VARC) being tougher.

Nevertheless, T.I.M.E. students would have felt at home with this CAT given that several AIMCATs matched the sectional difficulty levels fairly accurately, thus giving the students a sense of comfort of having dealt with this before, not once or twice, but many times over. Students who had invested time in the AIMCAT analysis and CATStrat would have been pretty confident about dealing with this year’s CAT.

(The writer is Chief Knowledge Expert, T.I.M.E. Delhi.)