29 Sep 2016 20:50 IST

Cracking the LR and DI section

Spend sufficient time learning both. Neglecting any one can lead to missing out on easy questions

CAT, considered the most unpredictable management entrance exam, has more surprises in Data Interpretation (DI) and Logical Reasoning (LR) when compared with the other sections.

Its difficulty level fluctuates every year, ranging from being the easiest of all the sections to being the toughest. This section is also the closest test to check students’ potential of becoming future managers, since it examines their ability to handle stress, and their decision making ability with limited resources — time, data, and calculation speed.

A caveat

It is not advisable for students to choose between DI and LR, when it comes to preparation. It is likely that both will have equal representation, which is why students should be well prepared to handle the areas with ease.

The preparation strategy for the two areas is very different. One major distinction between them is that in the LR section, around five questions can be solved with a single problem statement, since most of them are in the form of a puzzle.

The pitfall here is that if students are not able to crack the problem, they will end up losing all of them — including the time spent on the set — in one go. Let us look at each of the two sections, individually.

Preparation tips for DI

Unlike other areas, this section has fewer formula or concepts. The representation of the data is different, being in the form of a table, bar graph, line graph, pie charts, and the like. But the type of questions asked in any form of representation will be broadly similar. So, the students should not worry about the representation of the data, and should concentrate instead on deciphering the data correctly. They should attempt to understand the questions only after this is done.

One of the most important aspects of DI is the speed of calculations. Using an online calculator can be a bane in disguise, as it is time consuming to use the mouse-based calculator. It is best to not depend on it.

Mental calculations will be faster, unless the numbers are unwieldy. Therefore, students should religiously practice speed math techniques. Spending at least 15 minutes on this everyday will help them find it easier to do the calculation-intensive sets on the day of the exam.

Looking at the history of the test, there will be sets that do not require too much of calculations. Some of the examples are games and tournaments, maxima and minima, and reasoning based DI. Students should practice questions from these areas as well.

Paper and computer

There’s a difference between taking paper based tests and computer based tests. This comes to the forefront when students try and solve DI & LR questions.

In PBTs, the data will be available on paper for student to do some quick inferences. But in CBTs, students have to practice solving questions without transferring the data on to the rough sheet, which will help save time. However, in some cases, they can use the rough sheet provided to them.

Preparation tips for LR

Logical reasoning is comparatively distinctive as the questions require very little or mostly no formula application. The key feature in attempting LR questions is to be able to solve them methodologically. LR questions generally consist of a lot of statements, where each of them act as clues to the answer.

The catch, however, is that the questions can be answered correctly only after considering all the individual statements as a whole. Attempting to answer the section without such an approach will confuse most students.

Logical reasoning covers areas like selections, arrangements, puzzles, logical connectives, and deductions. The questions from the area of arrangements and puzzles can be done better only when a student has sufficient practice. Practicing regularly will help students identify and understand an approach that is best used to solve the LR sets faster —distribution tables, arrangements, Venn diagrams and the likes.

One major hurdle they may face in this section is time management. The golden rule that can be followed is: if you have difficulty in understanding a question in the first couple minutes, move on to the next. Students can always return to the question later based on the time left.

In conclusion

Spend sufficient time in both LR and DI. Neglecting any one can lead to missing out on easy questions. Choosing the right set is also very important, as it determines the number of sets and subsequently, the number of questions that can be attempted.

Within the set, there will be easy and difficult questions. Students feel obligated to answer all the questions associated with the set they have spent some time in understanding and representing the given data. But it is important to note that this is not necessary. As all questions carry equal marks, it’s better to spot questions that can be easily answered.

All the best!

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