CAT 2018 – Slot 1 – Detailed Analysis

CAT 2018 Paper Pattern

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:


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.

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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 straightforward. 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 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.



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 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. 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.


At 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.

Please Note: All information on analysis and scores are based on the accuracy of attempts provided by you as well as independent analysis and evaluation made by Career Launcher Academic Team. We do not take responsibility for any decision that might be taken, based on this information.


CL extends its best wishes to all CAT aspirants

All the very best!

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About the Author:

The article is to be attributed to Mr. Gautam Bawa (Group Product Head, Career Launcher). He also holds master’s degree from IIM Calcutta with a CAT percentile of 99.97 in the year 2011

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ARKS Srinivas

ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.