CAT Preparation – Frequently Asked Questions – Part 1- 2IIM

We got a lot of questions from CAT 2016 aspirants about the exam, preparation plan and general preparation strategy; for the benefit of everyone we have compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions and answered them in 2 posts. (The second one will be up next week)

Since IIM has not told how many questions will be there in each section, how do we divide the time in each section if the no. of questions are not like last year. Say, for example, there are 40 questions in VARC (20 -VA, 20-RC), then how should we divide the time between VA and RC sections? (As you always say that it is better not to keep the RCs at the end.)
We do not know the exact numbers, so let us think of a few pointers in this case

For the first 30 minutes or so, go hammer and tongs attempting questions. Don’t analyze too much in this spell. Then take stock and plan the second half accordingly.
Imagine an ODI match on a new track where you do not know what a good score is. You will have to continuously re-evaluate based on how the pitch behaves. But if you have a Sehwag or Brendon McCullum in your team, they probably look to score off every delivery any which way. On even a tough track, they might score 40 off 25 deliveries before realizing the track is tough. Be that
On a minutes-per-question basis, allot more time for RC than for the others. As in if there are an equal number of RC questions and ‘other’ questions, allot more time for RC.

Don’t end with RC
Make sure you see your favorite type of question, say, Sentence Rearrangement and ignore your ‘nightmare’ category, say, Sentence Elimination.

If the number of questions is more than 100, then in which section do you think that they will give more number of questions? Or will it be equally divided?
No credible idea. My hypothesis is that there is usually a reversion to mean. Last year, VARC was easy and DI-LR was tougher. They might either make VARC slightly tougher and DI slightly easier. Or, they might increase the number of questions in VARC and reduce it in DI-LR.
Or, they might do nothing of this sort and pay absolutely no heed to CAT 2015.
In some bar graph in DI problems, the value won’t be written near the bar and there won’t be any dotted line (to indicate the exact value) also. So, if we take some approx. value then at times, in the final computation, some wrong answers differing by some 10 or 20 points occur. How to avoid such errors?
This type of con-job questions have been more or less completely eradicated in CAT. These days they give all the numbers on the chart. Or they make sure that there is no ambiguity in the numbers.

XAT, however, doesn’t care about all this. So, there you have to be careful about all your assumptions. If you are the religious kind, you can pray that your assumptions are more or less valid. But that apart, there is very little we can do.

As we have discussed before here, questions come under three types – EoK, GoK and NYK. For the EoK and GoK type questions, we can do little but hope.


While solving DI/LR sections, many times I am not able to solve some questions, but while analyzing the paper, I am able to solve almost 100% of the questions. How can get over this issue?
This usually happens in all categories. Don’t worry too much about it if it is only the stray question here and there. This happens to anyone. If it is more widespread, it could be one of two main issues – 1) Fatigue and 2) Pressure.

Take plenty of mocks and combat fatigue. Take a deep breath, switch off for 30 seconds and then start all over again in case you sense tiredness.

Pressure is extremely tough to handle. Read good fun stuff. De-emphasize the exam to the extent possible. These two articles are good fun articles to read on pressure handling – this one is about how to prepare and this one is on how to handle pressure while performing.


This is a three-part question:
Where to practice DI/LR problems once finishing solving from 2IIM and other coaching institute books? 
Mocks have the best content. For the last month or so, rely heavily on mocks. The 2IIM website and the Revision course have plenty of good DI-LR sets as well.

In half an hour’s time, I am able to do only 2 DIs or 2LR problems. How can I improve my speed?
This is a very good rate. If you are able to do 2 DIs and 2 LRs in an hour, that is usually 16 questions. If the level of difficulty were similar to CAT 2015 levels, 16 attempts would put you in the 99th percentile range.

Considering the fact that some DI/LR problems are too time-consuming, how do we choose DI/LR problems judiciously since only after spending a minute or so do we understand the level of difficulty?
If you can get a sense of the data presented, go for it. Spend 45 seconds looking at all the charts to know whether you can get a hang of what the data is saying. If you can get some intuitive ‘feel’ for it, it is usually worthwhile going for it. If the data does not ‘speak’ to you at all, then dump it.

It is a good practice to look at charts and try to make inferences before going to the questions. Here is a good link to get to see lots of charts. Just go through them without worrying about the numbers.




About the Author:


Rajesh Balasubramanian runs 2IIM’s CAT program and handles more than half the classes for CAT preparation. He completed his Electrical engineering from IIT Madras in 2001 and PGDM from IIM Bangalore in 2003. He worked as an equity Research Analyst at Credit Suisse, London. This was an enriching experience, in a literal sense; and a soul-sapping experience otherwise. He finally quit his job in 2009 and joined 2IIM as director in 2010.