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Develop your own tricks, techniques to tackle CAT


ARUN SHARMA

To crack the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) section, aspirants must first identify the specific skill sets that are tested in this section.

File Photo

Getting ready: CAT aspirants must develop a skills development approach to score high marks in certain sections of the test; a scene from an exam centre during the CAT test last year.

The Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) section is perhaps the most critical of the three sections of the CAT. This is because, of the three sections of CAT, this is perhaps the most neutral it gives an equal opportunity to excel for both the engineering/mathematical' mind as well as the language -oriented' mind. In this article we try to look at the overall as well as the last minute preparation strategy for this crucial section. In the absence of any concrete and clearly defined portion, my advice to aspirants is to adopt what one calls the skills development approach to DI and LR. i.e. identify the specific skill sets that are tested in this section. Then the aspirant must develop the necessary reactions and thought algorithms to execute these accurately and at a faster pace than your competitors. For instance, try to rank the following ratios in ascending order 38/44, 41/48, 47/56 and 52/64 Faced with this situation, how would you go ahead? Most standard approaches in attempting this, would fail as the ratios are too close to call by standard calculation processes. (Each ratio is between 0.8 and 0.9) Faced with this situation, being able to go ahead might be the difference between scoring the marks for the question or having to take a guess which might well lead you to negative marks. Knowing what to do in 5-7 such situations could well be sufficient to convert a 70 percentile to a top 99+ percentile. Hence, the attitude while practising questions for this section should be- Every situation and skill test that you have experienced in any question while practicing questions on DI and LR is representative of what DI/LR is. Hence your focus while preparing should be on trying to develop tricks, techniques and thought algorithms for each skill that you have experienced as a part of any DI/LR question that you have solved.

If you follow this process, then every time you face a new situation and resolve it, you would be naturally prepared for the next time' for the same situation. Adopting this approach over a sustained period would take you to a point where every situation would be familiar to you and the thought processes and short-cut techniques automatically occur in you. So for CAT 2010 test, your immediate focus should be to go back to every question that you have solved during the preparation process and review the way you did it and also try to think of better ways of resolving those questions and the situations. One would also advise you to complete the above mentioned process with every question that has been asked over the past 10 years in the CAT. While doing so you should also try to divide the questions under the following three categories: Traditional DI Description: Based on standard graphs, tables and charts Skills tested: Understanding graphs and charts, identifying variables and their interrelationships, calculations like two-three digit additions. Advanced reasoning-based DI Description: DI with a twist. Typically might have a paragraph based description of a quantitative situation with or without a graph/chart/table. Skills tested: Thinking on your feet; reaction to logical language; ability to identify the quantitative basis of the situation described. Logical reasoning Description: Standard reasoning questions based on attribute matching, placements, team selection. Skills tested: Language understanding; ability to sequence and correlate multiple clues. Note: In the above case of comparing ratios mentioned earlier, the best approach would be as follows: 38/44 vs 41/48. Notice the difference between the numerators and denominators are +3/+4. Since, 3/4=75%, and it is smaller than 38/44 (which is over 33/44 and hence over 75%), 38/44 > 41/48. Similarly, to compare 47/56 and 52/64, we can easily see that 5/8<47/56, hence 47/56 > 52/64. (Think of this as: adding poorer quality milk to better quality milk. In that case the value of the new milk mixture would be poorer than the original milk. Similarly, if the ratio of the additions is smaller than the original ratio, the new ratio would be lower than the original ratio. That is why 41/48 is smaller than 38/44. Of course in the opposite case, the opposite would occur.) It is such specialised techniques that go a long way in helping you excel in this important section. (The author is an IIM Bangalore alumnus. He has written a series of books on CAT, published by Tata McGraw Hill. He is also CEO of Mindworkzz, the company's online CAT training venture.)