CAT 2015 Comprehensive Analysis

CAT examiners had few surprise for everyone this year again. The very 1st surprise was that the paper was in line with the sample paper CAT had given on their website – a first in the history of CAT.
The paper consisted of three sections: namely, 'Quantitative Aptitude (QA)', 'Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)' and 'Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)', with 34, 32 and 34 questions, respectively. The order of the sections was fixed, with a sectional time limit of 60 minutes.
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The exam was conducted in two time slots. The pattern & style was almost similar in both the slots. Even the no of questions from particular area were also exactly same like both slot had one question on P&C & circular track…etc. However in the second slot, Quant as well as LR section was comparatively difficult than first slot.
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DI & LR was the toughest section with hardly any easy questions. In the QA and VA & RC sections the level of difficulty was similar as both the sections had easy to moderate questions. There was a fair mix of subjective questions – 8-10 per section. The Non MCQ questions had No negative marking.
As such the number of attempts was more, and one cannot really judge the performance just by the number of attempts as there would be genuine attempts as well as mere guesswork.
Attempts & Expected Percentile Table along with B-Schools Cut-offs
The following table gives overall & section wise attempt vis-à-vis probable score & percentile for different slots.
Table – Morning Slot
Overall Attempt VA & RC Attempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
80+ 28-32 20-24 28-32 170+ 99.5+
72-82 24-29 16-20 25-30 150+ 99+
64-72 22-27 14-18 23-28 130+ 97+
54-64 19-24 11-15 18-25 118+ 95+
46-54 17-24 9-13 14-20 100+ 90+
40-46 15-21 6-10 11-18 82+ 80+
Table – Evening Slot
Overall Attempt VA & RC Attempt DI & LR Attempt QA Attempt Probable Score Expected Percentile
77+ 28-32 18-22 25-29 160+ 99.5+
68-77 24-29 16-19 22-27 140+ 99+
60-68 22-27 11-16 20-25 125+ 97+
50-60 19-24 10-14 16-22 107+ 95+
42-50 17-24 7-11 12-18 90+ 90+
37-42 15-21 5-9 9-15 75+ 80+
CAT scores are used as a primary screening tool by B-Schools for short listing candidates for the GD/ PI round. Apart from CAT percentile other factors which are taken in to account for generating calls include academic performance in 10th, +2, Graduation, duration of work experience. Normally, the cut offs for old IIMs are higher than those for new IIMs.
(Approx cut-off percentiles  Gen.)
99.5+ 3-8  Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S, FMS
99+ 1-2  Call from IIM A,B,C,L,K,I,S
And All other IIM calls, IIT B
98+ IIT-D, MDI-PGP, All IIMs except old 7
96.5+ SPJIMR, , NITIE, MDI- HR/IM, few new IIMs ( Latest 6)
94.5+ IIT-KH, IIT-KN, IIT-C, IIT-R, IISc-B, XLRI-Global BM, MDI-M, IIMA (Abm), IIML (Abm)
85+ MISB, ISBM-P, WIMDR-B, BIMTECH-Retail/Insurance, IIFM, MBE-DU,
Section-Wise detailed Analysis
Quantitative Ability (QA)

The QA section was easy as it was in CAT 2014. Earlier CAT used to be known for its tough Quant Section, but looking at last two CAT Papers we can safely assume that CAT is trying to balance out in favour of Non-Engineers, which is a good sign. The Quant section had 15 subjective questions. Interestingly, most subjective questions were those, which would have been very easy even with options.

Overall, in the Quant Section there was a representation of almost all the areas. Commercial Math (Percentage, Profit & Loss & Ratio) had good number of questions. Surprisingly, there was not a single question on probability. However, there was a one question on Permutation and Combination. Time and Distance also had very few questions but otherwise traditional areas like Number System, Algebra & Geometry were present in a good number.

The second slot was slightly tougher than first slot. Students who were amongst the toppers of our Test Series reported attempt of 29 to 34 in this Section. However, the students who did not attempt subjective questions with guess work, for them attempt of 26+ should be considered good in this section.

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Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR)

This was the toughest section in the entire paper and the students were clueless about which sets to attempt and which to leave. Overall they were 4 sets of DI, 4 questions each and there were 4 sets of LR, 4 questions each.

The easiest DI set reported in the morning slot was of quarterly sales performance of a company. The easy set in LR included the Family & Laptop set and the moderate set was newspapers readership related, which was based on Venn Diagrams. Set related to cubes was tough. There was only one set on pure DI which was easy but was calculation intensive and one had to make good use of on screen calculator to solve this set.

In this section there were 8 subjective questions. The students with top performance in test series reported attempt of 20 to 23 in this section. However, an attempt of 16+ with good accuracy can be considered good.

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

The relatively easy level of difficulty of the VA & RC questions may have pleasantly surprised the test-takers. The section consisted of 34 questions divided into two parts – Verbal Abilty (10) and Reading Comprehension(24). As expected the number of RC passages was more this year: 3 passages with 6 questions each, and 2 passages with 3 questions each. The Verbal Ability section had 3 questions on parajumbles, 3 on Critical reasoning (summary) and 3 on Critical Reasoning (Misfit).

Interestingly, the exam did not feature any question from vocabulary, FIJs, Phrasal verbs and so on. This effectively meant that the aspirants who were proficient in the topics that are reading-based would have been more comfortable in this section.

The RC passages were of moderate length, which varied between 500-700 words. Taking an obvious break from previous years trends, there was no RC passage from areas such as philosophy, sociology etc. The passages were based on areas like immigration and economy, economic inequalities, impact of technology, Impact of electricity and poverty, and importance of the study of Humanities. Most of the questions were inferential. Some of them were based on specific details - three questions on the opening sentences.

The 10 questions from the VA section were of easy to moderate level of difficulty and did not pose much of a challenge for serious test takers.

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The paper required Speed reading skill. Students with speed reading skills had definite advantage. Students of hitbullseye who have been scoring high percentile in our mock tests attempted more than 90% questions. Attempt of 25+ questions, for somebody with high accuracy should be considered good.

The hitbullseye faculty were able to locate the RC passages which were excerpted from International publications like New York Times and Harvard Business Review.

RC Sources Morning Slot:
The Verdict

Overall slightly difficult paper as compared to previous CAT. Quant Moderate to difficult, Verbal moderate & LR difficult. Those who attempted 77+ questions with decent accuracy can expect multiple IIM calls with 99.5+ percentile. For lot of students LR section will be make or break section. The cut-off for this section is expected to be low.

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