Strategies to maximize DI-LR score in CAT

Data Interpretation (DI) and Logical Reasoning is a part of almost all entrance exams to management education courses (B-schools).One of the toughest entrance exams is CAT and the weightage of this area in the exam is close to one-third. Data Interpretation and logical reasoning section has no fixed syllabus. It tests your speed, decision making capability and interpretation of data. The CAT exam is known for having a medium to tough DILR section.
DI area in this section requires you to scan and analyze the sets given in various forms such as tables, charts and graphs (pie charts, bar graphs etc.), data caselets. As far as logical reasoning is concerned, it appears in the form of paragraphs, which are filled with information. The paragraphs are generally followed by a set of directions followed by questions, which are to be answered on the basis of the information provided. This section requires number crunching and fast calculations, even though the basic calculator is allowed nowadays. Here you will learn how to maximize your score in this section using different ways to deal with different kinds of questions. Firstly let us talk about data interpretation:
Maximization of score in Data Interpretation
Major challenges while tackling CAT DI Questions are illusions, relevance and consistency regarding data. The data sets are designed to confuse and mislead. The challenge to crack these types of questions is to swiftly identify, analyze and interpret the data. If you work on the following points, you would be able to improve your score in the data interpretation questions.
1. Calculation speed and sense of approximation: The Data Interpretation section is calculation-intensive. Sometimes the calculations involved in a question are very tough. It is therefore, important for you to get comfortable with calculations. All the relevant tables, squares and cubes should be on your fingertips. Practice well to enhance your calculation speed and accuracy. Try doing calculations in your mind rather than using pencil/pen. Excess use of calculator would also reduce your attempts as you may be tempted to do all the calculations with the help of calculators only, even when it is not necessary. It is understandable in the beginning, but slowly and gradually you will see a remarkable difference in your speed.
2. Careful reading to avoid language traps: It will be unfair to say that Data Interpretation is ONLY about calculations. It is also about logic and reasoning. Sometimes the questions are framed in such a way that you mark an obvious looking answer – which is often wrong! Therefore it is important to work on your reading and comprehending skills. For this, you can start reading business newspapers which have articles that are data-intensive and have graphs & pie-charts etc.
3. Do not stuck to one particular question: Most of the students after the exam have a common regret of not seeing an easy set and keeping themselves occupied with the difficult sets only. It is quite possible that while scanning, you choose a data set that looked simpler, but while solving, it turned out to be tough or highly calculation-intensive. You should detach yourself from the data set as soon as you find it very tough or time-consuming, even if you have invested time in it. Do not think that since you have already spent 5 – 7 min. on it, you have to solve it. Remember, you can always come back to such data sets later after having gone through the entire section once.
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4. Avoid Common Mistakes: The following are common mistakes in the data interpretation questions.
A. The first mistake in Data Interpretation: Consider the example given below. Given below is the information about FEI of 5 different countries for two different years. FEI is the ratio of foreign equity inflow as a percentage of GDP.
 IndiaChinaMalaysiaS.KoreaThailand
19971.715.9610.672.165.09
19980.724.89.922.55.86
Question: Country with the largest percentage change in FEI in 98 relative to 97 is
1. India
2. China
3. Malaysia
4.Thailand
Sol: Most of you would calculate the percentage change for every country, instead of doing calculations only for the given choices, as the question does not contain the choice ‘none of these'. First learning comes, you should only see for the given countries and not for all the countries.
B. Second mistake in Data Interpretation: When working with fractions, you have a tendency to find the values of the fractions, whereas, you are supposed to only "compare the fractions". Data Interpretation is not about calculating the exact values (this is only required when the options are very close). It's about "approximation". As in the above question, we have to find which country has the largest % change over the previous year, so, instead of calculating exact values; we will only compare the fractions.
Country Approx. % change over Previous Year
India1/1.71
China1.1/6
Malaysia0.8/10.7
Thailand0.7/5

If we observe, the numerators of all values are almost equal whereas the denominator of India is many times less than that of other countries. So, the target to find the largest is clear, i.e. India. This trick will save time and help you get answers without a lot of calculations.

C. Third mistake in Data Interpretation: : In most of the questions where calculations are required, we tend to make our calculations lengthy by not having patience to wait till we collect all the data. Consider the example given below:
Total value of production = 5760 million Euros,
Total volume of production =1.055 million tons.
If Turkey has 15% share in volume and 16% share in value then what is the average price in Euros per kg for Turkey?

 

Now, in this question most of you will first of all calculate 16% of 5760 Euros, and then evaluate 15% of 1.055 million tons and then divide the two values.

 

Instead, we should have collected all the data first i.e.
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5. The more you Practice the more you score: The last but the most important piece of advice we can give you is to practice a lot.
This will help you in three ways:
a. Your ability to think and interpret will increase. You would have attempted all kinds of DI questions many number of times. You will end up attempting more questions correctly, thus increasing your score.
b. Your speed will increase considerably.
c. Your confidence will increase considerably, since you know you have practiced a lot! This will help you face tough questions with an optimistic outlook.
Maximization of score in Logical Reasoning
After data interpretation, now let us focus on logical reasoning. Work on the following points to improve your score in logical reasoning questions:
1. Reading and analyzing the given information thoroughly: Sometimes information is given in the form of small lines. Do remember- any minute detail provided in the given information, if missed, may lead to errors. Read each and every line carefully. The array of information should be noted down concisely while attempting logical reasoning. Don't jump to solve the question instantly. Incorrect interpretation of even one of the directions may make all your answers wrong.
2. Remove redundant words or sentences: A lot of information may be provided in a logical reasoning question. But you should only make use of the relevant information and ignore the rest. Some of the information provided, may lead to unnecessary confusion in making the table or grid, which may be not required. Hence it is always advisable to use the information judicially.
3. Focus on keywords: There are a few keywords that can completely change the meaning of a statement. Some words that should be paid attention to are: all, some, none, other than, only, unless, if and only if, and some prefixes like non-, un-, dis- etc.
4. Diagrammatical Approach: You should organize the information in a systematic manner by using tables, symbols and diagrams. This minimizes the work involved and helps you solve a different set of questions based on one main problem. The symbols used should be such that they convey the proper meaning to you as given in the question.
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5. Do not stuck at a particular question: Do not get obsessed with problems that you cannot solve. Getting upset over a problem makes you lose valuable time. You may actually be on the wrong track altogether. Move on, instead of lingering over a problem; you can come back to it later on if you have time. It is advised to develop the skills to understand and realize whether it would be worth spending much time to solve a question or leave it. However, if you have a strong feeling that you can solve it, you may proceed judiciously, even if you may need an additional minute or two of your valuable time during mock and actual test.
6. Do not make assumptions: Limit yourself to finding the answers needed and nothing more. Donot be judgmental or make unwarranted assumptions. Even if a topic is familiar to you or the information provided is opposite to a fact you know already, you should not use any information that is not provided in the question. Always remember, you are required to work within the given parameters. Sometimes you just fix a person in a particular position, believing your sixth sense, and that proves to be wrong later, this creates unnecessary pressure and affects your performance that point onwards.
7. Check the choices before you start solving: Before solving the problem, check the options given. This will help you to know the form your own solution will take and can also assist you in solving if you were not able to start initially. Eliminate choices that are completely off the mark, or can be ruled out by individual conditions. In this process, the choice may boil down to two options. Therefore, now the probability of choosing the correct answer increases to 50%.
8. Additional guidelines:
i) Work on your identified weak question types to be comfortable with them.
ii) Get a hold of repetitive LR questions. If you analyze the past CAT papers, you will find repetitive problems on a number of topics like seating arrangement, sets, Venn diagrams, games etc. Once you select such topics and practice them, you will get more ideas to focus on question solving methods, and in the process you will also find better strategies with shortcuts. You may find that your shortcuts and methods are working for other questions also.
iii) While preparing, choose variety over quantum. Concentrate on familiarizing yourself with a range of problems. Solve questions with various Levels of Difficulty.
iv) You should solve around 5 sets of logical reasoning questions everyday to get a good grip of them and solve these problems under time pressure. This will enhance your in time management skills and will also improve your accuracy.
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