Expert tips on CAT Analytical Reasoning

CAT Analytical Reasoning: Introduction
Analytical Reasoning is one of the most important topics when it comes to CAT & other MBA exams. Probing the candidate on his/her reasoning skills, the topic is essentially a test of your temperament. On the one hand, this question type hardly requires you to be in possession of any previous knowledge, and on the other, it requires you to possess an ability to think on your feet. The best way to prepare for Analytical Reasoning is to expose yourself to multifarious question types and make sure you are able to develop an approach for a variety of contexts. Let's explore some more tips and tricks for this topic that will help you gain a competitive edge.
CAT Analytical Reasoning Syllabus
The following is the list of important topics that form the Analytical Reasoning section:
  • Sets based on games like Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis etc.
  • Share trading
  • Sitting Arrangement – Linear, Circular.
  • Directions & Ranking.
  • Blood Relations.
  • Sets based on Playing cards.
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CAT Analytical Reasoning: Tips and Tricks
  • Read Carefully: Read the information given in the Analytical sets very carefully. Remember, the devil is in the detail.
  • Do not use prior INFORMATION: NEVER assume or use any information that is not given in the directions. Remember, this is not an assessment of how much you know; this section tests your logical and analytical ability and checks how well you interpret the information given and how intelligently you derive the information required for answering the questions.
  • Pay special attention to Special words: Many times you will encounter some special words like "could be" or "must be" etc. Do underline or circle such words. These words can change your answer completely. "Could be" or "may be" is different from "must be" as the former deals with one of the possible outcomes whereas the latter deals with the outcome which is essential as per the conditions mentioned. The solved examples at the end of the article would further clear your doubts about this little tip.
  • Knowledge of basic terminologies: You should acquire the basic knowledge with regards to directions, relations, sitting arrangements, rules of games (like those in cricket about runs, overs etc., in football/hockey about goals-for, goals- against etc.), shares, debentures, playing cards etc. for easy and quick understanding of the case-lets.
  • Universal conditions and Local conditions: There are universal conditions, which all questions must satisfy at all times and there are local conditions, which are followed by particular questions. These local conditions are specific for a particular question only and always keep this in mind. When you move to the next question, you have to abide by the universal conditions along with any local condition given within this very question, if any.
  • Practice hard: Practice makes a man perfect and Analytical Reasoning is no exception to this. As the scope is limited in this section, unlike Quantitative Aptitude, practice is the only way to acquaint yourself with the different problems and attain perfection.
CAT Analytical Reasoning Shortcuts
Well, the elusive search for shortcuts in Analytical Reasoning brings you here. Unlike the CAT Quantitative Ability section, there are no universal short-cuts for Analytical Reasoning. Rather, what we have are important methodologies that you can adopt in your problem solving approach for this area. Two such shortcuts/methodologies are:
CAT AR Practice Sets/ Practice Questions
AR Set 1:
Answer the following questions based on the information given below: In a sports event, six teams (A, B, C, D, E and F) are competing against each other. Matches are scheduled in two stages. Each team plays three matches in stage – I and two matches in Stage – II. No team plays against the same team more than once in the event. No ties are permitted in any of the matches. The observations after the completion of Stage – I and Stage – II are as given below:
  • One team won all the three matches.
  • Two teams lost all the matches.
  • D lost to A but won against C and F.
  • E lost to B but won against C and F.
  • B lost at least one match.
  • F did not play against the top team of Stage-I.
  • The leader of Stage-I lost the next two matches.
  • Of the two teams at the bottom after Stage-I, one team won both matches, while the other lost both matches.
  • One more team lost both matches in Stage-II.

Q.1 The two teams that defeated the leader of Stage-I are:

(1) F & D
(2) E & F
(3) B & D
(4) E & D
(5) F & D

Q.2 The only team(s) that won both matches in Stage-II is (are):

(1) B
(2) E & F
(3) A, E & F
(4) B, E & F
(5) B & F

Q.3 The teams that won exactly two matches in the event are:

(1) A, D & F
(2) D & E
(3) E & F
(4) D, E & F
(5) D & F

Q.4 The team(s) with the most wins in the event is (are):

(1) A
(2) A & C
(3) F
(4) E
(5) B & E

Solution: As per the instructions given for stage – I, we can reach the following conclusions:
(a) As B lost at least one match, hence A won all the 3 matches.
(b) The two teams who lost all the matches cannot be A (as explained above), cannot be B (E lost to B), cannot be D (D won against C & F). Hence, the two teams must be C and F.
(c) F did not play against the top team (i.e. A). We get the following table for stage – I. (To be read from rows)

  A B C D E F
A X W W W    
B L X     W W
C L   X L L  
D     W X   W
E   L W   X X
F   L   L L X

As per the instructions given for Stage-II, we can reach the following conclusions. (d) A lost both its matches against E and F.

(e) F won against A, hence is the bottom team (out of C & F) which won both the matches ⇒ F won against C as well. This also means that C lost both its matches against B and F.

(f) Apart from A and C, one more team lost both the matches in Stage-II. That team can neither be E (A lost to E), nor B (as C lost to B), nor F (as F won both its matches). Hence, the team must be D.

We get the following table for Stage-II.

  A B C D E F
A X W W W    
B L X     W W
C L   X L L  
D     W X   W
E   L W   X X
F   L   L L X

Therefore, the answers are:

  • Option 2- E & F defeated A. [Please note that in this question option (1) and (5) were the same]
  • Option 4- B, E & F won both the matches in Stage-II.
  • Option 5- D & F won exactly two matches in the event.
  • Option 5- B & E has most wins, 4 each.
AR Set 2:

K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, U and W are the only ten members in a department. There is a proposal to form a team from within the members of the department, subject to the following conditions:

The size of a team is defined as the no. of members in the team.

  • A team must include exactly one among P, R, and S.
  • A team must include either M or Q, but not both.
  • If a team includes K, then it must also include L, and vice versa.
  • If a team includes one among S, U, & W, then it must also include the other two.
  • L & N cannot be members of the same team.
  • L & U cannot be members of the same team.
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Q.1 Who cannot be a member of a team of size 3?

1. L
2. M
3. N
4. P

Q.2What would be the size of the largest possible team?

1. 8
4. 5
5. Can't Say

Q.3In how many ways a team can be constituted so that the team includes N?

1. 2
2. 3
3. 4
4. 5
5. 6

Solution: In this case, it is mentioned that exactly one among P, R, S can be there in a team. This means only one of these will be there in the team. Also either M or Q must be there but they cannot be there together in the team. K and L will always be together either inside or outside the team. Similarly S, U, W will be together either inside or outside the team. L cannot be with either N or U in the team. These are the conditions given in the questions.

Sol 1: From the conditions it is very clear that one among P, R, S will definitely be there in the team along with either M or Q. That means two persons are fixed. Now we need one more person as team size should be of 3. Now if L is there then K must be there and thus team can never be of 3 persons with L. Hence, the answer is the first option.

Sol 2: This is simply a hit and trial process. Go on forming largest possible team with the conditions mentioned. You will find maximum size possible is 5 like S, U, W, M, N. The reason for this to be maximum is as S is taken, P and R are rejected. M is taken so Q is rejected. U being there L is rejected, along with that K automatically gets rejected. Hence, the answer is the fourth option.

Sol 3:In this question the condition is that 'N' must be there in the team. Now the size of team is not given that means any size would be appropriate. Thus start forming teams with 'N'.

NMP, NQP, NMR, NQR, SUWNM, SUWNQ are the required teams. Hence, the answer is the fifth option.

AR set 3:

A person can have at the most 10 books. At least one book of Maths, Quality control, Physics and Fine Arts. For every Maths book more than two Fine Arts books are required. For every Quality control book more than two Physics books are required. Maths, Quality Control, Physics & Fine Arts books carry 4, 3, 2 and 1 points respectively. Find the maximum points that can be earned?


In this case, one can have at the most 10 books; at least one each of all the four subjects. Now it is given that for every Maths book more than two Fine Arts books are required. Here more than two indirectly means at least three as question is talking about books and the required number has to be integral. Thus, if one maths book is there, then minimum three Fine Arts books are required and similarly, if one Quality Control book is there, then at least three Physics books are required. Now if we take one book of Maths, one of Quality Control, three of Physics and three of Fine Arts then we have total of eight books while we can have a maximum of ten books. Now in order to maximize the points our intention is to use all the books. Now the question arises for which subject we should select the two remaining books. Now Maths and Quality Control books cannot be used as then in that case we need to allot certain books for Fine Arts and Physics also and that is not possible so only option left with us to allot the two books with Physics subjects to maximize the points. So, the final configuration would be M-1, QC-1, P-3+2=5, FA–3. Calculating points: (1*4) + (1*3) + (5*2) + (3*1) = 20. Thus, the answer is 20.

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