CAT 2018 Analysis

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The CAT examiners did a swing between the sections in terms of difficulty with Quant being the sore point for most of the students. DILR was found to be relatively moderate but tricky. Verbal was easy and found to be similar or a notch above last year. In terms of overall pattern, structure and difficulty level, the exam was very similar to the exam last year. Unlike the common beliefs, the CAT examiners seemed to focus on a candidate’s aptitude rather than testing student’s ability to handle a disruptive pattern.
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Exam Structure and Pattern:
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.
The sections contained the following segmentation for Slot I:
Sec. No. Section Name Total No. of Ques. No. of Multiple Choice Ques. Number of Non-MCQs (TITA Ques.)
I Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 27 7
II Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 24 8
III Quantitative Ability 34 22 12
  TOTAL 100 73 27
The sections contained the following segmentation for Slot 2:
Sec. No. Section Name Total No. of Ques. No. of Multiple Choice Ques. Number of Non-MCQs (TITA Ques.)
I Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 34 27 7
II Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 32 25 7
III Quantitative Ability 34 26 8
  TOTAL 100 78 22
Section-wise Review
Verbal Ability Review: In terms of level of difficulty, the verbal section can be labelled as easy to moderate. Students reported that they found RC to be easier than last year. But in Verbal Ability, the accuracy level tends to be lower compared to Quant and DI.
Slot 1 Verbal section had 4 passages with 5 questions each and 1 passage with 4 questions. There were 3 questions on mis-fit, 4 on summaries and 4 on Para Jumbles. The passages were comparatively easy but options were close and hence may impact accuracy. The students with good hold on reading would have found it easier. Para-jumbles questions were relatively easy.
Slot 2 verbal section was similar to slot 1 in terms of composition with easy to moderate level of difficulty.
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Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: DILR was a pleasant surprise for the students. There were 5 sets. One set was on ATM note dispersion wherein Rs. 5000 cash had to be withdrawn but only in denomination of Rs. 100,200 and 500. There were combination questions on that. There was a set on Number Grid System wherein a Matrix of 3*3 and 5*5 could be formed with a condition that no two adjacent numbers horizontally, diagonally or vertically should be the same. A straight Pie chart Data set was also there which was very manageable. Pure AR was tough and tricky.
Slot 2 Di was slightly tougher than slot 1. There were 8 sets of 4 questions each.  There were 2 blocks which were easy and doable. A block consisting of room allotment to 7 students was easy and again a block on mobile’s costing, profitability and revenue was also doable. Blocks related to coding and college ranking should have been avoided as they were lengthy and tough. Rest were moderate to tough of which selectively 1-2 could have been done with good application.
Quantitative Aptitude Review: The common perception is that the Quant section was really tough with no-clear option. There were 1-2 questions each on Number System, Venn-Diagram, Higher maths and Probability. Algebra and Geometry had 5-6 questions each with 8-10 questions on Ratio/Time Distance/Work etc. Algebra, Geometry and Arithmetic questions were difficult.
Slot 2 quantitative aptitude was tricky and tough similar to slot 1. There were 4-5 questions on ratios which were very calculative. Geometry had 5 questions out of which 2 were straight forward and easy and rest were tough. There was only 1 question on permutation and Venn Diagram. Time and work had 4 questions which were also calculative and required application. There were 3 to 4 questions on mixtures which were moderately tough but calculative. Function and number system had 1-2 questions each. Algebra had 7 -8 questions which were moderate to tough. Time, speed and distance also had 3-4 questions moderately difficult.
Attempts & Expected Percentile Table along with B-Schools Cut-offs
Table – Morning Slot
Overall Attempt VA & RC
DI & LR Attempt QA
Probable Score Expected Percentile
70+ 28-32 20-22 18-21 160 99.5
65-70 27-30 18-20 16-18 150 99
55-65 24-28 14-17 14-15 127 97
45-55 21-25 13-15 11-12 117 95
37-45 19-23 10-12 9-10 102 90
29-37 16-20 7-9 7-9 82 80

Table – Evening Slot
Overall Attempt VA & RC
DI & LR Attempt QA
Probable Score Expected Percentile
66+ 28-31 16-18 17-20 153 99.5
60-66 27-30 14-15 15-17 140 99
52-60 24-27 13-14 14-15 122 97
42-51 21-25 11-12 10-12 109 95
34-42 19-23 9-11 9-10 99 90
26-34 16-20 8-10 7-9 79 80
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B-School Cut-offs
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 have been higher than those for new IIMs. Also, the CAT cut off scores for non-IIMs are lower than that of the IIMs. However, in the recent years, the IIMs have started focusing on profile-based shortlisting with a lower CAT cut off..
Rating Approx. cut-off percentiles Gen. Institutes
90+ (includes profile-based) IIM-B, IIM-C, IIM-K, IIM-I, IIM-N, IIM-V, IIT-B, IIT-D, IIT-KH
80+ (includes profile-based) IIM-A, IIM-L, SPJIMR, NITIE, IIM-Asr, IIT-KN
CAT 2018 did spring a few surprises. While the Quant section was found to be tough in both slots, DILR had a mixed review where in Slot 1 reported it to be comparatively easy but slot 2 reported higher difficulty level. Verbal was moderate for both slots.
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