A Complete Roadmap for CAT Data Interpretation

Let’s talk about the time-consuming and highly scoring section of CAT: Data Interpretation. Since the separation of DI part from the Quantitative section, DI has assumed a more important role in CAT. The section may not seem as difficult as the quantitative aptitude, but the calculation-intensive nature of the questions makes it equally critical to ace. In this article, you will learn about the importance of DI, the kind of DI questions and the preparation strategy for the same.
CAT Data Interpretation: Why is it important?
Data Interpretation forms a part of DILR (Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning) section of CAT. There are 20 questions to be solved in 40 minutes in the CAT exam. Each correct answer carries 3 marks, along with a negative marking of -1 for incorrect answer. Out of the total 20 questions, almost 25% are multiple-choice questions and the rest are TITA questions. With the sectional percentile being an essential criterion for top B-schools, you cannot afford to ignore this part of CAT.
DI section tends to evaluate a candidate’s ability to analyse, understand and interpret data so as to reach at an optimal decision. Whether it’s sales reports, market analysis, demand forecasts or budget allocations, a manager is expected to handle and utilize data well. The syllabus for CAT DI encompasses data analysis and data comparison questions. The data is given in form of tables, charts, graphs or in form of caselets. Students find Data interpretation section quite difficult. In the previous year CAT exam, there were 5 sets, out of which 2 sets each comprised 6 questions and 3 sets each had 4 questions.
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CAT Data Interpretation: What to expect in DI section?
DI questions feature in 4 sets as explained in the table below:
Form of Set
Requirement of Question
Set-1: Tables, Charts
Data Comparison (ages, years, etc.)
Set-2: Graphs, Bar diagrams
Data Analysis & Comparison (years, groups etc.)  
Set-3: Tables, Pie charts
Decoding/interpreting missing data/links
Set-4: Graphs, Charts
Data Analysis, Conclusion, Future projections
Suggested Action
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Now that you know about the proportion and types of questions in DI section, let’s discuss how to go about its preparation.
CAT Data Interpretation: How to prepare it?
As there are no well-defined concepts or formulae in data interpretation, the only way to prepare it is practice. You are expected to do a lot of calculations in a limited time. While solving the DI part, you should always choose to start with easy and less time-consuming sets. In order to gain proficiency in the DI section, you are required to sharpen the following skills:
  • Calculations & Approximations: The first rule to crack DI is to polish your calculation skills. DI questions frequently involve percentage changes, ratios, decimal to fraction conversions, etc. Learning the advanced calculation and approximation techniques will save you a good amount of time.
  • Logic & Structure: Sometimes, the key to finding an answer is to figure out the logic behind the given data. In a few cases, the data/information follows a particular structure. Once you are able to identify it, you can solve it much easily and in less time.
  • Practice daily: Make it a habit to solve 3-4 DI sets on daily basis. This will enhance your accuracy and speed in DI questions. Also, you will be able to develop the above-stated skills in an efficient manner. In case, the answer requires too many calculations or you are unable to figure it out, try checking the options using the elimination technique.
Finally, mock tests and previous year CAT papers serve as a great source of practice.
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