Oct 16, 2013

CAT 2013: First Day, First Show!!

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The online Common Admission Test (CAT) kicked off without any glitches. To avoid any last minute inconvenience, Students/Test takers  who are new to the city must plan their journey to their respective centres well in advance. Nothing has changed as far as the frisking/registration process is concerned. Adequate security measures have been taken and students were not allowed to carry even coins/handkerchief inside the test centre.


Since very few students prefer to take the test on the very first day, the scenes outside all the three test centres were not very different from those of last year.  There were no surprises in the test. As declared earlier, the paper had two sections of 70 minutes each. Most of the questions in both sections were of the conventional CAT type from the regularly tested areas over the years. There are no changes in the testing interface either. It has infact maintained the same colour scheme also with all the functionality of the previous times being adhered to. There is a tutorial of 13 slides which old/new test takers are suggested to watch carefully to understand the platform in detail.


An 8 page booklet and pencils are provided for rough work. So, do not worry about space to calculate. There is enough of itJ A student who took the test had some different questions, so I am presuming that there is a possibility of multiple sets within a slot ( Again, same as last year).


Disclaimer: This is a personal analysis. Students/Readers are suggested to not ignore any topic. CAT is known to throw surprises every year, across slots and dates. This analysis is purely based on the questions that came today.


Coming to the analysis of the paper, we would look at section 1 first.


Quantitative Reasoning and Data Interpretation: The overall paper was of a moderate-difficulty level. Geometry and Algebra dominated the quant section.  There was more variety in the paper with questions asked from a wide range of topics: Functions, Graphs, Number System.


Algebra made a very strong comeback, ala Yuvraj Singh, after being ignored for most of the slots last year. The questions were do-able for the most parts. Inequality/Modulus/range etc dominated the topic. There were barely any tough concepts involved and basic understanding of the topic should be more than enough to ensure one is able to solve atleast 50-80% of questions in this area.


Geometry was a breather in my opinion. There were basic questions on 2D geometry and a single one on 3D geometry. Most of the questions were intelligent manipulation of simple concepts like the Pythagoras’ theorms, slops of line, Areas of triangles, volume based questions etc.


Arithmetic, unlike previous years, was on a lower representation. Questions were again nicely designed with a couple of basic concepts inter-winged like Ratios, Percentages, etc.


Overall, the only surprise in this section was the topic ‘Functions’: there were a number of average difficulty questions from this topic; a little familiarity of the concepts would have helped the candidate sail through this topic. There was also a total absence of Set Theory based questions.


Data Interpretation was divided into 3 sets with 3 questions each. All the questions were easily manageable and worth doing. A well prepared student should get 9 out of 9 in DI to maximize the scores here. Questions on basic tables, pie-charts, and growth charts were asked with no complex calculations. Answer options were also not very close which should give you a nice shot if you do a level 1 calculation.


Section 2: VA and LR


Standard paper again with no major changes/surprises.


Logical reasoning- LR had much easier questions compared to the mocks that most of you attempt. However, a quick data analysis and data arrangement would be the key here. There were 3 caselets here with 3 questions each. Most of the questions were based on basic matrix based arrangement and Sudoku type questions. One caselet was based on conditional data arrangement and could require more than normal time to crack. But, again, CAT wants you to ensure that you get the LR ones spot on. With English, we never know. Do we ?


Verbal Ability – The biggest, the most pleasant surprise was from the Verbal section. There was not a single question on Grammar. The Section was of an average difficulty level. The section had all the conventional questions from Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. There were 11 questions from Verbal Reasoning: 2 on Word Usage, 3 on Para jumbles, 2 on Fill in the blanks, 2 on Sentence Exclusion, and 2 on Para completions.


The Word Usage questions were pretty straightforward; a candidate with decent English knowledge could have easily spotted the errors in the Usage in both the questions. The Fill in the blanks questions were easy; the vocabulary used was not very uncommon and the reasoning element involved was not all complicated. Both the Para completion questions were of a higher difficulty. More than one option seemed to appropriately complete the paragraph; leaving the questions unattempted would have been the wisest thing to do.  The Parajumbles were of a moderate difficulty level. The sentences in the paragraph were long, but the ideas were expressed in a clear and a lucid language.  Eliminating the options would have taken time, but would have definitely paid off. Out of the two Sentence Exclusion questions, one was easy and one was a little difficult.


There were three Reading Comprehensions (RCs):  One each from Sociology, Art and Natural Science. Unlike last year, this year there were not many tone questions. One tone question, which came in the passage of Sociology, was tough. The passage from Natural Science (probably just a coincidence that it coincided with the World Ozone Day today) was the easiest and had straight forward factual questions, which could have been spotted in one reading. The passage from Sociology was tough, difficult to understand and, as a result, time-consuming. Skipping this passage and focusing on an easy LR set would have been a sagacious decision.


Strategy Lessons: Question selection is of supreme importance. The candidate must scan the paper in the first five minutes and quickly solve the sitters. Doing this will not only motivate him but also give him the general idea of the overall difficulty level of the paper.


P.S: I hope none of the NDA norms have been violated. If any, please bring to my notice and would edit immediately.


PPS: Please do not ask to divulge questions. Any messages regarding this would be summarily ignored.


All the very best to everyone. J



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