CAT 2016: Approach for DI & LR

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Updated on Nov 28, 2016 15:16 IST

Tips to approach DI & LR

This is the fourth in a series of articles on how to make best use of your time till CAT-2016. Beginning with an overall break-up of your time across sections in the first article, followed by an approach to the Quant Section in the second article and the approach to the Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VRC) section in the third one, this article talks about the approach to the Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Section.

The Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) Section is likely to appear as the second section in CAT-2016. This is the only section/area that deals with topics that we have not encountered as a part of our regular school curriculum, in contrast to English and Maths, which co-align with VRC and QA respectively. However, in terms of weightage, it carries almost one-third of the total questions in CAT, and therefore, is almost as important as the other two sections.

Till CAT-2014, the relative importance of DI & LR was indirectly lowered by the fact that QA and DI used to be a part of a single section and VRC and LR used to appear in a single section. Consequently, one could afford to ignore DI or LR, and hope to make up for it through a better performance in the QA questions or the VRC questions in that section, ensuring a good sectional score.

Traditionally, both DI & LR have carried almost equal weightage in the CAT, regardless of whether they have appeared as a part of some other section or as a section in themselves.

DI questions usually test your ability to compare, infer from numbers or graphs, while performing the requisite calculations. The use of the Basic Calculator may come as a relief for many among you who are not very comfortable with quick calculations or comparisons of numerical expressions. That said, in certain cases, you are still likely to save time by a quick comparison rather than actual calculation done even by using the on-screen calculator. LR questions normally contain problem sets that test your ability to arrange, prioritize and infer from given information while answering possible or absolute answers. Very broadly, they are mind-benders, like puzzles we have done since child-hood. However, there have been sets and questions which combine and test both DI and LR skills simultaneously.

The section is also likely to include Data Sufficiency (DS) questions, wherein you need to ascertain whether parts or whole of the information given in the question can enable you to derive a unique solution to the question or not. The important point in these questions is that you just need to ascertain whether the question can be solved for a unique solution without actually having to solve the problem. This realization can help you save a lot of time which actually solving a question is likely to take.

32 questions in this section are likely to be in 10-12 sets of two to four questions, including four to six DS questions. Identifying the right (for you) sets would hold the key to doing well in this section. Going by the past trend, even attempting 18-20 questions with a very high accuracy would get you into the top few percentiles. That however, would depend upon the difficulty level of the section.

The question types that you need to tackle in this section can vary from straight calculation based ones to ones that require multiple levels of calculations or inferences, using various combinations of the data/information given. A comfort level with numbers, calculations and the ability to prioritize and arrange the given information in a more usable form will go a long way in ensuring your success in this section.

Assuming you are planning to invest around 80 hours in your DILR Preparations between now and the CAT, the break-up could be as follows:

Area

Hours

Data Interpretation

35

Data Sufficiency

10

Logical Reasoning

35

But the above assumes an equal proficiency across all three areas, and this is unlikely to be true for most of you. Hence, you can possibly take away around a few hours from your strongest area and invest them in your weakest one among the three areas.

While practicing DI questions:
• Read and understand at the given information carefully.
• Read the question slowly to understand the specific information being asked
• Try to put that information in a single numerical [removed]don’t solve it)
• Compare that numerical expression against the choices without actually solving

Being able to scan through data, and sift out the relevant information is a very crucial part of DI problems.

While practicing LR questions:
• Understand the problem statement, the data given and put a broad number to the known/unknown variables
• Identify the form in which data can be arranged to make it most easy-to-use and less bulky as compared to the given information. The arrangement could be linear, tabular, circular, network like among other possible forms.
• Prioritize the use of information given. Certain statements (that reduce the number of unknown variables) taken up first will help you solve questions in far fewer steps than others would.
• Once solved, cross-check against the basic data given in the question set.

Keeping the above pointers in mind and ensuring that they become ingrained in you as second nature would help you take an unassailable lead in this section.

Finally, at the cost of sounding repetitive, adapt your preparation to your individual needs. Do not just blindly practice what others are practicing because their needs are likely to be far different from yours. Do more of what you are weak at, and vice-versa. That is what will help you improve the most.

About the Author

Deekshant Sahrawat: An IIT Delhi, IIM Kolkata alumnus, Deekshant is the founder of MBAGuru, the Leader in ADAPTIVE Preparation for CAT. Deekshant is also a lyricist and has written a number of songs with Dr. Palash Sen, lead singer of Hind-Rock band Euphoria. Having mentored thousands of students to IIMs and Top B-Schools across India, he also blogs actively for CAT aspirants at www.mbaguru.in/blog/deekshants-blog

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