CAT 2017 - CAT Day Analysis

Comprehensive and Slot-wise Exam Analysis

In line with the expectations that students have about the CAT exam throwing surprises at them, the CAT 2017 did not surprise them much as far as difficulty level of the paper is concerned. However, the surprise factor may hit the students a little late. Based on the feedback that we received from the students, there were quite a few doable questions across VARC and QA. However, in LRDI sets were quite tough to crack, with only a few doable questions. Hence, many would have felt it to be really difficult to push their attempts in DILR and subsequently the overall attempts beyond a certain level.

The order of questions and options for the questions was different for different students.

With a tough LRDI section, and doable QA, VARC sections, the cutoffs this year could possibly be slightly lower than those in CAT 2016.

The level of difficulty was broadly similar across both the slots. However, a relatively more number of students from the 2nd slot felt positive about their LRDI performance than those in the 1st slot. Whether this positive feeling translates into better scores/percentile is yet to be seen, especially given the process of equating and scaling that the IIMs have been following over the past few years!!

The test experience was very smooth and glitch free across centers, but for an issue in a Delhi centre in the morning slot where the server reportedly failed and the test was not conducted. The students, however, were accommodated in another center in a special 4 pm slot. The authorities arranged for transportation for the students to this new center and ensured that the students were not inconvenienced to look for transport on their own.

Before we get into the detailed analysis, let's quickly look at the test pattern.

SectionNo. of QuestionsNo. of Non MCQ QuestionsDifficulty level
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension347Moderate-Difficult
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning328Difficult
Quantitative Ability3411Moderate
Total10026Moderate-Difficult

Comprehensive analysis

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Analysis

The Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension section is one section that most aspirants are afraid of because of low accuracy. Aspirants would have been delighted by the RCs as they were easy to read both in terms of language and the topic they belonged to. There were three passages with 6 Qs each and two, with 3 Qs each. The relative ease of reading the passages was compensated by the increased level of difficulty in the ‘choices’. With a relatively high proportion of inference-based questions, and answer options very close to each other, this would have required involved reading and sometimes, multiple reading of the relevant portions of the passage. This was seen, as per student reports, in both the sections.

In the Verbal Ability part, more than half the questions did not have any negative marking as they were of the non-MCQ type which could have motivated students to attempt them.

The number of good attempts for this section would be around 20-22.

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Analysis

CAT 2016 had set a new benchmark in terms of difficulty level for the LRDI section and yet it took just one year to break this record. The difficulty level of the Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning section certainly went up by a notch as compared to the last year. The entire section had more difficult, lengthier and trickier questions. There was barely one full set in the section that could be called outright doable. In fact, in some of the sets, it was not easy to solve more than 1-2 Qs in some of the sets, while the remaining were almost untouchable. While the first slot did not have any set in the DILR section that could be called familiar, the students from the second slot did report of seeing at least one standard type of set in the section. All said and done, students who had persisted throughout the AIMCATs would have kept their balance and found this section relatively less intimidating.

The number of good attempts for this section would be around 8-10.

Quantitative Ability Analysis

The surprise in this year's CAT was saved for last, in the form of an unexpectedly easier QA section. The number of questions from basic arithmetic was noticeably and pleasantly on the higher side, making life easier for many a student weak in QA. There were very few un-crackable questions in the paper, pushing the number of attempts of the students up in this section. This was observed in both the slots. However, there were quite a few questions in the section which had cleverly devised traps built into them and needed to be treaded with caution.

While there were many doable questions in this section, one must bear in mind that this section comes right after the very tough LRDI section. The mental drain that students would have been put through in LRDI would not have them in the right state of mind to put in their peak performance. This would hence reduce the possible scores that students could get from this section, making this section to be classified as moderate, which would otherwise have been called easy-moderate.

The number of good attempts for this section would be around 20-22. 

All the best!!!

The pattern of the forenoon slot of CAT 2017 was very much along the lines of CAT 2016 – the number of questions across sections remained the same as that of last year. This would have come as a huge sigh of relief for all aspirants as the conducting-IIM (in this case IIM Lucknow) had not disclosed the number of questions per section.

However, the resemblance to CAT 2016 ended here. The overall refrain was that the exam was ‘challenging’ and would have required the best efforts from every aspirant. The exam started with Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension section which had 34 questions. This was followed by the Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation section which had 32 questions. The last section was Quantitative Ability which had 34 questions. Students who were regular with their AIMCATs and did a thorough analysis of the AIMCATs gave feedback that the tough LRDI sections that they were exposed to in multiple AIMCATs along with the challenging VA questions they faced helped them tackle this exam with a lot more poise and confidence.

As reported by students across the country, the security check at entry was very rigorous at most centers. Belts, Clips, Jewellery including rings, earrings, chains etc. were not allowed. Many were forced to rush back to deposit such items outside and get admitted into the test area.

The test experience, however, was very smooth. No issues were reported by the students at the time of filing this analysis, except at one center in Delhi where there were server issues, because of which students at that center could not take the CAT. We are sure that the IIMs will address this on priority.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

This section had 24 Qs in RCs and 10 Qs in Verbal. Aspirants would have been delighted by the RCs as they were easy to read both in terms of language and the ‘subject’ area. There were three passages with 6 Qs each and two, with 3 Qs each. The relative ease of reading the passages was compensated by the increased level of difficulty in the ‘choices’. A relatively high proportion of questions from this area were inference-based, requiring good critical reasoning skills. The options in most questions were close and would have required involved reading and sometimes, multiple reading of the relevant portions of the passage. This would have taken up time and would have left test-takers with niggling doubts in their minds as to whether they had marked the ‘right’ option.

The ten questions on verbal ability were of the moderate level of difficulty, overall. However, with seven of these ten being non-MCQ type questions, the effective level of difficulty would appear to be higher by a notch or two.

The cut-off in this section is expected to be slightly lower than that in CAT 2016.

Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation

  • ‘What more can I do’?
  • ‘I had burned more midnight oil on this section than any other’!!
  • ‘The difficulty level was beyond what I had anticipated’

Most conversations outside the exam venues were on the above lines. The LRDI section once again proved to be the nemesis of all aspirants. While the LRDI section of CAT 2016 was considered by many to be the most difficult ever, CAT 2017 exceeded even that very high mark!!

The entire section comprised ‘difficult’ and ‘very difficult’ level questions. Several familiar models of questions in LR and DI were conspicuous by their absence and every set had ‘unfamiliar’ written all over it! In fact, the entire section can be termed to have DI based reasoning sets and Quant based reasoning sets, making it almost impossible to identify and classify the sets in DI and LR separately. While the data in some of the sets looked innocuous, to begin with, enticing many an aspirant to attempt them, they would have soon realized that there was much more to the sets than what initially appeared, leading to a feeling that one was trapped in quicksand. Other sets were outright intimidating even at the first glance, given the volume of data and text given in them.

The cut-off in this section is expected to be slightly lower than that in CAT 2016.

Quantitative Ability

Most aspirants would have perceived the quantitative ability section of this slot to be the easiest of the three sections, and rightly so. The relative absence of ‘Difficult’ and ‘Very Difficult’ questions and the corresponding increase in the number of questions on basic arithmetic concepts would have enabled a higher level of attempts in this section. Those students who had attended classes regularly and had worked extensively on the study material books would have found that their attempts are on the higher side compared to the other aspirants. Leaving out any time-consuming questions and maximizing the number of attempts would be the key to scoring high in this section.

The cut-off in this section is expected to be higher than that in CAT 2016.

The pattern of the Afternoon slot of CAT 2017 was similar to that in the Morning slot and very much on the lines of CAT 2016. There were no surprises in the paper in terms of the pattern - the number of questions across sections remained the same as that of last year, at 34, 32 and 34 for VARC, LRDI and QA sections respectively. This was a huge positive for the aspirants as any surprises would have made them redraw their test-taking strategies.

There were some pleasant surprises, with the QA and VARC sections being on the slightly easier side compared to last year. While students were divided on the difficulty level of the LRDI section, many feel that it was a notch above the last year's section.

The overall refrain from the first slot that the exam was ‘challenging’ seems be applicable in this section as well.

In terms of the order of sections, as disclosed earlier and as was seen in the mock test made available on www.iimcat.ac.in, VARC was the first section, followed by LRDI and QA was the last section. Many T.I.M.E. students attributed their high number of attempts in the CAT to the thorough preparation that AIMCATs provided them.

While the security check was rigorous at most centers, some centers were not able to manage the load of people queing up to get in and had to allow them in en masse with out much of security check.

Across centers, as per the reports we have received by the time this analysis is filed, the conduct of the test was smooth and glitch free.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

There were no surprises in this section, with the question distribution remaining the same as that of last year and as seen in the mock test. The VA-RC distribution too was similar, at 10-24. With easy to read RCs, students heaved a huge sigh of relief. The topics chosen for the RCs were also not dense, helping students to save valuable time. There were two passages with 3 Qs each and three passages with 6 Qs each. However, as was reported by the students from the first slot, the choices were close, making elimination difficult and also consuming more time.

In Verbal Ability, absense of options in the non-MCQ questions made the questions tougher than usual, as was expected. The questions were not so direct or easy to crack and required involved reading form the students to solve them.

The cut-off in this section is expected to be slightly lower than that in CAT 2016.

Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation

Students, in the back of the tough LRDI section of CAT 2016, were expecting a similar LRDI section this year as well. And CAT 2017 did not disappont them!!

Easily the toughest among the three sections, it tested the students on their ability to identify and jump off the tougher sets soon enough and their ability to spot and stay on with the relatively less difficult ones. While a couple of sets were regular LR models, the others were not any of the standard LR-DI models and were instead replaced by reasoning based DI. There were some clearly uncrackable sets and those who spotted the toughness soon enough would be the ones who managed to attempt a good number of questions. Tackling such unfamiliar sets would have been a lot easier for those who took AIMCATs regularly.

The cut-off in this section are expected to be close to that in CAT 2016.

Quantitative Ability

Coming after a tough LRDI section, QA was a pleasant surprise for the test-takers. There seems to be an absence of “uncrackable” questions and very few “difficult” questions. The easy questions too were from basic arithmetic topics. This made many students feel this section to be the easiest among the three. Students who had regular practice of their QA basics would have felt very comfortable in this section compared to others. With so many do-able questions, speed could have been the key to crack this section.

The cut-off in this section is expected to be higher than that in CAT 2016.