CAT 2015 was being watched with a lot of anticipation due to the major changes in the pattern this year – both on the content and technology front. The actual exam seems to have gone some way in changing the growing perception over the last 3-4 years that CAT had diluted its quality. However, the exam this year (across both slots) was highly skewed in terms of difficulty level across sections, which would have made planning of attempts difficult.
The general feedback across both slots was that VA was on the easy to moderate side followed by an extremely tough DILR section and a relatively easy QA section. Hence, the sectional cut-offs are also expected to have large variations. The number of direct entry questions also varied significantly across sections. However, all of them should have been attempted as there was no negative marking for them.
One issue with the test was the presence of incorrect instructions given before the start of the test. The demo test released earlier had clearly mentioned that RC passages will have 3 or 6 questions (which was also followed by the actual test) whereas the instructions incorrectly mentioned blocks of 4 questions each, which would have added to students’ anxiety before the test.
Number of Sections
Number of questions
Options per Question
4 (only for MCQs)
Marks per Question
1 for MCQs, 0 for Direct Entry
60 minutes per section
1. Section I – Reading Comprehension + Verbal Ability
There were two sub-sections (RC and VA in two separate tabs) and the breakup of the section was exactly as given in the demo test. There were 5 RC passages comprising 24 questions (3 passages with 6 questions each and average word count of 450-500 words and 2 passages with 3 questions each and average word count of 300-350 words). None of the RC questions were direct entry questions. Student feedback is that RCs were from diverse areas like history, economics, socio-economic trends (clothing, housing, energy generation, and the internet), and geography. Most passages, while not dense, were analytical in nature and involved serious reading of the subject matter. Some of them had questions with very close options or ambiguities in the question stem. On the whole, this part of the section could be rated easy to moderate.
Verbal Ability was the tougher of the two sub-sections. Questions were asked from only three areas – Jumbled Sentences, Odd sentence in a sequence, and Paragraph summary. All 10 questions here were direct entry type, which made some of them (especially jumbled sentences) difficult to solve. There were no questions from some common types like critical reasoning, fill in the blanks, and word usage. In that sense, this section completely replicated the demo mock.
On the whole, 27-28 attempts in this section (approximately 18-19 in RC) with 80-85% accuracy could be considered a good performance in this section.
2. Section II – Data Interpretation + Logical Reasoning:
This was, by far, the toughest of the three sections. Each slot had four DI sets and four LR sets, with one direct entry set in DI and LR each. DI and LR were present as two distinct sub-sections like the earlier section. However, neither sub-section in the two slots had a single set that could be classified as easy.
Each set in DI typically had a small-moderate table or chart (no humongous numbers) but lot of additional data and conditions. The DI sets were less of calculations or typical DI and more LR type with a table/chart.
The sets in LR focused on areas like arrangements, grouping, numerical logic and miscellaneous puzzles. Again, they were characterised by a lot of data and conditions. Most LR sets had a mix of direct and conditional questions.
It would have been virtually impossible to attempt the entire section in an hour. Hence, selection of the best 3-4 sets to attempt would have been very critical. Since we expect cut-offs to be only at a section (DILR) level rather than the sub-section level (DI or LR), you could have skewed your attempts based on whichever sets you found doable.
On the whole, the sets were more on the lines of the tough to very tough sets that used to be asked from 2004-2008 (e.g. Erdos number) and students may need to brace themselves for such sets in subsequent years.
18-20 attempts (assuming both the direct entry sets were attempted) with an accuracy level of 80-85% could be considered a very good performance. This section is expected to be the game changer for the entire exam.
3. Section III – Quantitative Ability:
This section was relatively easy but had the maximum number of direct entry questions (average of 15 per slot). There were a lot of sitters (average of 10-12 per slot) interspersed with moderately difficult questions. However, identifying the sitters was crucial. Most of the direct entry questions were conceptually simple and could have been done faster with basic use of the calculator. However, they judged your basic knowledge of these concepts. One of the direct entry questions in the second slot is reported to be a copy of a question asked in the actual UPSC CSAT exam this year.
The MCQs had relatively spread out options, which made elimination easier. The focus this year was predominantly on geometry and arithmetic while a traditional favourite (numbers) took a relative backseat. Modern maths was also present but was skewed towards a couple of topics. Based on student feedback, the most common topics this year were:
• Arithmetic – Averages, Percentages, Profit and Loss, Ratio and Proportion, Time and Distance
• Algebra – Logarithms, Linear and Quadratic Equations, Inequalities
• Geometry – Properties of geometric figures (circles, triangles, quadrilaterals), co-ordinate geometry and mensuration
• Modern Maths – Sequences and Series, Functions, Set Theory and P & C
The high difficulty level of the previous section (DILR) may have affected the confidence of students at the beginning of this section. However, on the whole, 25-27 attempts with atleast 85% accuracy would have been a good performance.
A student attempting 72-74 questions in this test could consider it a good performance.