Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
Are you planning to appear for CAT’17 and have absolutely no idea where and how to prepare for the logical reasoning section? Or you might not even have started preparing for it. Here is a 6-month study plan on how to prepare logical reasoning topics for CAT. Imagine, after 6 months you take your CAT exam and end up with an average score in Logical Reasoning/Data Interpretation section. Why did this happen? This can be due to many reasons – procrastination, lack of practice, unable to cover sufficient topics, lack of time to solve or wasted more time on one set in the exam. First of all, one needs to dedicate some amount of time daily to preparations, without fail. How to start preparing, we are here to help you with that.
Before we begin discussion of the strategy, we should know all the possible topics, which could be asked in the exam. In addition to that, we will also categorize them into difficulty levels. These difficulty levels are relative which means that we are categorizing these topics as easy, medium or difficult considering some of the topics as difficult. Difficult topics are those, which consume more time than other topics and require more iterations (each iteration could have sub-cases to solve as well). Further, we will also talk about their frequency in CAT. Some of them are most likely to be asked every year or two and some of the topics have not been asked in recent years.
|Easy||Sequence||Not asked recently|
|Direction Sense||Not asked recently|
|Matchstick/ Coin picking||Not asked recently|
|Number and alphabet series||Not asked recently|
|Syllogism||Not asked recently|
|Odd One out||Not asked recently|
|Moderate||Blood Relations||Not asked recently|
|Binary logic ( liar, truth-teller, alternator)||Not asked recently|
|Coding-Decoding||Not asked recently|
|Venn-Diagram ( Set theory)||Frequently asked|
|Cube Based||Frequently asked|
|Calendars||Not asked recently|
|Clock||Not asked recently|
|Input-Output||Asked in Cat 16|
|Difficult||Linear arrangements||Very frequent asked|
|Circular arrangements||Very frequent asked|
|Distributions and Combinations||Very frequent asked|
|Selection and Group formation||Frequently asked|
|Games and tournaments||Not asked recently|
|Network, pipelines and critical path||Not asked recently|
|Rating Distribution (New topic in CAT)||Asked very recently (Asked in CAT 16)|
|Quant based puzzles (New topic in CAT)||Very frequently asked|
|Model based puzzle||Asked very recently (CAT 16 had one set)|
From the table, we can see that the IIMs are now focusing more on the moderate and difficult puzzles, which is why CAT 15’s and CAT 16’s logical reasoning section was much challenging. We can expect easy ones in coming years but as per the recent trend, the paper is focusing more on time management and sorting skills.
Here is a strategy we can follow in the next six months to get the best output of the efforts we put in our preparations.
As we are aware that the difficult puzzles are the new favorites in CAT, we need to start with these. The most frequent and common topics having maximum probability of being asked in CAT are Distributions, Arrangements (linear and circular), Selections and Cube based puzzle. Start with these topics, get through with the basics and try to practice as many questions possible. In any mock test you go for, these topics will always be there. You will need a lot of time to get yourself acquainted with the tricks, methods, assumptions to make and techniques to solve. First month, make yourself in a comfortable position with these topics. Along with these topics, also study binary logic, Venn-diagram and Input-output as these are also most likely to appear in most of the mock tests.
Now, as you are comfortable with frequent topics, it could be a morale booster when you appear for mocks. For the second month, complete remaining topics in difficult section namely – Games and tournaments, Networks and pipelines and new topics. New topics are a kind of old topics spin-off and so if you are comfortable with old ones, new ones will not be difficult to solve. Along with these topics, go for difficult part of the difficult topics. For example, a distribution problem involving 8 persons, each from a different country wearing a different color shoe and speak a different language. This is just one example for difficult part of difficult topics and there are many such situations. By the end of second month, you should try to get familiar all difficult level topics along with few other mentioned and the advance part of it.
By the end of the second month, you should be familiar with majority of the topics (as mentioned before) and practicing well. In month three, you should complete all the remaining topics from all difficulty levels. The third month calls for getting in-depth understanding of all the topics and acquainted with the techniques to solve them. By the end of third month, you should have completed about 95% of the topics’ basics.
In three months, you completed all the topics’ basics and covered a variety of questions based on them. Now, we need to focus on the timing factor. As we know, CAT is all about time management. In addition, sorting the question will yield maximum result. More than the type of question solved, your score will boost your percentile. It doesn’t matter if you solve an easy set or a difficult one, you would still get same score. If you have enough practice of sorting questions, you could make yourself in a comfortable position and up your percentile. Fourth month, you need to take sectional tests. Sectional tests will be used as a measure to check what topic you find difficult to solve in the test (your weak topic). This self-analysis is very important at this phase as this is when you would realize the areas you need to focus more on. Take sectional tests, analyze these weak topics and practice them more. You should not leave any topic with the thought of revising later as you might not even get enough time.
You can now say that you know all the topics and solve majority of the questions. While practicing, you also realized that for the same topic, some questions need more time to solve than others do. Now is the time to sort your topics during mock tests. You will get 8 sets to solve in an hour (as per CAT 16 pattern) and you cannot allot same time for all of them. Further, with the recent trend of a difficult Logical Reasoning/Data Interpretation section, you might not be able to attempt all the sets. Never go with the mindset to solve all the questions in the examination hall. It is only when you read the paper you will come to know the difficulty of that section. Remember, if you are prepared well and still find the paper difficult then it is actually difficult and even more difficult for those who have not prepared enough. You first need to sort the comparatively easier sets and solve them. As told earlier, the score matters more than the kind of question. This month you need to focus only on time management and sorting of the questions. The number of variables in the question, the number of clues, the number of unknown quantities and the kind of set will hint about the difficulty of the set. You have an entire month to practice the same. You might be able to solve all the questions but if you spend more time on a particular set, you will lose time to solve others. Do not target any specific number of questions rather use your judgment to solve the scoring (or the easier) sets before attempting the lengthier ones. By the end of fifth month, you should know the approach to solve the section within allotted time. Once again, focus more on sorting the sets rather than trying to attempt them all.
Month number 6 calls only for practice. You have your CAT in a month’s time and you need to take as many full-length mocks as possible. It is only revision time as you are already thorough with concepts, variety, time management and sorting.
We know that Logical Reasoning/Data Interpretation is a section and we covered only logical reasoning part of it. We need to solve Data Interpretation also along with Logical Reasoning in the CAT and we need a strategy for Data Interpretation as well. A strategy for Data Interpretation section is the topic for our next post. Until then, start with the topics mentioned in the first month of Logical Reasoning preparations.