Sometime back in July when IIM A announced the changes to the CAT, what was expected was a cosmetic change done to the CAT 2014 pattern – clubbing DI & LR into one separate section. Apart from that, it was also announced that there would be non-MCQ questions and also, calculator would be allowed.
What they did not announce at that time was:
• Sequence of the sections
• Number of non-MCQ questions
• Composition of VRC section – specifically, the number of RC questions
A few days ago the CAT authorities released the CAT 2015 Mock CAT* with the following details:
1. The sequence of the sections:
a. Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC)
b. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR)
c. Quantitative Aptitude (QA).
2. There are three types of questions in the paper:
a. Multiple Choice Questions with marking scheme of (+3, -1)
b. Multiple Choice Questions with marking scheme of (+3, 0)
c. Non Multiple Choice Questions with marking scheme of (+3, 0)
3. The VRC section of the sample paper consists of:
a. 24 RC questions from 5 passages with a marking scheme of (+3, -1)
b. 6 verbal logic questions with choices and a marking scheme of (+3, 0)
c. 4 Parajumbles without choices (non-MCQ) with a marking scheme of (+3, 0)
4. The DILR section consists of:
a. 24 questions in 3 data sets each of DI and LR with a marking scheme of +3, -1
b. 1 data set each of DI and LR (total 8 questions) with a marking scheme of +3, 0
5. QA section has 25 MCQs with a marking scheme of +3, -1 and 9 non MCQs with a marking scheme of +3, 0. Interestingly 7 questions have been given twice – once with choices and once in the form of non-MCQs.
6. The breakup of the question types in the paper is summarized in the table below:
7. A 20 digit scientific calculator has been provided
Unless IIM A wants to play a cruel joke with all the CAT aspirants, we would have to assume that the above would be more or less the pattern that one can expect.
CAT 2014 Mock CAT Vs CAT 2014
Last year too, CAT authorities had released a CAT 2014 Mock CAT and a comparison of the CAT 2014 Mock CAT with the actual CAT 2014 paper will help us understand what we can infer from CAT 2015 Mock CAT.
The CAT 2014 paper was similar to CAT 2014 Mock CAT in terms of the structure. Both the papers had:
1. 34 QA questions
2. 16 DI questions in 4 data sets consisting of 4 questions each
3. 16 LR questions in 4 data sets consisting of 4 questions each
4. 16 RC questions in 4 passages consisting of 4 questions each
5. 18 Verbal Logic questions
However in terms of the question types (in Verbal Logic) and the level of difficulty (in all areas) there was no correlation because all the questions in the CAT 2014 Mock CAT were randomly picked up from 2003-08 CAT papers.
While the CAT 2014 paper had very easy QA questions and RC passages, the level of difficulty of these two was medium to high in the CAT 2014 Mock CAT. In DI and LR it was the reverse with the data sets in the CAT 2014 paper being more difficult than those in CAT 2014 Mock CAT.
In terms of the question type, the gap was the widest in the Verbal section. While the Verbal questions in CAT 2014 Mock CAT had 5 FIJ questions and 7 Sentence Correction questions, the actual CAT 2014 did not have any FIJ questions and only 3 Sentence Correction questions, it also had Critical Reasoning questions that were missing in the CAT 2014 Mock CAT.
CAT 2014 Mock CAT Vs CAT 2015 Mock CAT*
While the CAT 2015 Mock CAT is being analyzed to death, most of the people have missed comparing the two Mock CATs – CAT 2014 Mock CAT and CAT 2015 Mock CAT. A comparison of the two papers shows an overlap of over 90% in these two papers.
In the VRC section of CAT 2015 Mock CAT, 4 out of the 5 RC passages, the 4 Parajumble questions and the 3 Summary questions are from CAT 2014 Mock CAT.
In the DILR section, all the 8 data sets of CAT 2015 Mock CAT were there in the CAT 2014 Mock CAT also. The only change is the removal of choices from 2 data sets.
In QA section all questions of CAT 2015 Mock CAT are from the previous year Mock CAT.
Inferences from CAT 2015 Mock CAT:
1. Paper Structure: Given that the CAT 2014 paper was identical to CAT 2014 Mock CAT in terms of the paper structure, I believe that CAT 2015 could follow the pattern of the CAT 2015 Mock CAT.
2. The VRC section in CAT 2015 Mock CAT has a bonus that many students have missed out – the 6 MCQs with a marking scheme of (+3, 0). It is difficult to say if this will be followed in the actual paper or it has come by mistake like the repetition of 7 QA questions.
3. Scientific Calculator: The purpose of this paper is possibly to make the students familiar with the platform and hence a scientific calculator is likely to be a reality. It will prove to be a great help in questions in which the last digit or the remainder is to be found out and also in questions of logs. Candidates are advised to get familiar with an on-screen scientific calculator to understand the functions of all the buttons.
4. Question types and the degree of difficulty: Given that there is over 90% overlap between the Mock CATs of 2014 and 2015 the CAT 2015 Mock CAT it cannot be taken as an indicator of either the degree of difficulty or the question types. Also since last year there was no correlation between the actual and Mock CAT 2014, it will be foolish to assume that there will be any this year. Any similarity on this account will be purely coincidental. The fact that 7 QA questions have been given twice also confirms that the focus of CAT 2015 Mock CAT is the structure and the platform and not the question type or degree of difficulty.
The areas of concern for most of the students in the CAT 2015 Mock CAT structure are the number of non MCQs in QA and DILR and the number of RC passages (and questions) in the VRC section. To my mind these will not be a problem, let me explain why.
People by and large expect IIMA to give a difficult CAT 2015 VRC section based on the CAT 2006 paper which too was set by IIMA. However this is the only instance of a very difficult VRC by IIMA and the VRC section in other IIMA papers were of moderate level of difficulty. The statements coming out from IIMA (e.g. we are not looking for rocket scientists) indicate that the QA and DILR are unlikely to be difficulty. However there has not been any statement indicating the level of difficulty of VRC.
In the past it has been noticed that a change in pattern is usually accompanied by easier papers as the change of pattern on its own increases the level of difficulty. Thus while the number of non-MCQs at 25% in QA and DILR is high when compared to other aptitude tests that have non-MCQs but 2015 is the first year for this question type and hence these non-MCQ will most probably of low-medium level of difficulty.
My suggestion to students is not to leave questions or data sets just because they are non-MCQs, they are likely to be easy.
The most worrying aspect of the CAT 2015 Mock CAT for most students, who struggle through RCs, is the number of RC passages. To my mind 5 RC passages with 24 questions is a positive development for most students. Increase in the number of passages/questions leads to a reduction in the level of difficulty. It is usually difficult for most students to attempt more than 2 out of 4 RC passages but 5 RC passages would lead to a greater variety in the subject of the passages and attempting 15-20 questions from 3-4 out of 5 RC passages will not be difficult. Also the passages with 6 questions will definitely have at least a couple of sitters.
What you should do in the last two weeks?
DI + LR + RC = 56 questions | 168 marks!
Assuming you have done enough to clear the cut-off of Quant, the deal-breaker in the CAT, according to me, would be DI, LR, RC. If you can manage to do well these three areas, you will get high score in the CAT.
Apart from taking mocks (once in two to three days), for the next 14 days you should solve at least 5 sets on each of DI, LR, and RC every day.
Lastly, do not worry too much about the pattern of the CAT – whatever be the challenge that CAT will throw at you, handle it. In any case, every single test taker would be facing the same challenge.
(* – The Official CAT Mock CATs of 2014 and 2015, released by the CAT authorities, can be accessed in the ‘ELib’ tab in the Free SIS Account)