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CAT: Tips to crack Data Interpretation

July 27, 2009 10:48 IST

As the CAT approaches, its new computer-based avatar is giving rise to a lot of doubts and questions among this year's B-school hopefuls.  

How will the new format be different from the old?

How can one increase one's reading speed?

How crucial will computer skills be when appearing for the test?

To address these and other related queries, Atul Prashar and Vishal Gupta, examination experts from, hosted a chat with readers on July 20. For those of you who missed the chat, here's the unedited transcript.

Atul Prashar says, Hi, This is Atul Prashar from and i am ready to take up your queries!

Vishal Gupta says, Hi, This is Vishal Gupta from and I am ready to take up your queries!


Vishal Gupta answers, The only difference between online CAT and previous CATs would be that now onwards you will be required to read the numerical figures for DI & Quant and RC's on the computer screen. Thus, you will not be able to underline or mark the important points. Calculations will be done on a scratch sheet which will be provided to you at the center.

yashika asked, Hi...planning to appear for CAT this time...i am a bit slow in reading passages in a computer screen. How do i tackle this?

Atul Prashar answers, You must master the art of - what we call at TCYonline - constructing a Dot Diagram or SNAPSHOT of the passage on the rough sheet. Please do not read the whole passage before answering the questions. Read opening para and write the main idea on rough sheet, then take the gist of rest of the paras by reading the opening 2 sentences and note the information down on the scratch paper in 1-2 phrases. Then as you read a question, take the link from your notes and read the relevant area in details. Practice it everyday.

meet asked, any tips on quant.. any focus areas you cn suggest?

Vishal Gupta answers, Hi Meet, for Quant, you should know the fundamentals of the topics and also practice as many questions as possible and that too on computer. For quick calculations, you should be knowing vedic maths and tables, squares etc. In Quant, focus area should be Number System, Geometry, TSD, P&C and Probability. Although I would suggest you not to leave any topic while practicing.

amitsai asked, Hi Atul, I am currently working with India's largest software firm and have more thank 5 years of experience. I have got GMAT score of 660. Do you think i should go abroad for MBA or give a try for IIMs? Will have any advantage with this kind of experience when i get out of IIM?

Atul Prashar answers, Amit, in my opinion, you must try for Global MBA and not an MBA through CAT. 5 years experience is a good asset. B-schools like NTU, singapore and a few in UK would suit your profile.You must evaluate the quality of your experience. That is, what was your growth in terms of profile and responsibilities in the last 5 years! Are there any clients (if you have worked onsite for more than 6 months) who can give excellent recommendations! Additionally, you may also consider giving GMAT again, as because of so called recession the aspirants for Foreign MBA have increased and given the competition 660 is an average score.

Arun asked, Do I have to answer every question in the CBT CAT / Can I skip questions in the Online CAT?

Vishal Gupta answers, Since CAT'09 will be Computer Based Test and not Computer Adaptive Test, so you will be able to skip the questions and come back to the unattempted questions at a later stage.

shank asked, I am a regular follower of tcyonline.I want to know when tcyonline plans to conduct mock cats axams?

Atul Prashar answers, Hi Shank, MOCK CATs are starting from first week of August. In the meantime you may take a few from here -

rishab asked, sir i hvnt started preparation nw.can i start it nw or is it too late

Vishal Gupta answers, Hi Rishab, it is possible to start the preparation now but it depends upon certain factors like: 1. Clarity of fundamentals 2. Available time that can be spent per day/week 3. Target institutes and courses I'll suggest, if you are keen to do your MBA then start preparing for it as soon as possible.

Arun asked, How should I book the exam slot? if the test spans over 10 day period whether do we have a choice to book any date we like in that period ?

Vishal Gupta answers, Arun, the exact information will be available in the Prospectus / advertisement about the CAT exam slot. It is expected that test date for a candidate will be decided by IIMs only and not by individual candidate.

sm2009 asked, Hi. What is 'TCY Analytics' and in which way is it useful for CAT09 preparation?

Atul Prashar answers, Hi Sm2009 :-), TCY Analytics is an online benchmarking tool that keeps track of your past performance. Unlike any other available tool for CAT aspirant all around India, it helps you generate ultra-flexible performance reports, helps you check your hold on a topic, lets you compare it with toppers from a city, a stream or with the national topper. The best part is that it guides you automatically by generating new tests on your weaker areas after you have taken a few tests. Additionally, it monitors all the un-attempted and wrong questions of your past tests and keep on presenting them in the form of new tests after some time. It is because of these features that TCY Analytics is the most preferred analysis tool in India for CAT aspirants.

ram asked, any tips for di??

Vishal Gupta answers, For DI, learn techniques for Quick calculations, shortcuts etc. Tables, squares and cubes should be on your tips. The more you practice all these things in the tests, the more will be your speed and accuracy in the actual CAT.

shank asked, In quant should I focus more on Algebra,Functions,Geometry,Number theory than Profit/Loss,Time speed and Averages?

Atul Prashar answers, Looking at the past CATs, it can be inferred from the trend that the cut-off for one IIM call every year requires 25 to 30% correct questions. It means those with reasonable accuracy in 'Number Theory' (Always 15% + questions are from this topic); 'Logic, Sets & Functions' (Always 8% + questions are from this topic) and Higher Math (Always 10% + questions are from this topic) can be assured of clearing Quant cut-off in a given year.

Arun asked, if the exam is conducted over 10 days in different slots .. will the same difficulty level be maintained in all the slots ? logically it should be .. but how can this happen ?? and also should make sure no question is repeated in different slots ?? will that be the case ?

Vishal Gupta answers, Prometric is one of the most experienced organisation in ensuring the same level of difficulty of all the tests. There is one reliability cofficient called Alpha-coeff that is used to ensure that all the test have same level of difficulty.

Arun asked, will we continue to have negative marking ?? or the difficulty of the question changes if we answer wrong ( as in GMAT or GRE )

Atul Prashar answers, There will definitely be negative marking. However, it can not be confirmed at this moment whether it would be 1/4th ; 33% or progressive. We must wait for next declaration from IIMs. Nevertheless, The marking will NOT be on the pattern of GRE or GMAT for sure.

rajangaba asked, i am not very good in higher math topics; trignometry, probability, perm-combination. Any book from where i can practice just basics of these topics.

Vishal Gupta answers, Hi Rajan, first try to understand the concept and then solve basic level questions. Once you understand the concept by applying it practically on the questions, try to solve medium level questions. Learn from your mistakes while doing these questions. Solve more questions of this level until you gain confidence and accuracy. Now come to the hard level and check the check whether you are able to apply the concept or not. If not, start again from level 2.

natkhata asked, I am Natkhata bannerjee, east indian from west bangal. West Bangal is poor and backward region along with bihar, jarkhanda , orrisa which form east indian. we have no computers and infrastrutcutr. Howdo you expect us poor bangalisand east indains to appear for such a compliacted process. Also can I appear for cat from bvangladesh

Atul Prashar answers, Hi Natkhata, The basic requirement and question pattern for CAT would be all the more same. I know that computer based practice is a MUST this year. However, one can not clear CAT cut offs merely by knowing how to use computer. Actually, you just have to click and confirm your answer on the computer. Rest of the time will be spent on comprehending the question and finding the answer. Hence, please do not worry and practice more. Try not to use underlining on the question paper because that will not be possible in the CB CAT.

hello asked, Do you think conducting cat for 10days will be disadvantegeous for some

Atul Prashar answers, Hi Hello :-), I do not think it would be advantageous. I expect that the booking of a slot for the test will be in the hands of the administraters of the test, otherwise No body will book a slot in the first 2 days of the test knowing that the difficulty level of the tests will be same on all days. However, test anxiety will be more this year for the first two days of testing.

danger asked, what happens after one gets through an MBA institute. Does life really change? what is a typical day in a B School?

Vishal Gupta answers, Life in B-school will make you prepared for your future assignments. A typical day in a B-school will be composed of some classes (Lectures, case discussion, project etc.), doing some project by collecting data from the companies, preparing case studies for the next day and so on. Normally, you are required to work for around 15 hours per day in a good B-school.

CATanalyst asked, when CAT was scheduled on 1 day only, even then paper setters have problems... I read one article from CL that there has been 2-3 errors in every CAT. Now how will they manage to set so many CAT questions. Its window is 10 days, it means there will be arnd 50 diff CAT papers.... i really pity on CAT exams setters!!! I am sure there will be a lot of blunders in this CAT.... PLEASE NOTE THIS!!!

Atul Prashar answers, Hi CATanalyst, i appreciate your research. However, Prometric is known name in computer based testing. If you visit their website you would come to know what varied levels of assessments they administer each day all over the world. They are the ones who design GRE, Infosys entrance test, driving tests. I am sure they will ensure that the difficulty level of each test remains same and will set error free papers. Moreover, Your strategy should be to focus on those BETTER 65% questions with 85% accuracy.

rishab asked, sir is cat the end of the story.are there some other options also.what about mat?

Vishal Gupta answers, Rishab, a person who cannot mould himself according to the change/new can not survive in this competitive world. Infact, one of the key learning will be this when you'll finish a MBA program. However, you do have certain paper based options also like XAT, SNAP, FMS, JMET (For Engg only), MAT etc. But it's better to keep your target high.

danger asked, what happens after one gets through an MBA institute. Does life really change? what is a typical day in a B School?

Atul Prashar answers, I can not comment whether the life changes or not. It is quite subjective. However, in a good B-school the life is really busy, logically focused and dynamic. The first thing that one gets to master in the first few days is to manage the time. And then, how to run and complete more and more projects simultaneously. If you are already doing it daily (which is very rare) your life will be same.

vivek koul asked, Sir, i hav a very good apti and i m confident of scoring above 99%ile in CAT. but my marks in 10th r 85%, in 12th 70% and 55% in B.E with a year back in B.E . Will my academic performance hamper my prospects ?

Vishal Gupta answers, Vivek, the final selection in IIM and other MBA institutes depend upon many parameters. So, if your performance is not excellent in your previous exams, you can hide it by scoring better in CAT. Secondly, you should be able to justify your average performance.

Arun asked, as we know last yr more than 250000 students appeared for CAT and with premotric in only around 20 + cities how can they accomodate these many students though in different slots over 10 days ?? its not possible as the number will definitely increase ?? so will there be any filtering for the written test only ???

Atul Prashar answers, The number will surely increase this year. And if 2.75 lakh people take CAT this year, I feel that with 25 centers and 3 slots in a day for 10 days, Prometric would need on the average 367 computers at each center. They have been paid 40 million and with this budget, i think they can manage. There will not be filtering for the written test.

aman asked, Hi. What should one do to improve his scoring in RC section and what kind of blog reading (topics) will be helpful in CAT?

Atul Prashar answers, One tool that would be a good resource for you regarding RC is TCY Test Generator ( Here you can choose among RCs based on biological science, physical sciences, Humanities, arts and literature etc. You may also follow us on our blog at for more CAT related stuff.

tarun asked, sir im studing in sinhgad buisness school in pune .can u tell me this is good fr me or worst .i hav secured 70 percentile marks mat exams nd also hav a first divison score in academics

Vishal Gupta answers, Hi Tarun, don't feel low because you have taken admission in a low-rung institute. Instead, try to get something good out of this course. Until you are not sure about the value of your studies, how someone else can think of taking importance of your studies. Everything you learn will help you some or the other day. If you wish, appear for CAT'09 and join a good institute.

shank asked, It would really help us if tcyonline reduce form 4 tests in each chapter to 2 tests and concentrate more on solved examples as people like me neglect the answers once test completes.And also with so many tests,it really slows down the progress.

Atul Prashar answers, Hi Shank, Thanks for the suggestion. TCY Analytics will be the best option for you to go for at this moment. There your unattempted and wron questions will re-appear in the form of new tests and you will not leave anything to chance. Moreover, you have all rights to attempt the selective tests that TCY analytics says you need to master. This will also save a lot of your time.

Arun asked, Thanks Atul/Vishal for answering all my questions.. one final question when are we expecting the notification and when do we expect to have the 10 day span of CAT ? Thanks In Advance

Vishal Gupta answers, Next notification is expected in last week of July or August starting. 10 days span will start at the end of November, 2009 as informed in the notification issued by IIM's.

Atul Prashar says, Hi All, this is all that we had time for today. We wish you all the best for the Online CAT 2009. Stay updated by following us on TWITTER at