Looking rationally into the patterns of 150 plus CAT papers, the experts at EduRev have had the good fortune of being able to track and analyse, that while things have remained the same in a lot of ways, they have also drastically changed during this period. In this context, we found that the changes in the exam introduced in CAT 2015 (Solution) are significant, as they radically alter the preparation process for this exam. The trend introduced in CAT 2015 was just carried on and continued in CAT 2016 and CAT 2017(Slot 1 & Slot 2). Hence, there is a lot to learn from analysing these tests. However, some of the noticeable changes seen in CAT 2015 to CAT 2017 that significantly alter the way you should study are:
(a) 3-section mode of the examination: Quantitative Aptitude, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning being the three separate sections, you would need to display competence in each of the three areas of the exam to secure a good percentile. This was a departure from the previous two-section exam pattern (as in CAT 2013-2014), with
Section 1: Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation and;
Section 2: Verbal Ability/Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning.
So this is a significant change in terms of preparation strategies; for instance, the two-section exam pattern allowed the aspirant to take an approach of doing well in the logical reasoning questions in Section 2 and hence get through that section without being too good at verbal ability/reading comprehension. Likewise, aspirants could get through Section 1 by being really good at DI and moderately skilled in quantitative aptitude. The three-section exam does not provide the aspirant with that luxury any longer. You have to develop your skills in each of the exam areas and can no longer work on a selective skills development approach.
(b) Introduction of questions having no options: CAT 2015, CAT 2016, and CAT 2017 have, on average, had as many as 30+ problems out of 100 with no options. The presence of such a large number of questions without options clearly meant that students were tested for their clarity of thoughts & concepts in each area — especially in the QA section. Since this trend is supposed to continue, it is pretty clear that you would need to know the exact answer for every question that you are trying to solve — gone are the days where an ‘intelligent’ guess would take you through a few questions in the exam.
However, you need to understand an important point in this context that the QA section is not a test of your mathematical knowledge. A closer look at the kind of questions (in which no options are given) reveals that these are pretty much solvable using simple numeric logic rather than using hard-core mathematical processes and formulas. There was not a single question in this category that forced you to follow the hard-core mathematical way of solving such questions.
(c). The need for greater variety in your preparation: Prior to the CAT going online, preparing for QA used to be a battle for only a few topics, namely number systems, progressions, functions, inequalities, logarithm, and quadratic equations well, he stood a very strong chance at the QA section, since over 60% of the questions asked in the papers were from these areas.
However, as explained below, the latest changes in the exam require you to be much more balanced in the context of portion coverage.
In each of the years from 1999 to 2008, the QA section required you to get a net score of approximately 30 – 40% of the total marks in order to score a high 90 percentile in this section.
In light of this fact, the importance of the topics mentioned above can be gauged clearly.
You can access Past Year Question Papers of 1999-2008 (with detailed explanations) under the Past year Question Papers section in EduRev’s CAT Mock Test Series.
Add to this the chapter on Time, Speed and Distance with a minimum weightage of 5–10%, and you pretty much had the QA section well covered. In a nutshell, QA for CAT preparation had become “do 10 chapters well”. However, this scenario has changed in the online version of the exam. The balance of weightage of questions shifted, and each of the topics has become important to succeed in the exam.