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First of all, understand that ALL those who make it to IIMs are NOT:

(a) Born intelligent, (b) IITians, (c) 90% plus overall in X, XII, and graduation, (d) Even 80% plus overall
in X, XII, and graduation, (e) Voracious readers during whole of their life, and (f) Exceptional with
calculation or mathematical skills.

There lies the beauty of this exam CAT – the first letter is COMMON.

From my experience, I can tell you that

, in my batch of 297 students (at that time), there would be atleast 80 to 90 students who would
NOT fall into any of the categories mentioned above.

Intelligent Vs Average: A most common definition of an intelligent person is - One who can process
the data/information fast and solve the questions in a short span of time. An average person is the
one who takes more time. So, if I have to define a unit for Intelligence (like m/s for speed), it is going
to be - quantity of information processed per minute (or second). Keep in your mind - the more
information you process per unit time, the more intelligent you will be.

Statistically speaking:

(a) zero marks in CAT is equivalent to 55

percentile. That means almost 55% of total aspirants got zero marks or negative marks. Please NOTE
it is primarily because they believed they cannot and won’t get into IIMs since initial days of their

Would you like MSD to hold the captaincy in the next World Cup Cricket if he says on day one that we
are not going to win the World Cup? Apply the same yardstick for yourself too.

(b) Real fight is among a max of 50,000–60,000 aspirants. To get atleast ONE IIM call, you need to be
in top 11,000–12,000 out of this.

Now the more important part:

So, how they got into IIM:

They believed that they are going to make it happen to them. They came out of their mental block
and any negative thoughts.
(a) Identify your natural strength area - that can be quant or verbal or NONE (still fine). Anyways,
DI/LR is more about practice, practice upon quality content, regularly.

(b) Out of 34 questions in QA, look at High-Value Chapters, and start with these.

If you can manage to get around half of 34 right, you will be at 93–94 percentile (as per CAT 2016).
Looking at the difficulty level of the LRDI sections, if you can manage to get around 12–13 questions
right, you will be at 96 percentile (as per CAT 2016).

(c) Get a good book for LRDI, and solve 4–5 sets (i.e., 20 questions every day).

(d) Start reading a good newspaper / non-fiction novel. This will help you in RC. In any case, Para
Jumble and CR are quite logical in nature, and you can learn the tactics to solve those questions

(e) Join a coaching institute. If classroom coaching is not possible, join online courses and test series
of any national Test Prep company. This will help you in getting into a structured thought process.

Good part is—total types of questions asked at CAT is finite. A question is difficult only if you are
seeing, you are seeing it for the first time. If you find a question is difficult even if you are seeing it the
second time, ask yourself - Are you honest enough with your preparation?

Last but not the least - if you find yourself average in an area, it means (in most of the cases) that you
have NOT done similar questions in your life. It is your time - to go through the concepts and solve
the questions - that will take you to higher levels of intelligence.

During the last 15 odd years of training students for CAT preparation, I have been asked these questions many times
– Can we bank upon shortcuts to get a decent percentile in CAT? Is it really required to be able to analyze the topics
well before we are able to solve a question? In case my application of concepts is not strong, can I just mug up the
formula for solving the question?

To answer these questions, let me take you through Bloom’s taxonomy, which is an established and accepted form of
learning hierarchy. Following is the presentation of Bloom’s taxonomy:

At the base of Bloom’s taxonomy are the basics of learning – Remembering and Understanding. All the levels above
this – Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating – are considered Higher-Order Thinking. To solve questions at this
level, you need to have a sound thought process and strong logical abilities.

Let’s face it – CAT is a self-professed test of Higher-Order Thinking. To achieve a high score in CAT, it is important to
understand the relative importance of different layers (as given earlier). While you will not get any question at the
“Creating Level,” you may get a maximum of 10% of the total QA question at the first level, which will translate into a
maximum of three questions as per CAT 2015 pattern. These questions may be done by simply going through the
formula. In other words, to be able to solve the remaining questions (31 questions), you need to move up the

If you make an analogy between CAT QA paper and learning objectives as shown in Bloom’s taxonomy, the following
is a realistic break up:

Evaluating - 4-5 Qns

Analyzing - 7-8 Qns

Applying - 10-11 Qns

Understanding - 7-8 Qns

Remembering - 3 Qns

For the sake of creating a level playing field, I am using the concept of Simple Interest and Compound Interest to
elucidate all the Learning Objectives. Let us understand these with the help of examples:


Q. If Principal  Rs. 1000, Rate of Interest  20 %, and Time  2 years, what is the Simple Interest?

Solution – To solve this question, you just need to know the formula for calculating Simple Interest (SI).

 
SI    Rs. 400


Q. At Simple Interest, a sum of money amounts to three times the original value in four years. How many times the
original value will it amount to in 16 years?

Solution – Amount follows Arithmetic Progression in the case of Simple Interest.

Using this:
Assume Principal  Rs. 100.
According to the question, . 100 Rs. 300
It will follow the following pattern now:

. 100 Rs. 300 Rs. 500 Rs. 700 Rs. 900

Hence, in 16 years, it will amount to 9 times the original value.


Q. At SI, a sum of money amounts to Rs. 2600 in three years and Rs. 3000 in the next two years. What is the rate of

Solution – You may observe that to solve this question, you cannot use any formula or short cut. You need to have an
understanding of how Simple Interest works and be able to apply the same.

There are two data points in this question:

Amount at the end of three years  Rs. 2600 and amount in the next two years (i.e., total five years)  Rs. 3000.

Using this, it can be inferred that:

Interest obtained in the last two years  Rs. 400  Interest obtained per year   Rs. 200 per year.

Hence, interest obtained in three years  Rs. 200  3  Rs. 600

So, principal  Rs. 2600 – Rs. 600  Rs. 2000

Hence, rate of interest   100  10%


Q. Equal sums have been invested at CI and SI at the same rate of interest. At the end of two years, total SI obtained
 Rs. 500 and total CI obtained  Rs. 550. What is the sum invested at SI or at CI?

Solution – Analyzing is the ability to know where to start the problem solving from, then breaking down the problem
in smaller parts leading to the most important aspect of the problem.

To solve this question, you are required to understand how SI and CI are calculated, apply the conceptual framework
of SI and CI after breaking down the problem in smaller parts.

Where to start solving this problem?

Using the data for CI will not lead you to any conclusion regarding the interest obtained in the 1 st year or 2nd year.

Using the data for SI: Since total interest obtained in two years  Rs. 500, interest obtained in the 1st year  Interest
obtained in the 2nd year  Rs. 250 each.

Simple interest obtained in the 1st year  Compound interest obtained in the 1st year (Since Principal is the same) 
Rs. 250. Hence, CI for the 2nd year  Rs. 550 – Rs. 250  Rs. 300
It can be summarized here:
1st Year 2nd Year
Simple Interest Rs. 250 Rs. 250
Compound Interest Rs. 250 Rs. 300

Hence, rate of interest   100  20 %

Summarizing this whole article, in QA, you may be able to solve a maximum of 5-6 questions using short cut or tricks,
which is certainly NOT sufficient to get you a good percentile in CAT. To move into a higher percentile zone, you need
to develop logical ability to apply and analyze the concepts. In my books, I have ensured that the students learn the
basics of concepts and get into the higher-order thinking – Applying  Analyzing  Evaluating.

With this, I hope I have answered the questions raised at the starting of this article.

Happy Learning!!!


Students who are preparing on their own should keep in mind that CAT needs a disciplined and comprehensive
preparation. Unlike a coaching institute where both of these factors are taken care by the management, in a self-
study plan, you are the one responsible for this.

Know about your familiarity and area of strength with respect to the kind of questions asked at CAT. To do this, take
a diagnostic mock CAT. This will tell you your strong areas and weak areas across all the sections.

Chalk out a short horizon plan (daily or weekly) and long horizon (till CAT) plan. An easy way of doing this is to divide
the number of chapters (or concepts) by number of days in which you want it to cover.

IN QA SECTION, you should keep in your mind 70/30 rule. According to this thumb rule, approximately 70% of the
questions in Quant come from 30% of the chapters, viz., Number System, Geometry, Time Speed Distance, Ratio
proportion, Function/graphs, Equations, and Permutation and combination. If you are able to get even 3/4 th of these
questions correct, you will get 92 percentile in QA. However, knowing that you have almost 100 days to go for CAT,
it is suggested that you go through all the concepts and chapters atleast once. Also, understand that almost half of
the total number of questions will be fundamentals based questions with simple 1–2 step solution.

IN LRDI SECTION, students are expected to have practised different types of questions. This is one such section which
students prepare on their own even if they have joined a coaching institute. Most frequently asked LR questions are
of the following types:- arrangement-based questions (linear, circular, tabular), sequencing-based questions (loose
sequencing and strict sequencing), Network diagram, Games-based and team formation questions. In DI, most of the
questions will be based upon two or more than two types of charts. During previous years, both calculation intensive
and interpretation-based questions have been asked frequently. Besides, questions from Data Sufficiency can also be
asked. To prepare this section, keep a target of solving 4–5 sets every day. Try to ensure that the questions are of
different type.

IN VARC SECTION, questions can be distributed into three types – (Type 1) Questions based upon logic like Para
jumble, Critical reasoning, FIJ, Logical completion of idea, etc; (Type 2) Questions based upon application of grammar
like Sentence correction and vocabulary-based questions like Fill in the blanks questions; (Type 3) Questions based
upon reading comprehension. This remains entirely an individual’s decision that which type of questions is the person
most comfortable with (out of these given three types). In my perception, methods to solve the 1 st type questions
(i.e., logic-based) can be learnt easily with a bit of practice and ability to decode the logic behind the questions.

Fill in the blanks questions are designed to measure your ability to understand the intended meaning of a sentence.
Each question requires you to analyze the context of a sentence and determine which word or words best complete
that sentence. It is important to note here that even though you may not be aware of the vocabulary used, still you
can solve atleast some of the questions by using the context and indicator words.

Consider the example given below:

Q. Though he claimed the business was _______, his irritability _______ that claim.

A. sound . . belied

B. expanding . . supported

C. downsizing . . vindicated

D. booming. . affirmed

The key words here are “Though” and “irritability”. It gives an idea that the words to be filled in the blanks should be
of opposite connotation. Option (a) is the only such option, and hence the answer.

Join any national level Test series, and analyze your performance in all the tests thoroughly. Make a table containing
two columns – column (1) questions that you got right, and column (2) questions that you could have got right. This
way, you can analyze the gap between your potential and performance in every test. In every subsequent test, this
gap should decrease with an ideal level of zero.

Further, 2nd column should be distributed into three parts – Conceptual Error (you were not aware of the concept),
Practice Error (You know the concept but have not practiced upon variety of problems based upon this concept), and
Calculation Error (or Silly mistake). Once you have got this self-assessment report, before taking the next mock test,
ensure that you have worked upon the feedback.