CAT Past Year's Paper Analysis

2016 - Slot 1

The CAT test began with the VARC section followed by DILR and then QA sections. A score of 155 to 160 should be aimed to achieve the 99th percentile in the paper. The timing for the first slot is 9 AM to 12 PM.  The section-wise analysis is as follows- 

Section

Topic

No. of
Questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
level

Quantitative Ability

Number System

4

2-3

Moderate

Algebra

12

9-10

Moderate

Arithmetic

12

9-10

Moderate

Modern Math

2

2

easy

Geometry and
Mensuration

4

2-3

Difficult

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension-

As compared to CAT 2015, this year this section wasn’t separated into different parts which made it slightly confusing to navigate. The section was identical to CAT 2015 VARC section and there were no new additions to the format. Reading comprehension ranged from topics like environmental concerns and economics. The student should have aimed to identify the fact-based questions first and attempt those followed by inferential questions. One of the passages required a high level of accuracy while reading and was tough to crack.

In the verbal ability section, 4 questions were from para- jumbles, and 3 questions each were from odd word/ sentence out and summary- type questions. The verbal ability section was attempted by most students like the process of eliminating options was achievable. All in all, for a 95+ percentile an attempt of 21-23 will be good for this section. An attempt of 26-27 was required for the 99th percentile.

 

Topic

Number
of questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level

RC-1:  Decline
of languages

6

5

Easy- medium

RC- 2: Environmental
conservation in Bhutan

3

3

Easy- medium

RC-3: Problem
with universal primary education

6

5

Easy- medium

RC-4: Bonding
through suffering

6

5

Easy- medium

RC-5: Economic
importance of housework

3

3

Easy

Para-jumbles

4

2

Moderate

Odd sentence
out

3

1

Moderate

Summary

3

1

Moderate

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning-
In this section, out of the total eight sets, four sets were of an easy level and the rest ranged from a moderate to high difficulty level. The sets named movies, marks, t-shirts, and folders were easy to handle. The chances of scoring in this section were higher if the student could accurately guess which sets and which questions within the sets to attempt. Apart from this most sets required lengthy calculations. 3 – 4 sets in this section could be attempted, so to get the 99th percentile a score of 33-34 (raw score) is needed.  
 

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable Questions

Difficulty Level

Data Interpretation

Based on reasoning

3

1-2

Moderate

Based on scheduling

4

3-4

Easy

Based on calculation

5

2

Difficult

Based on observation

4

Moderate to difficult

Logical Reasoning

Based on observation

4

3-4

Easy

Based on games

5

3-4

Easy

Based on grouping and
conditional ties

4

2

Moderate

Based on reasoning

3

1

Difficult

Quantitative Ability-
As seen in previous years, questions from Algebra had the highest frequency, followed by questions from Geometry and Mensuration, Modern Maths, Number System, and Arithmetic. There were 7 non- MCQ questions which was a pleasant surprise from the last CAT Exam where there were 14 in number. The use of the calculator was recommended in some of the questions. 25-26 attempts with 90% accuracy would be needed for the 99th percentile.

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable Questions

Difficulty Level

Quantitative Ability

Number System

4

3

Moderate

Algebra

10-11

8-10

Easy

Arithmetic

10

7-9

Moderate

Modern Math

2

1

Easy

Geometry and Mensuration

7-8

4-5

Difficult

2016 - Slot 2

The CAT test began with the VARC section followed by DILR and then QA sections. A score of 155- 160 should be sufficient to achieve the 99th percentile in the paper. The timing for the first slot is 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM. The section-wise analysis is as follows- 

Section

Total number of questions

Number of MCQ questions

Number of non- MCQ questions

Level of difficulty

Good attempts

VARC

34

27

7

Easy to moderate

27-28

DI & LR

32

24

8

Difficult

14-16

QA

34

26

8

Easy to moderate

22-25

Total

100

77

23

 

68-72

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension- 

The RCs were similar to those encountered in the CAT exam of 2015. Three of the passages had a word limit of 450 words and the other two passages had a word limit of 250 words. It is a general trend that the shorter passages are more difficult to solve. As most of the questions were fact-based, an attentive reader will be able to solve them with finesse.

The verbal ability section consisted of 4 questions from para- jumbles and 3 questions each from summary- type and odd word/ sentence out type. All questions were reasoning type questions, grammar-based questions were absent from the format. A good attempt will be 25-27 with around 90% accuracy.

Topic

Number
of questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level

RC-1: The
Durand line

6

5

Easy

RC- 2: Corruption
at international level

3

3

Easy

RC-3: Creating
positive environment in the workplace

6

6

Easy

RC-4: Controversy
on archaeological artefacts

3

3

Easy

RC-5: Creating
value in business

6

4

Moderate

Parajumbles

4

3

Moderate

Out of Context
sentence

3

2

Moderate

Summary

3

2

Moderate

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning-

In the present section, out of the eight total sets, three sets namely salaries, coding, and set theory were of an easy level and the rest ranged from moderate to difficult levels. Different from slot one, one of the sets had all the questions as non- MCQ. The logical reasoning section was slightly tougher than the data interpretation section. The other sets were related to loans, restaurant ratings, lectures, and water supply. 14-16 questions, in this section, should be attempted with 85% accuracy to get a the 99th percentile. 

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable Questions

Difficulty Level

Data
Interpretation

Based on reasoning

4

1-2

Moderate

Based on scheduling

4

3-4

Easy

Based on calculation

4

2

Difficult

Based on observation

4

Moderate to difficult

Logical
Reasoning

Based on observation

4

3-4

Easy

Based on games

4

3-4

Easy

Based on grouping and conditional ties

4

2

Moderate

Based on reasoning

4

1

Difficult

Quantitative Ability- 
Following the past trends, the majority of questions were from Arithmetic followed by Algebra, Geometry and Mensuration, Modern Math and Number System. Under Arithmetic, the main questions were from simple and compound interest, time speed distance, profit- loss, and mixtures. The level of difficulty for this section was marginally easier than the paper in the first slot. The non- MCQ were seven in number as compared to fourteen in the previous year. The calculator was useful in some of the questions. 22-25 attempts with 90% accuracy should suffice for the 99th percentile. 

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable questions

Difficulty level

Quantitative Ability

Number System

3-4

3

Easy

Algebra

8-9

5-6

Moderate

Arithmetic

10-11

7-8

Moderate

Modern Math

3-4

1-2

Moderate

Geometry and Mensuration

7-8

4-5

Difficult

 

Details on This Page

2017 - Slot 1

The CAT test began with the VARC section followed by DILR and then QA sections. A score of 160 should be sufficient to achieve the 99th percentile in the paper. The timing for the first slot is 9 AM to 12 PM. The section-wise analysis is as follows-

Section

Total number of questions

Number of MCQ questions

Number of non- MCQ questions

Level of difficulty

Good attempts

VARC

34

24

10

Easy

26-27

DI & LR

32

24

8

Moderate to Difficult

13-14

QA

34

27

7

Moderate to Difficult

25-26

Total

100

75

25

 

63-67

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension- 

Under the 5 Reading Comprehension exercises, the subjects were spread over several domains ranging from economics, biology, and culture. Some questions were fact-based and could be easily gauged by attentive reading whereas few questions tested a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Under the verbal ability section, most questions were based on verbal logic and it also included para- jumbles which were non- MCQ questions. The non- MCQ questions didn’t attract any negative marks. There were 3 summary- based questions and 3 odd word/ sentence out questions in this section. For a 95+ percentile an attempt of 21-23 will be good for this section. An attempt of 26-27 was required for the 99th percentile.    

Topic

Number
of questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level

RC-1: Ancient
maps and the positioning of north

6

5

Easy

RC- 2: Comparison
between the printing press and iphone

6

5

Easy

RC-3: Economic
viability of hosting the Olympics by a country

3

3

Easy

RC-4: Development
of species

3

3

Easy

RC-5: Social
effect of malls in the USA

6

4

Moderate

Parajumbles

4

3

Moderate

Out of Context
sentence

3

2

Moderate

Summary

3

2

Moderate

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning-

This section was slightly more difficult than the DILR section of the previous year’s CAT exam. There were four sets in the data interpretation section and four sets in the logical reasoning section, out of these 2 sets (that is a survey of children and burgers) were easy and could attract full marks whereas the other sets ranging from a moderate level to difficult level. An attempt should be made not to finish all the questions but gauge which sets are doable and do them accordingly. 3 – 4 sets in this section could be attempted, so to get a 99th percentile a score of 33-34 (raw score) is needed.

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable questions

Difficulty level

Data
Interpretation

Based on reasoning

4

2

Difficult

Based on scheduling

4

3

Easy

Based on calculation

4

2

Easy

Based on observation

4

2

Moderate to
difficult

Logical Reasoning

Based on observation

4

1-2

Easy

Based on games

4

4

Easy

Based on grouping and
conditional ties

4

4

Easy

Based on reasoning

4

1

Moderate

Quantitative Ability- 

The level of difficulty of this section was slightly lesser than that of the CAT exam paper in 2016. More than half of the section covered the topics of Arithmetic and Algebra. Other major topics included Mensuration, Modern Maths, Geometry, and Number system. Almost all the questions tested the fundamental conceptual understanding of students while the choices given were useful in estimating the answers. 25-26 attempts with 90% accuracy would be needed for the 99th percentile. 

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable questions

Difficulty level

Quantitative Ability

Number System

4

4

Easy

Algebra

10-11

8-10

Moderate

Arithmetic

11

7-9

Moderate

Modern Math

2

2

Easy

Geometry and Mensuration

6-7

4-5

Difficult

 

2017 - Slot 2

The CAT test began with the VARC section followed by DILR and then QA sections. A score of around 160 should be sufficient to achieve the 99th percentile in the paper. The timing for the first slot is 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM. The section-wise analysis is as follows- 

Section

Total number of questions

Number of MCQ questions

Number of non- MCQ questions

Level of difficulty

Good attempts

VARC

34

24

10

Easy

25-27

DI & LR

32

24

8

Moderate to Difficult

13-14

QA

34

27

7

Moderate to Difficult

25-26

Total

100

75

25

 

64-68

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension- 

There were some changes in the pattern of this section. The topics for the RCs were broad and ranged from Biology to Economics and also abstract topics like creativity. One of the passages was difficult to read and could have been avoided. Most of the questions were based on the main idea and inferential questions were also present. Apart from this, questions based on tone were not included and factual questions were few.

In the verbal ability part, the para- jumbles were of a high difficulty level and there were 4 para- jumble questions. 3 questions each came from the odd word/ sentence out and summary type questions. Summary based questions attracted negative marking.  A good attempt will be 25-27 with around 90% accuracy.

Topic

Number
of questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level

RC-1: Misconceptions
about Vikings being only plunderers

3

3

Easy

RC- 2: Creativity
is a social concept

6

5

Easy

RC-3: Utility
of typewriters in the digital age

3

3

Easy

RC-4: Ramifications
of the end of the internal combustion engine

6

5

Easy

RC-5: Subnivium
and how it is impacted by climate change

6

5

Moderate

Parajumbles

4

3

Moderate

Out of Context
sentence

3

2

Moderate

Summary

3

2

Moderate

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning-
There were 8 sets in total, out of these 3 sets namely chess, pizza, and tea were of a low to moderate difficulty level. The other sets were of a difficult nature and had two to three doable questions in each. The biometric set had a high difficulty level and could be skipped altogether if the student was unable to identify the doable questions. Few of the sets had extra information which made them even more difficult to undertake. 4-16 questions should be attempted with 85% accuracy to get the 99th percentile. 

 

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable Questions

Difficulty level

Data
Interpretation
And
Logical Reasoning

Based on reasoning

4

3-4

Moderate

Based on scheduling

4

4

Easy

Based on calculation

4

2-3

Moderate

Based on observation

4

2-3

Moderate to
Difficult

Based on observation

4

1-2

Difficult

Based on games

4

1

Easy

Based on grouping and conditional ties

4

2

Easy

Based on reasoning

4

Moderate

Quantitative Ability- 

As seen in past years also, this section was dominated by Arithmetic questions and followed by questions from the topics of Numbers, Modern Math, Geometry, Algebra, and Mensuration. Some of the topics were combined and questions were asked to test the in-depth knowledge of both of these concepts. There was eleven non- MCQ questions in the present paper compared to only seven in CAT 2016. 22-25 attempts with 90% accuracy should suffice for the 99th percentile.  

Section

Topic

No. of Questions

Doable Questions

Difficulty level

Quantitative Ability

Number System

4

2-3

Moderate

Algebra

12

9-10

Moderate

Arithmetic

12

9-10

Moderate

Modern Math

2

2

easy

Geometry and Mensuration

4

2-3

Difficult

2018 - Slot 1

Section

No. of Questions

No. of non-MCQ
questions

Difficulty Level

VARC

34

7

 
Easy

DILR

32

8

 
Moderate

QA

34

12

 
Difficult

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

Topic

Number of questions

Doable Questions

Difficulty Level

Happiness
and Economics

5

5

Easy

Human
elephant relationship

5

5

Easy

Absence
of WWII memories in India

5

5

Easy

Problem
of single use plastic

5

5

Easy

Influence
of parental gene in mice

4

2

Moderate

Parajumbles

4

2

Moderate

Summary

3

1

Moderate

Out
of Context sentence

3

1

Moderate

There were 4 passages with 5 questions each and 1 passage with 4 questions in the verbal portion. On mis-fit, there were 3 questions, 4 on summaries and 4 on Para Jumbles. The passages were relatively clear, but options were close and could therefore have an influence on precision. It would have been better for students with a firm grip on reading. Questions regarding Para-Jumbles were fairly simple.
A good number of attempts for this section would be around 24 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to score 85 percentile.

Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning

Topic

Number of Questions

Doable
Questions

Level of Difficulty

Problem based
on Reasoning

4

3

Easy

Scheduling based

4

3

Difficult

Data
Interpretation

4

2

Moderate

Logical
Reasoning

4

4

Easy

Calculation
based

4

3

Moderate

Observation
based

4

1

Difficult

Games

4

4

Easy

Grouping &
Conditional ties

4

4

Moderate

Five sets were there. One collection was on the dispersion of the ATM note in which Rs. 5000 cash had to be withdrawn but only in Rs. 100, 200 and 500 denominations. There were concerns about the mix. There was a set on the Number Grid System where it was possible to shape a matrix of 3 * 3 and 5 * 5 with the condition that no two adjacent numbers should be the same horizontally, diagonally or vertically. There was also a straight Pie Chart Data Collection that was really manageable. It was difficult and tricky with Pure AR. 
A good number of attempts for this section would be around 15 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to get 85 percentile.
 
Quantitative Aptitude

Topic

Number of Questions

Doable
Questions

Level of Difficulty

Numbers

2

2

Easy

Algebra

2

2

Easy

Arithmetic

14

14

Easy

Geometry

6

6

Easy

Modern
Math

10

9

Moderate

The general opinion is that, with no definite choice, the Quant section was very difficult. On Number System, Venn-Diagram, Higher math and Probability, there were 1-2 questions each. Algebra and Geometry had 5-6 questions with 8-10 Ratio / Time Distance / Work questions each, etc. Questions about algebra, geometry and arithmetic were difficult.
A good number of attempts for this section would be around 15 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to score 85 percentile.

2018 - Slot 2

 

Section

No. of Questions

No. of non-MCQ
questions

Difficulty Level

VARC

34

7

 
Easy

DILR

32

8

 
Moderate

QA

34

12

 
Difficult

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

Topic

Number of Questions

Doable
Questions

Level of Difficulty

Evolution of white lipped snails  

4

4

Easy

Saturn’s rings and several of its moons

5

4

Moderate

Evaluation based on metric fixation

5

5

Easy

Access of the poor to government Services

5

4

Moderate

Fallacy of Meritocracy

5

4

Moderate

Parajumbles

4

3

Moderate

Out of Context sentence

3

3

Easy

Summary

3

3

Easy

There were 4 passages with 5 questions each in the verbal section and 1 passage with 4 questions. There were 3 mis-fit questions, 4 on summaries and 4 on Para Jumbles. The passages were relatively clear, but options were close and could therefore have an effect on precision. It would have been better for students with decent readability. Questions regarding Para-Jumbles were reasonably straightforward. 
A good number of attempts for this section would be around 23 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to 85 percentile.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Topic

Number of Questions

Doable
Questions

Level of Difficulty

Problem based
on Reasoning

4

3

Easy

Scheduling
based

4

4

Easy

Data
Interpretation

4

4

Easy

Logical
Reasoning

4

1

Difficult

Calculation
based

4

1

Difficult

Observation
based

4

4

Easy

Games

4

2

Moderate

Grouping &
Conditional ties

4

2

Moderate

Eight sets of 4 questions each were included. There were 2 simple and doable blocks. A block consisting of room allocation for 7 students was easy and a block on the expense, profitability and revenue of mobile was also feasible again. As they were long and tough, blocks related to coding and college ranking should have been avoided. The rest were moderate to difficult, of which 1-2 could have been achieved selectively with good implementation. 
A good number of attempts for this section would be around 12 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to get 85 percentile.
Quantitative Aptitude

Topic

Number of Questions

Doable Questions

Difficulty Level

Arithmetic
Based Questions

10

10

Easy

Algebra based

4

3

Moderate

Geometry/Co-ordinate
Geometry

8

5

Difficult

Number
System/Roots/Under-roots/Log/Probability

12

8

Difficult

There were 4-5 questions that were rather calculative about ratios. Geometry had five questions, 2 of which were straight forward and easy, and it was tough to rest. On permutation and the Venn diagram, there was only 1 question. There were 4 questions about time and job that were also calculative and needed implementation. On mixtures that were moderately tough yet calculative, there were 3 to 4 questions. The scheme of functions and numbers had 1-2 questions each. There were 7-8 questions from Algebra that were moderate to difficult.
A good number of attempts for this section would be around 12 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to get 85 percentile.

2019 - Slot 1

Section

No.
of Questions

No.
of non-MCQ questions

Difficulty
Level

VARC

34

7

 
Moderate-Difficult

DILR

32

8

 
Easy-Moderate

QA

34

11

 
Easy-Moderate

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Topic

Number of
questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level

British
Colonialism

5

3

Moderate

Museums, Arts

5

2

Difficult

Central
Governments & Decentralization

5

2

Difficult

Ecology 

5

2

Difficult

Cultural
Identity & Language – Egyptian

4

3

Moderate

Parajumbles

4

2

Moderate

Para Summary

3

1

Difficult

Odd sentence
Out

3

1

Difficult

The verbal portion can be labelled as easy to moderate in terms of level of difficulty. No grammar and vocabulary questions were included in the test. This basically meant that in this chapter the aspirants who were knowledgeable in the subjects that are reading-based would have been more relaxed. Five RC passages were open, out of which four passages each had five questions and the fifth had four questions. Other problems were sentence rearrangement, para-jumbles, and description queries. 

A good number of attempts for this section would be around 24 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to score 85 percentile.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Topic

Number of
Questions

Doable Questions

Level of
Difficulty

Problem based
on Reasoning

4

3

Difficult

Scheduling
based

4

3

Difficult

Data
Interpretation

4

2

Easy

Logical
Reasoning

4

3

Difficult

Calculation
based

4

3

Moderate

Observation
based

4

1

Difficult

Games

4

2

Difficult

Grouping &
Conditional ties

4

2

Difficult

The section was most challenging, in accordance with this section last year, but moderately simpler compared to this year. There were 8 sets of 4 questions each and it is possible to classify 3 sets as simple to moderate. In general, students registered an attempt compared to last year of 2-3 more questions. In DI, there were 8 TITAs. 

A good number of attempts for this section would be around 18 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to get 85 percentile.

Quantitative Ability

 

Topic

Number of
Questions 

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level 

Number System

4

2

Difficult

Arithmetic

13

10

Moderate

Algebra

9

5

Difficult

Geometry &
Mensuration

6

3

Difficult

Modern Math

2

1

Moderate

Also, QA was significantly simpler than last year. This time around, you might have found more sitters than in CAT 2018. The paper had a large number of Arithmetic questions from subjects such as Percentages, TSD, Time and Work, etc. The paper had more concerns on Algebra and Geometry than on Numbers in Algebra, Geometry, and Numbers.

A good number of attempts for this section would be around 18 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to score 85 percentile.

2019 - Slot 2

Section

No.
of Questions

No.
of non-MCQ questions

Difficulty
Level

VARC

34

7

 
Moderate-Difficult

DILR

32

8

 
Easy-Moderate

QA

34

11

 
Easy-Moderate

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Topic

Number of
questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level

Story of
Aladdin-as shared by Antonio Galland

5

3

Moderate

Idea of Folk

5

1

Difficult

Emperor
Penguins in Antartica

4

2

Moderate

Topophilia, the
affective bond between people and place

5

1

Difficult

Contemporary
Internet Shopping

5

3

Moderate

Parajumbles

4

2

Moderate

Para Summary

3

1

Difficult

Odd sentence
Out

3

1

Difficult

The verbal portion can be labelled as moderate in terms of level of difficulty. This basically meant that in this chapter the aspirants who were knowledgeable in the subjects that are reading-based would have been more relaxed. Five RC passages (each 350-400 words) were available, out of which four passages each had five questions, and the fifth had four questions. Other problems were sentence rearrangement, para-jumbles, and description queries. There were 7 questions of TITA.

A good number of attempts for this section would be around 24 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to score 85 percentile.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Topic

Number of
questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
level

Radar Chart
Based Problem set for 5 vendors

4

4

Easy

Government’s
study on different types of Crime rate in States & UTs

4

4

Easy

Street Map
Based problem set with straight lines & intersections

4

4

Easy

Coding based
Problem set

4

3

Moderate

Other problem
sets included Tables, direction, & others

16

15

Easy

The section was as challenging as last year, and with a few tricky sets, a step above slot 1. The selection of the collection was therefore crucial to performance. One scattered graph collection looked fairly complicated, but in terms of calculation it was manageable, another collection was simple while others were time consuming and difficult. Eight sets of 4 questions each were included. In DI, there were 8 TITAs. 

A good number of attempts for this section would be around 18 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to get 85 percentile.

Quantitative Ability

Topic

Number of
Questions

Doable
Questions

Difficulty
Level

Arithmetic
Based Questions

11

10

Easy

Algebra based

6

3

Moderate

Geometry/Co-ordinate
Geometry

6

5

Easy

Number
System/Roots/Under-roots/Log/Probability

11

10

Easy

The difficulty level of QA was between that of CAT 2017 and that of CAT 2018. In Arithmetic and Algebra, there were a large number of questions. From both the slots, it is obvious that Numbers had extremely few questions. But it did seem calculation intensive. There were again 11 TITA questions.

A good number of attempts for this section would be around 18 (getting at most 1/3rd of the questions wrong) to be able to score 85 percentile.

Inspiring Education… Assuring Success!!
Ⓒ 2020 – All Rights Are Reserved