CAT Strat
Comments 32

CAT 2017 Analysis: Same wine, same bottle

I never thought I’d say this but it looks like the IIMs have finally figured out once and for all what they want to test. I keep taking the CAT every year, yesterday being my 14th time if I am counting right, with a view to understanding the changes in the test and incorporate the same into my teaching. But given the last four CATs (including this year’s) I think they seem to have settled upon what they want to test. The phrase that most of us in the CAT-prep fraternity use — the CAT keeps changing — might not hold true anymore.

A trickier Verbal than usual

A lot of test-takers felt the Verbal was very easy. I think this has to do with the fact that all of the RC passages were very readable. Despite this, I felt that a few of the questions here and there were a bit different from the previous years, and were also difficult to tackle.

The VA part was for sure harder than it was in previous years. The options on the Summary questions were super-short and were only capturing the essence of the conclusion and not the whole argument. The Jumbled paragraphs and Incorrect Sentence in context also needed to bit more effort than usual, at least for me.

I feel that the VA-RC might not turn out to be as high-scoring a section as people expect it to be. The saving grace is that VA was trickier than RC and hence test-takers will collect fewer negatives.

CAT is now officially only about the DI-LR section!

The DI-LR section is now exactly the way the whole paper-based CAT used to be — a solid challenge. I guess given the fact that the IIMs want the test to be fair to test-takers from different educational backgrounds, the other two sections have been diluted, to say the least. Yes, they need more non-engineers, they don’t need grammarians and word-miners, but they do need smart people! So the one thing they have kept constant in the last four years has been the level of the DI-LR.

In the two section CATs where LR was combined to VA-RC, the LR was literally a joke with everyone being able to do the three LRs and hence ignore RC. In the QA-DI section, people comfortably ignored DI and did QA.

But since they have reverted to the three section format the DI-LR section has been the section to do. Just like a team planning to win the cricket World Cup always knows that Australia is the team to beat, the DI-LR section is now officially the section that will decide your ability to be a part of the IIMs.

Also in a sea-change from the paper-based days, the sets are a  blend of DI and LR. In fact, it is tough to say where DI ends and where LR begins. Almost all sets had some numbers involved in them leading some test-takers to feel that there was no LR at all; there was no LR as we normally understand it — arrangement, sports, etc. While almost all of the sets had numbers, some of them did not need any crunching.

Even on the sets that seemed most like DI, there was a higher element of reasoning and a lower element of calculation, so even the DI sets were not DI as we know it.

I think it is time to change the name of the section to logical or analytical reasoning.

YAWNtitative ability

I was quite kicked after the QA section last year and in the year 2013 since there was a lot of reasoning involved but the QA section this year was like the ones in 2014 and 2015 — formulaic and boring.

While I understand the fact that the test has to be fair to non-engineers, testing basic knowledge of indices and calculating skills is sleep-inducing, to say the least. The QA section was designed to differentiate between candidates who cannot do basic math from those who can and not to differentiate between the reasoning capabilities of candidates who know basic math. So while two test-takers might score a 99.5 on the QA section this year it will not mean that both have the same quantitative ability since the test is focussed on differentiating at the lower end of the percentile range than at the higher.

I have no issues with the same since the candidates have to demonstrate their reasoning skills in the DI-LR section; I just find it super boring.

I had to travel 7 hours, either way, to Nasik (my fourth choice) to take the test this year, and after the paper, I was wondering whether I should take the test next year.

The pattern is more or less standardised, the questions apart from one section are bland, the test location might not be favourable, so what’s the point. So unless they announce a drastic pattern change or I decide to choose Goa as my test-centre, I think I’ll give the CAT a miss the next year!

The larger story is that yesterday was the just the first test of the series. You have at least 3 more tests to go, so irrespective of how the first test went make sure that you are switched on till the XAT is done; there is enough and more to play for, the series is far from over.






    • Hi Kishan,
      Glad you like the post.

      Most of what I write comes from meeting students and understanding their aspirations, fears, anxieties and tendencies.

      The posts are a way to try to help people achieve their goals by overcoming their fears and self-sabotaging tendencies.

      Be absolutely keyed in for the rest of the season and now that the CAT is out of the way, give your best on all of the other tests.

      All the best!


  1. Thanks for the review. Moreover, it is contenting to see the VARC review as I felt the same about the tricky part even though it appeared apparently easy. The witty section names add a lot to the post. Keep on putting up the brilliant content.


  2. Faraz Hussain says

    always inspiring .. i am going to drop n in Sha Allah i will apoear in cat next year…


  3. K SHESHU BABU says

    Competitive exams are becoming ‘ luck ‘ oriented rather than ‘ talented ‘ oriented these days. It is high time to devise tests which remove the element of ‘ luck ‘ especially vast number of students are disappointed that they are unable to make up to prestigious institutes despite possessing talent. Moreover, the number educated is on the rise and number of ‘ prestigious ‘ institutes must be expanded to meet the requirement of these huge number of students


  4. Tony sir,
    Informative post as usual. I’m looking forward to your posts more than the next season of GOT!
    BTW, Chennai misses you 😦


  5. Ahmad says

    Hi Tony,
    My CAT exam was really good this year when compared to last year. I must give credit to your “Last Mile to CAT” which you conducted in Hyderabad. The ABC approach and the need to do something different if things are not working out worked very well for me.
    Can you please advice on how to prepare for decision-making section of XAT. There haven’t been any posts on your portals related to IIFT too. If you can provide a summary of what should we do differently from CAT for IIFT and XAT.
    Thank you 🙂


    • Hi Ahmad,
      Glad to know you did well and that the LMTC event was useful.

      I have a series of detailed posts on the XAT Decision Making. You will find them way below on the blog. I’ll repost them after the SNAP.

      And honestly, IIFT does not even need a strategy, I mean after CAT and XAT the rest are, you know too easy to break ones head about strategising!

      All the best!


  6. Sushma says

    Hello Sir!!
    It was my first time taking cat and guesstimated score could be 134-138(slot-2).
    and IMS percentile predictor suggested between 95-98 percentile.
    I was wondering if i will get any old IIM (especially B)?
    Quota- NC-OBC
    10th – 96.5%
    Graduation(B.arch)- 72.5%
    Thank you so much in advance.


      • The Grad marks are below 80, so it’s a bit dicey otherwise there was a strong chance, but may be the gender diversity with compensate for that. CAT Score has very low weightage in the IIM-B process.

        Don’t think about these things right now. You have taken the big test, other tests remain, focus on them. Leave the math that goes into the calls being given to the colleges.

        All the best!


  7. I must say its a bit disheartening not being able to have another one of these informative posts from you on IIFT. Certainly missed it. 😦


    • Hi,

      I want the readers of this blog mostly students to be able to take the lessons for the big battles and adapt & apply them to the smaller battles on their own.

      So after the CAT the next posts will be on the XAT 🙂

      All the best!


  8. Akhil Govind says

    Hi Tony, I have been a frequent visitor to this blog for the past 4 months and have found this the best blog on strategies for the CAT.
    I have calculated my raw score using the Official Answer Keys as follows :
    VARC – 65 – 68
    DILR – 34
    QA – 52
    Overall – 151 – 154 (SLOT 1 MORNING)
    What would be my expected percentile according to you.
    Also considering the below data, which calls among ABCLIK could be expected ?
    10th – CGPA 10 CBSE(Taken as 95% by CBSE)
    12th – 95.8% CBSE
    Grad – 8.05/10 CGPA
    Work Ex – 5 months by Jan 31 2018
    Thanks and regards.


    • Hi Akhil,

      A percentile close to 99, may be just tipping over 99.

      I think you can expect, calls from L, I, and K.

      Among A, B and C, A is the best possibility due to you marks. B and C are tough, the former because of lack of work ex and the latter because of high weightage to CAT percentile.

      Glad you found the blog useful.

      All the best with the calls!


      • akhilgovindspeaks says

        The results just came Tony. Ended up in the lower range of your predictions. 😦
        VARC – 74.39 – 98.9%ile

        DILR – 40.62 – 98.14%ile

        QA – 53.51 – 94.41%ile

        OA – 168.52 – 98.71 %ile

        Is there hope of IIM-K with this ? (12th – 95%, BTech 80.5%, GEM, Work Ex – 5months)


  9. akhilgovindspeaks says

    Hello Tony,
    I have been a frequent reader of this blog for the last 3-4 months.
    I have calculated my Raw Score based on the Official Key as below :
    VARC – 65-68; DILR – 34; QA – 52; OVERALL – 151-154 (SLOT 1 MORNING)
    What could be my expected percentile based on your analysis of the test.
    Also could you tell which of the ABCLIK would have a high probability of calling me for interviews; my Profile details are as below :
    10th – CBSE – CGPA 10 (Treated as 95%)
    12th – CBSE – 95.8%
    B.Tech – 8.05/10 CGPA. College says multiply by 10 for Percentage, thus 80.5%
    Work Ex. 5 months as of Jan 31 2018
    Thanks and regards


    • akhilgovindspeaks says

      Hi. Kindly ignore this comment. This was a final draft of the comment by myself after signing into wordpress
      Akhil Govind


  10. Priyanshu says

    Hi Tony,
    I have given CAT 17 in slot 1 in which my expected score is between 145-160.
    my acads are pathetic:
    Work ex: 18 months, Deloitte
    what can be my expected percentile and also what all can i expect considering my bad acads?


    • Hi,

      You can expect a percentile in the 98.5-99 range.

      Am afraid with both Xth and Grad marks being below 70, calls from old IIMs might not happen.

      New IIMs and colleges such as MDI are a possibility.

      All the best!


  11. Hi Tony, would the overall score for 99%le reduce compared to last year or would it be similar to last year?


    • Hi Samuel,

      Performed underwhelmingly this year – only a 97. I kind of knew this since I tend to do well on a tougher QA, as was the case in 13 and 16.

      Guess I have to be happy with the 770 on the GMAT this year!


      • Sir, any idea what is J’s overall score? Heard he got a cent percentile this time too with 100 in VA and Quant.


      • Virendra says

        Oh wow. That’s amazing. It’s the 8th time. I am an ardent follower of your blogs, this one and cat100percentile, both have helped a lot in my preparation. Thank you sir! convey my wishes to J too.


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