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Check Detailed Exam Analysis Of CAT 2023 Exam, Slot 1

Higher Education IIMs

Check Detailed Exam Analysis Of CAT 2023 Exam, Slot 1


By Ramnath Kanakadandi, Senior Course Director CAT , T.I.M.E

CAT 2023 was smoothly conducted, overall, this morning on expected lines in the morning slot. While there were some students who faced some technical issues during the test, the administrators were able to help them with that. No students lost time due to these issues, as far as the feedback received by us goes. The paper, while being tougher than last year, did retain the overall structure of the exam as was seen in the last couple of years. No noticeable surprises were seen as far as the pattern goes in this slot. However, based on the student feedback received so far, the unexpectedly high difficulty level would have packed more of its punch to those in the morning slot than it would be for those in the other two slots.

The following was the pattern of examination in the first slot:

Section Number of Questions MCQs Non MCQs Sectional time limit
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension 24 20 4 40 Minutes
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning 20 14 6 40 Minutes
Quantitative Ability 22 16 7 40 Minutes
Total 66 48 17 120 Minutes

The evaluation scheme was the same as that of the earlier years – Three marks for a correct answer and a penalty of a mark for a wrongly marked MCQ. Non-MCQs had no negative marks.

The difficulty, overall, for CAT 2023 in the morning slot was slightly on the higher side compared to that of all of the slots of the two previous CATs.

Section-wise analysis

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension:

The VARC section had 24 questions in the morning slot, 16 from Reading Comprehension and 8 from Verbal Ability. There was no major change in the pattern or number of questions from the previous year.

The RC passages were four in number, with four questions per passage. There were a good number of questions based on strengthening/weakening of arguments. Just like the last year, the 1st slot paper this year also had a good number of questions of the nature “which of the following are true EXCEPT”.

The passage on Postcolonial and “Indian Ocean” Novels, was a moderately difficult read. There was one question in this passage, in which the student was expected to identify the odd pair from the set of keywords from the passage.

The passage on Return of wolves, was deceptively easy to read, but the options in a couple of questions were quite close and difficult to eliminate. Students who attempted this passage first may have ended up losing time on these questions.

The RC passage on Geographical vs Cultural influences on human history, was analytical and not-so-tough to read. However, the questions were on the difficult side, with multiple negations and exclusions (“all…EXCEPT”) in some of them. An ideal approach would have been to omit this passage, which would have been difficult given the attractive readability of the passage.

The RC Passage on the book “Affluent Society”, was a moderate-difficult read. The questions for this passage were moderate-difficult with some typical question types usually encountered in CAT. This too was an analytical passage and most students would have been able to attempt at least 2 questions correctly.

Passage Number of Questions Readability Overall Difficulty Level
Postcolonial and “Indian Ocean” Novels 4 Difficult Difficult
Return of wolves 4 Easy Difficult
Geographical vs Cultural Influences on Human History 4 Moderate Difficult
The book “Affluent Society” 4 Moderate-Difficult Moderate-Difficult

In the Verbal Ability section this year, there were two questions each on Para Formation, Para odd man out, Para Summary, and Sentence Placement. Overall, the VA part was of moderate difficulty level, with a few easy questions. All the Para Formation and Para Odd Man Out questions were non-MCQs.

The Para Formation questions were moderately difficult, and students should have strategically attempted both, as they were both non-MCQs.

The Para Odd Man Out questions were of moderate difficulty, where students could figure out the right answer by trying to solve the sequence of the contextually connected sentences. Even if students did not find the exact sequence, the odd statement was relatively easier to find.

The Sentence Placement questions were moderately difficult. An ideal approach would be to have attempted one of them accurately. The Para Summary questions were moderately difficult, with the themes being not too difficult to read.

The distribution of the questions in the Verbal Ability area is as below –

Question Type Number of Questions Difficulty Level
Para Formation Questions (PFQs) 2 Moderate-Difficult
Sentence Placement 2 Moderate
Sentence Placement 2 Moderate
Para Summary 2 Moderate
Para Odd Man Out 2 Moderate

A net score of 15–17 would be a decent score for a test-taker to be able to get 85 percentile (sectional cut-off).

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning:

The DILR section of the morning slot was distinctly higher in difficulty level, overall, compared to the overall difficulty of DILR of the last year. There was no change in the pattern. Just like last year, the number of sets remained at four with each set having 5 questions. As all the sets had the same number of questions, it was now the type of set and the amount of data that students had to look for, before attempting the set. One could also have taken the easy way out by checking the sets in the order of appearance, provided one was more or less equally well-versed with all the set types.

Like last year, this year’s paper also did not have that one definitely-easy and must-attempt set. Even the easiest set in the section required students to have a basic understanding of Statistics beforehand, not so common an expectation for DILR sets in general.

This contributed to pushing the difficulty level up by a notch this year.

The set-wise details are as below:

LRDI No. of Questions Difficulty level
Blocks/Houses for sale (Quant Based Reasoning) 5 Difficult-Very Difficult
Professors voting for Dean (Distribution) 5 Difficult
Restaurants and Gigs (Tables) 5 Moderate-Difficult
Consulates – Visa slots 5 Very Difficult

The set on ‘Houses for sale’ was a Quant-based reasoning set that involved the concepts of special equations in a major way. The set was challenging due to the context being unique and the rather elaborate nature of the information provided. This should not have been the first set to attempt as this would have eaten up a lot of time that could have been better spent on other comparatively easier sets in the section.

The set on ‘Professors voting to elect a Dean’ was a tough set to get a hang of, given the intricate nature of the information provided. Students would have had to spend a lot of time trying to understand the information before they even put pen to paper. Even after understanding the details, the reasoning required to solve the set provided an additional hurdle that would have had to be surpassed to crack the set.

At the outset, the set on ‘Restaurants and Gigs’ looked to be simpler to solve. But the statistical concepts and terminology integral to the set would have been a major deterrent to students who were not well-versed with these concepts. However, those comfortable with statistics would have found this set to be well within their reach, making this set a must-attempt for such students. The difficulty level of this set can be said to be ‘Moderate-Difficult’.

The set ‘Visa Processing’ involved counters for multiple countries which had different processing times. This set also had a lot of information to process and many students would have dropped this set given the daunting length of the information of the set.

While the set was not undoable, the amount of information to be processed would have taken up a lot of time, pushing this set back in the order of sets to attempt.

Students who took a good number of AIMCATs would have come across such sets multiple times, which would have definitely helped in reducing the novelty/surprise factor of these sets.

A net score of 9–11 would be a decent score for a test-taker to be able to get 85 percentile (sectional cut-off).

Quantitative Ability Section

The Quant section retained the exact structure from last year, including the non-MCQs. The paper had 22 Questions, with 7 non-MCQs. However, based on the student feedback, this year’s paper was tougher than last year’s.

While a good number of questions in the section appeared very doable at the outset, they turned out to be much tougher than expected in most of the cases. Compared to last year, the number of easy questions significantly came down. Almost all the questions required the student to go beyond simply substituting values in formulae. Most of the questions came from Algebra and Arithmetic. The questions from Algebra in particular were difficult, with the approaches being either not straightforward or time consuming. This may have prevented students from reaching the end of the section. Even those with a lot of practice in QA would not have found it easy to score high, given the tediousness involved in some of the questions.

The distribution of questions in this section across topics is as below:

Topic No. of Questions
Percentages, Profit & Loss 1
Time & Distance 3
Numbers 1
Geometry 2
Progressions/Series 1
Quadratic Equations 4
Averages Mixtures & Alligations 2
Coordinate Geometry 1
Permutations & Combinations 1
Logarithms 1
Indices 2
Time and Work 1

A net score of 8-10 would be a decent score for a test-taker to be able to get 85 percentile (sectional cut-off).

Overall, a net score of 47-50 should be sufficient to fetch at least one IIM call.


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