CAT 2016 analysis and review – Slot 2

CAT 2016 analysis and review – Slot 2

Disclaimer: I have written the CAT 2016 analysis and review – Slot 2 after comparing the slot 2 of CAT 2015 and CAT 2016.

As would have been clearly apparent to all, CAT 2016 managed to throw a few surprises your way. While the form of the test was as expected with regard to number of questions, format, and even level of difficulty to some extent, it really tested the ability to test a candidate under pressure and trust one’s preparation more than speculation as to how the others would perform. Let’s look at how the test transpired:


Verbal ability

The obvious change right at the start was that there were no demarcated sub-sections for Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability questions as was the case last year. There were 5 passages: one on how corruption indices might show the wrong picture about the manner in which a country is dealing with corruption, one on the value that a company creates versus the size of the company, one on how the Durand line came into existence and its impact on the relations between the nations in the area, one on the impact of demanding employees to be motivated and one on the premise that there should be a finders-keepers law when it comes to excavation, preservation and exhibition of historical artefacts. The passages were extremely easy to read, there weren’t any heavy concepts as such and even the one on economics was a nice read (probably because of the author or the fact that the examples were relatable).

Compared to last year, this part of the section was slightly longer and it would have taken a bit of a time to read the passages and then the questions. Last year’s CAT had a lot of familiar topics when it came to RC passages and so, someone who had appeared for both the tests would have definitely found the progress this year to be a bit on the slower side. The passages on museums, innovation, and employee motivation were comparatively easier and a serious aspirant should have definitely attempted these. Another RC could have been easily fit in and so, I would expect serious aspirants to do around 18-20 questions at the very least from this part.

Verbal ability seemed a lot easier compared to that of last year (although standalone, it was still of moderate to difficult level) and had a nice sprinkling of parajumbles, paragraph summaries and odd sentence questions. Again, the questions were easy to read and so, the correctness of the solution was not a function of your understanding of the excerpt but a function of how technically sound you were. Overall, the paragraph summary questions were easy and must attempts but one should have been careful while dealing with the odd sentence questions and the parajumbles as they would have sucked a lot of time because of the added uncertainty due to lack of options. Overall, one could have easily targeted around 5-6 questions from this part of the section.

To sum it up, VARC was probably a tad difficult compared to last year and I am sure quite a few students would have been short on time. I would expect a raw score of around 52-53 marks to be equivalent to a 90%ile, a score of around 60 marks to be equivalent to a 95%ile and a score of 70+ should fetch a 99%ile.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

As was apparent post the first slot, there were two takeaways at least for me: the section was difficult and again, the onus would be on accuracy than on speed and that there was more of logic required than the ability to calculate quickly. With that mindset, I went into the section.

There were 8 sets, as was the case last year. The sets were on:

  1. Water supply to a drough affected region
  2. Sessions to be conducted without overlap
  3. Experts’ ratings of products and components
  4. Venn diagram based set on specialisations
  5. A set on a software that detects loan defaulters
  6. A puzzle on alphabet coding and decoding
  7. An arrangement set on ratings given to hotels on a certain number of parameters
  8. A set on the salaries of management, technical and non technical staff and the progression

Set numbers 4 and 6 were extremely straightforward and one should have attempted at least these sets even without much preparation. The only trap I could find was in one of the questions in set 4 that asked about the average salary of students who had opted for all three specializations. Although the data given in the common information was in terms of lakhs, the question asked for the amount, without any units (in lakhs) specified. So, one would be expected to write down the entire amount and not just the first two digits.

Set 8 was calculation intensive and barring one question, the remaining 3 were pretty doable considering that the time alloted per question went up significantly as people attempted fewer questions. Set 7 was probably one of the doable sets among the remaining sets and so, should have been solved. 3 of the 4 questions were again doable and the 4th one required a bit of faith and awareness to be cracked.

The remaining sets were difficult and the fifth set should ideally have been the one with the loan defaulters. Post that, it was tough going and either one would run out of time or out of ideas when it came to the remaining sets.

Overall, I predict the 90th percentile to lie at somewhere around 20-22 marks in terms of raw score, the 95th percentile to be somewhere around 30 marks and the 99th percentile to be around 45 marks.

Quantitative Ability

After that scorcher of a DILR section, a lot of aspirants were drained and images of having wasted a year might have begun to surface up. While standalone the DILR was difficult, it was extremely important to back yourself and understand that CAT is a relative test and so, absolute performance matters little when it comes to the final outcome. However, a lot of good students lost it in their head and the outcome wasn’t pretty at all.

Coming to the section, it was definitely easier compared to that of last year. The questions were pretty intuitive and there wasn’t a lot expected in terms of content. However, the number of traps laid was a tad too many even for a CAT paper and I am sure that a lot of students would be surprised when the result comes out. Again, the onus was on arithmetic and algebra and one could find at least 15 questions from these two topics. Geometry managed to surprise us with both the level of difficulty and the number of questions (around 9-10). The rest of the questions were split among numbers (3-4 questions), probability and PnC (2 questions) and miscellaneous topics. There were definitely 10-12 questions that could be graded as easy and it would probably be inexcusable for a prepared aspirant to score a sub-30 score in this section.

Overall, according to me, a raw score of 45 would translate into a 90%ile score, a score of 55 would be close to a 95%ile and a score of 65+ would give a 99%ile.


I feel the overall cutoff will be slightly lesser than that of CAT 2015. I expect the 90th percentile to be somewhere around 120 marks, the 95th percentile to be somewhere around 140 marks and 165+ should be a sure-shot 99%ile.

Ambience and interface

Not much to write about the interface this time around. The font was not great and it was a bit difficult to read the passages because of the print. Selection of lines from the passages was not allowed as was the case last year. It has already been beaten to death that the pi symbol was replaced by a square root. While I completely agree with the fact that it was a blunder, I do not really think it ate into your time and screwed your chances. There will be a lot of situations in your life wherein you will be faced with ambiguity and how you deal with it will probably define how you go about achieving your goals. Sorry to be blunt but if you tend to assign blame every time you get into ambiguity, you might have to work on it before you aspire to be a great manager drawing a hefty paycheck.

Leaked questions

“We wish to inform and assure everyone that the CAT exam 2016 has concluded successfully. There was one incident of malpractice that was promptly detected and has been dealt with by initiating the due procedure of law. This incident has in no manner compromised the integrity of the Test and the CAT administration request you not to pay any heed to rumours or insinuations in this regard.”

– CAT 2016 Convener, Prof. Rajendra K Bandi

Again, all of you would be aware by now that a ‘leak’ happened during the second slot when a few questions were shared across FB groups. While it certainly isn’t something that should be taken lightly, the way in which the action needs to be taken rests with the authorities. What we can do is report the matter. Sticking to it long after the test has been done results in distraction and emotional trauma rather than a positive result. So, align your priorities and get back to your prep. The season has just begun and you need a good deal of focus to get through it. Making groups and queuing behind rebels would seem exciting and ‘right’ but trust me, it doesn’t help you get into a b-school (which I hope was your aim when you started this journey).

What to do next?

Also, we get a lot of queries asking about chances at top b-schools and questions to the tune of: Should I take up new IIMs/MDI/etc. or go for another attempt? Instead of asking this question now, it makes sense to ask this after you have a) got the interview call and b) you have converted that call. So, make sure that you are applying to a lot of institutes especially if you feel that this is your last attempt. Appear for all the processes with utmost sincerity and preparation and convert them. Then you will have a lot more certainty, a good amount of GDPI prep confidence and a final offer letter in hand while making that decision.

All the best!


The Article was written on LEAP in collaboration with LearningRoots.

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