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CAT Paper Analysis

Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are the crème de la crème of the management institutes in the country and hence, only the score of the toughest and most competitive exam is considered for admission. This makes the CAT a very competitive exam and only the best candidates manage to crack it.

To maintain the difficulty level of the paper and also to introduce an element of surprise, the CAT is known to keep reinventing itself every year. Changes in paper pattern and exam format are common and students must make an effort to stay ahead of the game and accommodate any modifications. Check CAT Syllabus

The Reading Comprehension (RC) and Verbal Ability (VA) section is one of the three sections that make up the entire question paper of CAT. Many candidates find RC and VA to be on the difficult side as even the seemingly easy questions can be tricky to solve. Unlike the Quantitative Aptitude (QA) section, there are no fixed formulas that can be used to solve the problems and students must rely on their instinct and knowledge of the English language to figure out the answer.

Candidates must go through the previous year question paper to understand the break-up of questions for VA and RC. It will help them figure out the type of questions asked as well as their difficulty level. CheckCAT Sample Papers

The extensive breakdown of the VA and RC section for the past four years is given below.

CAT Paper Analysis for Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability
 2016201520142013
Time allotted6060 minutesAbout 85 minutesAbout 70 minutes
Total ques.34343419 to 22
RC2424169 to 10
VA10101810 to 12
Type of ques.    
RC5 passages, 3 passages of 400-600 words and 2 passages of 300 each.2 sets of 3 ques. Each and 3 sets of 6 ques. Each4 passage sets3 passage sets
VA4 para-jumbles, 3 sentence based and 3 odd one out4 para-jumbles, 3 odd one out, 3 summary type; All were Type in the Answer (TITA)Grammar part error, Para Jumble, Critical reasoning and MisfitPara Jumbles, Para Completion, FIBs, Grammar, Vocab Usage
Difficulty level    
RCModerateEasy to Moderate, Passages required good reading speedModerate in difficulty2 sets were moderately easy but one was very difficult
VAEasyTricky with no grammar questionsEasy to ModerateModerately easy

As can be seen, the trend of the paper keeps changing every year and the paper pattern is updated in an attempt to scope out the very best.


CAT 2016 Paper Analysis for VA and RC

This section consisted of 34 questions and time allocated was 60 minutes. Out of which 24 questions were comprehension based and 10 questions on verbal ability. In reading comprehension section there were 5 passages, 3 passages of 400-600 words and 2 passages of 300 each.

In verbal ability jumbled section was tough.There were ambiguous questions also which led to wastage of candidate’s time. There were 3 small paragraphs of 150 words each followed by 4 options. As there were only 4 options, so elimination of options were easy. In odd one out part, candidates were given 5 sentences out of which 1 sentence was odd. An attempt of 25-26 was considered good for this section.


CAT 2015 Paper Analysis for VA and RC

The Verbal Ability (VA) and Reading Comprehension (RC) section of CAT 2016 had time duration of total 60 minutes. There were 34 questions in all, out of which 10 questions were from VA and the remaining from RC.

All ten questions from Verbal Ability were in the form of TITA (Type in the Answer). This was a new feature introduced in the paper in an attempt to test the candidates on subjective type questions. Without any options to choose from, the students had to rely on their instinct to arrive at the answer. Additionally, these questions did not have negative marking.

The questions in VA were also found to be on the trickier side. The paper had no easy grammar problems. Students also found that the para jumbles appeared to be difficult to solve, without any options to help in guessing the answer. This resulted in wasting precious time of the candidates over these questions. The summary type problems were easier as the candidate only had to choose one of the available sentences and type in the number corresponding to it.

As far as Reading Comprehension was concerned, the passages were easy to grasp and most of the questions asked pertained to only those facts that were mentioned in the specific passage. The students agreed that the passages were not as abstruse as some of the ones asked in previous year papers.

Those candidates who were in the habit of reading regularly found it easier to go through the RC passages of CAT 2015. This was an important factor since there were a total of 5 sets and 24 questions in this section. The candidates needed to read at a speedy pace in order to get through all sets within the prescribed time limit.

Since the VA questions were free from negative penalty, it is expected that the candidates must have made a higher attempt in this section. The RC questions were also more direct, suggesting a higher attempt rate. Candidates who have attempted 23-24 questions overall with around 80% accuracy should hope to score above 95 percentile.

Check CAT 2016 Quantitative Aptitude paper analysis 


CAT 2014 Paper Analysis for VA and RC

The Verbal Ability (VA) and Reading Comprehension (RC) section of CAT 2014 was clubbed with Logical Reasoning (LR). There were a total of 50 questions, out of which 34 belonged to VA and RC. The break-up was as follows: 16 for RC and 18 for VA.

The VA section had easier questions than those compared to CAT 2013. There were four critical reasoning questions that were inference based and a total of three summary writing questions. Para jumble appeared in four questions while odd sentence out type also had equal representation. There were also three questions that were grammar based.

No questions from vocabulary or phrasal verbs were asked. Fact, Inference, Judgement (FIJ) questions were absent from the paper. Majority of the questions focused on testing the overall knowledge of candidates, instead of testing the nitty-gritty of the language. The difficulty level, as mentioned above, was moderately easy.

The RC section consisted of a total of four passages. Each passage had four questions each that were direct and easy to answer. The length of the passage was fairly decent, ranging from 500 to 700 words. Candidates with good reading habits would have faced no difficulty in going through these sets.

The topics that the RC passages were based on pertained to common day-to-day issues such as obesity and general political scenario, instead of obscure subjects of philosophy and sociology. This made it easier for the students to understand the content of these sets and answer the problems that followed.

The difficulty level of the passages was found to be moderate to easy. Only one out of the four passages was on the tougher side, with the remaining sets being simple enough for the majority of students, attempting them. It would have been easy to attempt anywhere between 24-25 questions with a high level of accuracy for the serious candidates.

KNOW MORE ABOUT CAT 2016 DI and LR PAPER ANALYSIS


CAT 2013 Paper Analysis for VA and RC

The VA and RC section of CAT 2013 was jointly presented with Logical Reasoning, as in the Cat 2014 paper. The entire section had 30 questions in all. The exam took place in various sittings over several days due to which the exact number of questions faced by each candidate differed. But, on an average, there were 10 to 12 questions belonging to VA and 9 to 10 that were from RC.

Candidates found the VA section to be repetitive in the sense that questions on Para Jumble, Para Completion and usage of Vocabulary appeared in every slot of every session. Some students even found questions based on the nuances of grammar. Overall, the difficulty level was deemed to be moderately easy for this section.

Reading Comprehension, on the other hand, had three passages on an average for every slot. Out of these, at least two sets were simple and uncomplicated. One set was on the difficult side and candidates found it to be time consuming.

The students who were well prepared attempted around seven to eight questions in Verbal Ability and two complete passage sets in Reading Comprehension, or about six questions. The paper featured no major surprises and serious candidates could have performed reasonably well in this section.


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