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Ace the Data Interpretation Section of CAT

How to ace DI in 2017 | Tips for Data Interpretation | Data Interpretation

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Published : Monday, 18 September, 2017 11:30 AM

Ace the Data Interpretation Section of CAT

Data Interpretation section of CAT is of very efficient level. It requires lot of concentration and focus. Many aspirants are scared of this section as DI appears to be toughest puzzle of all to them and for many it’s a trump card to gain that extra percentile in the Common Admissions Test (CAT)

The new age Data Interpretation section presents you with confusing mixture of charts, tables and logical reasoning and thus a pet peeve for many. But what needs to be remembered is that it's a test of interpretation and not on calculations. Some aspirants avoid this section due to this reason but they should always remember that DI is not a test of data calculation. Though some questions need a bit of calculation, others can be solved without calculation.
 
If you can grasp it, it's one of the most scoring sections and you can score a lot of marks here! Now that CAT is few month away, spend a month on data interpretation - what are the questions and why did you avoid them - analyze thoroughly. Don't panic looking at the problem - it's not rocket science and it can be solved even without using pen and paper. For that you need two things –
1. Idea about fractions and percentages
2. Think smart - where you can avoid calculations - Avoid it!
 
Let's take the possible problems one by one :
  • Graphical interpretation
Here mostly you'll get line graphs, bar graphs, pie chart, 3 D graphs, flow diagrams, etc. To familiarize you have excel which can generate all the above graphs and tables. Now-a-days, CAT exams focus less on complex calculations and more on interpretation. 
 
The general funda here should be -
  • Try to attempt where there are 5+ questions for a pair or a graph
  • Take first 5 seconds to look at the graph
  • Take next 25 seconds to read the questions. What do they want from you?
  • Next 30 seconds look at the graph from question point of view - try to analyze what you need to do to answer. You'll need fractions and percentages to answer most - be it growth rate or interest!
Now answer. You'll need less than 30 seconds per question. Hence, you'll solve total 5 questions in (5+25+30+30*5) = 210 seconds or say, 42 seconds per question - which is quite impressive! Try not to use pen and paper for solving - use mental calculator to solve - it'll save a lot of time.
 
REMEMBER: If there's a complex graph with one or two questions to answer then try to avoid it if possible. Not because it's complex - because it'll eat out your time! If all questions are like that then you are left with no choice but to answer!
  • Data Sufficiency
No one is expecting exact answers from you in this section. So, no need for paper work. For those who get confused here, this is what you should be doing –
 
Read the question first - follow it carefully - what you need to answer. Is it only x or both x and y? Be clear on it! Many a times examinees just look at the equations without a single glance at the question asked - that's a big big mistake! Even when you know everything you just pick the wrong answer.
 
Look at the first equation only - block the second one with your palm. Can you solve the above question with this equation? Mark yes or no there.
 
Now look at the second equation. Again, can you solve the question asked with only this equation? Mark yes or no
 
Now look at both - together. Can you solve the question asked with both? Mark yes or no 
 
Tally the yes and no-s. You have already got an answer! All these hardly take 30 seconds to do! 
 
Now that you can see how simple it is, only thing you need is a structured pattern to answer them!
 
 So, what's the bottom-line?
  • Try solving problems in your head
  • No need to solve - for some problems just a careful look will solve it
  • Follow a structure to solve the problems. (Structured Analysis: Discussed below)
  • AND PRACTICE!
With whatever we have seen till now, we can say that DI is the art of decoding information presented in tables, bar graphs, pie charts and histograms. The very essence of cracking DI is the ability to identify the questions one can answer which would in turn assist you in accomplishing your way through. If you succeed in getting the first step right, everything else will fall in place. 
 
Visual interpretation, calculation, reasoning or a combination of all these is what it takes to get through the DI and the Quant section that will make a joint appearance in the new online CAT format this year as well and for this rationing your time is a must! 
 
The data may be presented in form of tables, pie charts and or a bar but other chart types like the Venn diagrams, routes and network and spider charts are less frequently to be seen. However, acquainting yourselves with these charts would only do good and help you improve your performance in the DI.
 
Many a times, questions concerning data sufficiency too are included and for this the magic lies behind finding out whether the given data is sufficient for answering the questions. Your grip over Quant fundamentals and reasoning skills is all that's needed.
 
Here are some skillful and adaptable tips to crack the CAT DATA INTERPRETATION :
  • Working at developing the ability to understand voluminous data
  • Familiarizing with different kinds of charts
  • Enhancing the mental math skills
  • Bucking up with the speed would thus help in saving time
  • Calculating the increase or decrease of percentage or comparing ratio is an essential skill of saving time
  • Regularly solving DI sets that require reasoning skills and logic and increasing your familiarity with such sets would help you sail through
  • Getting a clear idea of the DI sets well in advance by solving as many questions as possible
  • Getting accustomed with DS questions, as they would help you score more
  • Rejection of DI sets based on the volume of data is a complete NO-NO. More data does not necessarily mean a more difficult set and vice versa.
  • Try not to solve all the questions at once. Try solving a bulk of some easy questions and some difficult ones at a time.
  • Attempting questions that you can confidently answer in 2 to 2.5 minutes would prove to be a better idea
  • Ration your time between the Quant and DI section would help you neither neglect nor spend excessive time on any of these areas
  • And again….. Practicing regularly!!
This time, just like last year, Quant and DI will be compounded together with a time limit of about 70 minutes so make sure you take mock CATs setting a time limit of 70 minutes. Consistently, a DI set may have two- three questions per set, but it is possible to have sets with just one question.
 
Therefore, we can say that there are some facts which need to be underlined and highlighted. Let’s do that as we conclude this informative article.
 
STEPS To attack Data Interpretation – Structured Analysis :
 
Plan the time allotment :
 
Time allotment is the key factor if we talk about cracking the CAT 2017. There is this age old strategy that says - time allocation should be in the same proportion as marks allotted. So it becomes obvious that if the set consist of 5 question and 10 marks out of a total of 50 marks, one should spend around 10 minutes to solve it. Again when we look at the bifurcation of these 10 minutes, one should ideally spend 2 minutes in understanding the set. After the initial two minutes one can judge as how to approach further.  Hence the decision of selecting the set should not be done merely on the basis of graph. 
 
Read for interpretation :
 
Interpretation is what is tested in the section of DATA INTERPRETATION. A single misinterpretation from the hidden texts might mean disaster. Jot down the keywords like maximum/minimum, must be, can be, possible, etc. in your scratch sheet. These words if not given due importance can trap you and you will end up marking the wrong answers.
Organize the data: 
 
Data analysis is what is expected from you and to check that analyzing skill of yours, generally the data given in the question is not in the structure that is required to answer the question. Hence the approach should be to organize data as per question asked. So that it becomes very imperative to read the questions before starting the solutions
 
Read all questions and look for sitters :
 
One thing that the aspirants should avoid falling prey for is the sitter questions in the CAT exam. These are the questions which, somehow, cannot be solved or could cost you a lot of time if tried to solve. This is something you should be careful about and avoid them if possible. Sitter questions are intentionally poured in the paper to create a hurdle in your smooth going course of exam. So, you should be watchful and don’t let these sitters interrupt your flow.
 
Patience and Persistence :
 
There was a time when students use to hop from one set to another without completing one section. But now in the online test, you have no choice but to attempt all the questions of one section before jumping to other as you don’t have the option of returning back to the previous section.

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