CAT 2012 Day 1: Well-balanced paper across all topics, no Data Sufficiency

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is known for throwing surprises but this time, it surprised us by giving no surprises at all! Todays CAT has to be the most balanced one in the short history of four years of in which it became a computer-based test. My congratulations to the CAT creators for a good start.

If we started from analysing the overall arrangement – infrastructure, process and people support – it was way better than last year, at least here in Ahmedabad where I took it. The systems and processes seemed to be in place and the authorities were ever so ready to help (this might vary from center to center, but my overall feel was positive). Until and unless a student had forgotten his identity card or had a mismatch of name and date of birth with his photo ID proof, there was nothing to worry about in the check-in process.

The same set of 23 instructions welcome you to the test station as did last year. The computers, the cabin, the stationery, the testing platform – with the 15 minute tutorial, the instructions – verbal, written and electronic – were the same. With 45 minutes at hand, you can spend them spotting typo errors in the instructions sheet. So far, so good.

The test was pretty much in line with the demo put up on It started with Quantitative Aptitude (QA) & Data Interpretation (DI) section followed by Verbal + Analytical or logical reasoning (VA and LR).

I started with QA, went through the easy questions, moved on to DI and returned to QA for solving the challenging parts. The paper was beautifully balanced with close to a dozen easy questions from QA which made the start of the paper feel good. DI was calculation intensive with questions on percentage increase, percentage decrease and data-spotting which any prepared person would jump at. Data Sufficiency was conspicuous by its absence. The best part about this section was that there was enough for every test-taker to fight for in the 70 minutes unlike some slots from the last year where people had reported having spare time after having finished all the 30 questions.

The QA & DI section questions had a similar distribution as last year: 70% QA and 30% DI. Close to 40% of the QA questions required direct application of concepts. Another 30% needed perseverance of a couple of minutes before reaching the answer. The remaining 30% of the questions required thorough understanding of concepts and their appplication.

The second section was VA and LR, and was specifically designed for the well-read. The comprehension passages drew from philosophy, psychology, random foreign history and organisational behaviour and if you had it in you to read through them, you would surely find the questions easy with distantly placed options. The paper had questions on para-jumbles and logical continuation wherein simple application of methods ensured an answer. The LR section was full of simple puzzles which demanded little concentration and time.

If the CAT makers are able to replicate the difficulty level across slots, the luck factor in this years CAT will reduce. Both sections had sufficient content to stimulate ones intellectual and common sense. Those who have worked hard for the test will appreciate the quality of this paper.

This is the maximum I can share withint the confidentiality constraints of the CAT. Prepare well, and you should have no problem belling this CAT. All the best!

Author Parasharan Chari is an alumnus of SP Jain and is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Endeavor Careers and is also associated with the design and development of its online testing portal The views here are his own.