Analysis of CAT 2017

Analysis of CAT 2017

The CAT exam is over and the results will only be declared in 2018. However, aspirants would like to know how they fared. Ankur Jain tells you how the exam was on the lines of 2016 & that there were no surprises

On 2016 pattern

The pattern of the morning slot of CAT 2017 was very much on the lines of CAT 2016. The number of questions across sections remained the same as that of last year. This would have come as a huge sigh of relief for all aspirants as IIM Lucknow had not disclosed the number of questions per section.

However, the resemblance to CAT 2016 ended here. The overall refrain was that the exam was challenging and would have required the best efforts from every aspirant. The exam started with Verbal Ability (VA) and Reading Comprehension (RC) which had 34 questions. This was followed by the Logical Reasoning (LR) and Data Interpretation (DI) which had 32 questions. The last section was Quantitative Ability (QA) which had 34 questions.

The test experience was very smooth except at one centre in Delhi where there were server issues, because of which students at that centre could not take the CAT.


Aspirants would have been delighted by the RCs as they were easy to read both in terms of language and the ‘subject’ area. There were three passages with six questions each and two, with three questions each. The relative ease of reading the passages was compensated by the increased level of difficulty in the ‘choices’. A relatively high proportion of questions from this area were inference-based, requiring good critical reasoning skills. The options in most questions were close and would have required involved reading and sometimes, multiple reading of the relevant portions of the passage. This would have taken up time and would have left test-takers with niggling doubts in their minds as to whether they marked the right option.

The 10 questions on verbal ability were of moderate level of difficulty, overall. However, with seven of these 10 being non-MCQ type questions, the effective level of difficulty would appear to be higher by a notch or two.

The cut-off in this section is expected to be slightly lower than that in CAT 2016.


The Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation (LRDI) section once again proved to be the nemesis of all aspirants. While the LRDI section of CAT 2016 was considered by many to be the most difficult ever, CAT 2017 exceeded even that very high mark.

The entire section comprised difficult and very difficult questions. In fact, the entire section can be termed to have DI based reasoning sets and quant-based reasoning sets, making it almost impossible to identify and classify the sets in DI and LR separately.

The cut-off in this section are expected to be slightly lower than that in CAT2016.


The relative absence of ‘difficult’ and ‘very difficult’ questions and the corresponding increase in the number of questions on basic arithmetic concepts would have enabled a higher level of attempts in this section. Those students who had attended classes regularly and had worked extensively on the study material books would have found that their attempts are on the higher side compared to the other aspirants. Leaving out any time-consuming questions and maximising the number of attempts would be the key to scoring high in this section.

The cut-off in this section is expected to be higher than that in CAT2016.

No surprises in the exam

The pattern of the afternoon slot of CAT 2017 was similar to that in the morning and very much on the lines of CAT 2016. There were no surprises in the paper in terms of the pattern. The number of questions across sections remained the same as that of last year, at 34, 32 and 34 for VARC, LRDI and QA sections respectively. This was a huge positive for the aspirants as any surprises would have made them redraw their test-taking strategies.

There were some pleasant surprises with the QA and VARC sections being on the slightly easier as compared to last year. While students were divided on the difficulty level of the LRDI section, many feel that it was a notch above the last year's section.

The overall refrain from the first slot that the exam was ‘challenging’ seems be applicable in this section as well.

In terms of the order of sections, as disclosed earlier and as was seen in the mock test made available on www.iimcat.ac.in, VARC was the first section, followed by LRDI and QA was the last section.


There were no surprises in this section, with the question distribution remaining the same as that of last year and as seen in the mock test. The VA-RC distribution too was similar, at 10-24. With easy to read RCs, students heaved a huge sigh of relief. The topics chosen for the RCs were also not dense, helping students to save valuable time. There were two passages with three questions each and three passages with six questions each. However, as was reported by the students from the first slot, the choices were close, making elimination difficult and also consuming more time.

In VA, absence of options in the non-MCQ questions made the questions tougher than usual, as was expected. The questions were not direct or easy to crack and required involved reading form the students to solve them.

The cut-off is expected to be slightly lower than that in CAT 2016.


Students, in the back of the tough LRDI section of CAT 2016, were expecting a similar LRDI section this year as well. And CAT 2017 did not disappoint them.

Easily the toughest among the three sections, it tested the students on their ability to identify and jump off the tougher sets soon enough and their ability to spot and stay on with the relatively less difficult ones. While a couple of sets were regular LR models, the others were not any of the standard LR-DI models and were instead replaced by reasoning based DI. There were some clearly uncrackable sets and those who spotted the toughness soon enough would be the ones who managed to attempt a good number of questions. Tackling such unfamiliar sets would have been a lot easier for those who took AIMCATs.

The cut-off is expected to be slightly lower than that in CAT 2016.


Coming after a tough LRDI section, QA was a pleasant surprise for the test-takers. There seems to be an absence of “uncrackable” questions and a few “difficult” questions. The easy questions too were from basic arithmetic topics. This made many students feel this section to be the easiest among the three.  Students who had regular practice of their QA basics would have felt very comfortable in this section compared to others. With so many do-able questions, speed could have been the key to crack this section.

The cut-off is expected to be higher than that in CAT 2016.

The writer is chief knowledge expert with Triumphant Institute of Education Management, Delhi 



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