Quantitative Aptitude, Verbal Ability, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning have been the areas of aptitude tested by CAT in last two decades. A majority of the CAT papers have kept 1/3rd weightage of Quant and Verbal each, whereas Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, each has been kept to 1/6th of the test paper. Most of the CAT papers have produced a section having LR and DI as a single unit. Some important points about this section would be

  • It should be the 2nd section of the test

  • As per the history, this section should have sets having 3 to 4 Qs each.

  • There won’t be any separate cut off for LR and DI. It’s a single section.

Though various examinations i.e. IIFT, NMAT, XAT, SNAP have shown their inclination towards a certain variety or difficulty of questions of LR and DI, they have maintained more or less same share of LR and DI in their test papers over last 10 years.

Takers of CAT 2015 may remember that LR-DI was the most difficult part of that test paper. It acted as a “mood spoiler” in the test. Hence, it becomes very necessary to understand this section and a preparation plan for next 3 months.

Data Interpretation

“Charts/Graphs talk more than numbers do” – It’s an accepted rule in the corporate world. Newspapers/Magazines and many other important report use charts/graphs to show data easily to its audience or reader. This justifies the importance of Data Interpretation in post-MBA life.

Data Interpretation cannot be called a part of Mathematics because there is no theory, no property, no formula. It’s a skill to be acquired and not knowledge to be remembered.

Typical varieties of Data Interpretation include Tables, Line Charts, Pie Charts, Bar Charts, Mixed Charts or any other unusual but structured representation of data. One more variety which has maintained its presence in entrance test papers is Caselets. These are sets of paragraphs which include numerical data in them which, generally, need to be put in a structure to be understood easily.

Primarily all sets can be further classified into

  1. Calculation Based:
    These are sets with questions which deal with percentage increase/decrease or nominal increase/decrease. They require a good control over basic calculation and approximation.

Example: Which is the year in which ABC Ltd. has witnessed the highest percentage growth over the previous year?

  1. Counting Based:
    These are generally large data sets in which aspirants are supposed to count the instances which meet the questions’ needs. They require patience and focus to ensure that not a single mistake happens.

Example: How many states (from the data given) have male literacy rate more than 80%, and female literacy rate less than 75%?

  1. Logic Based:
    Sometimes charts prefer to give you data in ranges or with conditions where it’s not possible to find the exact data. But one can surely be asked to find a number which can be arrived at if there is a need to maximizing or minimizing the number.

Example: Maximum how many of the employees of the range 35 to 45 years would be above 40 years if the average age of employees of this age group is 42 years?

  1. Structure Based:
    These include some specials sets. Example: Goals of various teams in a tournament, sales-disposal data of a particular product in market etc. Such sets used to be no surprise in the era of 2004 to 2008. The share of such sets has reduced since the CAT has gone online. They are, generally, time consuming sets and hence are very unlikely to be a part of any other exams with an exception of XAT.

Data Interpretation – Preparation Plan

  1. Calculation Skills:
    A sound control over Mental Calculation is a very good advantage in any test paper. This advantage cannot be compensated by presence of “Basic Calculator” of CAT. Mental Calculation includes Tables till 20, knowledge of fractions from 1/1, 1/2, 1/3 till 1/20, basic addition and subtraction etc.

Our Advice: Avoid use of Calculator during next 3 months. Strengthen your mental abilities by spending 10 minutes daily on basic operations.

  1. Approximation Skills and use of options:
    A visible difference in preparation of DI and Quant is the fact that “Options are a very importance part of the Questions”.

Typical steps of solving a DI Question should follow

Step 1: Read the Question, understand the need.

Step 2: Have a look at the options and understand how accurately the answer need to be found.

Step 3: Now look at the Charts/Graphs and fetch the data required

Step 4: Try to find the correct option and not the exact answer.

Let’s take an example:

Suppose a question involves finding 1234 as a percentage of 5678 with four options as shown below.


Since the options have an acceptable gap, there is no need to find the exact answer. Simple approximation and elimination will do.

The answer should be very close to 12 as a % of 56. i.e. 3 as a % of 14.

3/12 would produce a 25%. So the answer is less than 25%

3/15 would produce a 20%. So the answer is more than 20%.

Hence, we still don’t know the exact answer but we have no doubt in marking option (c) as the correct option.

Our Advice: While solving DI Sets, ensure that you have a look at options before you jump into the calculation part. A sizeable practice will inculcate this habit eventually.

  1. Regular Practice:
    It’s a skill, so it demands to be a part of routine.

Our Advice: Approximately 5 hours of DI solving every week. This should be 5 sittings of 1 hour each.

Logical Reasoning

This area of aptitude includes puzzles which need basic common sense + practice of variety of questions. Indeed, puzzles can be too random at times but there are some standard types of LR question types which are seen more often than others. Most important among them are the LR sets involving arrangement of data in a tabular structure.

For Example, Five people live in five different cities with five different professions and have five different hobbies.

Other important question types of LR include problems related to Directions, Blood Relation, Decision Making, Series, Coding – Decoding, Visual Reasoning, Cubes etc.

It’s visible from CAT papers of last decade that CAT prefers sets in LR whereas exams of SNAP, IIFT, NMAT, XAT, MHCET, CMAT prefer independent questions. So importance of question types mentioned in above paragraph is more in exams other than CAT.

Various entrance exams have shown greater inclination towards some of the types of questions

  • NMAT prefers independent LR questions which, although not very difficult to solve, are time consuming considering the format of exam.

  • MHCET, apart from asking normal LR questions, asks an unusual number of visual reasoning questions which are a rarity in other examinations.

  • XAT has a section of “Decision Making”. Generally, 50% share of this section is made of LR questions.

  • CMAT asks independent problems which are time consuming in nature, if not difficult.

  • IIFT creates a mix of sets and independent questions.

Apart from conventional LR questions, aspirants can expect syllogism and verbal reasoning questions as a part of LR section in some of the exams.

Logical Reasoning – Preparation Plan

One doesn’t need revision in LR but surely needs sufficient practice. There are two stages of LR preparation

  1. A student starts getting LR Questions correct.

  2. A student starts getting LR Questions correct in optimum time and with acceptable accuracy.

Practice only can make an aspirant reach from 1st to 2nd stage.

Exams of NMAT, CMAT are known for producing time consuming LR questions which come independently instead of coming in sets. They reduce speed of the test taker in these tests. CAT produced a time consuming LR section last year. XAT does it every year. So a regular practice is the only solution.

Our Advice: Approximately 5 hours of LR solving every week. This should be 5 sittings of 1 hour each. Ensure that all major varieties are given importance while choosing material for practice.

All the Best..!!

2 comments thoughts on “All you need to know for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Preparation Strategy”

  1. M looking for a class where I will get the proper direction E- mail writing , Case Study , Strategy planning , logical reasoning etc

    1. Hi Rupesh,

      We would love to coach you for entrance exam preparations, for exams like CAT, XAT etc. The coaching includes training on basic soft skills like Case Study Discussion, Verbal and Non-Verbal Communications etc. This is in addition to the core Aptitude Building which includes, Quantitative Ability, Logical Reasoning, Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension. Please let us know how else can we help you!

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