The CAT traps part of the 75 days to CAT 2015 series will deal with the commonly found and oft overlooked traps that can be found in entrance tests. I will be covering both generic and topic-wise traps that one can expect and be careful of while attempting the tests in the coming few posts. CAT traps is primarily an account of the silly mistakes candidates make during the high pressure scenario that is the CAT.
A lot of aspirants tend to overestimate the paper setters and assume that the paper is going to be a tad more difficult. Agreed that making questions for such an esteemed exam is more of an art, but still, it is no different than just another mock test. A lot of the expectation mismatch (expected performance vs. actual performance) happens because a candidate is a bit casual and has overlooked something deemed minor in comparison to the ‘conceptual knowhow’ that CAT is supposed to test. I suppose I have made my point clear.
This article will focus on the CAT traps in data sufficiency questions. As you might be already aware of, data sufficiency typically consists of a question, followed by two statements which provide additional information about the question statement.
Order of options in data sufficiency
A common error that occurs when students solve a DS question is that they assume that the order will be the same as it was in the mocks. While most of the time it is the same, it would help calm a few nerves and avoid silly mistakes if you read the instructions carefully. Most of the silly mistakes are made due to careless reading of the question/instructions so, be a bit careful when it comes to the instructions, especially in case of DS questions.
Nature of options in data sufficiency
Not all DS questions are supposed to have missing information in the question. There could be a slight trap embedded in extremely rare cases wherein the question statement is sufficient to answer the question (Questionception!). There will be a small tweak in the options one of which will say ‘None of the statements are required to answer this question’. Be very careful when you are dealing with such questions.
Assumptions in DS
I will explain this with the help of an example.
There is a match between India and Korea. India is lagging behind by two goals. Last five minutes are remaining. Would India lose?
A- In the last five mins, Deepak Thakur scored 3 goals.
B- Korea scored 3 goals in the match.
Now luckily the question was easy and so, there was no ambiguity as such. However, a lot of time, people tend to assume something which is not explicitly mentioned in the statement. In this case, most of the students would ‘assume’ that Deepak Thakur plays for India. This is a huge trap that could have been utilized to bring down a candidate’s score (although it is a known fact that Deepak Thakur has played for India, it cannot be assumed; remember that data sufficiency questions are not to test general knowledge). Similarly, if there is no mention of integral values or positive values or ordered pairs, most of the time, the question will not be answered using the two statements. So, be on the lookout for such traps. I am sure you would have a smile on your face the moment you spot something like this and race ahead of the careless junta.
Statement B alone vs. Both the statements
A common mistake that occurs is that aspirants tend to carry forward their knowledge from one statement to the other. When you are trying to solve questions quickly, instinctively, the brain takes in all the information that is present and then gets into the solving mode. It happens with alarming frequency that a candidate considers the information in statement A while using statement B as well. This can lead to two outcomes: 1. You end up marking ‘using statement B alone’ as your answer when in reality you have erred while taking the data OR 2. You realize midway what you have done and end up wasting a bit of time and getting more confused than you were.
A good way to eliminate this is by breaking the question into three parts. Just represent the given information first and then use only statement A and then use statement B without looking at the other. With a bit of discipline, it is not difficult to overcome these silly mistakes.
Solving the DS question
Again, this is commonplace knowledge that you DO NOT have to solve a DS question but simply figure out if it can be solved or not. A lot of times, aspirants tend to be in question-solving mode so much that they spend those extra 20-30 seconds in solving something that is not required. It is strongly suggested that you discipline yourself to deal in these situations and let go of the urge to solve when the result is obvious (2 equations – 2 variables, the highest or lowest is known, finding volumes/surface areas/cost of painting/etc.)
Leaving the DS question
DS is pretty similar to verbal not in terms of content but the impact on an aspirant’s psychology. It gives one a sense of confidence without really knowing if the answer is correct or not. This in itself is a big trap. So unless you have an eye for detail or are an extremely prepared aspirant, it is a good idea to forego a DS question in times of uncertainty as most probably you would be wrong. It is a poisoned pawn that you should think twice before capturing.
Now is the time that you should be spending on finalizing the strategy and visualizing the various scenarios that might occur during the test. So, getting around these traps and being ready for them on the day of the test forms a very important part of these last three weeks.
Do let us know in case you wish to read about more such CAT traps. You can either comment here or drop a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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