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The part 2 of the CAT traps series will focus on common errors and silly mistakes that happen in Data Interpretation caselets. While solving is of course a large part of scoring marks in these questions, if you are aware of the various CAT traps, you can make sure your effort doesn’t go waste.

While most of the errors are indeed because of reading the question hastily or not understanding exactly what is being asked, there are a few other aspects too that should be taken care of when you are solving a DI set. Let’s see the common CAT traps when it  comes to data interpretation caselets.

Entire table, partial table

In most of the cases involving tables, you will either have a full table given to be solved or a partial table that can either be filled/cannot be filled. While the last one is a bit tricky and probably to be avoided unless you have a good grasp on incomplete data, the others can be done easily. The first step would be to figure out what is being asked. If the table has to be filled then if there is some accompanying criteria that has to be followed or if it has to be left as it is then what exactly is the limiting criteria that will help us find answers and so on.

Also, in case of tournament based DI sets, it becomes all the more important to write down the matches that are possible with the results. Getting to the number of matches quickly nC2 in case of round robin and (n-1) in case of knockouts would help get a starting point. From there, looking at the most obvious bit of information should be enough to develop a train of thought (draws, insanely high goal differences, all wins, all loses, etc.).

So, understanding what has to be done is of paramount importance and if you are not clear of what you are supposed to find, it makes no sense sticking around and trying to solve the data randomly.

At least how many wins to secure an entry to the next round

A common trick used in tournament based sets. That ‘at least’ is the minimum of the maximum number of possible wins that can guarantee an entry into the second round. Consider this scenario: If you have to guarantee your progress into the second round, you have to win at least 3 matches. Now, this bit essentially means that there is a chance that you will be able to qualify if you win 2 matches but to be absolutely sure of qualification you need to win 3 matches. In other words, if you win 3 matches, nothing will stop you from qualifying but if you win 2 there is a chance that you will get eliminated.

In the context of CAT, simply getting a good CAT score will keep your hopes of getting into a top b-school alive. But to guarantee your spot in a top b-school you will need to perform at least fairly in the further stages as well.

At most how many wins to be eliminated

Similar to what has been said above, consider the GDPI process of a b-school that has the CAT cut-off set at 99.5%ile. The maximum that a candidate can score in spite of which s/he gets eliminated in 99.49%ile. Similarly, in the above mentioned tournament example, even if you win 2 matches, there is a chance that you could be eliminated. The largest number that keeps this possibility (of being eliminated) alive is your answer.

Entering answers

With the text based questions, it is extremely important to enter the answers correctly. When 2 significant digits after the decimal are asked keep in mind the nature of the following digit as well (if the number is 3.1489 it would become 3.15 and not 3.14). Also, there could be some trap with regard to entering the data in the text box. So if your answer is 1.78, the box could be something like:

trap 1

Now if you enter 1.78 in the box, it won’t be deemed correct. So, be very careful of entering text in the box especially in DI questions.

Incorrect questions

There have been a few occasions (rarely) when there is incorrect information or an incomplete question. Few students tend to assume data points and solve these questions. If you come across such questions though it would be a nice idea to re-read the question carefully and then figure out if there is indeed an error or not. If you strongly feel the question is incorrect, let go of it without worrying about how it will impact your normalized score or about how you are somehow heading in the wrong direction.

Which types to solve?

  • Bar graphs, simple one-to-one related bars and pies or two pies, trend based line charts, profit-loss-expenditure
  • Tournaments/cubes/sticks and other ‘thinking’ based questions
  • 2/3/4 element based Venn diagrams

Which types to leave?

  • Case based questions (flight routes, pipelines, multiple scenario questions) in which each question is independent and will have to be solved separately; questions beginning with an ’if’
  • Rolling data questions: Appliances replaced every two years, students passing exams over a few years (it might seem easy but again there would be independent questions and so, it would take more time to solve these)
  • Questions with no denominators (4-5 pie charts, tables with ratios, essentially where the base figure is not known)
  • Maxima minima based questions (if you are not comfortable, these have probably the lowest marks gained: time invested ratio)
  • Incomplete tables, unless you have understood the question completely

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

You can read the entire 75 days to CAT 2015 by clicking here.

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