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[8 Steps] How to improve CAT Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation [LRDI]

The Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation section of CAT has been completely overhauled by the IIMs. Earlier in this section, the no of sets from logical reasoning and the no of sets from data interpretation were evenly divided, but since the introduction of online calculators, the calculation-intensive data interpretation sets have made an exit.

These sets have been replaced by logical reasoning driven data interpretation sets, in which the numbers have to be derived from a given set of conditions. Once the numbers have been derived logically, the calculation part is just the last step in arriving at the right answer.

Thus from the CAT papers of the past three years we can say that the LRDI section of CAT is now primarily about LR. As a result of this, aspirants are having a hard time in devising the right strategy for this section.

There are two broad issues that students often face in this section:

  • How to start?
  • Where to practice?

Both of these questions can be easily answered. Unlike Quantitative Aptitude, Logical reasoning does not involve the application of concepts. Instead of applying concepts, the aspirants have to carefully work out the logical conditions to arrive at missing details or numbers, which can sometimes directly lead to the right answers of the questions asked.

In other words, there is no need for you to have any kind of groundwork for this section. You can directly start solving sets from the past year CAT papers. But you must ensure that the solutions that have helped you work out a step-by-step approach to LRDI sets.

You must start by solving basic LR sets based on arrangement and combination. These kinds of sets teach you how to use logical conditions to arrive at conclusive answers, by picking the logically correct possibility from a number of cases. This small tactic is frequently used in both easy and difficult LRDI sets.

You may start your practice by solving easy sets first and then moving on to the more difficult ones, though this may not always be the case.

The advantage of solving easy and average difficulty sets first is that you will easily be able to adapt to the more complex and difficult sets and questions that you encounter later, without getting discouraged or losing your enthusiasm.

Let’s say you have already started with your prep and have purchased the books, enrolled for courses, and still after much practice, are not able to solve the questions. What should be done? Here are a few things that you should do to improve on your LRDI

Steps to improve LRDI

  1. Neat work: This is the basic and the most common mistake made by aspirants who are not doing well in LRDI. By neat work we mean the neatness and the clarity of the tables, the conditions, and the logical deductions that you write or draw on the paper.
    The things that you write on paper have to be clear. Too much of scribbling, cancellations and shorthand versions of conditions given in the question will only lead to confusion, prompting you to go back again and again to earlier steps that you would have already worked out.
    This results in wastage of time and effort, while further exacerbating your frustration and nervousness. In conclusion, I would suggest that you must develop the habit of doing neat work right from the first step. Here is a good example of what a neat work is and how it looks like:
  1. Ability to keep / store key information and conditions in mind: This is very important, particularly in long and complex sets having many conditions. If you tend to forget critical conditions while working out the cases or while arriving at logical possibilities, then you are likely to arrive at the wrong answer. We often come across instances in which the student says that he got the entire set wrong because of one silly blunder. The blunder is often a result of untidy work or of missed conditions that skipped out of his mind while he was working out the answer.
  1. Picking structure/ pattern of the sets: We all know that it is virtually impossible for most aspirants to solve all the sets in 60 minutes, considering the difficulty level of the sets that have come in CAT for the past three years. In CAT 2017, students could score 98 percentile by correctly solving just three sets. It is very important for a student to correctly estimate the overall difficulty of the section in the first five minutes. He must go through the sets cursorily and immediately categorize them based on type, and complexity and difficulty, preferring to solve first those that are of relatively lower difficulty. This is very important not only in getting the confidence but also in maximizing your score in that section. You can never maximize your score by missing on the easy or the average difficulty sets. In addition to this, there are students who have a predilection for a particular variety of sets. For instance, some have a liking for number intensive LR sets, while others prefer the conventional arrangement and matrix-based sets. Still, there are many who are inclined towards logical reasoning puzzles. Going through the paper right at the start will help you in picking the right sets based on the estimated difficulty and your liking for those kinds of sets.
  1. Pull all data and conditions pictorially or symbolically: To save time, you must avoid looking back at the screen every now and then to read the conditions. For this, pictorial representation of data and conditions is very important. For instance, in an arrangement set if the condition says that A is taller than B but happier than C, then you must smartly codify the statement pictorially or symbolically. You must ensure that in the course of your prep, you design standard symbols that you use to codify frequently occurring logical conditions.

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  1. Get clear contextual understanding of some conditional phrases such as only, some, at least, only if etc. We often come across students who have difficulty interpreting the data and conditions given in the sets. Often the cause for this is poor hold on language. Let’s take this example: John is taller than Sachin who prefers to take sessions only on Wednesday. Now, who prefers to take sessions on Wednesday? John or Sachin? The answer is Sachin because the relative pronoun ‘who’ refers to Sachin, as the noun Sachin has come right before who. There are many more such examples that students either misinterpret or get confused with. While practicing you must develop the habit of understanding logical conditions unambiguously.
  1. Consciously avoid making unnecessary assumptions: This is another mistake often made by students. For instance, when the statement says that some men are stupid, we can’t validly conclude that some men are not stupid. The statement plainly says that some men are stupid, it has not made any statements about the other men. So if a condition in an LR set says that some students prefer to study biology on Wednesday, we know that only ‘some’ prefer, while the others may or may not, we simply don’t know.
  1. Analysis of the sets: While practicing LR sets, it is quite common for a student to make many mistakes. You can’t expect yourself to get everything correct right from the word go. In fact, the more mistakes you make the more likely you are to improve. But this improvement will come only through in-depth analysis of the sets that you solve, and if possible compare your solution with that of someone who has solved the same set methodically. This will help you understand why the other person is better than you. 
  1. Don’t shy away from writing sectional tests and mocks: While practicing is a good thing, writing sectional tests and mocks is completely a different ball game. You must test your ability to think under time constraints. Many of us keep postponing writing sectional tests and mocks out of fear or to avoid the unpleasant stressful experience. But there is no alternative to it, you have to write, and the best way for that is to jump in the cold waters fearlessly.

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