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DILR Section Demystified: Strategies for CAT 2018

There is no sub-section called DI or LR nowadays. Barring a few problems sets; most of the sets were an amalgamation of DI and LR

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The DILR section of the CAT tests the ingenuity of the solver. One is required to put together the pieces of the puzzle in a logical way in order to come up with the desired solution. This section tests your stamina and thinking performance in a pressure situation. How to deal with DILR section is a much-talked-about topic among CAT-2018 aspirants. The recent CAT is an indication of a switch from the traditional only DI and only LR problem sets. There is no sub-section called DI or LR nowadays. Barring a few problems sets; most of the sets were an amalgamation of DI and LR.


CAT-2016 had set a new benchmark in terms of difficulty level for the DILR section. It took just one year and CAT-2017 broke this record. The difficulty level of the section certainly went up by a notch as compared to the earlier CAT. The entire section had more difficult, lengthier and trickier questions. There was barely one full set in the section that could be called outright doable. In fact, in some of the sets, it was not easy to solve more than 1-2 Qs, while the remaining were almost not doable.

Most pertinent question!

As most of the aspirants have taken a few AIMCATs, we hope that they realise that some question types in the mocks can be difficult to digest while others can be swallowed in one go, with no indigestion problem whatsoever. The important question remains – Did you select your problem sets to the best of your capability?

The process of shortlisting the doable set is called scanning. But, the problem is most of the students who are doing scanning do not know the real meaning of scanning or not flexible enough to do the scanning efficiently when there is a change in the difficulty level. Most of the time students understand the meaning of scanning as shortlisting only on the basis of the face value of the question.

The recommended strategy of attempting a DI/LR section is in two rounds of equal time left after the time invested in scanning. We should first scan the section and identify the sets that seem the first choice to be included in Round One. In the first round, all the relatively easy and doable sets should be targeted, and then in the second round, moderately difficult sets should be targeted. The time limit for scanning followed by time allocated for each round could vary from one AIMCAT/Mock to another depending upon the difficulty level of the sets, and hence the student should be flexible for that, though it is imperative that the student fixes the approx time limit for each set once he/she is done with the scanning of the section.

What is the proper way of scanning?

Most of the times students shortlist the sets based upon the face value/name of chapters of the sets rather than the merit of the questions. That can easily backfire.

Students are required to invest 3-5 odd minutes before deciding whether the set is for round-1 or round-2 or better to be left un-attempted. In the 3-5 minutes of time, it is suggested to go deeper into data followed by restrictions very carefully. Try to comprehend and interpret correctly. The most important step in solving a problem is to study the problem statement with utmost care - NOT read it, NOT skim through it and think about why the data has been given and how to get information out of that. There are a few rules of this game, which help in solving DILR problems systematically.

  • Inspect the conditions.
  • Identify the most important condition, if any.
  • Picturise the information.
  • Organise the information in some ways like grids/tables and symbols/notations.
  • Elimination of the answer choices.
  • Be careful of the language used since certain words and phrases form important clues in framing the solution.

During scanning the sets, one needs to identify the order of attempts also.

Even after spending about 3-5 minutes on any set, if you are not able to figure out any headway for the solution leave the question and then move on. Don’t have any feelings for the questions/sets! The sets left over after earmarking for round-1 and round-2 are that kind of sets that are best left for post-AIMCAT/Mock analysis. It will help to gain important insights for the later mocks and it will expand your domain of familiarity.

Types of sets:

Easy and doable sets: Easy to comprehend, easy to find what is given and what is required, the clues are straightforward and there aren’t many cases to evaluate, set required simpler calculations, whether you chose to use the on-screen calculator or not, this type of set must be attempted in the first go. Using a calculator might have saved you the effort but at the expense of time, so judicious use of an on-screen calculator is recommended. What matters most for this kind of set is how quickly you are able to crack it, ensuring good accuracy and move on to the next set.

Moderate sets: A set which is not difficult to interpret, but might be a little time consuming, multisource reasoning kind of questions, require proper identification of clues from the multiple statements, have some recurrence relation once the pattern is understood by the students and all the questions can be cracked easily. Though these sets are not extremely difficult, given the time constraint of 1 hour, these sets should have been kept towards the end. 

Difficult sets:

Lengthy common information – Check. 

Large number of clues to process – Check. 

High number of characteristics/dimensions – Check. 

There is no direct hint that a statement provides, hence one has to club the information given in 2-3 statements and use the data to list down the various cases that could possibly exist. It would not be prudent to attempt these sets unless you have finished all the other sets in the section and have time remaining. Of course, if you solve these set after the mock, you will understand what makes the set actually difficult. In most of the distribution-based sets, you may be used to listing the names (of the people or places) first and then assigning the characteristics to these names using the given clues.

The most important point: As most of the students are aware of CAT-2017 DILR section where there were some sets in which you need not solve the entire set. Some of the individual questions are easy pickings as compared to the rest of the questions in the set. Solving these individual questions may not give you the satisfaction of ‘cracking the set’ but being able to identify and solve these easy individual questions within a set will fetch valuable marks. Aspirants need to be selective within the shortlisted sets.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
CAT 2018 CAT exam CAT DILR section CAT strategy for 2018

Pradeep Pandey

The author is Academic Head of T.I.M.E.

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