Traditionally the data interpretation (DI) section of the CAT tested a candidate’s ability to interpret data given in tabular or graphical format. This because interpreting data is considered an essential skill set for an efficient manager as managers are required to process a huge amount of data quickly draw rapid conclusions and make informed decisions. Perhaps this is the reason why the CAT has an entire section dedicated to DI. Earlier the DI section required you to interpret different types of data in the format of tables, line graph, bar graph, pie chart and case lets.
Earlier you needed to be good at calculations to solve these questions quickly. However, in the past few years this section, just like other sections became reasoning oriented. Graphs gave way to tables and case lets. The sets were time consuming and difficult to interpret. The emphasis was no longer on calculations but on cracking the underlying logic behind the set, But, the CAT going online in 2009, things changed again. The sets are once again calculation oriented. Here are a few questions you may have in mind regarding the online DI section.
Comprehensive data on a computer screen is difficult compared to on paper. Hence, sets involving too many values have now been replaced by sets that are easy to interpret. As mentioned earlier, tables have now been replaced by graphs owing to their visual nature. Also, the number of questions per set and in the section as a whole has reduced.
Attempting the online CAT itself is a novel experience for students who are used to the paper pencil format. Attempting DI online slightly more difficult. Firstly selection of the sets is a tougher as it involves more than flipping a few pages. You have to press the next button a few number of times or better still use the review mode to switch between different sets. Secondly underlining important points or values is not possible. Hence, many things need to be memorized and recalled when required. Also, the scroll bar needs to e sued judiciously to ensure that you do not miss out on important information that is not being visible on screen.
Thankfully the rules of the games have not changed with the online exam. The challenges while attempting DI remain the same, irrespective of the format. The key to cracking the section remains in selecting the right sets and focusing on accuracy. Do not keep DI as your last section, or at least do not attempt any DI set in the last 20 minutes of the paper. In case you are not able to decipher the set in the available time, you may lose out on all the questions. You may rather focus on individual questions that may be squeezed into the lat few minutes.
These may include quant questions or even data sufficiency questions.
You may choose the sets based on parameters like familiarity with the format, nature of the values or ability to extract data from a set. The reasoning based sets. Ideally may be avoided because it may not be easy to understand the underlying logic. There is always a possibility that you may miss put on some aspect of the logic and get the entire set wrong. It is best to stick to familiar territories such as graphs or tables even if it means spending those extra minutes doing calculations. At least, you are certain about the answers.
Taking as many section tests as possible under timed conditions would be good idea. Focus on selecting about three to four sets n each test and answering them correctly. Also, since your comfort level in comprehending data online is going to play an important role in cracking this section take all or many of these action tests online e it in Microsoft Word or Acrobat Reader Gain exposure to several reasoning based sets. Lastly but most importantly remember that your ability to crack reasoning sets depends on your ability to find the underlying logic.