# CAT preparation: The challenges of Data Interpretation

*Data Interpretation section of CAT has changed over last few years. In the current scenario, a typical CAT question paper has approximately 8-10 questions of DI within the quantitative section.*

Data Interpretation section of CAT has changed over last few years. From being organised it shifted to unorganised data in the late 2000’s. But with the advent of online CAT, things have changed radically. The focus on organised data is back but the difficulty level has shifted to a new area i.e. calculation and understanding. In the current scenario, a typical CAT question paper has approximately 8-10 questions of DI within the quantitative section which is spread across 3-4 sets of 2-3 questions each. This has resulted in two things:

- Not much time can be devoted to understanding the set as the overall time allocation is low.
- Difficulty level has moved from understanding the set to solving the set or calculation.

Isn’t it so much easier to solve a DI set on paper by writing the numbers right next to the question and marking things on the graph itself? But with the online test, all this luxury is a thing of the past.

Let us try and understand the questions which are more common in the current scenario and prepare for the challenge.

**Directions: **A leading Pharmaceutical company in the country has the following financial performance. Study the table and answer the questions that follow. All figures in Rs. (Lakhs).

PARTICULARS | 1997-98 | 1996- 97 | 1995 – 96 | 1994- 95 |

Total Income | 3617 | 2695 | 1639 | 509 |

Raw Material | 995 | 765 | 519 | 178 |

Overheads | 973 | 663 | 374 | 77 |

Interest | 191 | 130 | 104 | 77 |

Depreciation | 130 | 104 | 77 | 55 |

Tax | 62 | 137 | 0 | 0 |

Profit after tax | 1263 | 854 | 503 | 103 |

- Consumption of raw material as a percentage of total income has been the lowest in

(a) 1997-98 (b) 1996-97 (c) 1995 – 96 (d) 1994-95 - Growth rate of total income from the previous year has been the highest in (use the information from the table)

(a) 1995-96 (b) 1994-95 (c) 1996-97 (d) None of the above - Taxes as a percentage of profit before tax in the year 1996-97 were

(a) 16% (b) 13.8% (c) 15% (d) None of the above

**Solutions:**

- Here we have to compare the data of Raw material and Total Income, but mental calculation would be important. For 1997-98 it is slightly more than 1/4
^{th}, 1996-97 is less than 1/4^{th}, 1995-96 is around 1/3^{rd}and 1994-95 is again around 1/3^{rd}. Hence, 1996-97 looks to be the least. - From the figure, 1995-96 is more than thrice whereas the others are not even double. Hence, 1995-96 is the obvious answer.
- Pure calculation, 137/(854+137)=13.7% (approx.)

**Directions: Read the graphs below and answer the questions on the basis of it.**

**Market for Indian Software Industry**

1. Ratio of size of software industry in 1991-92 to that in 1990-91 was:

(a) 1.33 (b) 1.25 (c) 1.40 (d) 1.28

2. Express software exports to USA in 1991-92 as a percentage of the Computer industry size in 1991-92:

(a) 13.5% (b) 14% (c) 11.22% (d) 10%

3. If from 1988-89 to 1989-90, domestic software grows at the same rate as exports, what will be value of domestic market in 1989-90?

(a) 1400 cr. (b) 1500 cr. (c) 1300 cr. (d) 1600 cr.

**Solution:**

- Simple calculation type question wherein the ratio is (580+750)/(570+430) = 1330:1000 è 1.33
- USA as a part of exports: 51%

Exports as a part of software industry: (750)/(750+580)= 57%

Software as a part of computer industry: 39%

USA as a prt of computer industry: 51% x 57% x 39% = 11.3% approximately 11.22% - Exports grew from 40 to 300 which is 7.5 times hence domestic would have been 7.5 x 200 = 1500 cr

**Directions****:** **Read the following case and answer the questions that follow.**

It was realised by Endeavor Careers, that for creating awareness in the market, newspaper advertising is very effective but it should be done consistently. Times of Bharat (TOB) which claims to have 40% of the total market share brings out a weekly supplement “Education Times” in which the advertising cost for the range 0 to 240 sq.cm for 1-2 insertions with a validity period of 30 days is Rs. 50/cm^{2}. For 3-5 insertion with a validity period of 60 days is Rs. 43/cm^{2} and 6 onwards insertions with validity period of 90 days is Rs. 40/cm^{2}. The cost for size of advertisement 241+ cm^{2} for 1-2 insertions with validity period 30 days is Rs. 50/cm^{2} and for 3-5 insertions with validity period 60 days is Rs. 40/cm^{2} and for 6 onwards insertion with validity period 90 days is Rs. 35/cm^{2}. The expected response generation per insertion in TOB in the size 161-200 cm^{2} is 40 and in the size 200 + cm^{2} is 50. Another great market player is Bharat Times with weekly supplement ‘BT Horizons’ and it claims to have 35% of the total market share and the cost of advertising in it for 1-2 insertions with validity period: No. of insertion + one week is Rs. 40/cm^{2}, for 3-6 insertions with validity period; No. of insertions + 2 weeks is Rs. 37/cm^{2} and for 7 insertions onwards with validity period: no. of insertions + 3 weeks is Rs. 32/cm^{2}. The expected response generation per insertion is 35 for 160-200 cm^{2} and 45 for 200+ cm^{2} size.

Please help Endeavor Careers with the correct decisions on the following plans.

- If Endeavor looks to generating exactly 95 responses in 2 insertions, which newspaper combination should be selected?

(a) TOB (b) BT (c) One TOB and one BT (d) Data inadequate - Endeavor has decided to advertise in TOB but is confused on length between 80 cm and 81 cm but is sure about the width, i.e., 3 cm and 3 insertions. What should be the length?

(a) 80 cm (b) 81 cm (c) either 80 or 81 (d) Data inadequate - If Endeavor decides to go in for an advertising campaign of 10 insertions – which will be the best option (in terms of cost) for a size of 243 cm
^{2}?

(a) BT (b) TOB (c) either BT or TOB (d) Data inadequate

**Solution:**

TOB | Rates | —– | —– | ||

40% market share | 1-2 (30days) | 3-5 (60days) | 6+ (90 days) | Response | Size |

0-240 | 50 | 43 | 40 | 40 | 161-200 |

241+ | 50 | 40 | 35 | 50 | 200+ |

BT Horizons | 1-2 (t+1wk) | 3-6 (t+2wk) | 7+ (t+3wk) | Response | Size |

Rates | 40 | 37 | 32 | 35 | 161-200 |

— | — | — | — | 45 | 200+ |

- Exactly 95 response can only be with 50 + 45 which is one TOB and one BT
- On what basis is the length to be decided. It seems obvious to check the rates but here that should not be taken for granted.
- In this question the basis of decision is clearly outlined to be cost. Hence in terms of cost TOB is 35 and BT is 32 so BT is the correct option.

**Expert Tips: STEPS to attack DI**

**1. Plan the time allotment: **The age old strategy says that time allotment should be according to the number of questions in the set. Hence, knowing the number of questions in each set is the first thing to do. Now, it is obvious that if the set contains 3 questions then you should be allocating 7 minutes for it to solve the set. We should bifurcate these 7 minutes further, the first 1-2 minutes to understand the set/graph or data as it is not very complex anyways. In this step, we can decide how to go further. Hence, the decision of selection should not only be on the graph but also on the number of questions.

**2. Read for interpretation:** A single misinterpretation of the given text might mean disaster. Let us take a set from earlier CAT. The information reads: “The proportion of male students and the proportion of vegetarian students in a school are given below”, the proportion of males and vegetarians are on a common base of total no. of students in the respective classes. Hence, we have to make another table which gives us the no. of students, male, female and their eating preference before going ahead with the questions to facilitate understanding and ease of answering of questions. In case you take a proportion of vegetarians amongst the males only, then the questions go for a toss.

**3. Organise the data and verify if the data is conclusive or there are multiple solutions possible and then eliminate the options: **When the data given is in unorganised form (i.e. caselets) or there is a lot of data then it is of utmost importance to simplify the data and/or eliminate the options for easier calculations. In a lot of questions wherein the best possible option is to be desired, we tend to calculate the result for entire set of possibilities. This actually is a wastage of time hence the procedure to be followed can be to chose the best looking option from the entire list, take that as a base and then go ahead with comparing it with others during the calculation phase. This would help you eliminating half the possibilities midway and avoid unnecessary calculations.

**4. Go through all questions and look for sitters: **Scanning the entire section for easy questions is important as these would take lesser than allocated time and has better chances of being correct. Choosing a set and then going on to solve all the questions again would not be a good strategy. Suppose if there are three easy questions and after attempting them you are stuck on the fourth one, you lose the advantage gained in the earlier questions. Similarly if there is one easy question amongst 2-3 in a given set then leaving it completely would not be a good idea.

**5. Cool head and patience are your best buddies: **Hopping from one set to another without completely understanding one, will surely be curtains for you. The first 1-2 minutes that one invests in a set to understand the data given, he/she should be able to take a judgment as to whether to attempt the set or not and also how to attempt the set. This decision would be based on two grounds – either the data is tough to understand and the time spent was futile or the set would take more time than allotted to be answered. As in earlier CATs, the ones who persisted and patiently solved only 2-3 sets of DI (even if it consumed 10 minutes per set) along with the data sufficiency questions could easily sail through.