How to ace the Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning section in CAT?

The Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning section, popularly known as DILR, of CAT, has sandbagged the scores of many test-takers in the last two years. The section has created its mark as being the most difficult out of the three sections in CAT. A major reason for the same is the unpredictability; not knowing what is going to unfold this time around. Instead of the traditional sets that appeared till CAT 2015, the section has been rife with puzzle-type questions with no clear distinction between LR and DI sets.

So how does one prepare for this section is the ‘IIM dollar’ question!

Before identifying the preparation strategy it’s important to pinpoint what the section focuses on. The section tests you on only 2 things:

1) common sense and the ability to apply it
2) ability to stay calm under pressure

Basically, it's like a top-order batsman batting with the tail in a pressure situation. Can you soak all the pressure and pick and choose the bowler and the delivery to take advantage of? Similarly, can you soak the pressure of a difficult situation and tell yourself that it's a test of just 12-14 questions rather than 32 questions or 8 sets.
The first change that one needs to make is to look upon LRDI not as an 8 sets section but as a 32-question ball-game. Thus, convincing yourself to not try and attempt everything is step one. The process of unlearning starts here.

The next step is identifying opportunities to encash upon. Just like the batsman batting with the tail identifies the bowler and the delivery he wants to capitalize on similarly you need to identify the sets that you want to attempt and the questions in those sets that need to be attempted first. In order to do this follow this 3 step thumb rule:

  1. Spend the first 10 minutes of the section going through all the sets. While doing so, don't just go through the mother data, also look at the questions. Questions starting with 'if' and those that include Cannot be determined (CBD) in their options are signalling you to leave them alone. Identify the priority order in which you would want to pick up the sets and base it on familiarity and comfort.
  2. Remember that you are a human being, yes, that's step two. Implication? Well, not being able to solve a question is no big deal, the big deal is how quickly you identify that and move on. Ideal time: If you can identify that this is a not-to-attempt set in about 4-5 minutes, that's great. Just tell yourself that it angled into you but swung late to beat your bat. Corker of delivery, but you survived and tired out the bowler.
  3. It's not about solving all questions from a particular set. It'a not about solving the easiest ones. As stated earlier, the game is about solving 14-16 questions, they can be solved by identifying 4 sets wherein you solve almost all questions or solving around 2 questions from each of the 8 sets. What's the best way? The one that suits you the most.

So what to do starting today till CAT with respect to DILR?

Let’s follow a simple checklist.




Expected Score

Expected CAT Percentile in DILR

Till 30th Aug





Till 10th Oct





Till 15th Nov






  1. Start with attempting 8 questions with 100% accuracy till 30th Aug
  2. Eventually, push the 8 questions to 12 by 10th Oct
  3. Take mocks regularly
  4. Analyze each mock thoroughly
  5. Prioritize accuracy over attempts


  1. Prepare from offline material
  2. Fear the section
  3. Miss out on analyzing mocks
  4. Feel obligated to attempt more sets in the remaining time
In the actual exam, as per the trends in the last few years, an attempt of 12-14 questions is 3/8th of the paper which with 100% accuracy will net you 40-42 marks, which in return will get you close to a 97-98%ile+. The key, as mentioned, is to keep it simple. Follow the plan and formulate your exam day strategy. Keep time aside to only go through the question paper and choose the sets which you would be attempting. Remember: time is precious; waste it wisely!