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Skill-3 Knowing What is to be Found Out

In my experience of dealing with students from varied backgrounds, many a times I have seen that students are not able to solve a question because they have got very impressed with the data. And as a result, they lose track of what is to be fond out.

Remember, never ever get ‘emotionally attached’ to a question.

As an examinee, you are not supposed to get into the technicalities of the data. Rather, you should focus upon what is being asked in the question, and how to extract information from the data-set relevant to the given question.

However, during practice, one needs to focus not just on solving the problems on hand, but also on building an algorithm to solve similar problems whenever they occur.

Cracking the questions require a very systematic approach. The primary focus should be on understanding the question. It would be worthwhile to read the question patiently and carefully. At this juncture, efforts towards building your vocabulary and improving your reading skills might help you. One must pay attention to otherwise innocuous words and phrases such as “at most” or “at least”, “cannot be less than” , “cannot be more than” etc.

Till now we have discussed data, the significnace of organized data and the skill set required to solve the questions.
Let us see a few questions from an actual CAT DI paper:

CAT 2005

A management institute was established on 1 January 2000 with 3, 4, 5, and 6 faculty members in the Marketing, Organizational Behaviour (OB), Finance, and Operations Management (OM) areas respectively, to start with. No faculty member retired or joined the institute in the first three months of the year 2000. In the next four years, the institute recruited one faculty member in each of the four areas. All these new faculty members, who joined the institute subsequently over the years, were 25 years old at the time of their joining the institute. All of them joined the institute on April 1. During these four years, one of the faculty members retired at the age of 60. The following diagram gives the area-wise average age (in terms of number of completed years) of faculty members as on April 1 of 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.
Description: 48700.png
From which area did the faculty member retire?
  1. Finance
  2. Marketing
  3. OB
  4. OM
To solve this question, following things were required:
  • Understanding the passage given at the beginning of the DI set.
  • Understanding the above bar chart.
  • Understanding the question and the process of how to inter-relate the data.
Of course we can calculate the sum of ages of all the faculty members in all the areas and for all the years. There were 3 faculty members in Marketing in 2000 (inception of the institute), hence, the sum of completed years of these three faculty members in 2000 = 49.33 × 3 = 148 years. But the main problem lying ahead is, for how many years and areas can we do the same thing? As this will involve a good amount of calculation, it will require a good amount of time and patience.

CAT 2004

The data points in the figure below represent the monthly income and expenditure data of individual members of the Ahuja family (), the Bose family (□), the Coomer family (), and the Dubey family (). For these questions, saving is defined as
Description: 48694.png
Which family has the lowest average income?
  1. Ahuja
  2. Bose
  3. Coomar
  4. Dubey
To solve this question, following things are required—
  • Understanding the data as given above.
  • Understanding the question and the process of how to inter-relate the data.

CAT 2003 (Re-Test)

The profitability of a company is defined as the ratio of its operating profit to its operating income, typically expressed in percentage. The following two charts show the operating income as well as the profitability of six companies in the Financial Years (FYs) 2001-2002 and 2002-2003.
Description: 48688.png
Description: 48682.png
The operating profits of four of these companies are plotted against their respective operating income figures for the FY 2002-2003, in the third chart given below.
Description: 48674.png
What is the approximate average operating profit, in FY 2001-2002, of the two companies excluded from the third chart?
  1. –7.5 crore
  2. 3.5 crore
  3. 25 crore
  4. cannot be determined
To solve this question, following things are required—
  • Understanding of the definitions given above
  • Understanding of the above representations of the data-set
The biggest problem one would face while solving this question is how to inter-relate the data given.

CAT 2003 (Leaked)

Each point in the graph below shows the profit and turnover data for a company. Each company belongs to one of the three industries: textile, cement and steel.

For how many companies does the profit exceed 10% of the turnover?
  1. 8
  2. 7
  3. 6
  4. 5
To solve this question, following things are required:
  • Understanding of the above representations of the data-set.
  • Finding out which one is textile, cement and steel.
    (For solution of all these questions refer to CAT papers given in this book.)
  • The above examples illustrate a few simple facts:
  • Data is an important tool for decision-making and drawing inferences.
  • However, having only the data does not serve the purpose; it should be presented in a proper format.
  • Despite the data being presented in a proper way, the most important thing is having the capability to interpret it.

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