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Monday 19 August 2013

Understanding Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning Section

Data interpretation (DI), can prove to be a high scoring portion of the management entrance exams and others. Data is presented numerically or by means of an illustration. It requires a combination of mathematical and reasoning skills
Structure of questions
The data that forms basis of questioning is normally presented as a table, bar or lines graph, pie chart or a paragraph. If framed as a paragraph, candidates are expected to decipher facts of the passage - perhaps it may be better to convert it into a graphical form with a rough sketch. Data is easier and quicker to comprehend once converted to a visual.
The Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning section of is probably closest in resemblance to. In fact, giving tests without looking at the watch will only hamper your the kind of problems you will be dealing with as an employee in an organization and as a manager. It tests your decision-making ability and speed using limited input. As with all other sections, the most important part of preparation is practice. Needless to say, you should give every practice test as seriously as the real examination. There is absolutely no sense in giving untimed testspreparation. This is where mock online tests come into play, they help you keep track of time and also analyze your performance.
Start off with tests topic wise in the initial stage of preparation. When you gain confidence in all areas of DI/LR, it is time to start giving a couple of full-length DI/LR tests. After this, merge individual sectional tests and start giving full length test papers containing all three sections. Always analyze your performance after every test you give and use tests as a valuable feedback mechanism. If you feel the need, keep going back to topics which you feel require more work and take 1-2 more area-specific tests in that topic. An important thing you need to work on is the judicious selection of questions. Utilize practice tests for this purpose.
The Data Interpretation/Logical Reasoning section can be divided into three key areas:
1. Data Interpretation: This is the calculation intensive portion of the section. It consists of an assortment of graphs, charts and tables from which you will have to study and analyze data. The key to cracking this area is to quickly identify the key pieces of data that you will require to work on the questions asked. It is not unknown for question-setters try  to and bewilder students with a large amount of data, most of it unnecessary. As a rule, the more the data presented, the easier the questions that follow, so don’t lose heart if you see a table with 10 columns occupying one whole page. On the other hand, several seemingly innocuous questions may trip you up. Therefore, it is advised, you to look at the questions first to get an idea of what data you need to be searching for in the graphs/charts/tables in the main question asked.
Another interesting feature of DI that you as a student can use to your advantage is that, usually, not all questions in a set are of equal difficulty. Specifically, most sets have a ‘counting’ type of question (How many companies have profits more than x%, how many people have incomes less than Rs. Y etc.). Most of these questions can be solved without calculation but by close inspection of the data presented. These are categorized as ‘gift’ questions designed to test a student’s presence of mind, and should never be missed out on. There are other similarly easy questions in most sets, and you should practice identifying the level of difficulty of questions so you know immediately which ones to attempt and which to avoid. There is no rule that states that you need to attempt all questions in a set, so it is a perfectly valid strategy to attempt selected questions across your DI section, without perhaps completely attempting even a single set also.
An usual source of practice questions should  contain several graph and chart type questions. You can utilize these questions in the initial source of preparation to practice reading data off charts and tables, and then gradually move on to tougher questions from preparation material. Mock tests help you here.
2. Logical Reasoning: This is the tougher (as perceived by most students) portion of the section. It consists of logical puzzles with several questions that follow. The most important and first step to solving an LR problem is to write down all of the information given in a box, table or diagram e.g. if the problem involves seating arrangements at a round table, always draw the table first and then try various permutations and combinations of people seated around it. Once you have drawn the figure for the problem, you are free to think with an uncluttered mind. LR problems usually contain several statements which serve as clues to solving the problem. Thus, the problem should always be attempted in a methodical fashion, and solved step-by-step, because trying to look at all the information at once will confuse even the best of us.
LR problems are usually ‘all-or-nothing’ type, in the sense that if you crack the problem you will have answers to all the questions that follow, and if you don’t you will not be able to answer even a single question. This is because if the logic to the problem is apparent to you, the questions that follow are trivial. Hence, proper selection of problems to tackle is even more crucial here than in DI. Often, students fail to solve a problem after investing 10-15 minutes on it. Since the information they have at the end of that time is not much more than that at the beginning, they cannot answer even a single question in the set and have nothing to show for their effort. Problem-selection is tricky, so if you find that you are unable to make headway after the first 5 minutes, do the smart thing and switch to another set or section. You can always come back later if you have the time.
LR requires the maximum amount of practice among all areas in the DI/LR section. Apart from picking problems in your preparation material, try looking for puzzle books or newspaper leisure sections that contain logic puzzles. Puzzle-solving is a knack, and the more you start enjoying logic puzzles, the better you will get at them.
3. Data Sufficiency: This is the third portion of the section, and quite a few DS questions were asked in the last CAT paper. Data Sufficiency problems usually take the form of a logical puzzle, and are in the form of a question followed by two statements. You need to answer whether you can solve the problem using the statements individually, or using both, or whether you cannot solve the problem using the information provided. The key to answering such problems is to pretend like one statement does not exist, try solving the problem, and then pretend like the other statement does not exist and try solving the problem again. These problems are generally tricky, and are recommend lots of practice and perhaps solving them near the end of your section, after you have solved the other problems.
The DI/LR section is one of the higher scoring sections in any exam, so you can look to it for help in improving your overall score as well. DS questions have never appeared in sets. Important things to remember while attempting this section are that you need be quick in switching sets if you find a particular set tough, and you need to have presence of mind while solving DI/LR questions. Both of these things can be achieved with the help of practice.

·         Topics covered in Data Interpretation
·         Data Interpretation based on text,
·          Data Interpretation based on graphs and tables.
·         Graphs can be Column graphs,
·         Graphs representing Area,
·          Bar Graphs, Line charts, Pie Chart, Venn Diagram, etc.
·         Graphs can be Column graphs, Graphs representing Area, Bar Graphs,
·          Line charts, Pie Chart, Venn Diagram, etc.
·         Critical reasoning,
·         Visual reasoning,
·         Assumption-Premise-Conclusion,
·         Assertion and reasons,
·         Statements and conclusions,
·          Cause and Effect,
·          Identifying Probably true, Probably false, definitely true, definitely false kind of statement,
·         Linear arrangements,
·         identifying Strong arguments and Weak arguments,
 Matrix arrangements
Books for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning
There are some books that will help you prepare for the CAT 2011 exam. Some books dealing with this section are-:
1.    How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT' by TATA-McGraw Hill publications
2.    Course In Mental Ability and Quantitative Aptitude' by Edgar Thorpe
3.    How to prepare for the Data Interpretation for CAT' by Arihant Prakashan
4. Data Interpretation and Logical by Arun Sharma publications,
5. ‘How to prepare Verbal & Non Verbal Reasoning’ by R.S. Agarwal (S. Chand and Sons publications), etc.

How to prepare for Data Interpretation?
1.    Practice: Take as many mock tests as possible. Also solve previous years' CATpapers. Talking to media, Vinayak Kudva, Product Head, IMS Learning says, "For Data Interpretation, go through last five to six years exam papers and try solving them without any preparation. Analyse and evaluate your approach with reference to every question including the one which you solved easily."
2.    Reading: Reading books and prep material will be useful. You must read articles, especially on business which are heavy on data and analyze them.
3.    Analyze: Refer to the graphs and data provided in various business papers and business magazines or corporate publications. You need to identify techniques to solve questions which require time consuming calculations.
4.    Check your calculations: The Data Interpretation section is calculation-intensive. Thus, improving your calculations is the first step to improve your Data Interpretation. And “calculations” here mean stuff like 556/874 and not 2*9=? Such calculations can eat up your time. Learn shortcuts that will help you calculate in your head or better still; figure out how vedic mathsworks. It will help you a lot. However, it is not necessary to follow if you are not comfortable with using Vedic mathematics do not use it. Also, always try to do the calculations in mind rather than on paper. It will take some time to adopt this practice but it will save a lot of time for you.
5.    Solve different type of Graphs, Caselets: When you will start with DI, you will notice that there are different types or formats of questions in this section. There will be bar charts, tables, pie charts etc. So solve different type of caselets instead of sticking to one type. Develop your skills to solve different caselets. It will go a long way in helping you tackle this section.
Thus, finally you need to work on both accuracy and speed to improve this section. If you work on these points, DI section will help you a lot at the time of giving the entrance examination.
6.Mathematical formulae
By now, aspirants should have gained a good grasp over arithmetic and geometric formulae. Since questions require performing long calculations, speed in arithmetic operations is crucial. Scan the whole section quickly before attempting the questions. In exams like the CAT, data is often presented in more than one table or graph to test candidates ability to establish a relationship between the data. There are two ways to approach such questions - either work on the data to arrive at the answer or work backwards by eliminating the choices until you get to the answer. The second option is time consuming, but would be useful in questions requiring enormous calculations.
7.Scrupulously follow instructions
Understand and follow all instructions - a whole set of questions depends of some key instructions that are stated at the beginning. Do all calculations and draw rough sketches that are required in margins alongside the questions. This would ensure that there is no need to turn pages to refer to data and instructions that accompany the questions.
8.Attempting questions
Attempt all the questions in a set at the same time instead of leaving some of them unanswered for a later time. Returning back to attempt the ones left out would mean you need more time to refresh the facts of the problem set.
9.Guess work
In DI, one ought to have precise understanding of subject matter and the use of formulae. Guessing may not work here in this section.
A good performance in data interpretation will improve scoring and reinforce chances of selection.

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