What made CAT 2018 a tough net to crack?

CAT 2018 is done and dusted. Your preparation of so many months has already been put into that 3 hour paper, and there is nothing much that you can do about it now. Anyways, exams like IIFT, SNAP, XAT, NMAT and TISS are coming up, and if you have applied for it, the time is to focus on them.
Most of the top colleges come under the ambit of CAT 2018, and the dreams of IIMs, FMS Delhi , MDI Gurgaon and many other top colleges are fulfilled only be this exam. So there is no reason why we should not talk about exam. Again, how was CAT 2018? Well, a unanimous view would be that it was tough. It was surely tougher than CAT 2017 and 2015, and may be slightly tougher than CAT 2016 too.
But what made CAT 2018 a tough nut to crack? Was it a particular section, or a group of questions, or the way questions were presented made the job tougher? Interestingly, it was a combination of many of such factors.
Well, if you want to understand what made CAT 2018 tougher for you, or for your friends, we are here to tell you that. Even if you are a CAT 2019 aspirant, this piece of writing is very useful for you as you will understand what can happen in such an exam.

Stay with us as we decode the biggest management entrance exam of 2018. Here we go: –

Close Options in Reading Comprehension
Overall, the VARC section of CAT 2018 was not a tough one. It can be easily said this section was the only ‘easy’ part of CAT 2018. Passages of RCs were mostly readable and there were not much of complexity about them. Further, in the Verbal Ability part, Summary questions and Odd One Out questions were fairly simple. Even Para Jumbles came with just 4 sentence this time.
But one part, which was tricky was the Close Answer Options in RCs. And this was not the case with all such questions, but each RC had 1 or 2 questions which needed deep inference of sentences. For example, in slot 2, two options of questions differed by only a little margin. One of the options said ‘..performed well in test’ and the other said ‘..passed the test with distinction.’ This was the only difference between the two options and rest of the sentence was same.
But again, only one or maximum two questions with each RC were close. Therefore, as we said earlier, the overall section remained easy. Those who eye more than 98 or 99 percentile, or depend heavily on RCs must have noticed that.
Beyond the 2 Easy DILR sets
DILR has historically been a tough section in CAT, and so was in CAT 2018. However, in both the slots, there were 2 sets which can be called low hanging fruits. With a decent proficiency, both such sets could have been solved in 20 minutes.
But the real game started after solving these two sets. The cake walk had ended on these 8 questions, and there came the famous super tough DILR sets of CAT 2018. Peacock-Coding set in slot 2, ATM Money Disbursal Set of Slot 1, Exchange Rate Set (Slot 2) and Profitability of 3 companies (Slot 2) were all those tough sets which we all fear of.
And further, despite having 8 easy questions, the cutoff for 99 percentile is still predicted to be somewhere around what it was for CAT 2017. Therefore, this section might have got some easy questions, but on overall level, this was surely an above-moderate level section.
The Quant Story
The centre of all the discussions about CAT 2018 has been the Quantitative Aptitude section. It was way tougher than CAT 2017, and was surely something that not a lot of people were expecting it to be.
Last year, QA section was as easy it can ever get. Although this can be taken as an aberration, but no one was expecting the level of difficulty to rise by this much.
In whole of the section, there were very few sitters (easy questions). Most of the questions were lengthy and needed an effort of around 3 or more minutes to get solved. Further, they were multi-stepped and were put in an indirect language which meant that to solve a question, you needed to decode it first, then make cases/equations, then check which one works and then mark the answer.
Earlier, there used to be a good number of questions which were direct formula based. But this time, they were close to non-existent.
Although Arithmetic still dominated the QA paper, but even this topic had some pretty tough questions this time. Questions based on Mixtures & Allegations, Pipes & Cisterns and Time Speed Distance were tricky and lengthy in nature.
And since no one was expecting that, many students failed to understand that they do not need 22-24 attempts to get a decent score. Even 17 or 18 attempts can get someone an impressive percentile in this section of CAT 2018, provided he/she has a good accuracy too.
To conclude, it can be said that each section had some element which made the paper tough. However, QA section took the place of DILR to become the toughest section of CAT 2018. Those who picked the easier ones and marked them with good accuracy will surely get a good percentile.
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