Impossible Question Types
This post discusses 3 Impossible question types that appear in Mocks (more than CAT) and is slightly tangential to CAT preparation. Quite a few students get thrown off by some different/ambiguous questions presented in different forums. CAT has transformed into an exam that tests sound temperament more than anything else, in the recent editions. Which is why it is very important to recognise and hold fort when facing these questions. The Impossible question types can be categorized into three.
Let me give you an example. A bell tolls once every 20 seconds, another tolls once every 30 seconds. If both of them ring at the same time, how many time will they ring together in the first hour?
Now, they will ring together once every minute. But the cheap-tricks-of-examiners book says that the answer for this question can be 61 instead of 60. You can answer this question only if you know the examiner. Sometimes you cannot answer it even if you know the examiner. These are the Examiner-Only-Knows questions
Let me give you a sample. The difference between the lengths of the diagonals of a parallelogram inscribed in a circle is 2 cms, find the area of the parallelogram.
Now, a parallelogram inscribed in a circle has to be a rectangle. And the diagonals of a rectangle are equal. So, it is clear that even the examiner does not know the answer to this one. God Only Knows – GOK
The third category is interesting. And this is probably the most useful as well. This is the Now-you-know category.
There was/is a legendary professor of organic Chemistry named Govindarajan in Chennai who used to train students for the JEE in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. He was an elderly gentleman even in the late 90’s, and wonderful as he was in teaching, he was also laidback about exams, scores, records, performance-trackers and the like. After one of his famous exams – bunch of students had some issues with the paper because it had some questions being beyond what he had taught in class. (Imagine 17-year olds anxious to tell themselves they messed up only because they hadn’t been taught that bit). He looked at said questions and exclaimed
I did not teach you this?! You did not know about this?
with an incredulous look on his face. This slowly gave way to a wry smile and he said “Well, well, well. Now You Know.”
There will always be Now-you-know questions in exams. Stuff that you did not know before, but is probably an important tidbit.
Try this Example:
Try this one – A six-digit number N of the form ‘abcabc’ where a, b, and c are digits from 0 to 9 has exactly 16 factors, how many values can N take?
If you know that a number ‘abcabc’ is ‘abc’ * 1001 and that 1001 = 7 * 11 * 13, this question becomes easy. If you do not know this and you see this in a mock CAT paper, it is probably a good time to say “Now I know” (after you review the paper) 🙂
There will be multiple types of questions that you do not comprehend the first time you face them. However, how you learn from that experience matters the most in this journey towards your Dream B-school. This is why it is important to aggressively review your mock CATs and not just fixate on the percentiles.
Rajesh Balasubramanian takes the CAT every year and is a 4-time CAT 100 percentiler. He likes few things more than teaching Math and insists to this day that he is a better teacher than exam-taker.