How to Prepare for DILR
How to prepare for DILR. That is the question we are going to deal with, through this blog post.
There was a time (until CAT 2015) when the CAT DILR section contained puzzles of some standard templates – circular arrangement, linear arrangement, mathematical puzzles, grid-based puzzles, bar charts, and pie charts.
Cut to 2020. The ‘new normal’ was not limited just to our way of living. It had organically seeped into the way CAT questions are framed. Gone is the era of template CAT DILR sets. The DILR section has transformed from a position of ‘just giving some 8 sets puzzles’ to ‘defining each and every puzzle, and making sure it is not a cliched template’. This section has become “the section” to crack. Colloquially speaking, this section is the deal breaker – this is the men and boys stuff!
Given this reality how should one prepare for this dreaded section called DILR?
Fresher v/s Repeater strategy
If you’re a fresher you go to tell yourself I will go through the basics first. The basics are standard grid puzzle, arrangement puzzle, etc. You should go through them multiple times, and also try to learn from the solutions provided to you. The latter part is uber crucial that’s where the actual learning in DILR takes place. So always make sure to go through the solutions, after trying a DILR set. The idea of getting used to these templates will prove to be advantageous as you progress gradually to the next phase. You should get used to the idea of seeing and interpreting the graphs, and manipulating percentages, averages, ratios, etc. Once you’re done with this phase, then you should solve some actual CAT level puzzles, and amp up your DILR preparation game.
If you’re a repeater, then first you should figure out what went wrong in your previous CAT attempt. Your DILR scores could be high or low. If it’s high then whatever you’re doing in the name of your preparation don’t change it now, keep following your strategy. But if it was low, then figure out a strategy for yourself to cross 95th percentile first, and then go berserk solving actual CAT DILR questions first and gazillion high-quality DILR puzzles. Once you’re done with the solving part make sure to go through the solution provided to you diligently. Once again, I would like to reiterate the importance of this step – going through the solutions. The more you go through this process, you’ll realize that there is a pattern sitting inside like how the question paper setter is looking or reacting to the clues given to him in the set. The moment you recognize this pattern you’re through!
Daily habits to follow to ace DILR
Solve puzzles like sudoku, 2048, crosswords, minesweeper etc. They help you look at constraints in a different way. You automatically start looking for “that one constraint” that will help you answer a particular question. You start looking for a good starting point to any puzzle.
Moreover, this will help you to build a strong sense of intuition. When you look at various constraints at once, the crucial constraint should scream at you. That is what “building intuition” means. This comes with practicing simple puzzles and standard templates on a daily basis.
Learn the art of choosing the right puzzle
The key in cracking DILR is, choosing the right puzzle from the given sets, and hanging in there for the next 10 to 12 minutes, and getting to the end. This becomes very important as the number of easily approachable sets has gone down drastically. Selecting the right puzzle is half the battle one. So focus enormously on finding the right puzzle in an examination setting. Make sure, you definitely attempt the right puzzles, not the toughest ones.
This is going to be the big leap that, in all probability, would see you through in the DILR section. The best place to start with, when you’re looking for puzzles of diverse variants – and this goes without saying -are the actual CAT question papers. For those of you preparing for CAT 2021, you have the question papers for 9 different slots ( 2 in 2017, 2 in 2018, 2 in 2019, and 3 in 2020). The link provided in the last line gives you detailed video solutions for all puzzles tested in the last few years. So this can be a great starting point, especially if you are repeating. Even if not, it would be a great page to bookmark and revisit when you are done with your DILR Basics.
Prepare with determination. One can either prepare for a 100 types, and find a 101th type being asked in the exam and get a brain freeze, or, be prepared to face any type of puzzle, and not depend on the thought that one should get a puzzle which has a familiar template. Always when it comes to DILR, the name of the game is variety. It might prove to be the X- factor in deciding who reaches 99.xx versus who misses out on a whisker and ends up at 90.xx.
Some crucial aspects of CAT DILR preparation
The idea of arriving at a solution
There’s one important characteristic feature that is innate to DILR, and it is ‘the idea of arriving at the solution’. While solving a set you should not merely look to solve it in 15 minutes but search for better, more optimized ways in which the same puzzle can be solved in 10 minutes. That bit of fine-tuning helps a lot. Every minute you save in this section is going to determine if you will still have enough time to solve that one extra set or even one or two questions from a set.
Solutions are easy but approach is not
Oftentimes, the questions in a DILR puzzle can be answered as soon as you have a table. But arriving at that table is important. You must always look for the approach that cracks the puzzles open, rather than jumping right to the end and grabbing a glance at the solution. The former is a catalyst to your preparation; The latter will cripple your preparation mindset. Rajesh sir keeps reiterating this, “you have to get into the mindset of the paper setter to know why there is a better approach to a particular question.” So after solving a DILR set, kindly go through the solution provided to you, and think like Sherlock Holmes, who always gets into the head of the criminal to know their mindset! Having a sense of where the sets lead you to, what it sets you up for etc. are some critical things that will prove to come in handy in the future.
Watch this video below to understand better as to How to prepare for DILR, be it a fresher, or a repeater. What are the crucial things to remember if you are looking to figure out How to prepare for DILR.
Stay safe, stay positive and best wishes for CAT. Always remember, you can, you will, and you must. Ciao folks!
Abhishek works for 2IIM, and is a keen writer.