DILR CAT 2020 Tips: How to Prepare for DILR Section?

Updated: Jun 9

Deemed to be one of the most challenging sections in the previous year CAT papers, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (or simply known as DILR) is actually pretty interesting to score well in. It was my strength and I scored 99.17 percentile in CAT'17 in this section. So, in this post I am going to reveal the tactics I used to prepare for the DILR CAT section:

Before reading the preparation strategy, please go through the following points -

  • This post will limit itself to the preparation strategy and not discuss how to attempt the DILR section in the mocks.

  • This section was (still is) my personal favourite and I believe that the concepts came a bit naturally to me.

  • Don’t let the fact scare you that it is called the toughest section of all. It is challenging, but very interesting at the same time.

I started preparing for DILR in the year of my college. The books I used were:

The online resources I used include sectional tests of T.I.M.E, free question banks of 2IIM, Learning Roots, SBI PO and RBI past year papers.


Please don’t feel overwhelmed by the list. In order to cover the basics, any one book for LR & DI (either Arun Sharma or your coaching material’s) is sufficient. In order to hone the skills further, you can refer to ‘n’ number of resources and question banks.



An important note - You must have heard that ‘DILR requires a lot of practice’. This statement is correct, but incomplete. If you keep practicing the lengthier method of solving the question, you won’t get any better. Using the right approach is a must, even if you know ten ways to solve the question. The steps for DILR preparation are the simplest of all -

  1. Get to know the types of questions (topics) of DILR.

  2. Grasp the tricks used in each type.

  3. Build a mental legend for the nomenclatures/symbols used.

  4. Develop the ability to decode the constraint in action.

It may be unclear at this point as to what these steps mean. In order to help you understand them better, I’ll take the help of some illustrations:


Step 1 - Know the Types

Go through the index of the DILR book, get to know the types by solving some easy questions of each type. This will come in handy when in the actual CAT, you’ll face a situation like this -

When you have 8 sets to attempt and 60 minutes at your disposal, selection of sets becomes an imperative art and in order to make that selection possible, you should be able to identify the type in seconds to choose if you want to attempt the set or not. So, get to know the types very well.


Step 2 - Grasp the Tricks

Each type has some tricks, which can help you save time in solving the set. These tricks can be either found in the books/study material or learnt by practicing the same type again and again. You can note these tricks in a diary to ensure that every time you attempt a question from that type, you remember to apply the trick. Please note that you will anyway have to use the right method to solve the question, knowing the trick just saves the time and effort that you would have otherwise wasted on the wrong approach.


For example: In a circular arrangement question, the moment you read that you’re supposed to arrange 4/6/8/10 people around a circular table, you should know the trick to plot the circle quickly -

These tricks, no matter how simple they seem, save a lot of time. With frequent application, they become an automatic response to the question. Maintain a repository for these gems.


Step 3 - Build a Mental Legend

This is more of an automatic step, but still, I’m sharing it for your knowledge. I used to denote the key to all the symbols and abbreviations as the ‘Mental Legend’. Before you get more confused, please have a look at this illustration (just read the statement without giving it much thought)-

So, my ‘Mental Legend’, after reading the question, would (automatically) denote the names and genders like this -

This Mental Legend is unique for every person, we all mentally create symbols and abbreviations that denote something. Just make sure your legend remains consistent as it’d avoid the chances of silly mistakes.


Step 4 - Decode the constraints in Action

The reason I loved DILR the most was because I always found the constraints so interesting, as if they were eager to say something more than what appeared on surface. A difficult DILR set is called difficult because its constraints try to trick the reader. Once you catch the hidden meaning of the constraint, you’re sorted. Let’s see what this means:

This is an incomplete question, but I’m just trying to illustrate how your mind should decode this constraint in action (the moment you see it).

So, seven people -

B sits exactly between A and C -

Now, many of you may be thinking of something like this -

Which is absolutely correct. But, exactly between may also mean -

So, make sure you understand, in totality, what the constraint wants to convey. Trust me, in DILR, each and every word is important.


This is all I can think of in regards to my preparation strategy for DILR. You can use this and try to create your own strategy for tackling this section.


There’s a quote by Albert Einstein, “If you want different results, do not do the same things.” This quote always kept me going whenever I was stuck on a DILR question. If you ever face such a situation, remind yourself of this quote and dig deeper, there must be something you’re missing. Try again, find it and when you do, notice the smile on your face. That eureka moment, that smile will act as a sign that you’re improving!


(This was a requested post by a member of the Non-Engineers Facebook Page)


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