Even the students who have prepared well and consistently scored in the highest percentiles in all their mocks can get stumped by the non-MCQ questions in CAT 2023. Also known as TITA questions – ‘Type in The Answer’ – non-MCQ CAT questions are designed to be confusing. With no choices to pick from and lengthy solutions, students can quickly lose precious minutes without ever knowing if they have the correct answer. TITA questions in CAT are known for their higher difficulty levels, poor accuracy, and time-consuming nature.
But these questions also come with a hidden prize – unlike the MCQs with stringent negative marking for wrong answers, non-MCQ CAT questions have no negative marking whatsoever. This makes them an enticing bet to attempt. And with the right approach, students can maximise their chances of bolstering their overall score with TITA CAT questions while saving time.
What are non-MCQ questions in CAT?
Non-MCQ or TITA questions were introduced in the CAT exam by IIM Ahmedabad in 2015. And ever since then, they’ve been a regular feature in all CAT exams. What separates them from the regular CAT questions is the lack of options. Unlike MCQ questions, which are followed by four choices – one of which is correct – TITA questions only have a text box. Students need to type in the answer using the on-screen keyboard.
Another factor to remember is that these questions have no negative marking. Candidates are awarded three marks for correct answers and lose none for incorrect ones. This caveat makes it tempting for students to attempt as many non-MCQ questions in CAT as possible. But these questions are framed to bleed time, i.e., they have a higher difficulty level and lower accuracy rate. Moreover, the absence of choices makes reverse deduction and guesswork obsolete. Students must solve the whole question by hand to get to the answer. Even if they might end up with the correct one, there’s the risk of losing too much valuable time on them and missing out on attempting other questions.
So, should you even attempt the TITA questions in CAT?
The trick lies in incorporating the non-MCQ questions within your general strategy for the paper rather than looking at them separately. Your end goal should be to score 45-60 marks on the overall exam. If you can achieve that without the non-MCQ questions, then do that. If you feel a few TITA questions will help you reach that target score, work with that.
Continue reading the blog to understand the exact section-wise strategy for non-MCQ CAT questions.
How many non-MCQ questions come in the CAT exam?
On average, based on the past year’s trends, we can safely assume that around 18-20 TITA questions will be included in the CAT 2023 exam. There will be around 5 TITA questions in VARC, five more in DILR, and 8-10 in QA. For a more detailed outlook, you can refer to the table below:
|Year||Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC)||Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)||Quantitative Aptitude (QA)||No. of Non-MCQs|
|CAT 2021 (slot 1 and 2)||5||5||7||17|
|CAT 2021 (slot 3)||5||5||8||18|
|CAT 2020 (all slots)||8||6||8||22|
|CAT 2019 (Slot 1)||7||8||11||26|
|CAT 2019 (Slot 2)||7||8||11||26|
|CAT 2018 (Slot 1)||7||8||12||27|
|CAT 2018 (Slot 2)||7||7||8||22|
|CAT 2017 (Slot 1)||7||6||7||20|
|CAT 2017 (Slot 2)||7||8||11||26|
There is a clear declining trend in the number of TITA questions being framed. But it would not be wise to write them out entirely.
Use the strategy framed below to make the most of these questions without letting them affect the rest of your paper.
How to tackle the non-MCQ questions in CAT 2023?
Just like you break down your strategy for MCQ questions based on the type of question and topic, you should do the same even for the non-MCQ CAT questions.
VARC TITA questions
You can expect anywhere between 5-10 TITA questions in the Verbal Ability section. These questions will generally be divided into the following categories:
- Para jumbles
- Para summary
- Odd sentence out/misfit
For VARC, the TITA questions largely follow the same format as the normal MCQ questions. This is one section where attempting TITA questions can prove to be great. Para summaries and odd sentences can be solved quickly using the same approach you use for MCQs.
However, our mentors advise that the TITA para jumbles should only be attempted at the end if spare time is available.
DILR TITA questions
With around 5-8 non-MCQ questions expected in DILR, this is the one section students should be most wary of. It is easy to get lost in logical reasoning questions and lose track of time. Moreover, finding the right approach to solving the question can also take time. The same applies to data interpretation. DI is usually calculation-heavy and can have answers running into multiple decimal places.
According to our mentors, TITA questions in DILR should only be attempted if you can immediately visualise the correct approach to solving it. Accuracy in these questions can be low, so basic errors should be avoided. Another trap is the use of the on-screen calculator. Punching numbers is also time-consuming, gobbling up precious seconds. Instead, focus on memorising all numbers’ squares, cubes, and roots to save time.
QA TITA questions
The quant section will have the most TITA questions, numbering around 8-15. These questions can come from any topic in the quant syllabus. To get a better idea of the different topics and the most important ones, read our blog on CAT syllabus.
Learn to identify the core concepts being tested in the QA TITA questions. This will enable you to filter out the questions you can attempt quickly and the ones you cannot based on the concepts you’ve studied. With no opportunity to reverse engineer the answer from the options, getting to the correct answer can be tricky, even when you know the concepts. So, only attempt these questions in the end when you have time to spare.
Non-MCQ questions in CAT need to be approached very judiciously. Instead of being tempted by the no negative marking clause, judge the TITA questions objectively. Remember, the accuracy level of TITA questions is on the lower end. Solve as many TITA questions as you can from previous years’ papers. This will give you a better idea of what to expect. If you are still confused, you can sign up for the IMS Mock CAT Test Series. With 18 SimCATs and the past three years’ papers with video solutions, you’ll have access to a wide range of questions and ways to solve them. This will significantly strengthen your approach to non-MCQ questions in CAT 2023.