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Symbol Operations in CAT Logical Reasoning Section

The topic of “Symbol operations” is one of the most common questions in the reasoning section. Questions related to symbols and notations are considered extremely easy by many CAT candidates. As nearly 2-3 questions are included in the CAT logical reasoning section, candidates are suggested to give importance to these questions in order to score more in the exam.


To help the CAT candidates prepare this section more effectively, a detailed explanation of “symbol operations” is given here along with solved example questions. This information can be really useful to be able to solve the related questions faster and efficiently.


CAT Symbol Operations Question Types:

  • Type 1: Statement and Conclusion Based

In this type of question, symbols hold specific meanings with respect to certain letters. A set of statements are given along with conclusions. Candidates are required to identify which conclusion(s) hold(s) true.


Example 1:

The symbols hold specific meaning as mentioned below:

“X # Y” means  X is greater than Y

“X @ Y” means X is equal to Y

“X $ Y” means X is either greater or equal to Y
“X % Y” means X is smaller than Y

“X & Y” means X is either smaller or equal to Y



  1. A # B,
  2. C % B,
  3. D @ C


  1. B % D
  2. A # C

Answer Options

a. Only Conclusion 1 follows

b. Only Conclusion 2 follows

c. Neither Conclusions are true

d. Both Conclusions are correct



At first, the symbols need to be substituted in the statements according to their actual meaning. After substitution, the statements become: A > B, C < B and D = C. Similarly, the conclusions will be: B < D and A > C.

From these statements, it can be easily understood that the second conclusion is true. Hence, option (b) is correct.


  • Type 2: Numerical Based

In mathematical based operations, the symbols do not have their actual meaning. First, the meanings of certain mathematical symbols are given and then a statement is given. The statement needs to be solved according to the given meaning of the symbols.


Example 2:

If “+” means “-”, “*” means “/” then, what would be the value of the given equation?

4 * 2 / 4 – 2 + 3



First, put symbols according to their correct meaning. Now the given equation becomes: “4 / 2 * 4 +2 -3”. Now, this equation can be easily solved and the answer obtained using the BODMAS rule is 7.


  • Type 3: Relation Based

In relation based questions, symbols represent a particular relationship between two entities. An example will illustrate this type in a better way,


Example 3:

“A @ B” means A is the mother of B

“A # B” means A is the father of B

“A % B” means A is the son of B

How is X related to Z from the given equation?

X % Y % Z



From the equation, it is clear that X % Y means X is the son of Y. Also, Y is the son of Z. Thus, X has to be the grandson of Z. Therefore, X is the grandson of Z.


These questions are easily solvable but require proper practice to be able to solve them faster and accurately. So, it is always suggested to solve different variations of CAT symbol operation based questions and understand the meaning of the equations properly before attempting.


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