CAT & MBA Books - Revised format of CAT and what to expect in CAT 2012
CAT 2011 saw certain changes in the test format as compared to CAT 2010. The first major change was that there were only two sections, instead of three, though the total number of questions will remain the same. The two sections are now:
- Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation
- Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning
Secondly, sectional time limits have been introduced-70 minutes for the 30 questions in each section. You cannot move/ navigate between the sections during the test.
Preparation Strategy for CAT 2012:
- There is nothing much for the candidate to fret about: neither the exam interface nor the nature of questions appear to have changed much, judging by the demo test on the CATIIM website. In fact, I suggest that you carefully go through the demo test at http://www.catiim.in before CAT 2012 so as to be absolutely familiar with the test pattern, read the practical guide and go through the tutorial.
- Hence, the exam questions will continue to test the application of fundamentals of the subject. You will continue to need to perform a few mental calculations, especially for the Data Interpretation section, and use some of the answer choices for the Quant questions.
- For the Verbal Ability section, comprehension of the author's key messages and his tone will continue to be important.
- But in terms of your overall strategy while attempting the test, you will have to adapt a little. Candidates who used to allocate extra time to the sections where they felt they could score well, can no longer do so. The IIMs have indicated that you will need to be adequately strong in both the sections.
- The change also takes away the decision making aspect with respect to time allocation since candidates now know they have exactly 70 minutes for each section. You cannot leave certain questions for 'later'-to come back to once you finish the entire test though you can do this within the sectional time limit.
- With the sectional time limits coming into play, remember to be extremely conscious of time-there will be countdown timer on your computer screen during the test. Try and avoid missing out on the 'sitters' (easy, straightforward questions) that may be present in each of the two sections because your time has run out! Hence, I suggest that you quickly scan through the types of questions in the test before commencing it-this can be done by clicking on some questions to check aspects such as the number of Reading Comprehension passages etc that the test gives you.
- You also need to amend your strategy with respect to clearing the sectional cut-offs: in fact, one positive aspect of the change in pattern is that it could possibly benefit those who were struggling to clear a particular sectional cut-offs even though they did well on an overall basis. For example, some students fail to clear the sectional cut-off in Data Interpretation (or in Quant), although they score well in the paper as a whole. Hypothetically, there could be a situation where you score 99.3 percentile overall, but fail to clear the sectional cut-off of 93.4 percentile (as an example).
- Now, since the number of sections has been reduced, life may be easier. You have to clear only two sectional cut-offs instead of the three earlier. Even if you are weak in say, Quant, you can make up by doing well in DI and thus clearing the sectional cut-off for the combined Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation section. Another point in your favour with respect to the sectional cut-offs is that the candidate shall have more choice-he can now choose his questions among the given 30 per section (not 20).Hence, scanning through the test questions remains important.
- More information about the nature of questions and your preparation strategy can be found in my book, 'An Introduction to the CAT: Tips From An IIM Alumnus' which can be purchased from: http://pearson.vrvbookshop.com/book/an-introduction-cat-sidharth-balakrishna/9788131763599
Author - Sidharth Balakrishna
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of VRVBookshop.