|Cracking the CAT demands clear focus, regular practice and good understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
TAKE NO CHANCES: Having a strategy in place holds the key to cracking the CAT.
The notification for CAT (Common Admission Test)-2009 is likely to be released this month and the aspirants for the seven IIMs and 40 other top management schools, which follow the CAT format, will have about four months before the examination.
CAT, which is regarded as the mother of all management entrance tests, is considered to be the most difficult management entrance test in the world. But why is it considered to be the most difficult examination, when most of the questions asked in CAT in the last 10 years are of 10th standard level?
“CAT is not about rocket science. It tends to be difficult because of three main factors: The competition is intense (it is expected that over three lakh students will be competing for the 2,000 plus IIM seats in the CAT-2009), uncertainty over the question pattern is another factor and time management is the third factor that makes CAT the most difficult one,” says Director of TIME J.V. Murty.
He also adds that it is not a test of one’s intelligence or memory, “Anybody can crack CAT with clear focus, regular practice and good understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses. The format also does not call for remembrance of thousands of formulae,” he says.
How to crack CAT?
The format has three sections: Quantitative aptitude (consisting of mathematics and data sufficiency), English (verbal ability, English usage and reading comprehension) and data interpretation and logical ability.
The number of questions per section could vary and this has been one of the surprise elements in the CAT format.
In CAT-2008 the quantitative aptitude and the data interpretation section had 25 questions each and the English section had 40. Whereas, in CAT-2007, the questions were evenly spread across the sections with 25 questions per section.
The paper is set for 360 marks and it has to be answered in two-and-ahalf hours.
Apart from securing the minimum overall score for receiving a call from any of the IIMs, one has to clear the cut-off marks in each of the section.
Do’s to crack it
Strong Fundamentals: The idea is simple- extensive reading is required for thorough knowledge of all topics, good reading speed, quick mental calculations and familiarity with all types of questions.
Practice is the key: Reading should be undertaken chapter wise and it has to be supplemented with regular mock tests and practice tests.
Be cool and confident: Lookout for questions in your strength areas and manage your time. Scan all questions. Do not worry about what you do not know and what will be the cut-offs.
Smart strategy: The effective strategy would be to plan your test and test your plan before implementation. It is also advisable to work with a mentor.
Computer based test
The biggest surprise for CAT-2009 aspirants would be the new format of CBT. From this year, CAT would no longer be a written test and it would be a computer based test.
Mr. Murty says that the CBT format is not an online test, it is only a computer based test and it does not prescribe for any change in the preparation methodology. There is no offline version of the test and it can be taken only at the designated 25 centres spread across the nation. The test will be conducted during a window period of 10 days starting in the last week of November.
The final dates will be notified through an advertisement.
According to an earlier IIM release, the centres will be under both electronic surveillance and manual invigilation. IIM has also mentioned about bio-metric means of identifying a candidate like finger prints or iris scan, the details of which are awaited.
Each candidate will be provided with a writing pad with numbered pages for calculations and rough work. The writing pad with all pages intact must be left at the desk, after the test. Rough work cannot be done on any other paper or sheet.
Since, the CBT- CAT will be conducted during a ten-day period; the most likely scenario is that students in each slot will get a different paper, which means more number of CAT papers.
The format of the test will remain more or less the same as that of the earlier paper and pencil tests.
,b>Click for answers
The only difference is that the candidate would read the question(s) on the computer terminal and would click on the answer on the screen instead of darkening the ovals on an OMR sheet.
The IIMs are expected to standardise the tests to ensure that all the tests are of the same difficulty level. In addition to this they might also normalise scores to iron out any differences in the difficulty level.
So there will be no difference between one test and another.