New Delhi: With the
CAT exams undergoing a format change this year, MBA aspirants are
anxious, to say the least. But experts say starting out with the
right section and scanning the questions before attempting the
paper could help you crack it.
The Common Admission Test (CAT) -- the gateway to pursuing MBA
from the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) among other
prestigious institutions - will be held from Oct 22 to Nov 18 this
Nearly 205,000 students have registered this time against the
3,000 IIM seats. This marginally exceeds last year's registrations
In the new exam pattern, the CAT paper will have only two sections
instead of three. Till last year, the paper was divided into
Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability, and Data Interpretation and
From this year, the first section will focus on Quantitative
Ability and Data Interpretation and the second on Verbal Ability
and Logical Reasoning.
These two sections will now have to be tackled sequentially with
separate time limits unlike earlier when students could divide
their time between the sections as per their priority.
"There are different sections; one student may be strong in
Quantitative Ability and weak in Verbal Ability. Till last time,
he had the liberty to decide which section he wanted to spend more
time on," says Ulhas Vairagkar, director of T.I.M.E. Institute,
The total time for the exam has been increased from 135 minutes to
140 minutes, and 70 minutes each have been fixed for the two
"Now you have to be good at both the sections. Even if you are
good at one section and complete it before time, you cannot carry
it forward. That is one thing which can have an impact on a
student's performance," Vairagkar told IANS.
According to Vairagkar, time management will be the most important
factor for students this time.
"Among the two sections, you should start with the section you are
strong in. Then, it is very important to read all the questions
before you start solving because there can be easier questions in
the latter part of the paper," he added.
According to him, a student should allot about 2.3 minutes to each
question, "and in no case should they put more than 2.5 minutes in
One of the most difficult competitive exams in India, scores of
professionals also appear for CAT every year in pursuit of a
better career, besides graduates.
Rekha Tripathi, 25, is one of them.
She left a lucrative engineering job to appear for the exam. She
feels she has taken a risk but is hopeful.
"There is a new format which makes the exam this year critical. I
can only keep my fingers crossed," she says.
H.P.S. Sethi, director of RKS Learning, which runs an online CAT
trial test website, testbag.com, says a week before the exam,
practice is the most important thing.
"At this time, nothing new can be learnt. If students just
practise, it can bring five to seven percent improvement even in
the last week," he said.
"Practise fewer papers, but the mistakes should be rectified.
There are several websites which offer free sample papers. It is
best to practise online since the papers will be online," he says.
Giving his golden tips, Vairagkar says the most important part is
not to go with any fixed target in terms of solving questions.
"If a student fixes a target of 22 questions and is able to
attempt only 16, he must not think that the paper has gone badly.
"It can be because the paper was difficult and attempting more
questions, when you are not sure, only increases the risk of being
wrong," he adds.
Parasharan Chari, academic head at Endeavour Tutorials in
Ahmedabad, told IANS on phone, "Some are strong at mathematical
questions, some may be strong in the verbal. Earlier students
could divide their time according to their strength. They could
save time in quantitative questions and apply it to the verbal
section or vice-versa, which is not possible this time."
"But the good thing is students are relieved of time management
stress as the time is already divided," he said. "All other things
are the same, the syllabus has not changed. Earlier, there were
three sections with 20 questions each, now there are two with 30
questions each," he said.
This year, the maximum number of candidates scheduled to take the
exam are from New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune.
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