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'CAT 2004 could be a four-section paper'

November 20, 2004

Manish Salian, Regional Head (Academics), Western Zone, Career Launcher, has an important message for all CAT aspirants: "Believe you can crack CAT!"

With the Common Admission Test on November 21, Get Ahead readers shared their fears about their exam in a chat with Manish.

Manish, who holds a BE (Production) and an MBA, has tutored over 10,000 students, in his career with Career Launcher for the last five years. He answered their questions.

This is the transcript of the chat:


Analyse your CAT paper with Brijesh Singh, Project Head, Prowess, Top Careers and Youon Monday, November 22.

MANISH SALIAN:Hi! I am Manish from Career Launcher and I am ready to answer your questions.

bharadwaj:What is the one important tip you would give before D-day?

MANISH SALIAN:Believe you can crack CAT. This means you shouldn't get anxious and worry during the exam. This helps in maintaining your calm.

Kailash:What is an ideal score in the QA and Logic sections, considering one is strong in English?

MANISH SALIAN:If one is strong in English, then the minimum percentile in QA and DI is sufficient. Hence, you should look at atleast a 13 and 18 net score in QA and DI respectively.

ioii:What should I eat for breakfast on November 21?

MANISH SALIAN:You should have something high in glucose, but not something very heavy. Go easy on liquids. I think bananas and almonds are a good idea.

siva:Hi Manish, I have question. Should someone taking CAT perform equally well in all the sections or will preparing well in any two sections and getting a good score in those two sections be enough to get admission into the IIMs or top B-Schools?

MANISH SALIAN:Hi Siva, you have to clear all cut-offs. You cannot expect to get a call on a very low percentile in one section even if you have scored 100 percent in the other two. So please do not focus on two sections only, clear cut-offs in all sections.

sainath:Manish and all those here... What is the likely cut-off for Quants if the paper is easy or, alternately, tough?

MANISH SALIAN:If the paper is very easy, you can have a score of 50 as the cut-off. If it is very tough, you can have a score of five as the cut-off. My advice to you is: do not worry about cut-offs now. Try to do your best during the paper without over-analysing its difficulty level. During your Mock CATs, you would have found out the ideal time break-up for yourself. Stick to it.

mukesh:Sir, is there a minimum percentage qualification required for taking the CAT exam?

MANISH SALIAN:No, there is no minimum percentage qualification required for taking CAT.

anurag:I believe I can crack CAT without ANY preparation. I have already cracked several engineering exams without preparation. Can this confidence work?

MANISH SALIAN:This confidence may work if you are a good reader. The difference between other engineering exam and CAT is that CAT requires extensive reading practice among other things.

srinath:Manish, I'm doing FE Electronics. What's the best time to start preparing for CAT?

MANISH SALIAN:The best time to start preparing for CAT is one year before, which is now.

Ajit:Please tell me what the cut-offs were last year.

MANISH SALIAN:The cut-offs for last year varied between 58 to 65, depending on the particular IIM and the student's background.

rahulk:My score in English is normally 16 to 18. How should I go about doing the paper?

MANISH SALIAN:I think you should consider doing all the questions in English Usage which involve high accuracy like jumbled paras, FIBs, etc. Then take a little time to pick up passages with direct questions and do those. Remember, if you have a low score then it is very important to be accurate.

Appo:Hi Manish. One more advice from you. What's the general cut-off for English? Does the cut-off in a section vary from person to person depending on his/her profile. I mean, is the Math cut-off higher for an Engineering student? Or the English cut-off higher for an Arts student? Is there anything like that?

MANISH SALIAN:Hi Appo. The way CAT excludes the percentiles is still a black box. Nobody's sure about which individual IIM has what cut-off. So please do not over-analyse. Instead, give this exam your best shot.

abhinav:Hi Manish. What is the ideal time I should spend, section-wise, while taking CAT?

MANISH SALIAN:Hi Abhinav. The time break-up depends on your strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, if cut-off clearing is not an issue, then you should spend around 30 minutes per section. The last half an hour should be devoted across sections to get the maxim score. But this is rarely the case, so you should give a little extra time to your weaker section to ensure you clear the cut-off.

Rao:Hi. Is CAT really tough? Does fortune play a part in getting you through?

MANISH SALIAN:It is tough, but consistent work can make you crack it. Fortune does not play a role.

jayant:Is sectional cut-off a myth or a reality?

MANISH SALIAN:It is a reality. People with higher overall percentiles have not got calls because of lower sectional scores.

balakr:Hi Manish. What's the best way to choose questions in the Quant section? Tackling smaller questions first doesn't always seem to work... sometimes, the four liners are very simple.

MANISH SALIAN:The best way to do the section is to choose not by looking but by reading. You must read all the questions and then leave out tough ones. Long questions should be read slightly slowly and not like an RC. While reading, if you cannot understand the question, immediately move to the next one.

Siddesh:What should my order of sectional attempts be?

MANISH SALIAN:One of the best ways of attempting sections is to put English in the middle. This ensures a good break between two Quant-heavy sections. Of course, if something is working for you, do not change it at the last minute.

prabhu:Does the cut-off vary for experienced guys and freshers?

MANISH SALIAN:No, it doesn't. It all depends on how you have fared. Whether you have work experience or not will come into play only in round two, unless you have applied for S P Jain.

ashish_c_b:Sir, what is the chance that this year's paper will be a four-section paper?

MANISH SALIAN:There is a good chance that it could be a four-section paper. CAT has not changed colours since 1999. It is time for a change. Be prepared for the worst!

kums:Hi Manish. Is there a cut-off for each section in the CAT exam?

MANISH SALIAN:Yes indeed. The cut-off for Quant is 13-15, for DI is 22-25 and for Verbal is 28-30.

alfaizal:Are cut-offs necessary for non-IIM top institutes?

MANISH SALIAN:Sectional cut-offs are required for MDI, SP Jain, NITIE and MICA.

Vimal:I am well prepared for the CAT exam and I feel I will make it to one of the IIMs. My only concern is GD/PI. I have sufficient work experience in a MNC. Will that work to my benefit?

MANISH SALIAN:Yes indeed. Though fixed marks are not attached to work experience, candidates with work experience do come across as much more mature than freshers. This may make the difference.

alfaizal:Are cut-offs applicable for IMT and TAPMI?

MANISH SALIAN:Sectional cut-offs are not required for IMT and TAPMI. The overall cut-off for TAPMI is 90. For IMT, it is 85.

champ:Hi Manish. How good is the FPM course at the IIMs? Do you think the course has value? Does one need to appear for CAT to qualify for the same?

MANISH SALIAN:I don't think the course has much value unless, of course, you intend to teach at the IIMs!

nilikh:Hi... How can one clear the sectional cut-offs and score a good overall percentile if one is strong in English but not so strong in Quants?

MANISH SALIAN:Select 15-18 questions in the Quant section in the initial five minutes. Crack only these questions in the last five minutes.

siddhartha:Manish, what is the worst one can expect (regarding the pattern) this year?

MANISH SALIAN:No section! CAT in Hindi!!

arbansal:Hi Manish. If the standard of CAT remains at the 2003 level, what do you expect the Quant cut-off to be?

MANISH SALIAN:Quant is expected to slightly difficult this year and hence the cut-off should be around 13-15.

cowboyrockstar:Manish, how does this sound? I'm weak at Quant so I'll do it first. Then I'll do English, to hit high scores. Finally, I'll wrap up with DI.

MANISH SALIAN:Do not start with your weak area. One wouldn't open batting with Harbhajan, right?

Rink:Hi, should we prepare for the GK section?

MANISH SALIAN:No need until CAT is over.

nilikh:What is the main difference in the question pattern between CAT and XAT?

MANISH SALIAN:XAT is the only test where Qaunt is more difficult than CAT (last year was the exception). Also XAT has a Business Awareness section.

kiranrao:Is the CAT score given any weightage after GD and PI?

MANISH SALIAN:Yes, definitely! CAT scores have a good weightage.

warikoos:Is the interview selection only on CAT or are other parameters also taken into consideration 'eliminate' candidates?

MANISH SALIAN:The shortlisting is definitely based on CAT scores as they do not have any other data about you.

sleeeeepy:Is it enough if you just clear the sectional cut-offs in CAT?

MANISH SALIAN:It is better to clear all three cut-offs first and then maximise the overall cut-off if you are serious of getting into the IIM's.

saket:What is the cut-off for English?


MANISH SALIAN:Hi everyone. I am signing off. I had a great time with all of you. All the best.

CAT on!

Analyse your CAT paper with Brijesh Singh, Project Head, Prowess, Top Careers and Youon Monday, November 22.

To succeed at CAT: Keep cool
'CAT's difficulty level does not matter'
'Be ready to improvise'
'Take CAT like a winner!'

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Number of User Comments: 14

Sub: regarding cat

Sir i m beginer for the preparation of cat exam.i have already completed my MCA last year and i m working in a organisation for ...

Posted by vishal kumar

Sub: hi..i would like to know about CAT preparation

hello sir, i'm preparin for CAT,but i'm very week in maths part,can you plz suggest me how to improve for math at this part of ...

Posted by var

Sub: important

Sir,i wud like to know if i cud take the exam in the 2nd year of UG i wud like to take the CAT as ...

Posted by Muzammil

Sub: want to know...

Hi Manish, I h'v decided to go for MBA therefore i want to know the followings from you : 1.what are different sections in CAT? ...

Posted by Abhisek

Sub: Suggestions please

Sir, I am studying III B.Tech with CSIT as my option.When shall I start preparing for the exam? Where can I get study material? Is ...

Posted by Sushma


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