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CAT 2011: 'IIMs and Prometric have done a terrific job'

Last updated on: October 24, 2011 11:18 IST

CAT 2011 Exclusive: 'IIMs and Prometric have done a terrific job'

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We asked experts who gave the CAT 2011 exam on the first day to give us a detailed analysis of the new pattern. Here, expert Naveenan Ramachandran of 2IIM shares his views about the exam.

Students who are not strong in Mathematics need not worry any more about the Quant section as the new pattern has been ruled in favour of the larger good of students, reveals expert Naveenan Ramachandran, a faculty at 2IIM that trains students for CAT and other b-school examinations in the country. He attempted the Common Admission Test on October 22, 2011 and here's an exclusive analysis about this year's paper. Read on.

What's new?

The new feature about this year's CAT exam was that there were two sections of 30 questions each. Each section lasted 70 minutes. This also means that the time saved in one section cannot be carried forward to the next section, unlike it was the case last year.

Also, there is no break between the two sections, which means students will have to sit through 140 minutes with no interval.

However this year, students have been given the advantage to navigate between questions within a section in any particular order -- you can change answers, re-read questions etc. But, once you move to section 2, there is no going back to section 1.

Overall, the Indian Institutes of Management have done their part in giving equal importance to Mathematics and Verbal ability by giving exclusive 70 minutes to each section. Also, students who are not-so-strong-in-mathematics can no longer claim that the examination favours those strong in maths (in fact, we believe that this widely believed notion is a myth).

Also Read: CAT 2011 unplugged: No surprises in the exam

The author is an alumnus of IIM-Ahmedabad and is currently running 2IIM in Mumbai. He has attempted the CAT in 2001, 2005, 2009 (computerised), 2010 and more recently, 2011 and consistently scores 99 percentile.

Reader invite:

So, how was your first day of CAT? Were you nervous? Did you reach on time? Did you face any problems at the test centre? Did you manage to crack all the questions? Share your CAT experience with us. Write in to getahead@rediff.co.in with the subject line 'My CAT experience' along with your picture. We will publish the best entries in rediff.com. Keep watching this space for updates.

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Section-wise analysis

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Section 1: Quantitative Analysis-Data Interpretation section

According to the new format, whether or not a student is strong in mathematics, s/he has 70 exclusive minutes to solve 30 questions.

This section includes Quantitative Analysis and Data Interpretation problems. So, you get approximately two minutes each to solve one question.

Until last year, students had to choose between Mathematics and Verbal section and decide which section to solve first so as to optimise their scores in the area they are respectively strong enough. This time around, the student has to compulsorily spend the first 70 minutes with the 30 math questions.

We expect this to result in high scores in mathematics considering that students will be able to dedicate 70 minutes exclusively to solving this section without worrying about the next section. We also believe that with this new change, one can expect an increase in the number of 100 percentilers in this section this year.

Here, the takeaway for the not-so-strong-in-math candidates is that they can expect to solve more questions under this section owing to better concentration. Meanwhile, the topics and areas of testing have not changed much at all -- there's no surprise in the nature of questions.

As is always the case, there were quite a few sitters, which were interspersed amongst the questions waiting for the sharp eye to pick them up. Accuracy is the key here and it just got ever more important this year as well.

As for the strong-in-math contenders, I would suggest, please do not get carried away that the 70 minutes is a "LOT" of time for the pool of 30 questions. It may not be right to assume that there would be enough time for you to revise all the 30 answers before you move to the next section.

Data Interpretation comprised approximately about 1/3rd of these 30 questions. These questions were also a mix of tough and easy ones.

Section 2: Verbal section

There were some concerns whether critical reasoning questions will be a part of this section (the ones which ask the student to strengthen the argument, weaken the argument, identify the assumption etc.). The good news here is that there were no such questions. So, one can breathe easy there.

The Reading Comprehension passages were pretty vague and were derived a lot from unconventional subject areas -- no surprises here. All the questions required a complete understanding of the passage. There were hardly any questions, which could be answered by merely scanning the passage.

One has to be aware that by the time one reaches the first question in English, it has already been more than 2 hours since the process had started (1 hour of waiting time + 70 minutes of mathematics).

The level of mental alertness required at this stage is enormous and this can be reached only by conditioning the brain several times over. The numerous mock exams that you would have taken come into play now only. Stay focused -- this section is very important!



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About the computerised CAT 2011

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The infrastructure

Prometric seems to be getting better and better in their task with every passing year. Besides the paper-based CATs, I have also been writing the examination ever since it started in the computerised format.

The authentication, inspection and pre-examination activities were pretty smooth. There were cases of occasional logon issues, but they were handled effectively by the supporting staff members at the centre and the affected students were allocated alternate booths with minimum hindrance to their test. I do not think that the affected students lost any time at all in the real test.

Considering the fact that 2 lakh plus students attend this test over the 20 day period, we believe the IIMs and Prometric have done a terrific job in conducting CAT 2011.

We need to remember that conducting an entrance test is not one of the activities of a b-school anywhere else in the world!

Reader invite:

So, how was your first day of CAT? Were you nervous? Did you reach on time? Did you face any problems at the test centre? Did you manage to crack all the questions? Share your CAT experience with us. Write in to getahead@rediff.co.in with the subject line 'My CAT experience' along with your picture. We will publish the best entries in rediff.com. Keep watching this space for updates.



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