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Getting into an IIM just got tougher. Here's why

August 07, 2014 12:15 IST

Getting into an IIM just got tougher. Find out why!

M Saraswathy

The new pattern of the Common Admission Test might have lowered the difficulty level of the exam, but  then you'll have to compete with higher cut offs in the leading schools.

The Common Admission Test (CAT) 2014 examination -- for admission to business schools -- will see a revised pattern.

CAT 2013
Time: 140 minutes
Number of questions: 30 each in 4 sections

CAT 2014 (Major changes)
Time: 170 minutes
Number of questions: 50 each in 4 sections

What's New

Flexibility for devoting more or less time and to switch between sections.

With the increase in the number of questions and lesser time available per question, coaching institutes and management school experts said questions might not be as difficult as in previous years.

This could lead to a tougher percentile cut-off for the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other management schools.

There have been major changes for CAT 2014, which, their press statement said, is an improvement from the past five years.

The CAT 2014 will be conducted over two days, consisting of four sessions, and exams will be held on November 16 and November 22.

Kirti Sharma, assistant professor, MDI (Management Development Institute) Gurgaon, said access flexibility had been increased.

She said since there is less time available per question, the level of difficulty of questions would be toned down.

"If this happens, the cut-offs are likely to go up for admission to business schools," she said.

The duration of the examination has been increased to 170 minutes from 140 minutes.

Further, questions in each section -- quantitative ability and data interpretation, verbal ability & logical reasoning -- have been increased to 50 from the existing 30.

A senior professor from a south-based IIM explained that to facilitate the changes, there could be some tweaking in the test's difficulty level.

However, he added this would be coupled by a higher cut-off, especially for the older IIMs.

However, candidates have the flexibility for devoting more or less time to each section according to their ability, and they can switch from one section to another for the duration of the examination.

Sharma explained that because of this, there could be students over-performing in one section and under-performing in another.

According to Ramnath Kanakadandi, course director at coaching institute Triumphant Institute of Management Education, Hyderabad, there will be more emphasis on time management since the sectional time limit is not there any more, and there is flexibility to switch between sections.

"At TIME, we have multiple practice tests and will teach students to better manage their time," he said.

Shobhit Bhatnagar, founder of, a mobile learning platform, said since the duration of the CAT exam has become longer by 30 minutes, this is a substantial amount of time, as most of the candidates are not used to taking tests for three hours at a stretch.

"The time available per question has gone down, from two minutes and 20 seconds to one minute and 42 seconds. What this means is that speed is now very important. The strategy of attempting questions and understanding what is the right time to leave a question, among others, will play a key role," he said.

From this year, CAT will have a new interface and the exam will be administered by Tata Consultancy Services for the next five years.

In 2013, nearly 1.73 lakh candidates appeared for the CAT.

In the results declared in January 2013, CAT saw eight male engineering graduates scoring a 100 percentile.

CAT 2012 had 10 candidates scoring 100 percentile.

Image: The difficulty level of CAT 2014 will be lesser than last year. But will that affect the cut-offs?
Photographs: Rediff Archives