Pointers on how to ace CAT 2011
Parasharan Chari, Chief Operating Officer of Ahmedabad-based test-preparation institute Endeavor Careers, analyses the first-day-first-slot of CAT 2011 and identifies pointers that test-takers in the later slots could use.
First day, first slot' -- an expression that sounds quite filmi, but then the Common Admissions Test (CAT) has never had a build-up lesser than a cinematic blockbuster, so this expression fits well.
I feel like starting on a good note because nothing went notably wrong, if you will. And rather than giving a bland descriptive note, I feel like presenting a direct comparison between last year's CAT and this year's CAT. So here goes.
First things first, I shall talk about the testing environment. There was certainly some apprehension about the reduction in the number of test centers this year and whether it implied cost-cutting (and hence a quality drop) behind the scenes, but then, the arrangements were upto the mark at my test center. The center was far more organised and the staff strength easily outnumbered that of CAT 2010.
The computers, the cabin, the pencils, the eraser, the testing platform, the 15 min demo, the instructions -- verbal, written and electronic -- were the same (on a lighter note, the same talkative officials were around at the center as last year and their mobile phones continued to NOT be on silent mode!). All in all, a near-perfect performance as that of last year on Prometric's part and so far so good!
The test was pretty much the same as that in the the demo put up on www.catiim.in. It started with Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation section followed by Verbal plus Analytical and Logical Reasoning.
The Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation section was just as we had expected with two-thirds of the section comprising QA questions. It was a well-balanced paper emphasising all the topics starting from arithmetic to algebra to modern mathematics to geometry to questions based on application of logic. There was a good mix of sitters, conceptual questions and application-based tough-nuts to crack. The DI section was calculative and a considerable amount was based on application of percentages and ratios. Caselets in DI however made their re-appearance in CAT 2011 after being mysteriously absconding for a few years. It would have been easy for a well-prepared test taker to attempt 60% of the questions but an IIM aspirant would have to attempt close to 80% of the questions with good accuracy.
The Verbal Ability and Analytical/Logical Reasoning had a nearly similar breakup — Verbal Ability spanning two-thirds of the section and the remaining was AR-LR. Verbal Ability was also well balanced with reasonable justice done to all its subsections like reading comprehension, verbal logic and vocabulary based fill-in-the-blanks. The RCs and passage completion required a complete understanding of the content in question and was inference based rather than information based in nature. The AR-LR section was based on arrangement and puzzles. This wasn't the trickiest part of the paper and demanded simple application of logic and patience and was less time-consuming compared to the rest of the paper.
The overall paper was an attempt to inch closer to the international standards in my opinion. This paper – by format as well as difficulty level – would be considered far more standard and replicable. It will reduce the luck factor if not eliminate it. There was a marked difference in the difficulty level of the paper this year as compared to last year, and it was evident that the challenge of 70-70 minutes to a section was bigger and better than the last year's anything-goes format. The difference came in the form of the compelling situation where the aspirant had to focus on one section at a time. Both sections had sufficient content to stimulate intellect and common sense. Finally, here was a test that will be appreciated by MBA aspirants who have burnt their share of midnight oil to get their preparation right.
Keeping the confidentiality norms of CAT in mind, this is the maximum we can share. However, the overall feeling about the paper is good and there are no shock elements. If you are prepared well, you will surely end up belling this CAT.
The author Parasharan Chari is an alumnus of SP Jain and is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Ahmedabad-based Endeavor Careers and is also associated with the design and development of its online testing portal www.CatGurus.com.
Photographs: Rediff Archives