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What's new in CAT 2014?

Last updated on: August 13, 2014 21:00 IST

What's new in CAT 2014?

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Courtesy IMS Learning

The CAT 2014 notification released July 27 revealed a sea change in the test registration process, test centres, test window and result date.

Here's what the official press statement revealed...

Ever since the notification for the Common Admission Test 2014 was out, we have received a slew of queries from prospective test-takers to know more about the changes.

Read on to know what the changes and their probable implications are.

1. Test window down to 2 days from 21 days

The CAT authorities have tried reducing uncertainties by cutting down the test window from 21 days to just 2 days.

The test will be held on November 16 and November 22, 2014.

There will be two sessions on each of the two days -- morning and afternoon.

This is a welcome move because...

a. The change in the test dates will bring down the number of test slots to just 4. This will ensure more parity and fairness in the test and will make it more of a level playing field.

b. Questions like 'Should I take the test early or late during the window?', 'Do percentiles vary based on the slot in which I take the test?' are now irrelevant.

c. There will be lesser hearsay about test content, nature and difficulty on social networking websites --  thus avoiding the anxiety of already anxious test-takers.

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Image: CAT 2014 aims to make the test taking process easier for candidates.
Photographs: Jo Yong Hak/Reuters
Tags: CAT

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2. Test in November instead of October

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The CAT 2008 was conducted on November 16 and this year we are back to November 16 as the first of the two test dates.

Over the last five years, the long test window necessitated the early start in October.

But this year, we are back to having the test in November.

The pros

This gives one additional month to all the CAT aspirants towards preparation.

The cons

On the flip-side, students who were planning to take the test early so that they could then concentrate on other entrance tests or college exams will now have less time to adapt to these tests.

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Image: The delay in the examination will benefit students and allow them more time to prepare.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Tags: CAT

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3. Tests will be conducted in 99 cities instead of 45

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The CAT 2014 is going to be held in 99 cities at 354 testing sites as against the previous year's 45 testing cities with 76 testing sites.

The pros

This will be highly beneficial to students residing in the test cities added this year and will probably be instrumental in pushing up the number of CAT registrations.

The cons

The anxiety of travelling to a new city, finding the test venue and ensuring that all goes well on the test day is now reduced for a lot of candidates who will now get to take the test in their home-cities.

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Image: The number of test centres have increased.
Photographs: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com
Tags: CAT

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4. Application process goes fully online

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Until last year applicants had the choice to purchase the CAT vouchers offline at Axis Bank branches and then complete the registration process online.

This year, all CAT aspirants need to compulsorily use the online payment option (through Net banking/Credit Card/Debit Card) to complete their registration.

The pros

This means you no longer have to stand in long queues or find time to visit the bank to purchase a voucher.

The entire registration process can be completed from the comfort of your home or office.

The cons

You need a stable and secure internet connection at home to be able to register online.

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Image: You can register online from the comfort of your home.
Photographs: Kshitij Anand/Reuters

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5. You can no longer select preferred date or time slot

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CAT 2014 aspirants can only submit three test cities in the order of their preference.

However, the aspirant will not get to choose a preferred date or time-slot.

The test agency will randomly allot one of the preferred cities along with testing centre and time-slot to the aspirant after the registration period is over i.e. September 30, 2014. 

The pros

The advantage here is that test takers will not be required to rush their registration and reserve a date and time slot, as that option is done away with this new system.

Since the exam is no longer flexible, as a test taker, you need to ensure that you are free on both the days and during both slots.

As the allotment is now as per a random algorithm, the test venue and the time-slot allotted might prove to be inconvenient for few aspirants who are appearing for more than one exam this year -- thereby creating unnecessary hassles on the D-day.

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Image: You will not have the freedom to schedule your test.
Photographs: Carlos Barria/Reuters
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6. More questions, more time to solve

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As per an official press release, the number of questions in CAT 2014 have been increased from 60 to 100 with 50 questions each in the two sections -- Quant and Data Interpretation and Verbal and Logical Reasoning.

Further, the test duration has been increased from 140 minutes to 170 minutes.

The time available per question might have reduced from 140 seconds per question to 102 seconds per question but this could make the test easier for the student.

The pros

The aspirant can now expect more 'doable' questions in the test than were available in the 60 question format.

The cons

However, a lengthier paper also means more time with the test.

Some students might find more questions a tedious affair.

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Image: You can expect easier questions in the test this year.
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters

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7. No more section time-limits

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One of the main grouses of most CAT aspirants was the presence of sectional time-limits in the CAT.

This meant that the students could not play to their strengths or rationalise the usage of the total test-time available to them.

CAT 2014 is set to change all that with the removal of sectional time-limits.

A test-taker can now navigate between two test sections and solve questions in any order.

The pros

This feature brings back the advantage from the pen and paper format.

Test-takers can now spend more time or less on a particular section or area based on their strengths and weaknesses.

The cons

The flexibility to move between sections can prove to be a double-edged sword!

Frequent moving across sections, areas or questions with no real strategy in mind can lead to loss of momentum and prove to be detrimental to the overall test performance. 


Image: The new format will allow you to switch between sections.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: CAT

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8. Early results

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The CAT results have been traditionally announced in January.

This year the results will be available in the third week of December 2014.

The pros

Early results can be a boon for aspirants who will now have ample time to apply to b-schools other than the IIMs and also consider alternate options based on their performance in CAT.

Those who make it to the list and get a call from the IIMs may also get extra time to prepare for the Group Discussion, Written Ability Test  and Personal Interview rounds, which may be conducted in the month of February.

The cons

Lower test scores might hamper the morale of candidates who will be appearing for tests like the NMAT and XAT, which will be conducted after the results of CAT are announced.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

 


Image: Based on your performance in the CAT, whether or not you wish to apply to schools other than the IIMs.


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