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CAT exam: Why should MBA aspirants appear for it?

Apr 24, 2019 10:08 IST
cat exam 2019

Common Admission Test (CAT) is a national level MBA entrance exam which is considered as the mother of all other MBA entrance exams in India. The test is conducted once every year to shortlist candidates for admission to top 20 Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) in the country. Every year lakhs of aspirants appear for the CAT Exam, however, it is equally important to know that why this exam is important for any candidate willing to mark his/her career in the domain of management.

One reason is the participation of all the top institutes of the country such as IIMs, FMS Delhi, MDI Gurgaon, IITs, IMT, IMI among others accept CAT score to grant admission to the MBA aspirants. Candidates without CAT score cannot seek admission to the top institutes of the country especially the IIMs.

However, the CAT exam has undergone tremendous changes since it was introduced in the year 1950. Before 2009, CAT MBA entrance exam was a pen and paper based test which was conducted in single day session for all the candidates across India. But from 2009 onwards, CAT became a Computer Based Test which was conducted for the first time by IIM Ahmedabad. Since then, CAT exam is conducted by different IIMs on rolling basis.

The current article attempts to reveal how CAT exam has evolved over the years and what changes have been introduced in the MBA entrance exam. Let’s take a look at various aspects of CAT exam that have been modified or tweaked for enhancing the experience of CAT exam for the candidates: 

CAT exam goes online

When the CAT exam went online for the test-takers, American firm Prometric was entrusted with the responsibility of conducting CAT exam from the year 2009 to 2013. However, there were technical snags and glitches that often hampered the practise of conducting the online test. To conduct the exam smoothly, CAT convenors decided to give this responsibility to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Since 2014 onward, CAT is organised online by TCS.

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6 IIMs have conducted 10 CAT exams till date

From 2009, when the CAT Exam was held in the computer based format, a ritual of conducting the exam began wherein each year one of the 20 participating IIMs gets the responsibility of managing the entire course of conducting the exam. Starting from IIM Ahmedabad, each IIM mentioned in the list below has been entrusted with the responsibility to conduct CAT MBA Entrance exam in the entire nation successfully. In 2018, IIM Calcutta is the official convener of the CAT 2018 exam.

CAT exam year

CAT Convener

2009

IIM Ahmedabad

2010

IIM Lucknow

2011

IIM Calcutta

2012

IIM Kozhikode

2013

IIM Indore

2014

IIM Indore

2015

IIM Ahmedabad

2016

IIM Bangalore

2017

IIM Lucknow

2018

IIM Calcutta

Changes in CAT exam pattern since 2009

The exam pattern, which holds strategic importance for the candidates has also, underwent sea-change since 2009. From time duration of the exam, to number and type of questions, sections and testing days, all the aspects have been modified to ensure a smooth exam process.

Time Duration tweaked

Earlier the CAT exam was conducted for 140 minutes. In the year 2014, this time limit was increased to 170 minutes. However, as per the current pattern, aspirants are allotted time span of 180 minutes to solve the questions.

Number of questions reduced

As per the previous pattern which was introduced in the year 2013, CAT exam comprised of 60 questions. Later, in the year 2014, CAT exam carried 100 questions to test the aptitude of the aspirants. Since then the number of questions have remained the same in the exam.

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Numbers of sections increased

Until 2014 there were only two sections in the CAT Exam i.e. Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, and Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. It was from the CA T2015, that three sections were introduced in the exam namely Quantitative Ability, Verbal and Reading Comprehension, and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning.

Introduction of Non-MCQs

CAT exam tested the aptitude of the candidates entirely on the basis of the MCQs until 2014. However, from CAT 2015, non-MCQ questions i.e. descriptive type questions were also introduced in the exam which did not carry any negative marking as against the MCQ questions in which -1 mark is deducted for picking the wrong option.

Break-up of Questions altered

Apart from the number of questions, the break-up of questions in each section has also been tweaked with each passing year to enhance the experience of exam for the candidates. Undoubtedly, the difficulty level of the CAT exam cannot be gauged because it depends upon the preparation strategy of the candidates, however, the break-up questions gives a fair idea about the strategy to crack the exam:

Year

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

Quantitative Aptitude

Total Questions

2017

34

32

34

100

2016

34

32

34

100

2015

34

32

34

100

2014

50

16

34

100

2013

30

10

20

50

2012

30

10

20

50

Sectional time limit introduced

Earlier, the concept of sectional time limit was introduced in the exam2013 which was removed in 2014. But later, in the year 2015, IIM Ahmedabad re-introduced sectional time limit in the CAT exam. A time limit of 60 minutes has been introduced as a part of sectional cut-off to solve questions of each question.

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Marking Scheme revised

CAT exam has not only been about the exam pattern and the race for scoring high percentile to get admissions in the IIMs. Drastic changes have been introduced in the marking scheme of the questions as well. For the MCQ questions, benchmark of 33% negative marking has remained constant, whereas for the non-MCQ questions, until 2015, 3 marks were rewarded for each correct answer. From the year 2016, only 1 mark will be rewarded for each correct no-MCQ answer.

This was all about the changes that have been introduced in the CAT exam over the years. IIMs and the CAT exam convenors introduce change in the MBA entrance exam with an objective to ensure that the candidates are able to attempt the exam with complete preparation. It should be noted that before appearing in the final exam, the CAT exam convenors also launch a Mock CAT exam to prepare the aspirants for the D-day.

If you are aware about other changes that have been introduced in the CAT exam since 2009, then do post them in the comments section below. Please provide your reviews about the article by clicking on the emoticons provided at the end of the article. For more such articles, keep visiting MBA section of jagranjosh.com