CAT 2011 | How to bell the New CAT

 | August 08,2011 11:52 am IST

From the day of its inception, Common Admission Test (CAT) has been notorious for popping out surprises and confounding the aspirants. CAT continued to keep the aspirants and CAT observers (notably coaching institutes ) on their toes by making clever and bewildering changes every year to the number of questions, marking scheme, time allotted etc.

But when CAT went online two years ago and spelled out its format explicitly, it was construed as the end of the dreaded surprise factor in CAT.


Coaching institutes and CAT experts began propagating gospels on elaborate strategies to bell this better known CAT. Now, with the IIM’s announcing a changed format, all such strategies have been thrown out of gear. The changed format now requires to be looked at with a different perspective and a modified outlook.With the preparation midway for most of the aspirants it is imperative now that they align themselves to a modified strategy, if not an entirely new one.

So what is all this fuss about?
While Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning have been separated between the two sections, the quant section has become a number oriented arena with DI being added to it. The interesting part is the combination of LR with verbal ability. The move has already created questions in the minds of many. Whether the LR section would cater to the legacy of problems it has been offering or there would be an alignment with the VA department, is still to be answered.

It appears that CAT convenors are making sure they move to a global standardized formulation of the examination. Twin section format is what is followed in the major global management and technical examinations. CAT is set to move out to more such strategies in the future and hence the move is only arbitration of the final goal.

Implications for the Aspirants
The sectional time limit is implicitly meant to cut out the advantage which certain candidates leverage, owing to their respective areas of strength. The flexibility offered by the earlier versions has been evoked. What seems as a disadvantage to some may act as an advantage to others.
While the earlier pattern allowed the candidates to not only showcase their problem solving skills but also to optimize their approaches for a balanced score. It was an important component of their strategy to carve out their strong areas and determine the appropriate sequence of attempts. However, the move will allow the candidates to have an ‘ease of attempt’ approach with the specified time limits. Therefore the candidates must now adapt to an approach in which they can derive the maximum benefit of the allotted time. For this they would have to concentrate on each of the areas viz. Quant, DI/LR, and Verbal.


Click here for CAT 2011 admission alert

The move therefore is to allow the candidates to showcase their overall ability rather than limiting themselves to specific areas. It can also be inferred that this would help in the identification of the better candidates who had been losing out on account of the misbalancing acts.

While CAT has always concentrated upon testing accuracy and speed through its varied approaches, the current version is an attempt to emphasise on these points to a greater extent with speed set to play a more vital role.

A major implication for the aspirants from this move is the ambiguity over sectional cut-offs. The sectional cut-offs for IIM’s and other top B schools may go up substantially. Since all applicants have more time to focus on their weaker areas, they would end up attending more number of questions even in their weaker sections and thus the overall performance in each section would definitely go up. It may have a silver lining for those weak in a particular section say also. For eg if a candidate is very weak in QA but good or average in DI, he can score well in the section and clear the sectional cut-offs. For most engineers, for whom Verbal ability is a nemesis, can cash in on their skills of logical reasoning to tide over the sectional cut-offs.

The way forward
CAT is a test of nerves. It is a test of your decision making abilities coupled with your problem solving skills. Glitches or no glitches the Common Admission Test has held its position as one of the most intricately designed examinations in India.

With changes coming up every year it is throwing challenges to the aspirants to be dynamic in their approach. That is what the aspirants should try and achieve. They should understand their strengths and weakness and carve out different strategies. Testing an intuitive idea would not be a bad choice before deciding upon the final strategy to go for. Mock tests must be utilised to its potential and each option tried before confirming its adaptability.

The new format provides a good opportunity for aspirantswho were terribly weak in a particular section (say Verbal ability of Quantitative ability) to cross the sectional cut offs for top B schools by leveraging their strengths in other sections.

The aspirants who are repeating their CAT attempts (and had earlier rigorously adapted themselves to a different strategy) may find it a bit more difficult to respond to this change than those who are attempting CAT for the first time (and thus have no past baggage). The only thing the repeat CAT takers can do is attempt as many Mocks tests as they can in the available time as suggested by us before.

Remember it is just a test designed to test your abilities and the better will see them through. To better yourself all you need is hard work, dedication and perseverance.





Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. is not responsible for the views and opinions of the posters.
3 + 7 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.


mukul on 08/08/11 at 05:16 pm

pl let me know the exact dates on which I can take the CAT?
Can i take the test on a Saturday or a Sunday?

Sambit on 08/08/11 at 05:48 pm

Yes, you can give it on a Saturday/Sunday provided its within the CAT window.

Sambit on 08/08/11 at 05:47 pm

Yes, you can give it on a Saturday/Sunday within the CAT window.All the best

neetu on 08/10/11 at 05:39 pm

Dear Sambit

Can you please clear about the test window as it is from October 22 - 18 November, then why Do IIMs call it as 20 days test window?

Praveen on 08/08/11 at 09:12 pm

Great jobs guys, an excellent and well put article