CAT 2011: New format, same candidate experience - By Prometric India MD

 | September 06,2011 06:23 pm IST

In a country of over 1.2 billion people, the drive to stand out and achieve a level of status can be met by many challenges.

Parents often put pressure on their children to perform well in school and get into the best educational institutes in order to secure a good job and embark on their career path. This journey is taken by lakhs of students across the country, all competing for a place in this world. Possession of an MBA in India is no doubt a stepping stone to achieving this dream, and if this MBA is from any one of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), that student’s future is almost secured.


Every year in India, approximately 2 lakh students take the Common Admission Test (CAT) in the hope of getting shortlisted for one of the 2,000 seats in the prestigious IIMs. This ratio makes the IIMs more discerning than the Ivy League colleges. It is therefore of extreme importance that the CAT is carefully designed to accurately measure and identify top performing candidates who are indeed ranked at the top of their peers.


For CAT 2011, Prometric worked closely with the IIMs to develop an exam that tests candidates on two sections – Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. These sections are consistent with the knowledge domains historically assessed by the IIMs and are also aligned with the content areas covered in equivalent global admission examinations that measure performance along similar scales.


Changes introduced this year:

1- Number of Sections: Unlike CAT 2010, which comprised three sections – Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, there will only be two sections this year – Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, and Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. This change has enabled us to club sections which require similar cognitive thinking.


2- Number of Questions Per Section: Although each section will have 30 multiple-choice questions, the total number of questions remain at 60, the same as last year.


3- Test Duration: The total time available for completing the test has been increased to 140 minutes (five minutes more than last year). Where candidates were able to allocate more time to a particular section before, they will be given 70 minutes per section this year.


4- Separately Timed Sections: Each section will be timed separately and the on-screen timer will count down from 1 hour 10 minutes (i.e. 70 minutes). Once the time ends for a section, candidates will no longer be allowed to go back to it. Although new in the computer-based version of CAT, IIMs had used this format in some of the earlier paper-and-pencil years. This will enable candidates to focus equally on both sections, and manage their time within any one section rather than across the whole test.


5- Ending the Test: There will be no ‘Quit Test’ button within the first section (Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation) and candidates will need to wait until the allocated time of 70 minutes is up before moving on to the second section. However, if they choose to end their test before the time is up during the second section, candidates may click on the ‘Quit Test’ button from the Review screen at any time. A pop-up box will appear to ask candidates to re-confirm their decision before the test ends.


6- Check-in Procedure: We have taken the feedback from candidates and reviewed our operational process in order to improve the experience for candidates. Contingent on the continued punctuality of candidates, the check-in procedure will start one-and-a-half hours prior to the scheduled test time instead of the previous two hours.


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