29 Jul 2015 20:19 IST

CAT 2015 gets tougher; non-engineers to benefit from changes

Picture for representation purpose only   -  Flickr/Dennis S Hurd

Apart from having three sections, the duration has been increased to 180 minutes

Aspirants may have to hone their skills a bit more to qualify for the cut-offs for CAT 2015, with a number of changes introduced in the exam pattern, experts say.

As the fight gets tougher for aspirants, B-Schools are in tune with the IIMs. “The changes are welcome and are necessary to maintain a cutting edge for CAT,” says Bakul Dholakia, Director-General of Delhi-based International Management Institute. “The new pattern will enhance the discriminatory power of CAT to a great extent and help IIMs and other premier institutes to select well-rounded individuals.”

Director of a Gurgaon-based Management Development Institute (MDI), CP Shrimali, shares similar views. “The changes introduced in the CAT 2015 pattern are very encouraging,” he says.

Non-engineers gain

The inclusion of descriptive type questions in the examinations is one of the biggest changes CAT has introduced this year, and could pose challenges to students. “Candidates may want to avoid such questions with a number of choices available in the exam, but these questions may carry differential markings and, thus, the ones who crack these questions may have an advantage over others,” explains Sai Kumar Swami, Director TIME (Delhi).

Business schools, on the other hand, are expecting the change to increase background diversity by taking in more non-engineers. “For the first time, CAT is moving away from the purely Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) format, to descriptive type questions and this may offer a level playing field for non-engineers,” says Dholakia, former Director of IIM Ahmedabad.

The changed pattern brings out dual benefits in the form of classroom learning and recruiter experience, adds Shrimali, of MDI. “Not only will the problem-solving sessions in B-schools witness varied outlooks from various students, but the recruiters too will get a chance to hire managers from non-engineering backgrounds with different thinking processes.”

Battle bets tougher

With the latest changes, CAT will require more rigour to clear the cut-offs, according to Swami of TIME. Last year, the aptitude test had just two sections — quantitative aptitude (QA)/ Data Interpretation (DI) and Verbal Aptitude (VA)/ Logical Reasoning (LR). This year, it will have three — quantitative aptitude (QA), data interpretation and logical reasoning (DILR), and verbal and reading comprehension (VRC). “Traditionally, the area students dread most is DILR, which can be a decisive section for the aspirants. Those performing equally well in all three sections will clear the cut-off,” he adds.

QA and VRC will have 34 questions each, and DILR will have 32 questions.

Basic calculator allowed

The test also allows the use of a basic calculator this year, which means IIMs are keener on testing the problem-solving skills, rather than calculations. Also, while last year, the test duration was 170 minutes earlier, this year it is 180 minutes. “The time awarded for each section is fixed at 60 minutes; so students will have to choose the questions carefully, and won’t be able devote more time to their areas of strength,” Swami adds.

This year CAT will be conducted in two sessions on 29 November, across 136 cities at 650 test sites.

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