Quotation: "Look at the changes as a blessing in disguise as it makes the paper much easier and much fairer especially for the not so good at Quant category" - Arun Sharma, CAT expert & author
As the days for CAT 2012 is approaching, the anxiety meter is also raising amidst the test takers. Along with that, the announcement of the new CAT pattern is raising new questions in their minds every day. The new pattern represents in my view a much fairer way of assessing students - due to the fact that everybody is going to be solving each section for the same amount of time. Also, there is a fairer chance for the non mathematical minds to crack this exam. Preparation processes would remain the same - it is only your strategy that comes into the picture - in my view Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning gains extremely high importance because a good attempt at each of these areas would take you a long way in each section.
Major changes in CAT Pattern for CAT 2012
- The changes are that, CAT 2012 to be held in November 2011 will be for 140 minutes as against the 135 minutes last year.
- It will have only two sections instead of three.
- The first section will focus on Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and the second on Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning.
- Each section will have 30 questions.
- These two sections will be implemented sequentially with separate time limits.
- The sections will have individual time limits of 70 minutes each.
- Once the time ends for the first section, candidates will move to the second and will not be able to go back.
- Students can now report 90 minutes before the test instead of 2 hours earlier.
The IIMs have also added 3 new test centers too. The CAT pattern generally changes regularly, often reverting to a pattern used in the past. Incidentally a very similar paper pattern to the one outlined above was used for CAT 1996 and CAT 1997 - except that there were far more (and far simpler) questions.
The focus on "time management" will come down as each section is timed separately. Students need not worry about the time they spend on each area and can instead devote their complete attention to solving the question at hand. This will reduce a lot of mental burden and thereby help increase the accuracy levels. This may, in return, help the students to score better.
Candidates with a specific weak area are at a definite advantage due to the combination of areas in a section. As there are only 2 sections for 4 areas, those having a handicap in a specific test area, say Quant, may now look at compensating for it with the other area from the section, DI in this case. This is in contrast to the case earlier when competence was to be shown in all the three areas. This will come as a relief to a large number of CAT aspirants. The change might also, hopefully, enable the IIMs increase the diversity of student background, which is dominated by engineers currently.
With two sections now, it is expected that only two sectional cut-offs would be considered. It is unlikely that the questions from each section would further be split into individual areas to look at the performance in them. The cut offs are likely to be determined based on the entire section. Many students have questions about the VA area in particular and whether there will be Reading Comprehension questions. RC has traditionally been tested under 'Verbal Ability' section and we continue to have 'Verbal Ability' this year too. We believe that there is no reason to think that there will be no RC questions this year.
The new Common Admissions Test (CAT 2012) pattern looks interesting prima facie and is a step closer to resembling international testing systems. One can't say for sure if this is a long- term step because the CAT has been previously known to change its pattern between years. Such pattern changes obviously keep coaching institutes on their toes and also provide an opportunity for people with genuine aptitude for management a greater chance. This move by the CAT is a step in the right direction and to some extent, it may address issues faced in the previous versions of computer-based CAT.