This year’s Common Admission Test which is scheduled to be conducted on November 29 will see a host of changes in the pattern of the examination. The new format is expected to be a bit more challenging than the previous ones but is also expected to help the aspirants score more. The revised pattern is meant to ensure the high testing standards so as to cope up with the increasing number of CAT aspirants who appear in the exams every year.
As per the scheduled release, online registration for CAT 2015 begins on 6th August and closes on 20th September. Admit cards can be downloaded from the CAT website from 15th October onward and would remain on website until November 29th, the day of the exam. The results are expected to be announced during the second week o January 2016. IIM Ahmedabad, who will convene this year’s CAT is has implemented a variety of changes into this exam, some of them a first in the history of the exam. We will briefly discuss these changes. They have been divided into two sections namely, Changes in Exam Pattern and Changes in Examination Structure.
Changes in Examination Pattern
One of the most talked about of these changes has been the introduction of non multiple choice questions. The examinees are expected to ‘fill in the blank’ which has been provided when answering these questions. However these questions don’t have negative marking like the multiple choice questions and so the candidates can answer them without any fear of their marks being docked. For the multiple choice questions the marking patterns are similar to the previous versions of CAT; three marks are given for a correct answer while one mark is docked for an incorrect one.
As compared to the earlier CAT examination which had just two sections, CAT 2015 will have three sections namely Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC). CAT 2015 will have 100 questions in total; 34 questions each for QA and VRC and 32 questions covering DILR. An on screen calculator would be provided to the candidates to do the computation while attempting the exam.
This year’s exam will have a total duration of 180 minutes; an increase of 10 minutes when compared to the last year’s exam. A sectional time constraint which was applicable until the 2013 CAT and not present in the 2014 CAT will be reintroduced this year, with a 60 minute time limit being put in place for attempting each section. The candidates are not permitted to switch from one section to another during these 60 minutes. This sure is designed to make sure that the students don’t get a higher percentile by just focussing a single section like QA which holds a higher weightage over the other sections.
These changes which are aimed towards bringing more diversity in terms of both gender and academic backgrounds at the IIMs might reduce the dominance the engineering graduates have had in CAT over the years by providing a level playing field to candidates from other streams. To better understand the exam pattern, it is suggested that the CAT aspirants take a look at the mock tests which will be available on the official CAT website in October.
Changes in Examination Structure
There have also been a slew of other changes. Compared to the two day testing period last year, this year’s CAT would be conducted on a single day (Nov 29). The single day scheduling of the exam also means a significant increase in the number of testing cities and examination centers. This late November scheduling of the exam also gives the aspirants more time to prepare than the previous year’s candidates. The 2015 CAT exam will be held across 136 cities and 650 examination centers in two sessions; up from the 99 cities and 354 centers last year. The candidates have the option to choose up to 4 cities (up from the 3 cities offered last year) in the order of their preference during registration, one of which along with the testing center and session would be randomly allotted to them later on the basis of availability. In order for aspirants to get their first choice of city, they are advised to do the online registration as early as possible, since is assumed that the testing agency TCS might allot the examination slots on a first come first serve order.
To know more about the changes and what it means for you as a candidate you can ask any of the MBA coaching institutes in your city.