Bell the CAT (2012)

Part A

Bell the CAT (2012)Well, the CAT’s heat is surely warming the cold Indian winters, what with lakhs of potential candidates across the country waiting with bated breath for the results of the first round of what can easily be called the country’s most coveted exam. This ‘cat’ has always been ferocious and dangerous; but one always need to remember THE thing: The people who crack CAT are not necessarily the brightest, but they are definitely the smartest for it is not the toughest exam, but surely the most competitive and challenging one. While the exam was hitherto infamous for its unpredictability that would often unfold only in the examination hall, 2012 saw the following official changes in the CAT exam which was a CBT (Computer Based Test):

  • 2 Sections: Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation; Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning
  • Each section allotted a fixed time of 70 mins (total exam time: 2 hrs and 35 mins, including a 15 min tutorial).
  • Switching between sections NOT allowed.

This implies the following wrt students:

  • As switching between sections is not allowed, students need to be almost equally good at all sections in general.
  • Speed needs to be good too in all sections.
  • Engineers, who had an edge earlier by solving Maths-based questions quickly, will now have to work equally hard on their English and application skills as well, on the contrary students with non-Maths background need to pull up their socks too for the corresponding reason.

Part A

Well, the CAT’s heat is surely warming the cold Indian winters, what with lakhs of potential candidates across the country waiting with bated breath for the results of the first round of what can easily be called the country’s most coveted exam. This ‘cat’ has always been ferocious and dangerous; but one always need to remember THE thing: The people who crack CAT are not necessarily the brightest, but they are definitely the smartest for it is not the toughest exam, but surely the most competitive and challenging one. While the exam was hitherto infamous for its unpredictability that would often unfold only in the examination hall, 2011 saw the following official changes in the CAT exam which was a CBT (Computer Based Test):

  • 2 Sections: Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation; Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning
  • Each section allotted a fixed time of 70 mins (total exam time: 2 hrs and 35 mins, including a 15 min tutorial).
  • Switching between sections NOT allowed.

This implies the following wrt students:

  • As switching between sections is not allowed, students need to be almost equally good at all sections in general.
  • Speed needs to be good too in all sections.
  • Engineers, who had an edge earlier by solving Maths-based questions quickly, will now have to work equally hard on their English and application skills as well, on the contrary students with non-Maths background need to pull up their socks too for the corresponding reason.

Here are a few tips for students to keep in mind:

  • Overall improvement in SPEED is very critical.
  • Students should target a certain level of Efficiency in ALL sections because of the time constraint and denial of going back-and-forth between sections.
  • Quick reading skills are EXTREMELY important (as they are for a Manager); they not only help in RCs, but also help you in scanning the questions, thereby helping you pick the ones that should be attempted, and deferring/ forgoing the difficult ones.
  • The pattern and the number of questions on the website demo or the tutorial at the beginning of exam are not truely representational of the actual questions in the exam.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, study intelligently not foolishly.

Preparing for the 1st Step: Written/CBT

1.       Take a CAT Diagnostic Test to begin with. This can be taken on Internet with a number of websites offering such tests for free, or many of the preparatory Institutes will be happily providing such a test (at the possibility of the candidate joining them). This will help you assess your current skills vis-a-vis the required ones to make it in the exam, your command over various sections (strengths and weaknesses), and an overall feel of what CAT exam is like.

2.       Accumulating APPROPRIATE study material:

a)      Various Preparatory Institutes (like Career Launcher, TIME, PT, etc) provide full-time/crash courses which one can join depending upon ones requirement, affordability and time. These Institutes offer exhaustive classroom sessions focussing on various sections, unlimited Practice material and Tests so as to fully prepare the candidate for the exam.

b)      While ample practice is a must-do for all the sections, students are particularly weak in either Vocabulary (English application) or Quantitative skills (Maths application); hence relevant books for the same should be bought and studied through well in advance.

c)       READING practice from the onset of preparation: Lots of Newspapers, Finance and General Knowledge based Magazines, Autobiographies of CEOs/Achievers, and Excerpts from Business/Management gurus should be read throughout the span of one’s preparation.

3.    Distributing study-time among the various sections right from the 1st day. This IS thinking like a would-be Manager, taking it all in his stride. If you are following your traditional school/college approach of preparing subject-wise, allotting a few days to each subject, you need to adapt yourself as per the demand and nature of the exam (again a typical managerial trait). Devoting some time to each section on a daily basis will eventually become a habit and strengthen your stronger sections and gradually lessen the fear of weaker sections.

4. MOCK TESTS and more importantly – Post-Test Analysis. Various Preparatory Institutes design these tests on the pattern of the CAT paper which students should take to assess their capabilities and preparation level. On getting the individual score, the candidate should (either individually or under guidance) analyse his performance-  the questions that he/ she did (correct/incorrect), certain questions which should not have been attempted (at least in the first go) for the amount of time they consumed, how “negatively” the negative marking has impacted his score, etc. Also, a very important point I’d like to make is while it is very important to get good scores in the Mock Tests, do not get disheartened if your performance in a few of them, especially close to the exam time, is not excellent. A candidate should have complete faith in his overall preparation: good health, subject knowledge and a good psychological state that is ready to take on any new challenge during the course of the exam.

Scoring, Result and Short-Listing

Prometric employs an industry-standard, psychometrically-sound approach to the scoring process for all IIM candidates. This is a three-step process and is supported by the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and the ETS Standards for Quality and Fairness:

1. Raw Score is Calculated (+3 points for a correct answer, -1 point for an incorrect answer and 0 point for a question not answered).

2. Raw Score is Equated (Scores are adjusted on two or more alternate forms of an assessment so that the scores may be used interchangeably).

3. Equated Raw Score is Scaled (to ensure appropriate interpretation of an equated raw score, the scores must be placed on a common scale or metric. A linear transformation is used for this scaling process).

CAT 2011 result will be announced on 11 January 2012 on the CAT website. List of shortlisted candidates for the next level of selection will be available on the individual IIM websites and this may be independent of each other. The process may include Written Ability Test (WAT), Group Discussions (GD) and Personal Interviews (PI).Performance in CBT of CAT 2011 examination is an important component in the admission process. Also, factors like previous academic performance, relevant work experience and other similar inputs may be important in short listing and ranking of candidates at various stages of the admission process. The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs (we shall know more about the same in the next part of the Article). Continued......CLICK HERE

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