Administered since 1988 to help B-schools select candidates for admission to MBA and allied programmes, the Management Aptitude Test (MAT) will be conducted on September 1, 2013, in the offline mode and September 7, 2013, onwards in the online version. One of the major entrance tests for management, MAT scores are accepted by more than 500 institutes across the country. The number of participating institutes may vary from test to test. All participating institutes in MAT are approved by the All India Council for Technical Education or the Distance Education Council or university affiliated colleges or university departments.
All about MAT
MAT is usually conducted four times in a year in February, May, September and December. The minimum qualification to appear in the test is graduation in any discipline from any recognised university. Final-year students are also eligible to take the test provisionally.
A student can opt to take MAT in two formats - paper-pencil format or computer-based. Candidates who opt for the latter are allowed to choose the date and time slot of their choice, subject to availability.
MAT contains 200 questions to be answered in 150 minutes. The question paper is divided into five sections (40 questions each), including: language comprehension (LC); data analysis and sufficiency (DI); mathematical skills (QA); intelligence and critical reasoning; and Indian and global environment (GK). According to Wing Commander V S Bejoy, director, Centre for Management Services, All India Management Association, that conducts the test, “There are about 10% to 15% takers for the online version of MAT and the rest go for the paper-pen mode. The trend is likely to change though, in due course of time.” Approximately two lakh students take the MAT every year.
“The GK section does not have a role to play in the composite score and few B-schools attach weight to it. The test-takers may choose to leave the 40 GK questions altogether and utilise this time in getting some crucial extra marks in other areas. QA is the most difficult section of the paper, followed by reasoning, DI and VA, in that order. In a paper like MAT, with a large number of questions, students should always look to capitalise on the easier questions first and can, thus, be asked to start the paper by attempting the VA questions. If one attempts around 100 to 105 questions in the paper (out of 160) and gets around 90 to 95 correct, then one is likely to get a score of 800/800,” says Vijay Kalyan Jha, senior vice president (academics), Career Launcher Educate Ltd.
MAT vs other MBA entrance exams
Unlike other exams, MAT is conducted four times in a year. MAT is the only exam that is conducted in both offline and online modes. On an average, 500 to 600 institutes accept the scores of MAT, which is more than any other exam. “MAT is also relatively easy compared to CAT. Speed is more important for doing well in MAT since you have to attempt 200 questions in 150 minutes, unlike CAT, which requires 60 questions to be attempted in 140 minutes,” says Ulhas Vairagkar, director, Triumphant Institute of Management Education.
Talking about other advantages, Bejoy says, “Globally, aspiring management students are tested on parameters such as verbal ability, numerical ability and logical ability and MAT covers all these. The section on Indian and global environment helps institutes assess a candidate in a better way at the group discussion and interview stage. Moreover, everyone looking to pursue management education cannot make it to top-end institutes.
MAT gives them an opportunity to enrol at other B-schools.”
Preparing for MAT
General awareness: Marks from this section are reported separately and are not a part of the overall score of 800.
“However, quite a few b-schools would like you to have good score in this area, so you should not neglect it. Learning questions on static GK like which is the highest, lowest, biggest, shortest, maximum, minimum, etc from any good reference book will help,” says Vairagkar.
QA, LR, DI and DS: Understand the fundamentals of arithmetic, including numbers, percentages, averages, profit and loss, time and distance etc.
Algebra topics such as permutation and combination and probability are important too. “You must also master mental calculations. Memorise the tables and squares up to 30 and fractions by heart. Practice short-cut and approximation techniques in DI,” he says.
English language: Build a good vocabulary and its usage by reading books such as Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis. Ensure that your basics of grammar are in place. Use Wren and Martin to revise if required.