The changes announced in CAT 2015 may indicate that this edition of the test will be significantly different from CAT 2014 but, in reality, most of the changes are superficial and will not affect a well-prepared student, say experts.
If we compare the CAT 2014 structure with the proposed CAT 2015 to understand its impact, CAT 2014 had section 1: quantitative aptitude (QA 34 questions) and data interpretation (DI 16 questions) and section 2: verbal and reading comprehension (VRC 34 questions) and logical reasoning (LR 16 questions).
CAT 2015 will have the following sections — section 1: QA (34 questions), section 2: DI (16 questions) and LR (16 questions) and section 3: VRC (34 questions). According to Gautam Puri, co-founder, Career Launcher, “CAT 2015 pattern is just a case of taking DI of section 1 and LR of section 2 from CAT 2014 paper and putting them together in a third section. The introduction of sectional time limits (60 minutes for each section) in CAT 2015 has both positive and negative implications. Students now need not worry about how much time has to be given to a section and can just focus on maximising their attempts in each of the three sections in 60 minutes.
“On the flip side, it will now not be possible for students to save time in one section and use it in another. The other implication of this change is that in CAT 2014, one could clear the verbal ability and logical reasoning section with few or no attempts of verbal and reading comprehension, but this will not be possible in CAT 2015. So students who have been avoiding reading comprehension passages and some verbal questions will need to rework their preparation plans,” suggests Puri. The descriptive questions will be tricky this time. Though these type of questions are new for CAT, they have been a regular feature of SAT and GRE.
“The only thing different in these questions is the way you mark the answers. The process of solving the questions does not change. In GRE and SAT, only QA has this question type and this is likely to be the case for CAT too. Many students may interpret that the provision of calculator will mean that questions will be more calculation-intensive but that is unlikely. If one looks at the CAT 1999-­2008 papers, most of which were similar to the CAT 2015 pattern, the sectional cut-off was in the range of 33% to 40% and I expect the same to happen in CAT 2015. Thus, around 12­-14 net correct answers would be sufficient to clear the sectional cut-offs. In CAT 2014, a score of around 190 was required for 99 percentile. My estimate for CAT 2015 will be around 175,” adds Puri.
Students have mixed reactions on the changes. “By revamping the CAT, the committee has definitely made the verbal section a more important part of the test. Students who are good in math but weak in verbal, were banking on the logical reasoning section to score well, which, until CAT 2014, featured along with the verbal section. However, the new pattern has left them with little choice. With the inclusion of the calculator, we can expect the exam to be more calculation--intensive. The option to move between sections was a boon. Sadly, this option has been scrapped this year,” says Mehar Jossan, an aspirant.
The changes that have been introduced mean that there will be a level-playing field for applicants from all educational backgrounds. “The ‘fill in the blanks’ questions enable examiners to throughly test our concepts as we won’t be able to rely on options. Also, we cannot neglect any section because of the sectional limits,” says Lakshaya Gupta, an aspirant.