The IIMs have come out with answers to a long list of FAQs about CAT. Let us see what they have actually told us and how this will affect your preparation…
CAT is neither an Internet-based test, nor is it a Computer Adaptive Test
What this means is that the change has been more in form than anything else - instead of using a pencil to shade ovals on an OMR (Optical Mark Reader) sheet, you will now need to use a mouse to click on the appropriate answer choice. That's all. Nothing else appears to have changed.
CAT not being a Computer Adaptive Test implies that all candidates appearing for the test at the same time will get to see the same set of questions. However, it is not necessary that the questions appear in the same order. This was the case even in the earlier years - different candidates would get different sets of papers that contained the same questions, but in a different order.
The IIMs have gone ahead to say that the format (pattern) will remain more or less the same. While this is certainly a reassuring statement, you should be prepared for anything that comes your way as change is the only thing that is constant about CAT.
The test will be conducted at designated test venues across 25 cities
This changes nothing at all. All it means is that like in the previous years, you will need to go to a test centre with your hall ticket, ID proof, etc and take the exam there.
You will be given rough paper to do calculations
I'm sure the one big question that has been running through your mind has been about doing rough work. The IIMs have now stated that you will get writing pads with numbered pages on which you can do your calculations / rough work. However, please do not tear off any part of the pad as you are expected to leave the pad and ALL sheets on the table before you leave.
Registration for CAT
Like in the previous years, you will need to buy a voucher from designated locations or bank branches. The voucher will have detailed instructions on how to go about registering for CAT. For now, all that the IIMs have said is that "At this time, it would suffice to say that candidates are expected to visit the CAT website to register for CAT 2009".
However, one additional piece of information they have shared with us is that your admit card / hall ticket will be sent to you by e-mail. The release is explicit about the fact that you need to have a VALID e-mail ID throughout the selection process.
Apart from this, most other things have remained the same - you are not allowed to take any personal belongings into the testing venue, you are expected to report well in advance, the results will be available towards the end of January 2010 and so on.
All in all, the change is merely in the presentation of the paper and not in anything else. So to a serious candidate, it should make no difference at all. Knowledge and command over the fundamentals will still be the differentiating factor and the key to a good score in CAT.
The author is a senior member of the academic team, T.I.M.E. P Ltd