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CMAT - Let’s get started!

The Common Management Admission Test in August is a Godsend in the truest sense. Here’s how

education Updated: May 22, 2012 18:25 IST
Naveenan Ramachandran

About 70,000 candidates took the first Common Management Admission Test (CMAT), conducted by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), across 68 testing centres from February 20 to 28 this year. The computer-based examination was conducted without any major glitches.

SS Mantha, chairperson, AICTE, had said, “If a student feels he or she has not done well, that doesn’t mean they have to wait for one year; they can always take the test in the next slot.” The second slot of CMAT is expected to be conducted in August. As of now, the exact dates have not been announced.

If a candidate is really keen to pursue an MBA/postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) in the academic year starting in April 2013, then it is imperative that the student should take the CMAT in the August session.

Final-year students
Consider a student, Akanksha, starting her final year of college in June 2012 and hoping to graduate by April 2013. Let us say that she is keen to pursue a management course immediately after she graduates.

A flurry of activities ensues over the next year for her: two to three months spent in placement interviews (everyone wants to get that attractive job offer irrespective of intention to join), two to three months spent in doing final year project, two to three months (November to February) wading through b-school entrance tests (CAT, XAT, SNAP, MAT, NMAT, CMAT) and not to mention two to three months spent in college events (department events and cultural events).

The CMAT in August is a Godsend in the truest sense. A student could start with her CMAT preparation right now while she has a good 90 days to go to. This will set the stage for her preparation of the examinations which start from November. If she scores a very good percentile in the August edition of CMAT, it gives her much more confidence to approach her placement interviews as well as the other b-school entrance tests. There is a lot of overlap in the subject areas tested by the b-school entrance examinations. After all, the formula of speed — time — distance is the same irrespective of the competitive test that one is attempting.

Working professionals
Consider a working professional, Gurjeet, in his second year at work. Gurjeet’s issue is that he has been attempting the CAT since his final year of graduation and the percentile score falls short in one section or the other. He is most upset that each tiny slip in these entrance examination costs his one full year. AICTE’s decision to conduct the examination twice a year is very beneficial to the Gurjeets of the world who are keen on pursuing a management programme after several years of work experience.

Paper pattern
The three-hour test will consist of four sections:
* Quantitative techniques and data interpretation
* Logical reasoning
* Language comprehension
* General awareness

Each section will have 25 questions. Each right answer fetches four marks. There is a negative marking (one-mark penalty) for each wrong question. So, you are far better off leaving out the questions you are doubtful about.

There are about 100 questions to be attempted in 180 minutes. That leaves an average of about 1.8 minutes per question. Of course, on sections like reading comprehension, one will end up consuming more time — at the cost of other sections. The guidance of 1.8 minutes per question is only that — “guidance.” You will definitely end up taking more than that in certain sections. The candidate could take the questions in any order that she is comfortable with.

This means that the time management skill of the candidate comes to the fore. It is in the best interest of the student to allot time judiciously across the sections according to her strengths and weaknesses.

The author runs 4GMAT and 2IIM in Mumbai