If you are you an aspiring management student who is prepping up for a series of upcoming entrance exams, you need to keep abreast with the latest changes that are expected to surprise you in more ways than one.
Besides the Common Admission Test, some of the major entrance tests including MICAT (MICA Admission Test), XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test), CMAT (Common Management Admission Test), NMAT (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies University’s entrance test) and (Symbiosis National Aptitude Test) SNAP will see some major changes that are likely to impact your chances of getting a very high score, your preparation, test-taking strategy. Here are some of the highlights of the changes expected.
The complete selection process for admission to MICA’s PGDM (2016-18) involves three steps: a) CAT, XAT and GMAT scores; b) MICA Admission Test (MICAT) in 14 cities across India; and c) group exercise and personal interview (GE and PI).
However, there will be two major changes this year. “MICAT will be a computer-based test and not a paper-pencil test. The second change is that instead of one round, there will be two rounds of the selection process in the same year,” says Shubhra P Gaur, chairperson - admissions MICA, Ahmedabad.
Till last year, the selection process for admission to PGDM was held once in a year, i.e. in February-March. This year there will be two complete rounds of the selection procedure. The first round will be held in December-January and second in February-March.
“MICAT for the first round is scheduled on December 13, 2015 and GE-PI from January 16-18, 2016. Dates for MICAT and GE-PI for the second round are yet to be declared. This year, MICAT will be a computer-based test so aspirants should practice marking and typing their answers on the screen. We expect our prospective candidates to be well-read, innovative and intelligent with an analytical bent of mind. A regular habit of reading newspapers and practice in creative writing, logical reasoning and analytical tests would be useful. The changes are aimed at giving two opportunities to the candidates in the same year with two complete rounds of selection and to make it more convenient for candidates with the first round of GE-PI to be held in five cities -New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Ahmedabad,” adds Gaur.
Unlike CAT, the overall XAT pattern will be same as last year. However, the test duration has been increased by 30 minutes. XAT 2016 will be on the similar pattern like last few years. It will have four sections (i) verbal and logical ability (ii) decision making (iii) quantitative ability and data interpretation (iv) general knowledge. The marks of general knowledge will not be used for determining the percentile and cut-off at first stage of selection.
The additional time may come as good news for aspirants for now, it is yet to be seen if XLRI will also add more questions or add more essays.
Next year’s CMAT will be an annual affair for the first time ever. CMAT will not give aspirants an opportunity to improve their scores as the scores will remain valid only for one academic session. In another change, the CMAT will be held on a single day ie January 17, 2016, instead of being conducted over a four-day window like in the February 2015 edition.
This move will affect the students to quite an extent. “The September CMAT was an online test held before the CAT. A number of students give importance to the CAT and the September CMAT proved to be a good experience for them in terms of online-test taking, before going for the CAT. The February CMAT was like a second chance for the students, especially for those who couldn’t perform well in the September version, as a majority of the B-Schools till now considered best of the two scores. Now the students will have only one shot at the exam,” says Prashanth Nair, director, Triumphant Institute of Management Education, Mumbai.
“The rationale behind it is to have a fairer assessment of the relative standing of the students as conducting it twice meant judging the students on the basis of two different papers, which would be unfair for those making only one attempt,” he adds.
NMAT is now known as NMAT by GMAC after its takeover by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and being conducted by GMAC only. Therefore, from this year, the application process has changed.
“One had to apply for the exam NMAT by GMAC at their site www.nmat.org.in while to apply for NMIMS programmes, candidates were required to register at www.nmims.edu separately. As both these are two different processes, separate registrations were mandatory i.e. first one for test and the other one as application to NMIMS. As far as test format, eligibility are concerned, it will remain unchanged. There are no changes in the admission process which is the same as last year,” says Professor Rajan Saxena, vice chancellor, SKVM’s NMIMS University.
Elaborating on the impact this change will have on students, Saxena says, “The new NMAT by GMAC also brings more opportunities for candidates as many other institutes besides NMIMS have also started accepting the score as eligibility for admissions. More institutes around the world are expected to join the list in future. Hence students will have a wider choice, besides applying to NMIMS. The changes introduced from this year will bring global experience to students. The quality of test is at par with the GMAT but at affordable cost and follow global process. Students are advised to take the tutorials on NMAT site and can also use the NMAT official guide released by GMGC. Besides, it is important that they prepare well in quantitative, logical reasoning and language.”
More CAT changes in store
In some of the most recent changes introduced in CAT this year, candidates will be given the facility to know the status of the question. A question palette displayed on the right side of screen will show the status of each question. While red will denote an unanswered question, white would mean that the question was has not been viewed by the candidate. Violet would indicate that the question has been marked for review.
Another new feature is that candidates would be required to ‘submit’ every section after completion of the allocated 60 minutes. This is reflected through the CAT 2015 sample test, which was recently made live by the CAT Centre 2015. The same process will be repeated for all the three sections. Also, candidates would not be allowed to switch between sections.
This may impact your score if you are in any of the following stages - you have viewed the question, or have answered but have not saved the answer, or not marked it for review. If you are in any of these stages during the test and the time allocated for that section is about to finish, you may not get time to review or answer the questions as the section will automatically ‘submit’ after the time is over.
In these cases, all your unsaved answers or not marked for review answers will not be counted for evaluation. In another first, a candidate will not be able to view all the questions of entire test paper at a time but only questions in the present section he/she is attempting.
The mock CAT also begins with the verbal ability and reading comprehension section indicating the same for the actual test this year unlike last year where the first section was quantitative ability.