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No major changes in CAT, but be ready for surprises

Get as close to 180 or more to score 99 percentile, say experts

Mission MBA Updated: Nov 21, 2016 20:53 IST
Gauri Kohli

With negative marking of minus one for any wrong answer, a score of above 60 requires around 23-25 attempts in a section.(Imagesbazaar)

No major changes have been announced in this year’s Common Admission Test (CAT) for admission to management programmes across Indian B-schools, but candidates should be prepared for surprises.

As CAT is being held in December after two decades instead of the usual November, aspirants are getting an extra two to three weeks to get ready for it.

CAT 2016 will broadly follow the same pattern as last year’s test, which included questions without options (also referred to as type in the answer questions). Difficulty levels of the individual sections, however, will vary. Like last year, the test structure, the sections to be attempted and the time limit will not change. Sections such as verbal ability and reading comprehension; data interpretation and logical reasoning and quantitative ability will have to be solved in an hour each.

The strategy to score 99 percentile is quite simple and easy to understand.

According to Arun Sharma, CAT preparation expert and alumnus of IIM Bangalore, any major changes at this stage are tough to predict. “But given that the pattern is the same, the difficulty levels will vary. A section can have very tough questions or very easy ones. Your preparation should be managed in such a fashion that it turns to your advantage.”

Sharma asks candidates to practice mock tests and work on as many ways as possible to improve scores. “Get as close to 180 or more. This will help you on the test day. Do section-wise analysis and try to get close to 60 in each section. Analyse your weaknesses and work on them, learn to maximise the advantages of your strengths,” says Sharma.

Most applicants aim to score more than 99 percentile. The strategy for getting this score is quite simple, says Sharma. “Out of 300 marks (102 in quantitative aptitude, 96 in data interpretation and logical reasoning, 102 in verbal ability) a student needs to get a net score of more than 180. There are broadly two strategies of getting to 180 - score high in one section and moderate in one to cover for a weakness in the third. So, this would mean 80+, 60+ and 40+ in the three sections. Another approach is to have a balanced performance in all the three sections - above 60 in each.

With negative marking of minus one for any wrong answer, a score of above 60 requires around 23-25 attempts in a section. To get to more than 80, you need to attempt over 28 questions, he says.

Try looking at different paper patterns and difficulty levels over the past two decades in each of the sections. The CAT notification, however, does not give details on the number of questions. This means there is a possibility of a change in the number of questions in the sections and/or the overall test.

The distribution of verbal ability and reading comprehension was 10 questions and 24 questions, respectively, last year, which can change. The distribution of logical reasoning and data interpretation, which was 16 questions each last year, can also change.

Read more: Taking MBA tests? These changes may bowl you over

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