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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014
Unlocking doors to top B-schools
Abhishek Gupta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 30, 2011
First Published: 11:05 IST(30/8/2011)
Last Updated: 09:45 IST(31/8/2011)

Every year, lakhs of students appear for the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) and other entrance examinations to get admission to India’s top-class MBA institutes with only a few managing to get through. Here’s the lowdown on the most important B-school entrance tests:

Connect to CAT
Two years ago, the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) underwent a major restructuring, with the paper and pencil test transforminginto a computer-based examination. This year, the IIMs announced yet another change: CAT will now have only two sections of 30 questions each with a sectional time limit of 75 minutes each. The six newly-established IIMs have also decided to do away with the group discussion round. Instead, they will now be conducting a personal interview and a written analysis test.

For XLRI, SP Jain
XAT is conducted every year by XLRI. There are about 70 B-schools  admitting students on the basis of this test, including the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (Mumbai), Goa Institute of Management and XIM (Bhubaneswar). 

One of the most challenging tests, XAT 2011 saw close to a lakh test-takers. The difficulty level was a notch higher as compared to the previous year’s papers. The number of questions remained at  101, divided between three sections. One-fourth of the total marks were deducted for every incorrect answer. Marks varied from 1 to 5 marks per question. Two of the sections, quantitative ability and data interpretation and analytical reasoning and decision making, were trickier and more time-consuming than last year.

The verbal ability and logical reasoning section had 34 questions of 69 marks and was probably the easiest in the entire test. New entries like questions on grammar and vocabulary were seen in the form of punctuation marks and fill-in-the-blanks questions. XAT concluded with a 20-minute essay of one page. For this, use of simple language was recommended. 

To get into FMS
The Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi, conducts its own entrance examination. This year saw FMS maintain its previous pattern with 200 questions in four sections carrying a one-mark penalty for each incorrect answer. The paper was divided into four sections - reading comprehension, logical reasoning, verbal ability, quantitative ability – of 50 marks each, with 120 minutes for completing the paper.

Is IIFT the right fit for you?
IIFT is another popular exam for those seeking admission to international business at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi. Held in the fourth week of November, the test has a mix of easy and difficult questions. IIFT 2010 had 135 questions. The maximum marks were 100 divided unequally among four sections with one-third of the marks deducted for every wrong answer. The fourth section tested the students’ current affairs and general knowledge. Examinees this year were quizzed on public sector banks’ brand ambassadors, and women CEOs. Other questions were on chief guests at republic day parades, location of international organisations, etc.

The paper was quite lengthy.

Mastering MAT
Management Aptitude Test or MAT is conducted four times a year. For the first time in May 2010, students were offered the option of a computer based test with the regular paper-based test. The test had five sections with 200 questions, testing students on a variety of skills, including  critical reasoning, mathematical skills, data analysis and sufficiency, language comparison and general awareness. Some institutes don’t consider GK scores as MAT gives a scaled score and it is difficult to interpret the scores based on accuracy in the test.

Though the level of toughness may differ across these papers, the skill sets required to crack various management exams are pretty much the same. A strong focus on the fundamentals of quant, getting comfortable with numerical data, a good grasp of the English language (grammar and vocabulary), good reading habits, practicing analytical questions coupled with a good number of online mock tests will help you crack these tests.

The author is head, faculty and academics team, CL Educate Ltd


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