CAT 2017: Exam pattern overhauled by 2nd time CAT convening IIMs; Will IIM Lucknow follow the trend?

CAT 2017 Exam pattern
Wednesday, July 12 2017, 12:31 PM
IIM Lucknow is convening CAT 2017 for the second time after CAT 2010. Going by the past trends, the IIMs who are assigned the responsibility to convene CAT for the second time change the structure and content of the exam. IIM Indore and IIM Ahmedabad modified and overhauled CAT structure and pattern when they conducted it second time only.
It is expected that CAT 2017 might be a different experience for the test takers

CAT 2017 is the second Common Admission Test (CAT) being convened by IIM Lucknow. The first CAT, conducted by IIM Lucknow was in 2010 as a computer based exam. All the IIMs who have convened CAT 2nd time have brought about more changes and totally revamped the CAT exam structure and content since 2009, although every time the changes in CAT have the objectives to improve academic and gender diversity in IIM class rooms.

Interestingly, even after going through so many changes, the cycle of computerized CAT exam comes back to IIM Lucknow on the same pattern which it had followed in 2010 with 3 sections. However, total questions in CAT 2017 have increased from 60 in 2010 to 100.

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IIM Lucknow, the convener of CAT 2017 is one of the 3 IIMs who have been twice assigned the responsibility to convene Common Admission Test (CAT) since it was computerized in 2009. Apart from IIM Lucknow, IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Indore have convened CAT twice since 2009.

IIM Ahmedabad was the first to convene the 1st computerized CAT 2009 and again convened CAT 2015; IIM Indore convened CAT for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014 and now it is the turn of IIM Lucknow who convened CAT 2010 and has again been given the responsibility to convene CAT 2017. anticipates that Prof Neeraj Dwivedi, Convener CAT 2017 and faculty at IIM Lucknow would bring about more changes in the CAT 2017 exam structure and pattern on the lines of CAT 2015 and CAT 2016 to make it more aspirant friendly.

Most Changes by 2nd time CAT convening IIMs: Trends reveal
Surprisingly, IIM Indore and IIM Ahmedabad modified and revamped CAT structure and pattern when they conducted it second time only. Now it is IIM Lucknow which is convening CAT for the second time after 7 years. Going by the historical data, you should expect more changes in CAT 2017.

IIM Indore: Changed CAT exam pattern in 2014
IIM Indore that convened CAT 2013 and CAT 2014 brought about many changes in the Common Admission test when it convened it for second time in 2014. Major changes that were introduced in CAT 2014 as against CAT 2013 can be summarized below:

Key Changes over CAT 2013 by IIM Indore CAT 2014 CAT 2013
Testing window 4 sessions (2 days with 2 sessions each) 40 sessions (20 days with 2 sessions each)
Eligibility years of graduation degree in old pattern accepted (Initiative taken by
CAT 2014 last minute changes in registration: Will accept 14 years of study upto graduation
Minimum 3 years graduation degree required
Exercising the choice of test day; test session and test centre No option to choose test day or session. Choice of preferred test cities could be exercised Allowed with registration on 1st come 1st serve basis subject to availability
Number of questions 100 60
Sectional composition of questions 50 in each section 30 in each section
Time duration 170 minutes 140 minutes
Sectional Time limit No sectional time limit. Test taker could move between both the test sections within overall time limit of 170 minutes 70 minutes for each section. Candidates could not move to next section before 70 minutes.
Time available per question 1 minute 42 seconds 2 minutes 20 seconds

IIM Ahmedabad: Overhauled CAT 2015
IIM Ahmedabad was the first B-school that convened the first computerized format CAT in 2009 with the testing partner Prometric. The exam turned out to be night mare for many candidates as technical glitches marred the smooth conduct of the first computerized CAT. For many candidates, the CAT 2009 was conducted again.

The top rated IIM Ahmedabad was again assigned the responsibility to convene CAT 2015 after 6 years under the convenership of Prof Tathagata Bandyopadhyay, faculty and admission chair at IIM Ahmedabad. This year CAT was totally revamped in the structure as well as in contents and carried the exam to the next level that was not anticipated earlier. Even IIM Indore even after making so many changes when it convened CAT second time, lagged behind in number of changes brought about by IIM Ahmedabad.

Overhauling of CAT exam by IIM Ahmedabad

Key Change areas in CAT 2015 CAT 2015 CAT 2014
Testing window 1 day; 2 sessions 2 days; 4 sessions
Noida (Delhi NCR) as Test centre Discontinued* Available
Number of sections 3 (DI and LR questions were clubbed to make separate section; other sections were VARC and Quant) 2 (Quant+DI; VARC+LR)
Sectional time limit No freedom to move between sections. 1 hour time limit for each of the 3 sections reintroduced Freedom to move between the sections available
Number of questions

Sectional composition changed: VARC -34 questions
DILR-32 questions; Quant – 34 questions (Total 100)

2 sections with 50 questions each
Type of questions 72 MCQs and 28 Non-MCQs 100 MCQs
Time duration 3 hours (180 minutes) 170 minutes
Time available per question 1 minute 48 seconds 1 minute 42 seconds
Scoring pattern (penalty for wrong answers)

MCQs: 33% negative marking
Non-MCQs: No penalty for wrong answer

33% negative marking for all questions (There was no Non-MCQ in CAT 2014)

*Noida (Delhi NCR) was again included as the test centre in CAT 2016 by IIM Bangalore.

Will IIM Lucknow change CAT 2017 exam pattern?

Moving on the path of changes in structure and contents in CAT exam, last 3 years have seen more and more changes in every CAT exam. IIM Lucknow is convening CAT 2017 after CAT 2010. Going by the trends, it is expected that CAT 2017 might be a different experience for the test takers.

IIM Lucknow can bring about following changes in CAT 2017 exam pattern which may further benefit the CAT aspirants:

  • The sectional time limit which was withdrawn in 2014 had helped the CAT takers to focus more on their strong areas in the exam. However, the sectional time constraint of one hour was reintroduced in 2015. It is possible that IIM Lucknow may again allow it.
  • Testing window in CAT 2017 may go to 2 days from present 1 day as the aspirants have been demanding it since last year
  • Change in number of Non-MCQs could be there or the Non-MCQs may remain absent in CAT 2017. In 2016 IIM Bangalore reduced the number of Non-MCQs from 28 to 25. It is very much possible that this number is reduced further.
  • Another anticipation of the aspirants is that IIM Lucknow may bring about changes in 3 existing sections of CAT exam. The number of sections in CAT 2017 may go up to 4 or may again be reduced to 2, in case the CAT group finds it more convenient and aspirant friendly.

One of the important points regarding changes and overhauling of CAT exam pattern is that the testing partner TCS has remained unchanged since CAT 2014 and during last three years CAT exam has seen more changes than ever earlier. One of the most important changes in CAT is introduction of Non-MCQ type of questions which do not carry any negative marking for wrong answer. In case IIM Lucknow and testing partner TCS choose to increase the number of such questions, there could be more diversity in IIM class rooms in 2018.

Stay tuned for more updates on CAT 2017

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