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Top experts welcome change in CAT 2011 exam pattern

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The Version 3 of the computer based CAT has something new for the exam takers. IIM Calcutta, the convener institute for CAT 2011, has introduced few changes.

The Version 3 of the computer based CAT has something new for the exam takers. IIM Calcutta, the convener institute for CAT 2011, has introduced few changes in the exam pattern, as announced on July 25, 2011, the day when CAT 2011 dates were announced. MBAUniverse.com talked to top CAT experts to know about their take on the changed pattern.

According to them, these changes are not new. During 1995-96, the pattern was similar. The experts unanimously agreed to the fact that these are positive changes and will provide a much more balanced test to the test takers and IIMs will be able to filter out the competent students easily. Let us take a look at what are the changes and how they will impact the CAT 2011 takers.

Two sections, not three

Though the number of sections has been reduced, but the areas remain the same. You have to study and prepare for all these areas with the same fervor as you had been doing since the past few months.

Arun Sharma, CAT expert, author of best selling CAT prep books, and IIM Bangalore alumnus, mentioned that this new development will balance the sections. “Previously, CAT was more like an engineering test and candidates from engineering background had the advantage. Now it will be balanced, as Quantitative Ability is clubbed with Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability section is clubbed with Logical Reasoning.”


In context of attaining the cut-offs, Sidharth Balakrishna, author of CAT prep books and IIM Calcutta alumnus said, “There is more choice for the student within each section, as each section now has 30 questions (not 20).”

More time available

The duration of the exam has increased from 135 minutes to 140 minutes. “Though the time has not increased much, but still an increase in duration is always good for the CAT 2011takers,” said Sharma.

Sequential test, not random

According to IIM Calcutta, the two sections will be implemented sequentially with separate time limits. Candidates will have 70 minutes to answer 30 questions within each section which will have an on-screen countdown timer. Once the time ends for the first section, they will move to the second section and will no longer be able to go back.

Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher says that it will actually be an advantage for the test takers as they don’t have to think much about time allocation and strategizing. “Students should find it easier to solve the paper as they have to spend 70 minutes in each section. This will not lead to a skewed performance like giving maximum time to one’s strong sections and minimum time to the weaker sections leading to a skewed sectional percentile.”

For the CAT 2011 takers

“This new pattern does necessitate a change in strategy for those students who used to allocate extra time to the sections where they felt they could score well. The change means that you will need to be strong in both the two sections as defined. The change also takes away the decision making aspect with respect to time allocation to some extent. Candidates now know they have 70 minutes for each section. You cannot leave questions for ‘later’-to come back to once you finish the entire test; though you can do this within the sectional time limit,” mentioned Balakrishna.

He also added, “On the other hand, it might actually benefit those who were struggling to clear a particular sectional cut-offs even though they did well on an overall basis.”


Nishit Sinha, CEO of dueNorth, a test prep institute based in Dehradun, author and IIM Lucknow alumnus advised, “Content wise, CAT examremains the same. Only that testing will change. It is advisable is that (a) a student should not skip any concept or area, (b) take full length test papers starting from August / when a substantial part of preparation is done.”

Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more updates on CAT 2011.

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