For CAT 2011, Prometric worked closely with the IIMs to develop an exam that tests candidates on two sections – Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. These sections are consistent with the knowledge domains historically assessed by the IIMs and are also aligned with the content areas covered in equivalent global admission examinations that measure performance along similar scales.
Changes introduced this year:
1- Number of Sections: Unlike CAT 2010, which comprised three sections – Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning, there will only be two sections this year – Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, and Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning. This change has enabled us to club sections which require similar cognitive thinking.
2- Number of Questions Per Section: Although each section will have 30 multiple-choice questions, the total number of questions remain at 60, the same as last year.
3- Test Duration: The total time available for completing the test has been increased to 140 minutes (five minutes more than last year). Where candidates were able to allocate more time to a particular section before, they will be given 70 minutes per section this year.
4- Separately Timed Sections: Each section will be timed separately and the on-screen timer will count down from 1 hour 10 minutes (i.e. 70 minutes). Once the time ends for a section, candidates will no longer be allowed to go back to it. Although new in the computer-based version of CAT, IIMs had used this format in some of the earlier paper-and-pencil years. This will enable candidates to focus equally on both sections, and manage their time within any one section rather than across the whole test.
5- Ending the Test: There will be no ‘Quit Test’ button within the first section (Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation) and candidates will need to wait until the allocated time of 70 minutes is up before moving on to the second section. However, if they choose to end their test before the time is up during the second section, candidates may click on the ‘Quit Test’ button from the Review screen at any time. A pop-up box will appear to ask candidates to re-confirm their decision before the test ends.
6- Check-in Procedure: We have taken the feedback from candidates and reviewed our operational process in order to improve the experience for candidates. Contingent on the continued punctuality of candidates, the check-in procedure will start one-and-a-half hours prior to the scheduled test time instead of the previous two hours.
CAT 2011 Vs CAT 2010
Number of Sections / Questions
3 sections, 20 questions each
2 sections, 30 questions each
140 minutes (70 minutes per section)
Ability to move between sections
Ability to move between questions
Yes, only within the same section
Ability to end test
Yes, only within the second section
Yes, before the start of the test
Yes, before the start of the test
Reporting Time for Test
2 hours prior to scheduled time
1.5 hours prior to scheduled time
Number of Test Days
Number of Test Cities
Number of Bank Branches for voucher purchase
The change in the number of sections will require candidates to focus equally on both sections and reduce their dependency on their strengths in a particular area. This could help IIMs maintain the diversity of the students that are selected and admitted into the IIMs as well as other B-schools. On the other hand, the timed sections will help candidates with balanced time management by ensuring that they do not spend too much time focusing on a particular section at the expense of doing well in another. With a total time of 140 minutes, candidates essentially have between 2 and 2.5 minutes for each question, so instead of hastening through any section, they should invest proper thinking and rationale to each question. As in past years, there will continue to be negative marking for incorrect answers, so it might pay to leave a question unanswered rather than making a random guess.
Apart from the changes highlighted above, there would be no significant change to the testing interface. Candidates will only be required to use a mouse to click on responses or navigation buttons. No computer skills are required. A 15-minute tutorial will be provided before the start of the test and candidates are strongly advised to take advantage of that. It is important to note that candidates will be required to click their acceptance to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before being allowed to proceed to the test.
In addition, a practice test has been made available on the CAT website www.catiim.in to familiarise candidates with the timed sections, as well as navigation and functionality of the test. While the sample questions in this practice test are not representative of the difficulty level of the CAT, candidates will be able to get a feel of reading questions from a computer screen, scrolling up and down a passage if necessary, selecting, de-selecting and changing their responses, using the Review screen, moving between questions within each section and managing their time with the on-screen timer.
With about two months to go before the start of this year’s testing window (22 October – 18 November 2011), there is plenty of time to focus on preparing well, as well as get comfortable with reading from a computer screen and navigating around with a mouse. None of the changes to the format require a paradigm shift in the way candidates have been preparing for CAT to date. Honest hard work would be the key to doing well, so all the best!