Tuesday, July 26, 2011

IIMs revamp CAT examination format

The Indian Institutes of Mangement (IIMs) on Monday announced a new format of the common admission test (CAT), with fewer papers and questions and allowing more time to answer them. CAT 2011 will have two sections instead of three. The first will test quantitative ability and data interpretation, which was a separate paper earlier. The second paper will test verbal ability and logical reasoning.

IIMs have also reduced the number of questions to 60 from 75, with 30 questions in each paper, and increased the total time limit for completing the test to 140 minutes from 120 minutes. But both the papers will have to be attempted sequentially; once an aspirant completes the first paper, he/she will not be allowed to go back to it.

"These two sections will be implemented sequentially with separate time limits. The (duration of the) examination will be 140 minutes. Candidates will have 70 minutes to answer 30 questions within each section which will have an on-screen countdown timer," the IIMs and Prometric Inc., which will conduct the tests, said in a joint statement. "Once the time ends for the first section, they will move to the second and will no longer be able to go back. Although new in the computer-based version of CAT, this format was previously practised in some of the earlier paper-and-pencil years."

The number of test days has been retained at 20. CAT 2011 will begin on 22 October and 18 November to allow candidates the flexibility of choosing a test date. "We are confident that CAT 2011 is going to help us in identifying the appropriate candidates for our programmes, and that the examination will be fair and equitable," said Janakiraman Moorthy, CAT 2011 convenor and a professor at IIM-Kolkata. IIM-Raipur Director B.S. Sahay said fewer papers will help students as CAT cut-off marks are decided on the basis of cut-off marks for each section. "Now there will be two cut-offs to be considered instead of three," he said.

CAT 2011 will provide a 15-minute tutorial before the test begins. It will be conducted across 36 cities, including the newly added Jammu, Dehradun and Bhilai. Amit Agnihotri, head of MBAuniverse.com, a management education tracking portal, said the new format is progressive as it will be easier on students. "Increasing exam duration is a huge plus," he said.

When CAT went online in 2009, thousands of IIM aspirants were hit by a lack of practice, little knowledge about the navigational keys and technical glitches. Around 17,000 students re-took the test, resulting in bad publicity for the premier management school and protests by students. This also delayed the declara- tion of results by three weeks.

In 2010, the IIMs and Prometric delivered a glitch-free exam across 33 cities. Last year, at least 204,000 candidates registered to take the CAT compared with 242,000 in 2009. Currently, there are 13 IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore, Kashipur, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Shillong, Ranchi, Rohtak, Shillong, Tiruchirappalli and Udaipur.

Source: Mint, July 26, 2011
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