With Common Admission Test scheduled in the month of November, Careers360 brings you expert tips for your preparation journey for the coveted MBA entrance exam for admission to IIMs and other top B-schools.


In this Interview, PT Education Chairman Sandeep Manudhane talks on the major changes in CAT exam pattern and the implications that it may have on your preparation strategy and performance. He also speaks on how the change in CAT pattern is a course-correction on part of IIMs to instill confidence among test takers.


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Careers360: CAT 2014 comes with major changes in exam pattern. What could be the possible reasons behind these changes in exam pattern?

Sandeep Manudhane: The past 5 years have not been good for the reputation of IIM-CAT with a series of technical and operational issues plaguing its conduct. From outright failure of Servers and computers to questions raised on the integrity of the percentile calculation process (normalisation process), it has been a generally unhappy experience for a large percentage of test-takers. May be the change of vendor (from Prometric earlier to TCS now) and even the pattern has something to do with a conscious attempt by the authorities to alleviate the fears in the mind of potential test-takers regarding the test's authenticity and correctness.


Careers360:  How should students adapt their preparation strategy to the new pattern?

Sandeep Manudhane: The new pattern is fantastic, only because it allows the freedom to move between sections, as per will. This can prove strategic: you do what you can do, first. Then you do what you are relatively not excellent at. The standard technique of scan - search - select - solve works wonderfully well in this new system. I am sure that all complaints of the past few years regarding the students' inability to use every minute most productively will be done away with, and truly the test will be able to offer an opportunity to all students to show their time management skills, in addition to knowledge.


Careers360: Since CAT 2014 provides option to switch between the two sections, what would be the ideal exam-taking strategy?

Sandeep Manudhane:



As said earlier, the best strategy is to take first what you are best at. Do as much of that as possible, mark all answers accordingly, take a stock of the situation, and having thus completed that preferred section (test area) of yours, move on to the test area you are 'second-best' at. Then repeating this process, move on to your 'third-best' area. And so on. So for example, let's say Rohit is strong at Language, good at Quant, average at DI-DS and bad at Logical Reasoning may attempt the paper thus:


 Language -all possible questions - 30 minutes

Quant -B questions - 40 minutes

DI-DS -C questions - 40 minutes

LR -D questions - 40 minutes


 Now you are left with 20 minutes, and depending on the situation, you have to decide how to spend it best.



Alternatively, you can break up the entire test into test-areas, and within each test-area, you can have 'rounds of attempts' viz, first, second, and may be third. So, for the same candidate Rohit, the strategy will now be:


 Language - Round 1 - X questions (easiest) - 15 minutes

Quant - Round 1 - Y questions (easiest) - 20 minutes

DI-DS - Round 1 - Z questions (easiest) - 20 minutes

LR - Round 1 - K questions (easiest) - 20 minutes


Language – Round 2 - X" questions (not so easy) - 15 minutes

Quant – Round 2 - Y" questions (not so easy) - 20 minutes

DI-DS – Round 2 - Z" questions (not so easy) - 20 minutes

LR – Round 2 - K" questions (not so easy) - 20 minutes


 Now you are left with 20 minutes, and depending on the situation, you have to decide how to spend it best.


Careers360: Given the increased number of questions in CAT 2014, what are your expectations on difficulty level of questions?

Sandeep Manudhane: I think it will be a fair mix of toughness levels. Students should go with an open mind.

Sandeep-ManudhaneThe new pattern is fantastic, only because it allows the freedom to move between sections, as per will. This can prove strategic: you do what you can do, first. Then you do what you are relatively not excellent at.

Careers360:  CAT 2014 would be held in two-day window only. How does it impact CAT aspirants?

Sandeep Manudhane: It hopefully will help everyone, and eliminates a lot of statistical jugglery that went on for so many years, behind a black curtain of total opacity.


Careers360: Please share preparation strategy separately for Quant-DI and VA-LR sections.

Sandeep Manudhane: Make a micro plan splitting your effort into weeks and days. Write down that plan, and stick to it religiously. Remember that a weekly revision across test areas must be a key part of the plan. Do not work on any one test area for too long a stretch. Rotate across areas. It will keep you energised, interested and alive!


Careers360: CAT 2014 committee is yet to come up with the normalization process this year. What should be the ideal scoring process?

Sandeep Manudhane: Earlier there was no normalisation as it was a paper based test in one single slot. I think that system is the best. Since we are not in that mode (yet!), perhaps a normalisation process that truly takes into account different toughness levels as suggested by micro-level experts, and which evens out all edges will be best.


Careers360: XAT 2015 has also been announced. How preparation for XAT can simultaneously go with CAT preparation? Please suggest preparation strategy.

Sandeep Manudhane: It must go hand-in-hand, with the only difference being separate preparation needed for GK-CA, essay writing, and Decision Making questions. You must build in those components into your daily prep schedule. Write an essay of 250 words daily, read newspapers and magazines rigorously, prepare your notes accordingly - is what I'd advise.


 Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more news and special interviews on CAT preparations.

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 8300 out of 8300 Questions

I have 76% in 10th, 88% in 12th and 80% in graduation. Addition to that i have a 2 years work experience. How MUCH percentile do i need to score in cat to get a call from IIM ABC ?

Harshita Sharan Srivastava Student Expert 30th Mar, 2020

Hello Aspirant,

As per the details provided, you have decent academic record and its really good that you have 2 years of work experience. It'll give you an edge in selection process. Also, if you belong to general category, then to get a call from IIM A,B,C you should focus on getting a minimum of 98 percentile in cat.

All the best


Hlo....mam or sir! Im Rajlaxmi frm Odisha.. How to preparation for CAT ... during bba 2nd yr... how to crack CATexam ..

Prateek Sinha 30th Mar, 2020

Prepare for the syllabus according to the weight age of each section.  Give mock tests and improve upon your timing skills. if you join a coaching class it would be good as you will get a clearer idea.


why these exams are conducting

Aniket Sharma 29th Mar, 2020

hi lramprasad,

CAT is commencing on 25th November in 2020. So it does not need to get postponed/cancel due to corona virus. The situation should get better till November. So, we can't argue why CAT is conducting.

Please elaborate your query and provide more details so that we can help you better!!



Can i apply for MBA at JK Lakhmipat University if i have not given CAT?

Megha 29th Mar, 2020

Hello Abhishek !

Yes ,you can apply at JK Lakhmipat University if you have not given CAT , because as per their eligibility criteria for getting admission their the candidates must have appeared in CAT/MAT/ATMA/XAT/CMAT or any other national level entrance test.

In case the candidate has not appeared for any of the mentioned tests, they will have to appear in the JKLU Management Entrance Test (MET) to qualify for the programme.

So, you can apply there by appearing in their Entrance test.

Hope it helps !


What is the CAT exam pattern ?

Aashima Puri 29th Mar, 2020

Hello aspirant, hope you are doing well!

CAT ( Common admission test) is a very reputed entrance exam conducted by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for admissions into various colleges for MBA. The duration of the exam is 3 hours for all the categories and 4 hours for the PwD category. The sectional duration for each section is 60 minutes each whereas it is 80 minutes for the candidates of the PwD category.

The total number of questions asked in the entrance exam are 100. It is a computer based examination.

Candidates lose 1 mark for each incorrect answer and gain 3 marks for every correct answer. No marks are deducted for the questions which the candidate didn't attempt.

The examination consists of 3 sections namely - Quantitative ability , Data interpretation & logical reasoning and Verbal ability and reading comprehension. These sections consists of 34,32 and 34 questions each respectively.

The candidates are not allowed to switch between the sections. He/she can move to the next section only after attempting the previous section which he/she was completing. Though, the candidates are allowed to switch between questions within the same section.

These were some of the main points to be kept in mind for the CAT exam.

Further you can go through this link to know everything about CAT exam. https://www.google.com/amp/s/bschool.careers360.com/articles/cat-exam-pattern/amp

Hope it helps! All the very best for your future endeavours!

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