IIMs must release CAT Question Paper and Keys for transparency, says CAT expert Arks Srinivas
Updated on Oct 13, 2016 - 9:58 a.m. IST by Sreetama Datta
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Ever since the mode of CAT or Common Admission Test changed to computer based, CAT takers have been raising questions on the credibility of the evaluation process and other testing areas. Careers360 has already reported on the array of problems faced by CAT takers every year and the probable solutions IIMs could offer. We approached CAT experts to know their take on the seriousness of trouble areas in CAT 2016 and the ways it can be improved.


In this special interview on the CAT trouble areas, CAT expert Arks Srinivas who is the CEO of VistaMind Education and Director of Vanguard Business School, Bangalore advocates for the release of question paper and answer key, and also speaks on changes that IIMs need to bring in CAT for making it more transparent. He believes that conducting the test in a single slot and releasing question paper and answer keys are some of the steps if taken by IIMs, can address major concerns.


Read interview excerpts below:


Careers360: In recent years, there have been multiple concerns on different areas of CAT including its evaluation and credibility of the testing process. How can CAT be better from students’ perspective?

Arks Srinivas: In my view, the following steps can be taken by IIMs to make the test better from the test takers’ point of view.

  1. Conduct CAT in a single slot. It will help in addressing all the issues related to normalization and differences in degree of the difficulty level between the two slots.

  2. Release the question paper as well as the KEY (the way XAT does) so that the students would know what scores they would get. This will help them in deciding which institutes they should apply to.

  3. Give more weight-age to Verbal Ability instead of just Reading Comprehension.

Careers360: IIMs claim to have modified question pattern and question type for bringing greater academic diversity on campus. How do you see this change?

Arks Srinivas: There is hardly any change that the IIMs have done in the CAT pattern. If one looks at the CAT patterns from 1999 to 2008, the overall pattern has been almost the same. Only when Prometric took over as the conducting body of CAT exam, did the pattern change.


The IIMs are anyway giving more weight-age to gender (read women) and non-engineering students. Their cutoff should be announced early enough so that students know exactly what to expect.


Careers360: Do you think normalization process in CAT is fair?

Arks Srinivas: Normalization continues to be a contentious issue! With the exam being conducted in two slots, an element of luck is always associated as to which slot you get. For example, in the Slot 1 of CAT 2015, there was a question set on Cubes combined with Progressions. Students who were good in Cubes would have got full marks, while those not good in that area would have had to skip the set. In Slot 2, there was no question on Cubes set. So the entire batch of test takers, who wrote the test in the second slot was deprived of this set.


Now, the issue is that Logical Reasoning as an area is not an open and shut case kind of section. Different type of questions commands different levels of easiness or difficulty (for the entire student base). In this case, there is NO UNIFORMITY in the paper and hence one set of people lost out.


Careers360: What are the key areas that IIMs can work upon to bring more transparency in the CAT testing system?

Arks Srinivas: IIMs should release the question paper along with the key within a short period (post the CAT exam). They should also allow students to check their answers online.


Careers360: Given a chance to overhaul CAT, what are the fundamental changes you would suggest for the coveted MBA entrance exam?

Arks Srinivas: If given a chance, I would like to make the following amends in the test:

  1. Allow students with less than 50% marks in Degree also to attempt the paper (Management ability is not entirely dependent only on the academic marks)

  2. Single slot exam rather than having two slots that are being conducted

  3. No time-limits for any section (The very idea of a management exam should be to allow the prospective manager to decide how he/she will choose the time available and allocate this resource to his strengths and weaknesses)

  4. Release of the paper and key within two days of conducting the exam

  5. Allow changes in the answers (key) as per the feedback received from various stakeholders

  6. Allow re-checking of the paper.

Appearing in CAT 2016 Ask Discuss here

Also Read

CAT Troubles: Will IIMs address these problem areas bothering CAT takers every year?

Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more news and updates on CAT.


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Hi, can you suggest me the best colleges at 84.58 percentile in CAT. Im a female, non engineer, general category aspirant. My score in 10th/12th/Grad : 8.2 CGPA/89%/7.2 CGPA

Sampriti Student Expert 22nd Jan, 2020
You have a pretty decent CAT percentile and hence you should check out these colleges.
  • LBSIM Delhi
  • LIBA Chennai
  • BIM Trichy
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • XISS Ranchi
  • XIME Bangalore
  • KMT Nagpur and Hyderabad campuses

They are very good colleges with good placements and great ROI.You can easily get an average compensation package of 7-8 lakhs.

Good Luck

when can we give CAT exams?? when should we start preparations for CAT exams??

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
Arpita, CAT exam is usually held every year tentatively in the month of November and the results are announced in the month of January. With all the 20 IIMs conducting their admissions based on CAT score, no time is early for CAT preparation. Unless you score 95 percentile and above, it is difficult for admission in IIMs. CAT is an online examination of 3 hours duration.The questions in the exam will be of MCQ and TITA type totaling 100 questions. MCQ are multiple choice questions, for which candidates get multiple answer choices. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark. However Type in the Answer questions are exempted from Negative Marking.

CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:

Quantitative Ability
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

The Verbal Ability section and Reading Comprehension has 34 Questions, Data interpretation-Logical Reasoning section has 32 MCQ questions and Quantitative Ability has 34 MCQ questions totalling up to 100 questions. Each Question has 3 marks and a wrong answer takes away 1 mark.

which mba colleges are best suited for 84 percentile in cat 2019?

Sampriti Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
You have a pretty good CAT percentile and you can easily get a call from some of the best B schools in the country like
  • LIBA Chennai
  • BIM Trichy
  • XISS Ranchi
  • XIME Bangalore
  • BIMTECH Noida
  • IMT Nagpur and Hyderabad campuses
  • ICFAI Business School Hyderabad and other campuses
  • IFMR Chennai and other colleges

All these colleges are equally good in terms of industry reputation and placements. But if you're interested in marketing or finance you should go for BIMTECH, ICFAI and IMT campuses and BIM. They are the best in this list. But if you're planning to study Human Resource then XISS and LIBA would be the best option. All the colleges provide good ROI and you can easily get an average compensation package of 7-8 lakhs from these colleges.

Good Luck

sir my jee main percentile in jan exam is 85.4059364. can I get admission in NIT. I m in Gen cat

Sunil Kumar singh 21st Jan, 2020

Hi dear,

You have got 85.4059364 percentile in JEE main that means your rank should be 126875. This rank can increase in number of student in april month will increase. You can also calculate your rank as

Rank=(100-your percentile)×869010÷100

With this rank you have very low chance to get any NITs as you belong from general category. You can predict your college here


Hope it helps


Which is the best academy to take cat coaching in India, both online and offline...

Sampriti Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020
You can join either TIME or Carrer Launcher. Both of them are equally good in terms of faculty and study materials. IMS is also pretty good and comes right after these two. All of them have good success rate. All of them usually charge above 40000 as the course fee.

But if you don't want to invest such a huge amount of money you can study from various books available in market like Arun Sharma and Sarvesh Verma for quantitative aptitude and magazines like The Economist and TIME and TOI newspaper for the English portion. Along with that do buy the mock test series from the above Institutes which will give you a good knowledge of all the kinds of questions generally asked in CAT,XAT or other exams.

All the very best
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