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As Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) maintain a measured silence over CAT answer key and question paper release, top B-schools accepting CAT scores for MBA admission process have demanded a more transparency in the testing system. Careers360 spoke to top non-IIMs to understand their concerns related to the most prestigious MBA admission test.
Though, B-School directors say CAT requires transparency at multiple levels, they believe that release of question paper and answer key remain of utmost importance. According to them, such steps will only generate a greater level of trust in the coveted MBA exam, which is the gateway for IIMs and many other top B-schools in India.
CAT should not be a secret
VIT Business School Dean Dr D Ashok says that IIMs should not maintain secrecy on the questions it asks to candidates. He firmly suggests that “IIMs should release all 3 documents namely, question paper, answer key and answer sheet. Then the major issues related to lack of transparency can be addressed.” He adds that such documents also help aspirants who prepare for next year test.
Dr Harivansh Chaturvedi who is the Director of Birla Institute of Management Technology also says that releasing question paper and the answer keys would help IIMs in “enhancing the credibility of the exam system”.
Can’t IIMs do it like XAT, AIPMT, UPSC!
B-School directors also refuse to accept IIMs’ claim that releasing answer key and question paper will make the testing and evaluation process complex. They question intention of IIMs on this asking why IIMs can’t do it for CAT Exam when XLRI does it for a similar exam called XAT. Prof M P Gupta, HoD, DMS-IIT Delhi says, “XAT conducting B-School, XLRI, releases the answer keys just after the exam. Thus, even before the results are out, candidates already know their expected marks and as a result, they are less anxious on the result day. These are some aspects which make XAT a highly credible entrance exam and IIMs should try to incorporate these into CAT as well in order to bring a higher level of transparency.”
B-School directors also cite examples of other public competitive examinations where releasing question paper and answer key has become a norm for exam authorities. As Prof P K Biswas, Director, Institute for Financial Management and Research – IFMR, says, “I feel we should have more transparency regarding CAT exam. There should be no issue in publishing CAT questions and answer keys. In UPSC exam, for civil services most of the questions are available. So, why can’t we publish CAT questions?”
IMT Ghaziabad Director, Dr Atish Chattopadhyay says that IIMs should have started releasing the question paper and answer keys long back as it is happening with majority exams. “It is surprising that it has not happened till date. Take the example of pre-medical examination AIPMT. They received more than 6 lakh applications and every student can do an OMR check, know what the right answers are, and challenge each of the answers. Then, the answer keys are frozen before the announcement of results. So it is nothing new in India. Even in the AIIMS exam the same thing happens which is similar in scale to that of IIMs.” He adds that if IIMs still resist from releasing the question paper and answer keys then people will more often doubt their testing process.
The IMT director, who was the then Dean of MICA in 2016, had changed the testing processes to publish raw scores of MICA test for candidates. “There was so much of hoopla regarding this when I was at MICA. We changed the selection process. We made everything very-very transparent. Transparency today is not an option!” he says.
Why do IIMs hide normalisation formula?
One of the key concerns among CAT aspirants is the lack of transparency which happens in the form of normalisation, a complex algorithmic process that raises various doubts and questions among the test-takers. B-schools say that IIMs should try and again take cues from another major B-School entrance exam, XAT, which is conducted in a highly transparent manner and leaves not an iota of doubt among the aspirants. Prof Sanjeev Bansal, Dean, Faculty of Management Studies, Amity University says that the formula or computation method of CAT score normalisation should be mentioned clearly in the CAT website to bring more transparency in the system.
Some B-schools say that IIMs can scrap the normalisation process by conducting CAT in single slot. Prof M P Gupta of DMS-IIT Delhi says, “XAT takes place in one time slot all over India and this eliminates the need for any normalization of marks that happens among different slots.”
Despite being part of the CAT testing system, the IIM directors that Careers360 spoke to, evaded a direct reply on whether question paper and answer key should be released, saying that such questions should be best directed to the IIM committee that works on CAT.
IIM Indore Director Dr Hrishikesh T Krishnan, who spoke on this issue, said that CAT is already held in a transparent manner. He, however, added that “improvement is a process and suggestions that can make the process better can always be considered.”
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Dear Akshat, CAT is exclusively conducted by the IIMs. So the selection for admission to any of the 20 IIMs is through CAT exam. Unfortunately no other score except for CAT score is accepted for IIM Ahmedabad. You can check their selection process at:
Dear Sai, IIMs look for Diversity factor in Academics. They have a special rating scale for Professional courses like MBBS,BDS, CA, etc. We shall help you with the admission process of IIM Ahmedabad just as an example to show how does the selection process work. There are 3 sections in CAT: QA, DILR, VRC. IIM A has released its 2019 cut off percentiles. Only those Candidates who have scored this percentiles will be shortlisted for further rounds. The cut offs are as follows:
VRC DILR QA Overall
General 70 70 70 80
OBC-Transgender 65 65 65 75
SC 60 60 60 70
ST 50 50 50 60
PWD 60 60 60 70
PWD-ST 50 50 50 60
On an average IIMs need a cut off 90 percentile and more for admission to their colleges. You can check the complete selection process of IIM A at:
Now based on these cut offs top 5 percentile from each Category will be short listed for WAT and PI. So inorder to be able to score these cut offs, you need to know the exam pattern and marking scheme. CAT exam paper can be Categorised into 3 parts:
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.
NCERT books will sharpen your basics and you need strong basics for preparing for any entrance examination. Once your basics are in place, because the time period for preparation is quite less, your preparation should be extensive and thorough.
Quantitative Aptitude covers almost 30% of the CAT question paper. QA can be categorised into Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Advanced Mathematics. Practise chapter by chapter and develop mental calculations. Like practise more of basic summation, subtraction, fractions and tables. Numbers, Percentage, Profit and Loss, Simple and Compound Interest, Ratio, Proportionality, Time-Distance, Time-Work, Mixtures, Averages, Partnership, Permutation and Combinations, Probability, Set Theory, Progression and Series, Line, Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygon, Circles, Ares, Volume, Height and Distance, Coordinate Geometry, Basic Trigonometry are few important topics.
Because this section involves mathematics and takes most of your time, your focus should be on solving the problems efficiently in the beginning. Even if it takes time, practise upto perfection. Practise as many questions as you can in the conventional way. As and when you get a grip on the subject, you can go for short cuts. Memorise tables, square roots, cube roots, conversion from percent to fraction, etc. Solve sample papers on Mathematics. In the beginning, do not worry about the time it takes. As you practise, you will get the hang of the subject and it will be easier for you.
In Verbal Ability session, command on your English, Grammar, Vocabulary, Understanding of the given paragraph are of more importance. Reading English NewsPaper will also help you in your preparation.
Read articles from time to time. Follow newspapers, magazines, and watch the news channels and browse the internet to keep yourself updated. You will need a lot of reading to help you in the comprehension section. You will need speed to help you in this section and you can achieve that only by thorough practise and reading. Take time to understand the question because most answers are interlinked.
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning needs to be practised as much as possible. Comparison of data, Data Analysis, taking clues, interpreting missing data, coming to conclusions and making future projections will be covered under this Category. The questions here are interlinked and so if you get one formula correct, cracking the next few questions will be easy. So it's important to memorise and practise formulae. You should cover topics like Data tables, Data Charts, Bar Diagrams, Pie Charts, Graphs, Data Comparison and Analysis.
As this is the most tricky section, this needs a lot of practise. Solve as many sample papers as possible to get the hang of the section. Make notes when required. Regular practise can help you understand and solve the questions easily as time goes on.
Overall,once you know the syllabus, it's easier from there on.Go through the previous papers to analyse and prepare a comprehensive plan and set priorities according to the importance of different topics across sections. Customise your own study plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. Gauge your preparation from time to time by taking mock tests. Solve questions to check your levels of preparation but not to set any targets. Remember, its ok to have cheat days and relax. But make sure you have a plan and stick to it for the next few months
We can recommend a few books for you:
NCERT books to cover the basics from 6th to 10th Class
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Nishit Saxena
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum for CAT by Sarvesh Sharma
How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Exams by Abhijit Guha
You can also download free downloadable e books at:
NIFT has nothing to do with CAT or GAT. Those are the exams for MBA. NIFT is for admission in fashion courses.
The eligibilitiy is just marks of your 10th and intermediate. The main point is the candidate must have qualified both from a recognised board and must be having PCM as the compulsory subject.
The exam has an age limit to be 23 and there is 5 years relaxation for category reserved candidates.
For more information please check the article:-
Hope it helps!
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