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The changed pattern of CAT 2015 has brought mixed reactions from the aspirants. Experts, however, suggest that through the new test pattern IIMs aim to gauge competence of MBA aspirants in all the three sections - Quantitative Ability, Verbal and Reading Comprehension, and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning.
In these expert interviews on CAT 2015 changes series, Careers360 brings to you insights from Vinayak Kudva, Product Head, and IMS Learning. He advises candidates to firstly ensure that they are equally prepared in all three sections and further ensure that they fine-tune their test taking strategy in alignment with the new structure. He says that the aspirants can no longer skip the entire section or major topics since there would be 3 different sections along with sectional cutoff. He also hopes that with the single day window of CAT 2015, the controversies on scaling and equating process would be mitigated. [Click here to Get Complete CAT Correspondence Preparation Package]
Read full interview below.
Careers360: What is your take on the overall exam pattern introduced for CAT 2015?
Vinayak Kudva: The CAT has now changed to a 3 section test with sectional time-limits - but there is no change in the areas that are being assessed viz Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability. We believe the IIMs have done this to ensure that the test-takers exhibit equal competency in all three sections unlike last year when they could do well in the test even without performing well in Quantitative Ability or Verbal Ability. So, potential test aspirants need to firstly ensure that they are equally prepared in all three sections and further ensure that they fine-tune their test taking strategy in alignment with the new structure.
Careers360: The sections are once again time bound, with 1 hour each. How should aspirants manage time during testing hours?
Vinayak Kudva: With sectional time-limits, test-takers neither have the option to decide how much time to allocate to each of the areas nor to decide the order in which they would solve questions from different areas. Test-takers will now need to look at the CAT as a series of three 1-hour tests, one after the other, wherein they need to maximize their scores in each of the tests.
Careers360: Please suggest the sectional preparation strategy for CAT 2015.
Vinayak Kudva: A test-taker must set the target number of questions to be solved in each section even before entering the exam hall - this would obviously be based on the sectional and overall percentile one is aiming for in CAT 2015. The test-takers should know their strengths and weaknesses in each of the sections and accordingly maximize their attempts in each of the sections without compromising on accuracy. Sectional percentiles will be the game changer this year.
You need to firstly ensure that you are equally prepared in all 3 sections and further ensure to fine-tune your test taking strategy in alignment with the new structure. – Vinayak Kudva, CAT Product Head, IMS Learning
Careers360: For the first time, there will be on screen calculator. How far will it be advantageous for the candidates?
Vinayak Kudva: We believe the IIMs have introduced the calculator to mitigate the psychological fear of Math that a lot of non-engineering students have with respect to the CAT. While the CAT never had too many calculation-intensive questions in the past, the introduction of the calculator will definitely help students while performing calculations in Data Interpretation and maybe a few Quantitative Ability questions. The focus will therefore be on knowing "what to calculate" rather than "how to calculate". CAT always has been and will still be a test of one’s ability to apply concepts.
Careers360: There will be some non-MCQs as well. How should the candidates tackle those questions?
Vinayak Kudva: As far as the TITA (type-in-the-answer) questions are concerned, test-takers will not be able to indulge in guessing - wild or intelligent based on the options provided. However as these questions do not carry negative marking, all test-takers would be advised to definitely attempt these questions.
Careers360: Based on the new pattern, do you think it would be possible to increase the diversity in the B-schools?
Vinayak Kudva: The IIMs are hoping that the Verbal Ability section being stand-alone will help the case of non-engineering students thereby increasing the number of non-engineering students in the final mix. However, one needs to remember that the 3-section format is not something new and was prevalent in the past too - and the outcome in terms of who did well in the test was fairly the same.
Careers360: The computer based CAT will be conducted in a single day window in 2 slots for the first time. Is it a positive development according to you? How?
Vinayak Kudva: IIMs are slowly moving towards a single window test that would exactly replicate the paper-based test scenario that was prevalent before the CAT went online in 2009. This is necessary to stem all questions that keep coming up every year regarding the credibility and fairness of the process used for scaling and equating of scores for tests taken across multiple test slots. Last year they drastically reduced the test window from 21 test days (42 slots) to 2 Test Days (4 slots) and this year they have further brought it down to just 1 Test day and 2 slots. Don’t be surprised if the test is conducted in just 1 slot next year.
Careers360: What would be your suggestion for the CAT 2015 aspirants?
Vinayak Kudva: Now that there is enough information available about the test - all test aspirants should focus on their preparation. We welcome the transparency shown by the IIMs this year regarding the test - they have shared the order of the sections and even the marking scheme way in advance. Students are advised to ensure they take enough mock tests before the actual test, and thereby be well prepared for 29th November.
CAT 2015 Pattern: ‘Not too short, not too lengthy, but balanced’, says Sandeep Manudhane, Chairman, PT Education
CAT 2015 changes will favour well-prepared students: Gautam Puri, VC, Career Launcher
CAT 2015: ‘Sectional limit will make decision making easier'
Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more on CAT 2015.
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