Remember the childhood story of the ant and the grasshopper? The ant used to store food for the future days of winter, while the grasshopper just wasted his time. The same story is repeated when we struggle for our careers and bright future. When almost all the youth of India are drenched in the color of festivity in the month of October and November, the aspirants for the CAT exam are focusing on their last-minute preparation. But, in the case of exam preparation, hard work is not enough. You also need to know smart work. This article is for every type of aspirant who is dreaming to crack CAT or similar examinations. From the student who heard about CAT, but does not know the details of it to the one who will sit for the exam this November- here is an A to Z guide for you. Stand on your marks, get set with Yoof, and… go!
A for Achieve, C for CAT
CAT or Common Admission Test is a computer-based test for admission to postgraduate management programs. CAT gives you the opportunity to study in the top institutes of management in our country including the IIMs. This exam was started by the Indian Institute of Management. However, after 2011, the Indian Institute of Technology(IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) also started to select students for their MBA (Masters in Business Management) or PGDM (Postgraduate Diploma in Management) courses on the basis of their CAT scores, instead of taking the Joint Management Entrance Test.
- Basic Criteria: Students must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate or equivalent CGPA. Students belonging to the reserved category will be given 5% relaxation. The bachelor’s degree must include a minimum of three years of education along with 10+2 or equivalent. Students who are appearing for the final year of the bachelor’s degree examination, or those who have appeared for the final examination but the result is awaited, can sit for the exam. If selected, these students will be allowed to join the program temporarily, but they have to produce a certificate by the principal or register of their institutions saying that they have finished every step of the prerequisites for acquiring a four-year or three-year bachelor’s degree. However, due to the COVID epidemic, the CAT authority decided to remove the minimum marks barrier for appearing in the CAT 2021 exam. Moreover, they have allowed “promotion/pass” certificates instead of “award of marks” certificates in any of the last two years of the bachelor’s degree program.
- Exam Pattern: Previously CAT consisted of 100 questions and each question carried 3 marks. The time duration was 3 hours or 180 minutes in total. However, in 2021, the time duration is reduced to 2 hours or 120 minutes along with the number of questions which is 76 instead of hundred. This digital or Computer Based Test is held in English. There are 3 Sections, i.e- 1) Verbal Ability and Reasoning Comprehension, 2) Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and 3) Quantitative Ability. The VARC and Quant sections have 26 questions for each category whereas the DILR section has 24 questions. The full marks of the examination are 228 and each question carries 3 marks. CAT exam questions will be a mix of MCQ and Non- MCQ types of questions. For each wrong answer from the MCQ section, there will be a negative marking of minus one. However, there is no negative marking for Non- MCQs and unattempted questions. The sectional time for each part is 40 minutes, and for PwD candidates it is 53 minutes 20 seconds.
The syllabus of the CAT exam mainly consists of three sections. Now we will discuss the details of these sections.
- Verbal Ability and Reasoning Comprehension
The VARC syllabus of CAT generally covers 3 major topics. The first is- Reading Comprehension. This section almost carries 70% of the total VARC score. One has to read the passage and answer the following questions. This passage comes from a wide range of topics, from abstract to scientific. Parajumbles are also a mandatory part of this section. There are two types of parajumbles that are frequently repeated in the CAT exam, one is normal parajumbles that come in MCQ format, and another is subjective parajumble where the answers need to be filled in. The summary is also an immovable topic of the CAT exam that is tested every year.
- Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
This is the vaguest part of the syllabus because it does not follow a proper structure. In the data interpretation, data will be presented in the form of a graph, chart, or another form of visualization. Students have to solve the questions based on the given data. In the logical reasoning part, the information is given in a non-structured manner. Students may need to frame a structure and derive the answer for it.
- Quantitative Ability
CAT Quantitative Ability actually covers every mathematical topic that one studies till class 12 including algebra, arithmetic, numbers, and geometry. Given the vastness of the CAT quant syllabus, students must target to score maximum in this section.
The secret to scoring high in any competitive exam is to avoid negative markings. Try to increase your accuracy level. It helps to have a better rank among those students who have secured the same marks in the examination.
A Guide to Your Dream
In an interview, when Professor Sandeep Gupta, BMS Coordinator, K.J. Somaiya College, was asked about what Management Education meant to a student, he replied, “It is a professional course which builds a strong base for the student in the areas like bank management, marketing management, etc. Regular assignments and project work help the students in building up their confidence and also it enables them to judge and decide their specialization field for post graduation studies.” That is the reason why an MBA is playing an important role in the recruitment process of Indian and global companies. As CAT is knocking on your door, here are some last-minute tips that will help you to stay calm and confident at the final hour.
- Know Your Strength and Weakness: To win, you must know your weakness very well and how to deal with those weaknesses. After every mock test, point out the topics of your strength, and weaknesses. Work on your weak part, if you think that is doable in a few days.
- Minimize the Negative Marking: There must be one or two areas that seem to be especially difficult for you. It is not advisable in the last few days to work on those areas. Simply, skip that part where you have doubt. Rather, polish the portion that is your forte so that you do not miss a single mark from those parts.
- The Practice of Reading the Questions: Not only solving the maths, or answering the questions matters in the exam hall; reading and understanding the question properly is the first and most important step to clearing the exam. The practice of reading the questions will help you to manage your time.
Finally, keep in mind that don’t fix a target score to get selected for your dream college. It will increase your pressure. Do the best you can. Good luck!
Now, if you think that CAT is the only hurdle that you need to cross to get admission to top IIMs and management colleges in India, here is a little piece of disappointment for you. Of course, qualifying for CAT is the first and foremost condition, and then you will be called for Written Ability Test, Group Discussion, and Personal Interview. The shortlisted candidates who have qualified for the CAT exam will be called for the next round. Not only the score of your CAT exam but also your previous academic records, like the score of 10th, 12th, and graduation play an important role to secure you a position on the final merit list.
To give you a better understanding of this selection and admission process we are giving a chart of parameters and weightage. This is how a candidate’s final score is calculated in the selection process.
CAT score 25
Personal Interview 30
Written Ability Test 10
Class 12 Marks 05
Class 10 Marks 10
Work Experience 10
If Not CAT, Then What?
Staying positive is the key to happiness. But, calculating the negative possibilities and preparing a plan B for alternative situations and outcomes is the key to success. That is why Yoof suggests you to appear for other entrance examinations of MBA also as you are preparing for CAT. Here’s a list of exams for pursuing MBA courses, apart from CAT:
XAT: XAT or Xavier Aptitude Test is the admission test for studying MBA/ PGDM programs in XLRI and other top MBA colleges like XIMB, IMT Ghaziabad, TAPMI Manipal, and 160 other top MBA colleges in India. XLRI, one of the best private business schools in India, offers admission to its Jamshedpur and Delhi campus on the basis of this exam only. The exam fee is Rs. 1800/-. The last date of applying for XAT 2022 is on November 30, 2021. The examination will take place on January 2, 2022, and the final result date is on January 25, 2022.
MAT: After CAT, MAT or Management Aptitude Test is the most popular entrance exam for MBA. More than 600 top-ranking business schools in India accept the scores of the MAT examination including Vijay Patil School of Management in Mumbai, Jagdish Seth School of Management of Bangalore, and International school of Business and Media, Pune. The exam fee is Rs.2750/-. The MAT exam will be performed in different phases from November- December 2021.
SNAP: SNAP or Symbiosis National Aptitude Test is the entrance exam to pursue your MBA from Symbiosis. This exam will give you the ticket to study business management at SIBM of Pune, SIBM of Bangalore, SIOM of Nashik, and 12 other Symbiosis colleges. It gives you the interesting opportunity to study at Symbiosis School of Sports Science also. The exam fee is Rs. 1950/-. SNAP 2021 exam will be performed on three dates in December 2021 and January 2022.
GMAT: GMAT or Graduate Management Admission Test is a globally recognized admission test for management programs. It is kind of similar to CAT, but the basic difference between CAT and GMAT is that CAT is a national-level entrance exam while GMAT is a global exam. Scores of GMAT are accepted by business schools worldwide, and it is especially helpful for students who want to pursue their MBA degrees abroad. Top Indian institutes of management, like- XLRI Jamshedpur, and MDI Gurgaon also accept the scores on GMAT. The test is conducted by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in 114 countries around the world. In spite of the growing acceptability of GRE scores in the admission process of management programs, GMAT still remains the first choice of MBA aspirants.