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CAT 2014 exam; An overview; Make the best use of remaining 180 days

CAT is the most sought after entrance examination to pursue MBA/PGDM in IIMs and other top rated MBA colleges in India. MBAbychoice.com brings out an overview on CAT 2014 with how to start the preparation from Prof S K Agarwal, expert on Verbal Ability

examCommon Admission Test, commonly known as CAT is the most sought after entrance examination to pursue MBA/PGDM in IIMs and other top rated MBA colleges in India. It is a yearly examination conducted by Indian Institutes of Management usually in the months of October-November. MBAbychoice.com brings out an overview on CAT 2014 with how to start the preparation from Prof S K Agarwal, expert on Verbal Ability

The best talent of country aspires for IIMs which are highly ranked in imparting management education. There are around 2 lakhs candidates who go for CAT preparation to appear in this most coveted test every year. Return on investment at IIMs is probably the best. Two years fee and other expenses at IIM come to around Rs.15 to 20 lakhs.  Top recruiters from India and world eye these institutes for their placement season and feel proud when a few of the students from these b schools join them. The offered salary packages go as high as Rs.50 to 55 lakhs per annum to the students of these institutes.

Top rated B schools accepting CAT scores

Apart from 13 IIMs namely IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Shillong, Ranchi, Kashipur, Trichy, Rohtak, Raipur, Udaipur, other top rated B schools like FMS Delhi, SPJIMR, JBIMS, SIMSREE, KJ Somaiya,  MDI, IMT, IMI, BIMTECH, TAPMI, GreatLakes, LIBA, and many others accept CAT scores.

CAT 2014 exam date: When proposed 
Notification to the test is usually out in the first week of August in leading newspapers and website of IIMs as well as on MBAbychoice.com portal. CAT 2014 exam date is expected to be conducted in 20-21 days test window in the months of October-November 2014.

CAT 2014 Application process: How to apply

CAT application process has been further simplified. Candidates can now register, apply online and can make online payment of the requisite fee without wasting time by going to the designated Bank to purchase the CAT vouchers which are sometimes out of stock. Those who do not have online payment facility can purchase the voucher from the designated banks’ branches.

CAT Exam pattern and duration

Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by Indian Institutes of Management will be an online computer based test. CAT organizing IIM provides a brief practice test beforehand to familiarise the candidates about the type and pattern of the test.

CAT has total time duration of 140 minutes. The exam is divided in two sections of 70 minutes each. The first section of Quantitative Ability and data Interpretation contains 30 questions and the second section of Verbal Ability and logical Reasoning also contains 30 questions.

Key features and past changes in CAT 

There have been perceptible changes over a period of time in the CAT test pattern. It used to be a paper-pen based test prior to 2009. Now the candidate has to appear online. Questions appear on computer screen and are to be answered on screen.

There used to be 3 sections till 2009. Since 2010, numbers of sections in the examination have been reduced from three to two. While Data interpretation has been clubbed to Quantitative Aptitude, logical reasoning part has moved to Verbal Ability section.  Those who have strong Quant or DI may get through the first section and an aspirant with strong Verbal or LR may get the same benefit in second section. In view of Prof S K Agarwal ‘the difficulty level has increased and more speed and accuracy has become the need of the hour to get through this exam’.

Earlier there were 240 questions to be solved in 120 minutes, they were reduced to 75 questions in 2007; again increased to 90 questions in 2008 and since 2009 total questions have remained 60 till 2013. The same number is expected to remain in 2014 as well.

How to prepare for CAT 2014

Describing the CAT preparation strategy in 2014, Prof S K Agarwal, mentor and expert on verbal ability, shares that an aspirant needs to know what and how to prepare before moving on the tricky path of CAT preparation module. While these changes might make the aspirant relax to some extent, the difficulty level is more wanting and quest for speed and accuracy has increased- a challenge which is to be met by the examinees or forget the CAT. The four parts of CAT namely Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability and logical reasoning need a systematic study schedule. Looking at the level of difficulty and surprise elements that appear in the examination, a thorough preparation of 6 to 7 months will be required to crack CAT 2014. The focus of the test has shifted from simple learning to contextual usage.

Begin your CAT 2014 preparation now

6 months is neither a long nor a short period to prepare for CAT 2014. According to Prof S K Agarwal 2 to 3 hours of daily study schedule should become a regular feature of life from now on, if you are serious enough to build your career by getting into an IIM or other top rated B school of your choice in 2015. While the strategy on how to prepare for CAT may differ from person to person, meticulous self study has no substitute.  Most of the candidates coming from Engineering or other technical background find it easy to get along well with Quant, DI and LR but when it comes to Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, they find the section too difficult.

Regular reading of editorials in newspapers; Learning and practicing vocabulary words in contextual usage; practicing jumbled paragraphs; solving error correction exercises and RC passages should be started right now.

Ironically it is not sufficient to score overall high in CAT but your section wise score should also be high. CAT 99+ percentilers couldn’t get admission in any of the top rated B schools as the percentile in either of the two sections was low.  On the other hand candidates with 92 percentile could get through the top rated IIMs as they had high percentile in both the sections.
CAT, the most coveted B-school entrance examination needs hardcore in-depth preparation, where nothing can be left to chance. Don’t wait begin now.

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