The official CAT notification has been released, and some of you may have questions around the CAT exam paper pattern, the method that IIMs use for shortlisting candidates and some of you may even question why you're taking this test in the first place! To answer all your CAT related queries, we at InsideIIM present to you the CAT Guide - a detailed guide on everything you need to know about the CAT exam!
What Is The CAT Exam?
The Common Admission Test is a gateway to the famed Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), other top business schools, and institutes offering management education in India, such as MDI Gurgaon, SPJIMR Mumbai, FMS Delhi, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and JBIMS amongst others. In fact, numerous business schools abroad such as HEC Paris, ESCP Europe, Singapore Management University, and ESSEC Business School amongst others accept CAT scores for admission to their respective Masters in Management programmes!
How Many People Make It To The IIMs?
In 2018, nearly 2.5 lakh MBA aspirants registered for the CAT exam, and only a fraction (approximately 1%) of those registered aspirants made it to one of the 20 IIMs in 2019 to pursue their MBA dreams.
What Is The Big Deal About CAT And The IIMs?
The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are premier management institutes of India, and graduates of these institutes are considered to be the crème de la crème of India's talent pool. The IIMs have produced CEOs of industry giants, C-suite executives at multinational corporations, and even billionaire entrepreneurs! Indra Nooyi, the ex-Global Head of PepsiCo and Sriharsha Majety, the co-founder of Swiggy, Pranay Chulet of Quikr, and bestselling author Amish Tripathy are IIM Calcutta graduates. The founder of Makemytrip, Deep Kalra, and Dr. Raghuram Rajan are graduates of IIM Ahmedabad. Many similar IIM alumni have gone on to have illustrious careers. And guess what - they all took the CAT exam!
The IIMs themselves have garnered a reputation for being elite management institutes, and the first IIMs of India, IIMs Calcutta, Ahmedabad and Bangalore, are counted amongst the world's top business schools. Another reason why the IIMs have become glamourous is the end-result of the two-years spent pursuing management education - opportunities to work with some of the top brands in the world, and almost a guarantee of a hefty pay-cheque. Top students graduating from the IIMs and other elite MBA institutes can expect to receive a CTC in excess of Rs. 20 lakhs per annum, as per the latest placement reports.
Who Is Eligible To Take The CAT?
To be eligible to take the CAT exam, you need to be a Bachelor's degree holder with a minimum of 50% marks or equivalent CGPA.
What Is The CAT Paper Pattern?
The CAT exam is split into three sections - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability. There are a total of 100 questions in the CAT exam, and the total exam duration is 3 hours, with 1 hour to solve each of the three sections.
For each correct answer that you give, you get 3 marks, and for any incorrect answer that you give, 1 mark is deducted. The exception to this is the Type In The Answer or TITA, wherein there is no negative marking for an incorrect answer.
You cannot shift between any section. Only upon the completion of the 60 minutes allotted to a section can you move on to the next section.
The Three Sections of CAT
The first section is VA-RC. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension tests your fluency in the English language through question types such as Parajumbles, Paragraph Completion, and Deductive Logic. Additionally, the section also tests your ability to comprehend and answer questions based on long-form essays on a variety of topics. This section has a total of 34 questions.
The second section is DI-LR. The Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section tests your ability to identify patterns, think logically and even unconventionally, and sometimes also tests mathematical concepts that can help you arrive at an answer. This section is usually split into sets, with each set comprising 4 questions. Logical Reasoning tests your ability to identify patterns, while Data Interpretation tests your number-crunching ability. This section has a total of 32 questions.
The final section is QA. The Quantitative Ability section tests mathematical concepts around topics such as Arithmetic, Algebra, Modern Maths, Geometry and Mensuration. The syllabus is similar to Higher Secondary mathematics syllabus, but that’s where the similarity ends. A lot of CAT QA questions are highly convoluted and layered, requiring the ability to think logically and using shortcuts as and when possible. This section has a total of 34 questions.
What Is IIMs' GD-PI Shortlisting Process?
Your CAT score is not the only criterion based on which IIMs will shortlist you, though it is an important selection criterion. Apart from your CAT percentile, IIMs also shortlist candidates based on their academic profile (10th, 12th, and Graduation marks), as well as the work experience applicants possess. There are additional points for non-engineering and female applicants; an initiative to increase the academic and gender diversity at the IIMs.
Based on your academic profile and CAT performance, a composite score is calculated, on the basis of which you are shortlisted for the GD-PI-WAT rounds of the IIMs. A similar shortlisting process is adopted by elite non-IIM institutes. Find the IIMs' selection criteria here.
How Can I Start Preparing For CAT From Today Itself?
Regardless of whether you have been preparing for CAT for months or are starting today, this CAT 2019 Preparation Guide will be of immense help to you in your CAT preparation journey. From section-wise strategies to mock test analysis tips, this CAT 2019 Preparation Guide is a one-stop-shop for all your CAT preparation requirements.
For any CAT preparation related content that you may need, take a look at our CAT 2019 Exams page.
I Have More Questions. Where Can I Ask Them?
For any questions around not just CAT, but also other competitive entrance exams such as XAT, NMAT, SNAP, IIFT, GMAT and GRE, make full use of our Q&A section, where you can ask the MBA community any questions that you may have!