Common Admission Test (CAT) is an entrance test examination at the all-India level organized by the premier management institutes of the country. Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) conducts this entrance exam for management programmes offered at its seven business schools. Almost 250,000 students took this examination in the year 2008 for around 1500 seats at the IIMs. Common Admission Test is basically multiple-choice objective type with around one-fourth negative marking system for every single wrong answer. It traditionally consists of three sections that cover the spheres of arithmetical problem solving, statistics, logical reasoning, geometry, data interpretation, puzzles, and English language capability.
CAT is usually held on the third Sunday of the month of November every year. The test duration is two and a half hours. The number of questions varies every year. This entrance test is defined as the mode of getting admission to the IIMs. The exam score is declared in the second week of January. Next stage after the declaration of the written scores is a group discussion followed by a personal interview. Candidates, who are invited for the next stage of selection, generally possess total scores over 99 percentile with balanced high scores in all the individual sections.
Interested students can get the forms for Common Admissions Test (CAT) from some designated bank branches. Prospective students also have the option of registering online. One point that needs to be remembered is that candidate needs to purchase only one CAT voucher irrespective of the number of management institutes he/she is interested in applying to. Notification regarding the sales of CAT application appears in almost all the dailies.
Eligibility Criteria for Common Admission Test (CAT)
For all IIMs, the minimum eligibility criterion for admission is that the candidate must pass with at least 50% marks at the graduation level. Candidates appearing for the final year graduation can also apply for the CAT examinations, however they are expected to produce a certificate from the Principal/Head of the Department/Registrar/Director of the university/ institution certifying that the candidate has obtained 50% marks or equivalent based on latest available graduation scores. The margin is 45% for the SC or ST candidates. The percentage of marks scored by the students in the bachelor`s degree is calculated based on the common practice followed by the university or the institution from where the student has obtained the degree certificate. In case the candidates are awarded grades and not marks then the conversion of grades to the percentage of marks would be entirely based on the system certified by the concerned university or institution. And in any case, if the university or the institution does not have any policy for converting the obtained grades into equivalent marks then the equivalence is established by dividing the candidate`s grades by the maximum grade of the student and then by multiplying the result with 100.
Courses Offered in CAT
Post graduate management courses are as follows -
IIM Ahmedabad - PGP, PGP-ABM and PGP-PMP
IIM Bangalore - PGP, PGSEM and PGPPM
IIM Calcutta - PGP-PGDM and PGP - PGDCM
IIM Indore - PGP and EPGP
IIM Kozhikode - PGP
IIM Lucknow - PGP and PGPABM
RGIIM Shillong - PGP
B. Fellow Programmes in Management (FPM) (which are equivalent to Ph.D) of IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Indore, IIM Kozhilwde, and IIM Lucknow.
PATTERN OF EXAMINATION
There are four separate sections in the CAT question paper. They are mainly `Verbal Ability`, `Reading Comprehension`, `Problem Solving` and `Data Interpretation`. These sections comprise multiple choices questions and they are required to be answered only by using HB pencil on a computer coded answer paper. For every single incorrect answer the students would get negative marks. The IIMs change the pattern of question every year to avoid predictability. Deeper understanding of the various concepts and their applications are required to be successful in the CAT.
The four sub sections of Common Admission Test -
Quantitative Ability (QA): In this section, the questions are designed such that there is a lot of stress implied on reasoning skills more than on their computational skills.
Data Interpretation (DI): This section presents data to the candidate in forms such as case lets, pie diagrams, bar graphs, etc so as to evaluate the candidate`s skills at analyzing the given information. Data Sufficiency questions in this section are based on basic mathematics.
Reading Comprehension (RC): This section has around 6-8 passages with an overall length of 4500-5500 words and about 50 questions to answer in a span of about 30 minutes. However this too can vary according to the level of difficulty of questions.
Verbal Ability (VA): This section explores the candidate`s understanding of the English Language and also tests them on their Reasoning Skills. The questions in this section typically comprise sentence correction, sentence sequencing, verbal reasoning etc.
There is no defined syllabus for CAT. It is basically an aptitude test and it tests the knowledge and analytical skills of the candidates. The syllabus for this entrance test examination changes every single year and is tentative to change. Questions of this exam usually come from the several categories like for instance, verbal ability and reasoning, reading comprehension, quantitative skills, data interpretation and analytical and logical reasoning. These are the main sections from where the questions are likely to come.
The final results of the CAT are announced on the official CAT website. After the written exam of CAT, the prospective candidates are ranked as per the scores obtained by them and the best of candidates are called by the IIMs, the prestigious management institute of the country. At this time, the other renowned business management schools, which have accepted the scores of CAT for the admissions also start sending their call letters to the short-listed candidates. The candidates receiving the call letters need to buy the application forms of these other colleges and apply to them separately. After the written test, the selected students have to undergo a group discussion and a personal interview. Group discussions are more like a stress interview where the students are posed with real problems and situations about which they need to think and discuss and reach at an amicable solution. Then at last there is the individual interview that is equally detailed and important in nature.
Common Admission Test or the CAT is considered to be the most significant requirement for a student seeking admission to the prestigious business management schools of India. The percentile obtained in CAT is reviewed by the B-Schools of the country for short-listing the suitable candidates for admissions to their several MBA Programs. CAT is also considered as one of the most competitive entrance exams for judging the potential and knowledge skills of the candidates interested in pursuing a career in business administration and management.