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CAT 2016: Why do IIMs change their Exam Pattern each year

Last Updated - August 19, 2016

We observe an ever-changing exam pattern and structure for the Common Aptitude Test, or the CAT Exam. There has been a constant change, atleast for the past 6 years. It can very aptly be called an exam with many firsts!

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Till the year 2008, the CAT Exam used to be a pen and paper exam. From 2009, the exam opted to go green and became a computerized test. IIM Ahmedabad became the convener of first computer CAT Exam in 2009. The CAT 2015 was again convened by IIM Ahmedabad. Nearly 2 lac candidates registered for the exam in 2015 and this year, the numbers are expected to rise.IIM Bangalore will be playing the role of the convener for CAT 2016.

Ever since the exam became computerized in 2009, we see a variety of changes- in terms of its structure and content. The CAT 2015 bought in a historic change by introducing the NON-MCQ questions. And more interesting was to know that they carried no negative marking. Walking on the footsteps of change, we assume that the CAT 2016 will too be full of new surprises. All we can do is, just wait and watch!

We all want to know ‘Why’?

It is no hidden fact that the CAT Exam has been changing its face from the recent years.  We are sure you all want to know why, don’t you? Well, many of the CAT experts and mentors try to answer this. After a lot of dialogue and discussion, they conclude that CAT exam has been always been in an evolutionary process, in accordance with the ongoing trends and requirements of the IIM’s. These IIM’s introduce a number of changes in their curriculums each year, and hence the changes in CAT exam.

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Prof. Tathagata Bandyopadhyay, faculty of IIM-A and former CAT convener, talks about the matter. He says that every year mentors and experts review CAT and make certain changes- both operational and content. This helps enhancing operational efficiency and quality of the test content. This also brings in more improvement in CAT exam each year.

Another reason of this changing pattern is the change in MBA education scenario as well as the change in needs of candidates with diversified profiles. Economic and social factors too play an important role on the regional, national and global front which together bring in changes in the MBA courses structures. So, CAT being a national-level exam, its makers make it a point to keep in mind the needs of the diversity of students that appear. Learning from all the above points, we are sure that the CAT 2016 will be no different. It will too be as new and surprising to the appearing candidates.

Other Reasons

Prof. Bandyapadhayay also adds that one of the concerns is, scores in Quant dominates the percentile rank in CAT. As a consequence, it brings in skewness to the selection process towards a particular set of candidates from a particular background. This year the intent is to address it by making some changes in the test content and also by rationalizing weights assigned to different components of the test. This will create a level-playing field for all candidates, no matter what educational background they come from, and will remove skewness to a large extent that we referred to above.  Such a move will help identify candidates from varied backgrounds who will become future leaders in their chosen profession. Such a move will also help IIMs bring in greater diversity in the classrooms and will go a long way in enriching the learning experience.

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In short, this whole change in its structure and pattern, aims the CAT Exam to be non-repetitive in nature, that provides an equal playing field and academic diversity.

What to expect from CAT 2016?

With change in its type of questions, ratio of content and the overall exam pattern, we expect a revamped CAT 2016. This year, IIM Bangalore is the organizing institute. We all know it has a reputation of not compromising on many things. There may be a chance that we observe changes where there is an increased weightage on academic profile and less weightage points for the score obtained in CAT 2016.

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The CAT Exam is quite unpredictable in nature due to changes in its Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability and logical reasoning sections over the years. According to Prof. S.K. Agarwal, who is an expert and mentor of CAT 2016 Preparation, CAT 2016 might observe a change in the number of questions and sections. Students may also find different type of questions in the exam. He suggests the aspirants to devise a comprehensive and to the point preparation plan to score high in all the sections of CAT 2016.

We understand that the constant updation and changes in CAT will put the students in a dilemma, but let it not hamper your preparation period. We just suggest the candidates to do a thorough practice of CAT 2016 sample papers and previous years’ question papers. They must attempt as many of mock tests as possible. Speed up your prep and success will be all your way. After all, CAT is the most sought after exam in the country!




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