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What mode to choose: Pen-paper MAT vs Online MAT

Last Updated - October 01, 2016

For the September session MAT 2016 will take place on September 4, 2016 and September 10, 2016. MAT is conducted for admission in MBA programs in participating B-Schools. It is one of popular exam for MBA aspirants conducted nationally. It is conducted 4 times in a year- February, May, September and December. AIMA is the organizing body for MAT 2016.

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For taking MAT, AIMA provided two options to the candidates which are computer based test i.e. online or pencil based test i.e. offline in the below mentioned schedule :-

Mode ExamDateTimingRemarks
Pen Paper Based TestSeptember 4, 2016 (Sunday)10:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m. 
Computer Based TestSeptember 10, 201610:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m.If the number of candidates registered for Computer Based Test is less than the minimum requirement and test can be arranged in a single day; the test will be conducted on September 10, 2016 only.

Let’s first discuss the exam pattern of MAT 2016 before moving forward to pros and cons offline or online paper. The candidates have to attempt 5 sections with 40 questions from each section. The 5 sections are Language comprehension, Mathematical Skills, Data Analysis and Sufficiency, Intelligence and Critical Reasoning and Indian and Global Environment. For every correct answer candidate will be given 1 mark. One of the plus point for appearing for MAT 2016 that there is no negative marking. 150 minutes will be given to the candidates to complete the exam.  Mentioned below is section wise distribution of MAT 2016 exam:-

S. NoSectionNumber of QuestionsSuggested Time Limit
1Language Comprehension4030
2Mathematical Skills4040
3Data Analysis and Sufficiency4035
4Intelligence and Critical Reasoning4030
5Indian and Global Environment4015
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Let’s now discuss both the modes one by one:-

MAT Computer Based Test

In online mode which is scheduled from September 10, 2016 onwards, candidates after reaching to their exam hall will be allocated a computer system. Candidate have to login using their Id (Usually the MAT Roll Number). After that all the guidelines related to online mode will appear. After reading all the guidelines candidate have to tick mark on “I understand” option. After that Exam will begin. There will a palate shown on left side will question numbers marked from 1 to 100. The questions in the palate will be in the following coloring scheme:-
1) Initially all the question numbers is in blue font.

2) If candidate leaves any question un-attempted it remains in blue color only.
3) All the attempted questions turns into red font.
4) For all questions which are marked for review, a small triangle will appear before every question number.

Candidates have to mark their answers using the keyboard. They will also be given provision of a navigation throughout the paper i.e. at any time they can move from one section to another.

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Disadvantages of Computer Based Test

There are chances that a technical failure may occur in case of a computer based test. In that scenario, he may be required to attempt the test again. Candidates must ensure that the computers allotted to them are switched on and any problem with the computer should be informed to the invigilator immediately. 

However for candidates which are willing to go for online mode there are some points they should keep in mind:-

  • Firstly the candidates should make them familiar about using computer devices such as keyboard and mouse.
  • Secondly when candidate reaches the center and they are allotted a system they should ensure that they are no technical failures. In other case candidates should report the issue to the invigilator. 

There are chances that a technical failure may occur in case of a computer based test. In that scenario, he may be required to attempt the test again. Candidates must ensure that the computers allotted to them are switched on and any problem with the computer should be informed to the invigilator immediately. 

MAT 2016 Pencil Based Test

Till 2009 MAT was conducted in this mode only. For September Season it will be conducted on September 4, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In this mode candidates have to mark their answers on an OMR sheet using a pencil. They have to fill the oval corresponding to the correct option on the OMR sheet. The main drawback of choosing this mode is that for moving from one question to another, candidates have to flip the question booklet from one page to another which is often confusing and time consuming. However in this mode candidate can easily change their marked answers by erasing their answers using an eraser and filling the oval again. Note that candidate should be vigilant in filling up the oval because half-filled oval, double filled ovals will be considered as wrong answer and no marks will be given corresponding to that answers.

MAT Computer Based Test vs. MAT Pencil Based Test

Computer Based ModePencil Based Mode
In Computer Based Test, the test taker sits in front of a computer and the questions are shown on the computer screen and the candidates have to mark their answers via keyboard and mouse attached to the systemIn case of Paper pencil test, the candidate will be given a Question Booklet along with an OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) Answer Sheet. Using a pencil (HB Pencil) candidates have to mark their option by filling up the oval dark.
Candidates have to mark their correct option (Out of 4) on the screen using mouse. A palate of options is provided on the right side of screen, they have to mark their answers in it.In pencil based test candidate fill the circle against the right option using pencil.
In case of Computer Based Test, students will be expected to simply click the appropriate option and then click another button to move to the next question. In case, a candidate wants to change the answer later on, he can come back to that question and click on a different optionThis in contrast to what happens in case of paper pencil test, where if the candidate has to change any answer, he has to erase completely the one already marked and darken the fresh oval with an HB pencil. This takes a lot of time and gives rise to the possibility of mutilation of the answer sheet.
Usually in most of the computer based test a clock is provided on the screen which let the students know how much time is left?In this mode there is no clock provided, candidates have to carry their own watches or have to ask the invigilator about the timings
In this if candidates want to change any answer, then he has to go back to the question, change their answer and submit it.In pencil based mode if candidate have to change his answer, he has to first erase it and then mark it again using pencil. This process is usually time consuming
In computer base test, there are chances that technical failures may occur following which candidates may have start their paper againThis mode is usually considered as easy with no risk of technical failures, just the candidates have to mark their answers using a pencil in an OMR sheet.
The candidates taking the computer-based test are provided with rough sheets for solving their answersHowever, In case of paper pencil test, No rough sheet is provided. Candidates have to perform all the calculations the question booklet itself

Similarity between both the modes

  • The computer based format is almost similar to the paper-based format in terms of the test structure and the test pattern. For example, let’s consider the case of September 2009 MAT exam, in both online or offline exam candidates have to attempt 200 questions in 150 minutes. These 200 questions were asked from 5 different sections namely Data Analysis and Sufficiency, Mathematical Skills, Language Comprehension, Indian and Global Environment, Intelligence and Critical Reasoning with 40 questions from each section.
  • Secondly in both the modes candidates can go back and change their answers among the 200 questions. In computer based test, candidates can navigate freely through the questions and the sections. However, at any point of the time, only one question appears on the screen. In pencil based test they have to choose their option by filling up the oval in OMR sheet using HB pencil.
  • In both the formats questions were of the Multiple Choice Question (MCQ type). Also for each correct answer they were awarded same marks. Candidates must choose the correct or most appropriate answer by clicking on the button next to the answer. At the conclusion of the test the candidate should follow the instruction of the invigilator in order to properly record/save his/her test work. The candidates taking the computer-based test are provided with rough papers for working out their answers. However, that is not the case with paper pencil test. Any rough calculations must be done by the candidate on the question booklet itself.
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Candidates’ Reaction towards both the modes

Candidates shows mixed reactions for both the modes. For pencil based format they say it is easier to mark an answer and cross checking is more efficient using question booklet. Also in case of any doubt they can put a mark on the question and review it later whereas such flexibility is not provided in computer based version. For example in case of diagrams such as pie charts, bar graphs candidates are more comfortable in solving them on the paper rather than on computer screen. The numbering of the questions is not from 1 to 200. The questions are distributed into five sections, with 40 questions from each section. For attempting any section, the students have to click on it. For example, he clicks on "Mathematical Skills", then the screen lay out for mathematics section will appear. This layout will be same for all the five sections. On the left hand side of the screen there will be question numbering from 1 to 40. For selecting a particular question candidate have to click on the question number, the question will appear on the screen. After reading the question candidate have to mark the relevant option on the screen. Also at any given point of time only one question will appear on the screen, (except in the case where the questions related to  passage or graph). Like for attempting language comprehension section, there are 3-5 questions related to a passage and passage is followed by each of these questions one after the other. (All these question appear on the screen at the same time). For attempting such questions a candidate needs to scroll down to look at the questions one after the other. 

AIMA has been organizing MAT or Management Aptitude Test since 1988. MAT is conducted four times in a year in month of February, May, September and December. It is an objective type test with multiple-choice answers. The test is held to measure a Candidate’s general aptitude, language skills and general awareness skills.
Till May 2009, MAT was only conducted in offline mode pencil based format. However, since September 2009 exam, candidates have been given the option of appearing for MAT exam in 2 modes namely:-

  • Computer Based Test (Online Mode)
  • Pencil Based Test(Offline Mode)

The Paper-Pencil Test usually takes place only on one day at one time slot. For September 2016 session it will be held on September 4, 2016. However for Computer Based Test (Online Test), the candidate can take the exam on any one of the 3 different time slots per day in a span of the first few days of February, May, September and December. For example in case of September 2016 exam, the Paper-Pencil Test will take place only on one day i.e., September 4, 2016 at one time slot i.e., 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., whereas the Computer Based Test (Online) will take place from September 10, 2016 onwards in 3 time slots per day. Note that if the number of registration for Computer Based Test (Online Test) is less than the minimum requirement, then the candidates have to appear for the Paper-Pencil Test. No candidate can take the test more than once during a period.




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