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CAT 2017: Why do IIMs change their Exam Pattern each year

Last Updated - August 22, 2017

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

  • Till the year 2008, CAT used to be a pen and paper exam.
  • IIM Lucknow will be playing the role of the convener for CAT 2017.
  • 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.
  • More than 2 lac candidates registered for the exam in 2016 and this year, the numbers are expected to rise.

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.

We all want to know ‘Why’?

It is no hidden fact that 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 tried to answer this. After a lot of dialogue and discussion, a conclusion was drawn that CAT exam has been always been in an evolutionary process, in accordance with the ongoing trends and requirements of the IIMs. These IIMs introduce a number of changes in their curriculums each year, and hence the changes in CAT exam.

Know AboutCAT Exam Pattern

Prof. Tathagata Bandyopadhyay, the 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 to enhance operational efficiency and quality of the test content. This also brings in more improvement in CAT exam each year.

Another reason for 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 diversifies according to the needs of the students that appear for it. Learning from all the above points, we are sure that CAT 2017 will be no different. 

Other Reasons

Prof. Bandyapadhayay also adds that one of the concerns is, scores in Quantitative Aptitude section 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.

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

What to expect from CAT 2017?

CAT was revamped in 2016 beginning from change in its type of questions, the ratio of content and the overall exam pattern. This year, IIM Lucknow will follow in the footsteps of IIM Bangalore, the conducting body of CAT 2016. The changes observed in previous year’s exam are expected to be retained this year. 

Follow the points given below to know the changes introduced in previous year’s CAT exam.

  • In place of two sections, CAT 2017 is expected to have three sections like previous year, namely- Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • Test Duration has been increased from 170 minutes to 180 minutes. 
  • Time limit of each section was set in the year 2015 itself with the restriction of 1 hour dedicated to each section.
  • Apart from this, candidates had the options of using virtual calculator on their screens.
  • The most important change witnessed in the year 2015, was introduction of Non-MCQ type questions

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 2017 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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