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Common  Aptitude  Test


The hype about management courses continues unabated. This year, newspaper reported unheard of salaries for graduates of Indian Institute of management (IIMs). To the tune or Rs. 4-5 lakhs per month. Students and working executives from all over the country thus want to clear the Common Aptitude test (CAT) for admission to the prestigious IIMs. In this issue we give an analysis of CAT ’99 and also a success strategy for this year’s CAT and other management tests. Follows the instructions step by step in order to make a serious attempt for the CAT. We wish our readers well for their preparations. Traditionally the CAT has four sections, consisting of Reading Comprehension, Mathematics, English and Data Interpretation. In 1999, however the pattern was changed as follows:


The paper had to be attempted in two hours and one was free to do it an order. The level of difficulty varied: some questions were easy while others were difficult. Students who had done different types of papers stood at an advantage; compared to those who expected four sections as had been the pattern of previous years. Many students became confused when they saw the changed pattern.

IIM graduates running coaching centres in big cities proved many pundits wrong, these days it has become a fashion for newspapers to carry articles. All of them were proved wrong. The question paper was unlike anything described by these ”experts” in their CAT countdown series in newspapers. Readers wrote that the paper published by The Competition Master was closest in difficulty to the actual paper.

Section wise analysis

There are some standard questions, which are asked in CAT every year. Students who did the Mock-CAT published in the Competition Master in November ’99 were familiar with these. These were:

English :

Paragraph jumbles consisting of 4,5or 6 lines, with at least 15 questions. There were some questions on sentence correction and about 10 questions of inferential reasoning, in which a short paragraph is given and the candidate has to make out what can be inferred from it. The section also contained Reading Comprehension with 5 passages with about 27 questions. Earlier, Reading Comprehension used to be a separate section with 45 questions, so the emphasis on Comprehension was reduced somewhat this yea. The passages varied from 800-1500 words and each passage had 5-6 questions each. The topics of the passages consisted of :
a) Oriental strategies of war
b) Art-Abstractionism Vs Realism
c) WTO, GATT and European Union
d) Creativity-Structured and Unstructured and
e) Nation-State and Identify crisis.

It is obvious that the candidate should have been well read to be able to make meaning of the above topics.

Quantitative ability :

The 55 questions in these sections were like riddles. They required some thought but a student could de about 20-25 questions easily. There were 35 grouped questions, in which some instructions are given followed by some questions. The topics covered were:
a) Number, Theory, about 12 questions
b) Time, Speed and Distance, about 4 questions
c) General Arithmetic, about 5 questions
d) Algebra, about 8 questions
e) Geometry / Mensurations, about 6 questions
f) Permutation and Combinations, set theory, 3 questions, and
g) about 15 questions on Verbal Logic and Reasoning.

The importance given to Maths has increased in CAT, as the number of questions has increased form 45 in previous years to 55 last year. The weightage to this section has also increased from one-forth to one-third. Students preparing for CAT 2000 have to ensure that their Maths and Reasoning are above average

Data/Reasoning :

This part consists of tables, line charts and pie diagrams with about 30 questions. There were 25 questions on Deductive Reasoning in which candidates lad to deduce conclusions from statements provided.

Success Strategy for CAT 2000

The above analysis gives an indication about how to prepare for CAT this year. First, it is quite obvious that CAT is a test of nerves. It is just not possible to do 165 questions in 2 hours, and many candidates would tend to panic as time runs short. The change in pattern can add to their woes.

It is clear that CAT preparation is not something, which can be done in a few months. What is also required is a sustained effort at building skills and developing mental toughness. Thus, it is advisable to start preparations well in advance. While extra reading and English usage can be started while you are in the First year of college itself, start serious preparations when you enter second year of college. A sustained effort over two years is required to build up speed required to crack the CAT.

A student must develop the habit of extra reading. Read a lot of material, which is not necessarily of your interest. Read science, art, economics and other topics, besides the latest books. Learn the art of putting ideas across in a crisp manner, because several questions are based on verbal skills. Do not waste time on mugging up formulae or word lists.

The preparations should follow the following pattern. First, the student should revise basic concepts from class 10 textbooks. After revising these, the student should do section tests, consisting of topic wise questions. Thereafter, the candidate should do full-length test papers based on different patterns, by limit in to the time prescribed. At every step, the student should review mistakes and learn from them. Above all, an attitude of toughness must be developed.

Some areas in which a student fails are

Time management: Allocation of time is of utmost importance, but a student is tempted to go back and forth in the sections when difficult questions are encountered, thereby losing precious time.

Mugging formulae: Many students resort to short cut and formulae, but here are few questions, which can be mugging formulae. What is required is logical thinking. Panic: As one is attempting the paper, panic sets in because one has done very few questions compared to the time spent. Once this happens, the candidate marks answers blindly or hurriedly.

Concentrating on one section: The candidate tries to do all the questions in one section only. Getting trapped in difficult questions: Some question is too difficult. Students keep trying difficult questions hoping to get the answer, ignoring the easy question that may lie ahead.

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