CAT – Common Admission Test


The Common Admission Test also known as CAT is an entrance test for getting admission into various b-schools of India. The exam is conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) across various centres across India. Since, it is a computer based test students are allocated centres that’s convenient to them for commute. The exam is held once in a year thus giving enough time for students to prepare for the same. Getting good scores in the Common Admission Test will land you in some of the top management institutes of the country. This includes the IIMs, Jamanlal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), S.P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), etc- just to mention a few!

It was only in 2009 that CAT became an online based examination. Prior to that, it was a paper based test. Making it digitized meant saving tons of time from manually correcting the papers as well as human errors. However, the computer based test also had its fair share of problems- the most common being experiencing technical glitches. Fortunately, in the last few years- the test has been running smoothly.

Why appear for CAT?

The Common Admission Test examines a candidate’s data interpretation skills, reasoning and problem solving ability. Solving 100 questions within duration of 3 hours makes this exam sound daunting. But, the aftermath of securing good scores in CAT is what tempts MBA aspirants to give this exam a shot! Getting admitted into a top MBA institute in India means gaining corporate exposure, interacting and debating with the best minds of the country and finally, getting handsomely paid job packages. The only thing that may separate you from your dream job is the Common Admission Test. So, why not simply take it and fulfill your dream of living a comfortable life.

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1. A candidate must have completed graduation with at least 50 % marks or equivalent CGPA. Those who are from the backward class, scheduled caste or tribe or have disability are eligible for the exam with a minimum 45% or equivalent CGPA.

2. A candidate must have attained the degree from a university recognized by the government of India.

3. Those who are giving their final year exams or are waiting for their results can also apply.

The selected candidates will be permitted to enroll for a course, only after he/she submits all the essential documents by June 30, 2017. The documents will be inspected by IIMs during different stages of the selection process.

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The process may include Written Ability Test (WAT), Group Discussions (GD) and Personal Interviews (PI). Performance in CAT examination is an important component in the admission process.

IIMs may use previous academic performance of the candidates, relevant work experience and other similar inputs in short listing and ranking of candidates at various stages of the admission process. The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs. For more information you may refer the admissions policies on respective IIMs websites.

The verification procedure conducted by an IIM

Those candidates shortlisted by the IIMs have to fulfill the following verification procedure

a. Present mark sheets & degree certificate

One must present all original mark sheets along with the attested copies during the interview. And, if you get chosen for a course- then present original degree mark sheets and certificates during the time of enrolment.

b. For reserved category

Those candidates selected for IIM interview (belonging to SC, NC- OBC, DA & ST) are required to present their original caste/ class or disability certificate and submit the attested photocopy for the same during the interview. The same applies while enrolling for a course at the IIMs.

c. For those in their final year of degree

Once you are shortlisted for the interview, you have to present your final year original mark sheet or the marks obtained in equivalent examination during the interview. A candidate must have a minimum 50% scores in the general category and 45% for those belonging to the reserved category.

Test Pattern

Quants34 Question60 Minutes
LR / DI32 Questions60 Minutes
Verbal34 Questions60 minutes
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Scoring Pattern

The Common Admission Test (CAT), like virtually all large-scale exams, utilizes multiple forms, or versions, of the test. Hence there are two types of scores involved: a raw score and a scaled score.

Raw Score & Scaling:

The raw score is calculated for each section based on the number of questions one answered correctly, incorrectly, or omitted. Candidates are given +3 points for each correct answer and -1 point for each incorrect answer. No points are given for questions that are not answered. The raw scores are then adjusted through a process called equating.

Equated raw scores are then placed on a common scale or metric to ensure appropriate interpretation of the scores. This process is called scaling.

Important dates to keep in mind

Event Date (Tentative)
Official notice31st July
Commencement of online registration8th August
Last date of application form22nd September
Last date of application extended 27th September
Application correctionOctober 1 to October 5
Issue of Admit Card24th October
Release of  exam pattern tutorial 24th October
CAT exam date2nd December(2 Slots)
Results2nd week of January

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Tips to prepare for the Common Admission Test

It is the preparation strategy that distinguishes CAT exam toppers from the rest. How you plan to spend the year or couple of months prior to the C-day makes all the difference! A well designed study plan becomes crucial in cracking the entrance test. The following are the steps you can implement as your preparation for the Common Admission Test:


1. Make a study plan:

Your must create a blue print of what you will be doing from day 1 all the way till the CAT day. This should be your key to crack the entrance examination. In simple words, following this plan will give you a good percentile. Segregate the sections systematically and decide the ones you’ll be practicing on a given day.

One day you can reserve for Quant’s and Verbal’s and one day, for Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning. Follow this routine in order to cover all the sections. Also, decide the number of hours you can devote on daily studies irrespective of your work or college life. A minimum of 2 hours a day will be sufficient for your exam preps. If you can give more time than what was prior decided, then please do it by all the means.


2. Brush over your basics:

The first thing you must do is use recommended books or study materials. In order to ensure about the quality, consult an expert or even a friend before purchasing. There are several websites where you can download past papers pdf (s) free of cost. Begin with the solved examples and then go on attempting each exercise. For those who are having a hard time in comprehending the solved examples need to work on their basics. You can spend a month or two only on consolidating your fundamentals. Enrolling for a good coaching class will also do.  If your basics are shaky, then you won’t be able to solve mock papers. You may either be weak in mathematics or vocabulary or even both. It can also be the other way round- where you’re confident in both the areas. Make a target of the things to be achieved on a daily basis and ensure that it’s done by the end of the day.  The word ‘tomorrow’ or the phrase ‘I will do it the next day’ shouldn’t exist in your dictionary.


3. Get a taste of the exam:

Now that you’ve brushed over your basics- you can start attempting mocks. This will give you a gist of what to expect during the C-day! You can also begin by first solving all the exercises and then giving a sectional test.Getting a good knack of the sectional test will naturally equip you for mock solving. While solving a full length mock initially don’t time yourself. Take as much time as possible in understanding all the types of questions and how to approach them.

After solving a few couple of full length mocks, you can then start timing yourself. See the amount of time you spend on each question and try getting as many accurate answers as possible. Attempt a mock daily!


4. Analyze your performance:

After solving a full length mock make sure to check your performance. Make a note of your score on a piece of paper. This will help in tracking your progress and check whether you’ve improved or not!

Mock analysis is a crucial step as it will help you to improve with each passing day. While evaluating your performance refer to the solutions and see the mistakes you’ve made. The purpose of doing this is so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

It may take you about 4 hours to analyze an entire mock, but at the same time you will also get equipped for the exam. By doing this sincerely, you will be guaranteed a great CAT score.


5. Do a lot of practice:

You need to practice a lot if you want to nail the Common Admission Test. Practice doesn’t only mean solving questions, but also using various shortcuts to quickly get them solved. Knowing which short cut to use when is what the exam is all about!

Try out different shorts cuts and see which one of them consume the least amount of time. Your goal from now on wards must be to get a grip of those time saving formulas.

Apart from this, you also require to spend more time on your weaknesses. You don’t want you go for an examination hoping that only the questions you’re good at might come.  What if the opposite of that happens? Then, you will definitely be doomed.


6. The strategy for the C-day:

You need to work on your strategy for the C-day. This strategy must not only save you a lot of time, but also give you as many accurate answers within those 3 hours.So, how to get started with it? While solving sample mocks try experimenting with various approaches. For instance: You can start with the sections that you’re confident about and then, proceed to the ones that tend to make you nervous. This way you can spend more time on solving the difficult questions.Another strategy you could implement is solving 7 to 9 problems accurately every half an hour. This means you may have solved a minimum 42 questions accurately in those 3 hours, thus giving you a great percentile.


7. Don’t study 24/7:

No matter where you go, quality is always preferred over quantity. The same applies for your Common Admission Test preps as well! A wise person might only study 2 to 4 hours a day & despite being involved into tons of other activities, he/she will still manage to nail the paper. You might be wondering how?

Well, the secret is how much you grasp in those 2 to 4 hours is where the magic actually happens!  Identify the time of the day where you can study without any hindrances. The results might automatically start showing.

Try to engage yourself in some other activities apart from studying. Go for a walk or get involved in some sports. Last, but not the least- get enough sleep.


8. On 4th December, 2016:

This is the day for which you have toiled the whole year. Treat it just like any other day. Spend some time on revision and then head straight to the examination center. Avoid studying anything at the last moment.

If you start getting nervous, just ask yourself will it help? Also, many candidates tend to get tired while answering a 3 hours paper. In such a situation, you can have an energy drink or a bar before the exam. Stay focused about the strategy you’re going to implement while solving the paper.

Keep a mental image of your strategy in your mind and execute it as soon as you start the paper. Don’t dare to experiment or try something new during the paper. Stick to your plan and all will end well!  Words of wisdom- don’t get too excited if you find the paper set easy and also don’t panic if the paper is tough. There is a good chance that others may also find the paper either easy or the latter!

What beyond CAT?

Many students manage to ace the Common Admission Test, but only a handful of them get selected for the IIMs. There may be multiple reasons for it including being under prepared for the PI’s, GD’s, etc- just to cite a few!

The personal interviews and the group discussions at the IIMs test an individual’s reasoning ability and his/her worldly wisdom. The best thing one can do is make a practice of reading a newspaper daily. This will help in staying updated with the current events.

The IIM select only those students who have a potential of making a difference to the nation. That’s where a student’s profile comes into play. Those having prior work experience have an edge in this area. Fortunately, CATKing provides students an opportunity to build their profiles through their best of courses. Being among the top coaching institutes in Mumbai and Pune, they have their classes spread across these cities. Their branches at Powai, Vile Parle, Borivali and Andheri are well known in India.

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