Done and Dusted with #CAT2015? Whether the test was easy or tough, whether you did well in it or otherwise, irrespective of what various people and coaching institutes have to say about expected cut-offs – It’s now time to focus on the next steps and the way ahead!! In this post, I have briefly listed the crucial “What Next?” action plan for you. However, let me first give you my take on the test yesterday.
Feedback on the first slot
I took the test in the second slot yesterday and by the time I was on my way to the test center, the feedback on the first slot had already started pouring in. The test was supposedly very easy for those who have been consistently doing well in the SimCATs. The Verbal & Quant Sections were a cakewalk, but it was the DI-LR section that most had a problem with. A student messaged me “DILrWALE CAT LE JAYENGE!!” Other students, who were not that well-prepared, also had only good things to say about the test – “Test easy tha, mock test se jyada questions attempt kiye. Felt like I was taking the SimCAT 15 again :)”. And then I was told that there was no Grammar or Vocabulary, akin to the Official Demo test – while this was a relief to most engineers, those who had spent loads of time getting the grammar rules right or building a sound vocabulary base, had a feeling of being cheated. By this time, I had to deposit my mobile phone and get disconnected from the outside world for at least the next 4.5 to 5 hours.
Before the test
The test venue was a lab set up in an industrial area with little or no amenities around. There was a long queue of students outside – some looking anxious and the others trying to hide their anxiety. As I completed all the registration formalities, I did my bit to soothe the nerves of at least some of the students whom I interacted with. The registration process was smooth – and then there was this long wait for the test to start.
The game begins..
Finally, the test started and I straight away jumped into the Verbal Ability section that had 10 questions. A quick glance at the Q.Paper revealed that the content was more or less similar to what the test-takers in the first slot had encountered. There were only 3 types of questions – Jumbled paras, Summary-based questions and Identify the Odd sentence – with about 3 to 4 questions of each type. A couple of jumbled para questions could be considered tricky but most of the other questions “looked” straight-forward. Anyway, I am sure, most of you would have definitely attempted all of these questions given that they did not have negative marking. The summary-based questions were MCQs converted into TITA – so you had the dual benefit of having options and no negative marking. I sailed through these 10 questions in about 20 minutes and now I knew I had a lot of time for the RC questions – 24 of them, to be precise. Most of the passages were easy to read and the questions that followed them appeared to be easy as well. At the most, there was 1 question per passage where students would need to apply some amount of reasoning to arrive at the answer. I believe a score of around 50 should give a 95 percentile in this section while anything around 60-65 should take you par the 99th percentile.
Moving on to DI-LR…
As I got into the second section, I felt I was on familiar grounds – I encountered what the CAT has always been known for. There were 4 DI sets and 4 LR sets and none of them looked easy on first glance. I started off with an LR set that looked least difficult and was happy to find that the same was easier than expected. I went on to solve a couple of LR sets (including the one with no options) in the first 30-35 minutes before moving to the DI section. I had still not used the calculator and sincerely hoped this section would give me a chance to do so. A couple of DI sets later I realised I had still not used the calculator – the sets were based more on reasoning than on calculations. And as I ran out of time in this section, I knew I would have to wait for my chance to use the calculator!! I agree with the perception that the DI-LR section will prove to be the game-changer in this CAT – students who held their nerves in this section and maximized their attempts would be the ones who ace CAT 2015. And for those who panicked in this section, you will now need to wait and see if enough people did the same to prevent you from going down drastically. I believe a score of 25-28 should give you a 95 percentile while anything above 35 should be a 99 percentile. For the IIM calls, where an equal competence across all sections is mandated, I believe that the DI-LR section will differentiate the men from the boys and women from the girls.
The last hour..
And then came the most dreaded section for most of the non-engineers – the Quantitative Ability section. As I went through the first 10 to 15 questions, they seemed to be picked from the BRMs (Basic Reference Material) and Class-sheets – there were hardly any questions that required a great level of application and reasoning. The only difference was that a majority of these questions did not have options – and I knew that would be a factor that could probably add to the time taken to solve these problems. As I moved on, I did encounter a few “CAT-level” questions with or without options. Students who had done their bit while analysing SimCATs would have found these questions to be manageable as well. But, overall most test-takers would have definitely solved more questions as compared to what they usually solved in mock tests. While I know quite a few students have attempted more than 30 questions in this section, I still believe a score of around 48 should be enough to give you a 95 percentile in this section while anything above 60 should be good enough for a 99 percentile.
As the test got over, I could see a relief on the faces of most test-takers in my center. The anxiety with respect to the test was over and some of them were already thinking about CAT results!! The first question I was asked by a student is ” I have attempted 70 questions – how much percentile do you think I will get?” I had no immediate answer – so I told him to wait for various institutes to put up their official analysis. (Click here for the official IMS analysis). Based on the inputs received from a lot of students and faculty, I guess that an overall score of 125 to 130 should yield a 95 percentile while a score of around 155+ should be the minimum to get across the 99 percentile mark. This is just an educated guess – so don’t get too happy or too dejected based on these interpretations.
IMS has also put up a score calculator to help you predict your score and percentile based on your estimated number of attempts and accuracy in each of the sections. These are only given to facilitate your decision making and soothe your nerves before the results are declared in the second week of January.
- For colleges that have application deadlines before the CAT results – decide NOW whether you would be applying to them or not. The parameters to consider are if these colleges are a good fit for your profile and if you expect to meet their cut-off scores. I would advise you to keep a buffer of + 5 percentile while taking this decision.
- For colleges that have application deadline after the CAT results – WAIT for the CAT results. Do not be in a hurry to apply to these colleges. It is better to act when you are better informed.
- Start preparing for the other tests that you may already have registered for. Its time to leverage all the hard work that you put in for CAT and do well in the other entrance exams. In fact, last year a lot of students bounced back with a wonderful performance in SNAP, NMAT, TISS and XAT after a not so great performance in CAT. They are now studying in some of the premier Indian B-Schools.
- Last but not the least, start gearing up for the second stage of the selection process, viz. WAT, GD and PI. You do not want a situation wherein you get the coveted calls from the IIMs but are not able to convert it because of lack of preparation. Last year, some students had only 10-12 days between the day the calls were received and the day they had to appear for their interview. So, here is your chance to work on your communication skills, your knowledge on current affairs and most importantly, your answers to expected questions in the interviews
So, take a break for a couple of days and get back to your pursuit of getting into your dream institute this year itself. Keep faith in yourselves and give it your best for an MBA admit.
All the Best!!
PS: Please DO NOT disclose or discuss actual CAT questions on any forum. Do not engage yourself with any website that does the same. You have signed a Non-disclosure agreement while taking the test and are liable for penal action if you indulge in any such activity.