CAT 2016: Expected cut-offs, analysis and what next?

#CAT2016 is over!!

In the words of the CAT Convenor, “CAT 2016 has concluded successfully.”  While I was very pleased with the way the test was conducted last year by TCS (after all they had successfully administered the test to around 2 lakh test-takers in 1 day compared to previous years when Prometric was doing the same over a window of around 20 days), this year the conduct of the test was eventful to say the least. Though my test experience was very smooth and hassle-free (I took the test in Ion Digital Zone, Powai), students from across the country reported quite a few anomalies in the way the test was conducted for them. A few things that have been reported from centres across the country:

  1. The venue did not open for students at the reporting time as mentioned in the admit card – the result was a lot of chaos leading to delay in the registration process and start of the test.
  2. The security check of students in some of the centres was not upto the mark . Case in point being the malpractice, which has been widely reported, that involved clicking of images using a smart-phone. How could one carry smart phone into the examination hall and not get detected even while taking the test!
  3. The practice of test authorities taking signature and thumb impression of students while the test is on is thoughtless, to say the least. Imagine one is in the middle of reading a passage and you have this admin guy breaking your thought flow for something which could have easily been done before or after the test.
  4. In some venues, you had this announcement system that was on even during the test –  and if that was not enough some centres also had proctors loudly communicating among themselves while the test was on.
  5. Some centres had a power outage and to everyone’s surprise there was no power backup – the test resumed only after 1 to 2 hours for these students. In one of the centres the test went on but there were no lights and fans working for 2 out of 3 hours.
  6. The mouse was not working properly and that caused students to click an answer multiple times before it got registered. Some students also reported that the total number of attempts displayed at the end of the test was lower than  what they actually attempted (though this could also be due to negligence of the students themselves).

I sincerely hope that the IIMs take into account these lapses by the test administrators  and take suitable action to ensure that such discrepancies do not happen in future years – after all, the perception about the fairness of the test should not be undermined.

Should there be a re-exam: In my opinion, there should not be a re-exam because of the reported malpractice – a re-exam would probably be unfair to all those students who did well in this test using fair means. The images were leaked during the test and not before the test – I seriously doubt if the same helped the performance of any of the test-takers including the one who indulged in the malpractice.

Now, coming to the test analysis:

  1. The test structure remained the same – 34 VA, 32 DI-LR and 34 QA. Wonder why the shroud of secrecy before the test – if nothing was to change at all!!
  2. The Verbal Section had exactly the same break-up as last year with 24 RC questions (all in MCQ format) and 10 VA questions (all in TITA format). The VA questions comprised Jumbled Para, Summary based and Out of Context Question types in the same proportion as last year.
  3. The DI-LR section had 16 DI and 16 LR questions in both slots. However the distribution of TITA questions differed in the two slots – the first slot had 8 TITA questions dispersed across individual sets while the second slot had only 1 set with 4 TITA questions.
  4. The Quant Section had 34 questions – questions based on Arithmetic and Geometry dominated this section in both the slots. Around 5 questions had a Square-root sign that resembled a Pi sign and created some confusion. At least one question in the first slot had a typographical error and could therefore not be solved – hopefully the same will be excluded for evaluation purposes.
  5. Level of difficulty: CAT 2016 was more or less similar in difficulty levels to CAT 2015. A comparison between the 2 tests reveals that the VA-RC section was a notch easier, Quant was a bit more difficult and the DI-LR section was at par. The overall cut-offs are expected to go down in the Quant section as well as Overall, the Verbal cutoffs may go slightly higher while the DI cutoffs should remain in the same range.
  6. For a detailed analysis of CAT 2016 click here.  You may use the table below to predict your percentile based on your expected raw score:

ims-percentile-predictorNote that the above percentile-score mapper is only indicative – please exercise discretion while making decisions based on the same.

What Next?

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!!

  1. Decide which colleges you want to apply to based on CAT scores:
    • 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!!

VK

 

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