In this series, A2A (Asked to Answer), get answers to the most often asked questions by CAT and other MBA entrance exam aspirants. In this blog, I address the question that is topmost on the minds of all CAT 2020 aspirants – after the midnight announcement about the change in test duration of CAT 2020.
As we are all aware the CAT is all set to change this year with IIM INDORE already releasing a media statement with the following salient announcements:
- CAT will be a 2 hour test instead of 3 hours
- Each section will have a time limit of 40 min instead of 1 hour
- The sections will remain the same – and in the same order, i.e. VA-RC, DI-LR and QA
- There will be three test slots instead of two ( IMO this is to have fewer students per slot and thereby more effective physical distancing among test-takers)
What has not been announced and is expected to be announced on 20th September is the change in number of questions and whether the test will continue to have TITA questions ( questions without options). Further what is also not known is whether they will implement any changes wrt question types assessed in each of the sections. My take on these 3 aspects:
- I would expect them to reduce the number of questions to anywhere between 60 to 70 questions with around 20 to 25 questions per section.
- The test will retain a healthy mix of TITA and MCQs – the proportion will be more or less similar to previous years.
- The question types will remain the same – just that there will be fewer questions assessed for each type. For example, the VA-RC section may now have around 4 passages ( instead of 5) with around 18 questions and around 6 questions based on Verbal ability and Verbal reasoning. The DI-LR section may have 3 sets each of DI and LR. The QA section will have fewer questions but the areas assessed and level of difficulty is expected to be more or less the same.
What changes for the aspirant?
In my opinion, a shorter test may provide a fig leaf to the weaker students – just like in cricket where weaker teams have a better chance of beating stronger teams in the shorter format. However, this does not in anyway undermine the importance of an effective CAT prep in the next 2 months or so. You will still need to work on your knowledge gaps as well as test-taking skill gaps to do well enough.
I am absolutely sure that there will be no change wrt concepts you are expected to know and I also do not expect any major change wrt question types – so the Learn and Practice aspects of your CAT prep should not be affected because of the above changes.
What needs to change is your test taking strategy – you now need to adapt to this new format with an objective to maximize attempts and accuracy. A shorter time limit means that you will have to stay focused for a lesser time and this could be a boon to all those who found it difficult to concentrate for 3 hours( may help you push up your QA score too – solving QA in the third hour of the test probably made the task tougher than it was). On the con side, a shorter test means you have lesser time to get back to groove if you goof up on the first few minutes of any section – so you need to be at your effective best for the entire duration of the test.
Things should be clear when the IIMs make the next announcement on 20th Sep but even if they aren’t, my advice to all aspirants would be to stay focused and not get distracted by the possible uncertainties around the test. I am sure that the upcoming mock tests provided by IMS will factor in all possible test patterns. Ensure you have enough practice with them to be prepared for any scenario that emerges on the D-Day.
All the best!