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Expert views on key pattern changes in CAT exam 2015

An exclusive interview with CAT coaching expert Mr. Nirav Rawell, Business Head, IMS Bangalore, on how to tackle the new CAT exam pattern. Learn the insights, useful tips, strategies and his views on CAT, and stand a chance to score better. Expert's views on New CAT 2015 pattern About IMS: IMS Learning Resources Pvt Ltd. is India s one of the oldest and most reputed training institutions which prepares students for entrance examinations and professional courses. Founded in 1977 by Prof. Nagesh Rane, the institute has grown tremendously with 75 centers spread across 44 cities in India. The institute believes in mentoring, motivating, guiding and accompanying student to achieve their dream of crossing the threshold of entrance exams and studying in one of the top management institutes in India or abroad. Nirav Rawell, Business Head, IMS Bangalore: Mr. Nirav Rawell, Business Head, IMS Bangalore, has 8+ years of experience across Technology, Infrastructure and Education sectors. He holds a BE degree from RV College of Engineering (Bangalore) and an MBA degree from Indian School of Business (Hyderabad). He has been associated with IMS Bangalore for the last 4 years mentoring students in Study Abroad options for BS/MS/MBA programs. Till date, he has mentored more than 1,000 students and helped them achieve their study or career goals. 1. What are the key changes in CAT 2015 exam pattern? Ans. The first change is a structural change, instead of two we have three sections now. The number of questions has not changed. But instead of 2 sections of 50 questions each, we have 3 sections of 34, 32 and 34 questions. The Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning have been clubbed into a new section. The second major change, which is actually linked to the previous one, is that now students will have sectional time limit in CAT. Last year students had 170 minutes and they could decide how many minutes to spend on each section. That is not possible anymore. What CAT has done is increased the overall time limit by 10 minutes so instead of 170 minutes, now it is 180 minutes. And students have to spend 60 minutes in each section. These are the major structural changes, and impact of these will be -- students will have to display proficiency in all the sections. Till last year -- Verbal and Logical Reasoning were clubbed, so students who were not very good at Verbal and very good at LR still ended up getting a good score. Same with Math and Data Interpretation, if a student is not very good at Data Interpretation but can solve math problems he can still get away with it. That won t be possible anymore, students should have good command over all the topics. Finally, there are a number of minor changes as well. For the first time, there will be few questions that will not have any answer options, students need to type in the answers instead. One more change, in the Math section there will be an on-screen calculator available for basic calculation. These are the major changes in 2015 CAT exam, as compared to last year. 2. What are the possible challenges CAT aspirants might face with the new pattern? Ans. In terms of preparation, not a lot of changes to be honest. The number of questions is same and the time limit is more or less the same. But in terms of changes in Strategy, students will no longer be able to solve one section quickly and devote additional time to the other. They will now have to spend 60 minutes in each section even if the students finish a section in 30 -- 40 minutes. The other challenge is giving enough attention to the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section. Earlier students used to have one or two weaknesses which they managed to get away with it, which is not going to be possible this time. And accuracy is going to be even more important because there will enough questions where students won t have any answer options, they have to type the answers themselves. We are expecting around 4 -- 5 questions in each section that won t have multiple choice options. So students need to focus more on accuracy as even educated guesses now won t be that useful. Finally, the presence of TITA (Type in the Answer) type of questions shows the exam is more a test of knowledge than of short cuts and tricks. That is what the students should gear towards. 3. Will the new CAT pattern be more scoring? Ans. Total number of marks is the same and negative marks are also the same. So we don t foresee a lot of changes in the marks as such, compared to whatever scores students ended up with last year. Though 10 minutes are being added students, we also have TITA questions which can take more than normal. I don t think the pattern change should have that much of an impact. Scores more or less should remain the same. More importantly, CAT is a relative performance based exam, the absolute scores do not matter as much. Where students stand in relation to the others, will be considered. In that sense, it should not have an impact in the scoring process. 4. How CAT aspirants can prepare for each of the sections? Ans. Quantitative Aptitude (QA) The Math section more or less is the same. There are not many changes. I think the strategy of going through all the topics and focusing on Arithmetic, Numbers, Geometry, which are the traditional major question contributors in CAT, will hold students in good stead. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) As DILR has become a new section with 32 questions which are evenly split between Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. Traditionally, students are either good at one or not so great in the other. It is really important that students spend a lot of time to master both. If students are good at one and not good at the other, they will not be able to get a good score. In that case, students can attempt only 50% of the questions, so they will need to focus on both the components. Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VRC) Last year, the CAT Verbal sections was a bit surprising, Critical Reasoning had a great weightage, there were hardly any vocabulary questions. For Verbal, students should focus on Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning. Out of the 34 questions, around 25-26 questions would come from these sections. 5. Any other suggestions for the students on the new CAT pattern? Ans. There are a lot of changes in the 2015 CAT pattern. Students may get over excited about the on-screen calculator. What we would suggest is, students should not use the calculator to solve all the questions. They may get a little lazy in doing calculation. Most of the students appearing for CAT often prepare for other exams as well -- MAT, XAT and SNAP, they are not yet providing the on-screen calculator. There students need to calculate manually. Secondly, if students start using calculator for all the questions then they will struggle to complete the section within the limited time frame. So we would suggest, use the calculator for more difficult questions where there are lot of calculations required and probably for Data Interpretation. Finally, take enough practice tests like SimCATs and prepare for the exam with a positive frame of mind and students should do well. I wish every CAT aspirant All the Best for this year s exam. Looking for CAT coaching? Post your needs here.

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