CAT research in a nutshell

Anyone who has ever heard about CAT exams knows that they are a big deal for Indian students, but do you know what exactly this exam test is and what is the big fuss about?

CAT stands for Common Admission Test, and it is a computer-based MBA admission test held all over India. It is seen as a gateway to the most prestigious IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) and other B schools, such as the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad or the Faculty of Management Studies in Delhi.

That obviously makes CAT a very competitive exam. The benefits of graduating with an MBA from those schools are believed to be phenomenal, so every year hundreds of thousands of ambitious Indian graduates, postgraduates and professionals rush to apply.

CAT is conducted every year during a 21-day test period in October and November. The results will be announced in January.

To be eligible for CAT, a candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree with at least 50% grades or the equivalent, calculated based on the practice of the university where the candidate obtained the degree.

The exam itself consists of three parts: quantitative proficiency (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, commercial math), data interpretation and logical reasoning, and verbal ability (reading comprehension, verbal logic, vocabulary, and grammar correction).

For each section, a candidate will read the questions on a computer terminal and choose the answers by clicking the appropriate option. He has 70 minutes to answer 30 questions within each part of the test, while the countdown time is displayed on his screen.

In general, each correct answer earns him four points, each wrong answer results in one negative number and the unanswered questions remain unmarked. For each section, a candidate must pass the minimum grades to be eligible for that section, and ultimately for the CAT. To earn calls for group discussion and face-to-face interviews by IIMs, candidates must secure both the sectional and general cut-offs in the test.

A candidate can choose the test location during registration, but cannot choose his workplace. A candidate is not allowed to take the test more than once a year. You can reschedule the exam, but you cannot cancel it.

The CAT test is entrusted to a different IIM each year, based on the rotation policy, while the computer-based test (CBT) administration is entrusted to the US test administration company Prometric.