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My article in the Business World magazine on the new CAT and tips to crack it

by Sidharth Balakrishna on Thursday 29 September 2011, 5:03 PM | Category: Strategy| View: 1593 views
New Tips For Changed CAT

An IIM alumnus gives tips on learning strategy for the new CAT format

As per the new notification for CAT 2011 there will be only two sections in the examination instead of three, the total number of questions however, will remain the same. The two sections will be following:

  • Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation
  • Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning

The other major change is the introduction of sectional time limit of 70 minutes for each section consisting of 30 questions in each section. Once the aspirant is done with Section 1, he or she can no longer go back to it; nor can you go to Section 2 without completing the Section 1.

New Strategy:
This indeed mean a change in strategy is necessary. Candidates who used to allocate extra time to the sections in which they could score better, can no longer do so. The IIMs have indicated that one needs to be adequately strong in both the sections.

The change also takes away the decision making aspect with respect to time allocation; since candidates now have exactly 70 minutes for each section. One cannot leave certain questions for 'later' once he or she finishes the entire test; though you can do this within the sectional time limit.

The students need to practice to get used to the new pattern. Remember to be extremely conscious of time to make sure you do not miss out on a few easy questions or 'sitters' in each section! To avoid this, quickly scan through the types of questions in the test before you attempt the questions - this can be done by clicking on some questions to check aspects such as the number of Reading Comprehension passages etc. that the test gives you.

The students also need to amend their strategy to clear the sectional cut-offs: in fact, change in pattern could possibly benefit those who were struggling to clear a particular sectional cut-offs even though they did well overall.

Now, since the number of sections are reduced, life may get easier. You have to clear only two sectional cut-offs instead of three. Even if you are weak, in say, Quant you can make up by doing well in DI and clear the sectional cut-off for combined Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation section. Another point in the student's favour is that candidate shall have more choice. You can now choose your questions among the given 30 per section (not 20). Therefore, scanning through the test questions remains important.

It is suggested that aspirants carefully go through the demo test available on the CATIIM website ( to get familiar with the test pattern. Read the practical guide and go through the tutorial carefully. Though most of the changes appear positive, one needs to adapt to them!

More information about the nature of questions and preparation strategy can be found in Sidharth Balakrishna's book, 'An Introduction to the CAT: Tips From An IIM Alumnus'

Sidharth Balakrishna is an IIM Calcutta alumnus and has written a number of books including 'An Introduction to CAT', 'Reading Comprehension for the CAT' and 'Marketing Case Studies

About the Author

Sidharth Balakrishna is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been employed with the world's top Marketing, Management Consultancy and energy firms. Besides his regular Corporate job, he has written a number of books and articles for various reputed publications is an Adjunct Faculty at top Business Schools and has taken several guest lectures and seminars across the country.

His books include the following, all published by Pearson, the world's largest Education company:

·          ‘An Introduction to CAT-Tips from an IIM Alumnus'; available from

·          ‘Reading Comprehension for the CAT- A Winning Approach by an IIM Alumnus'; available from

·         Case Studies in Marketing' available from

Sidharth is a Career Counselling Expert with the Hindustan Times and and a member of the Interview Panel to select MBA students at various MBA institutes. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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