CAT 2015 – do or DI again

My take on this years’s paper:
Overall Structure: closely resembled the mock they had uploaded (which is not always the case!). My bad, I totally failed to call this one; I didn’t think it made sense to have a paper with 24 RCs and 10 paragraph-based TITAs as it tests too narrow a range of skills (for the record, I still don’t think it makes sense; perhaps IIMA is finding that not enough students are able to handle the case-based methodolgy and is trying to ensure that future generations are well-equipped?). The first two sections were further subdivided and had sub-tabs; one could switch freely between those sub-tabs in the sectional time limit.

VA had two sub-tabs for RC (24 questions) and VA (10 questions) and one could freely move between those during the available 1 hour. All the 10 VA questions were TITA, but only in parajumbles did that actually matter, as the “odd sentence out” and “syummary” types were really just MCQs where you had to type instead of clicking (with the added bonus of no negative marks!). As was the case last year, the RCs were refreshingly readable with no dense and incomprehensible subject matter. Most of the questions were unambiguous and so a good attempt in this section should have been well over 20 (and of course any unsolved TITAs should have been attempted on principle as there was nothing to lose). Cutoffs for this could range from early 40s to late 50s.

The DILR section, similarly, had separate tabs for DI and for LR. Each contained 4 sets of 4 questions each, and one set in each sub-tab was TITA. Again, harking back to last year, the sets were good and tough and would reward solid thinking, judgement and most crucially calmness. Very reminescent of the questions we used to see in CAT a decade or so back. Shot selection was absolutely crucial; getting into a nasty set first up was a recipe for panic. (I glanced through them, selected one DI and 2 LRs to start with, got them done in about 25 minutes, and by then I knew I had done fairly well already and so could attempt the rest with no pressure). From what I have heard from other test-takers, even 13-15 solid attempts in this section might be a very good performance; cut-offs could drop to 30 or lower.

QA: Almost as easy as the previous year, and well spread out ranging from 10-12 extremely easy questions to half a dozen which would require some intricate thought. There was the typical emphasis on testing the basics with deceptively simple but very precisely worded questions (and as always there were a few elegant traps in the finest tradition of CAT). This time Arithmetic was dominant with over a third of the questions coming from that area; Geometry and Algebra filled up most of the rest (and yes, still no Pick’s theorem or Fermat’s Little Theorem). A lot of people performed underwhelmingly in this section as they were still in shock from the aftermath of the previous section (or should I say, the afterdilr). Still, cutoffs will likely go beyond 40, there’s an outside chance they could push 50-55.

Overall, I suspect a 175 or 180 would prove to be a very good score and a 140-150 might prove sufficient for a few good calls. (Note that (a) I am talking of raw scores, not scaled and (b) these are just guesses, and I have no particular statistical evidence of how accurate they might be. However if I don’t put in some estimate here, the comment sections isgoing to be flooded with variants of “I score xyz, how much percentile will I get?” I might as well say straightaway that I will not answer any such queries – I would be shooting in the dark and there are plenty or other gyaanis out there who I am sure will be happy to give you an inflated prediction and massage your ego). I expect that the top raw scores will cross 250, but not by too much.

That’s it from me for CAT 2015!


A brief history of CAT 2015

As I did last year, I’ll divide this into two posts, this one detailing the overall test-taking experience (which could be of use to next year’s candidates, I suppose) and another short one with my take on the test structure and level.  Some of you might directly wish to jump to the other one  :)

Pre-test procedure:

I wrote CAT ’15 in the morning slot, at Mira Road (Shree L. R. Tiwary College of Engineering). Since this involved a train journey of close to 2 hours, this meant a 4:30 wake-up. As it turned out, I slept at 2 am, so I was not in the most cheerful of moods when I awoke. Some extremely strong coffee helped (a little) and I managed to push myself out of the house. I reached the venue at the dot of 7:30, and within 5 minutes the gate opened, letting us in with the standard basic checks. I believe people were allowed in (in my centre at least) till 8:15 or later, but I don’t know for sure. Also, an interesting development this year was that there appear to have been separate centres for male and female candidates. My centre had some 6 labs with well over a hundred candidates in all, I would estimate. I met a few friends there and we passed the time chatting while waiting to be let in.

The registration process was pretty smooth as usual – a quick webcam mugshot and Left Thumb Impression – and then we were directed to our seats and had about 45 min to kill while waiting for the test to start. As always, you cannot carry anything personal inside (people were not allowed even jewellery, apparently). Bags and other worldly possessions were to be left just outside the lab (no shelves etc) but as far as I am aware there were no issues with that. Strangely, this time we were also asked to leave our shoes outside (I suspect, though, that this was a requirement of the specific centre and not the CAT). We were allowed to carry only the admit card (to repeat what I said last year on the topic of admit cards, please make sure the print is decent; black and white is fine, but the photo should resemble you and the signature should be reasonably clear, and you need to stick one recent colour photo on the card) and an ID proof.

The system provided was good, the seating space was quite comfortable even for a portly gentleman like myself and the mouse worked just fine. This year, unlike last time, they got the “signature in presence of invigilator” stuff done during the last 15 minutes of this time rather than after the test had started (I found that very irritating last year!). Everyone was handed a sheet of A4 paper and a pen (looks like this is going to be the standard for the TCS regime – those who were habituated to pencil and eraser solving would probably have been a bit miffed). One could ask for more paper if one so desired, but I stuck to my policy of environment-friendliness and managed with 1 sheet.

During the Test:

The interface was smooth, with no significant glitches. A few points worth noting:

  1. Scoring: the test clearly and unambiguously stated: for MCQs: +3 for a correct, -1 for a wrong and no penalty for unattempted questions. For TITA: +3 for correct, no marks deducted for wrong
  2. The initial instructions (probably copypasted from last year) said that RCs would have 4 questions each and DI/LR sets could have 2 or 4 questions. However, the actual test proved to have RCs with 3 or 6 questions and LR/DI with 4 questions as promised in the Mock Test uploaded on the CAT site.
  3. The first two sections were further subdivided – VA had two sub-tabs for RC and VA and one could freely move between those during the available 1 hour. Similarly the DILR section had separate tabs for DI and for LR.
  4. As in the mock, there were 24 RC questions. I did not expect them to actually go ahead with such a pattern; this was a development I did not foresee. I like RC so I was quite happy with it, but those who hate reading must have had a miserable time (especially since the rest of the VA questions too were paragraph based)
  5. There were as many as 33 TITA questions – 10 in VA, 8 (2 complete sets) in DILR and a whopping 15 in QA. This made things more time consuming on average as uncertainty crept in (especially in the Parajumbles, which had 5 sentences each).
  6. When a question was answered and marked for review, it was not listed in the “answered” count obtained by hovering over the section name. However, we are assured that those questions (indicated on the right by a violet dot with green tick) will also be evaluated.
  7. When the 60 minutes were up, the test automatically skipped to the next section.

Once it was over, we all trooped down to hand in our rough paper and pens, and dispersed – in most cases, it seems, muttering rude things about the LR-DI section. (Note: please don’t forget to take along your id proof while leaving – as you would probably have pushed it into some corner of the desk, out of your way, it is surprisingly easy to forget)

I will shortly put up another post with my take on the paper. For a couple of other points of view, check out T’s post at “CAT 2015 analysis same wine in three bottles” and V’s post (added bonus – advice for the path ahead now that CAT is done) at “dilrwale cat15 le jayenge”