CAT Exam New Pattern – What are the key changes?

Sunday, July 26th, 2015


Hello everyone,

The new pattern for the CAT exam has been released. There are some important changes that you should be mindful about. Let us have a look at them and the impact that they will have.

Key changes in CAT Exam New Pattern

Exam will be held on one day

The students who wrote the exam on the second day had extra info that they received during the week from students who wrote it on Day-1. Some students used this extra information to their advantage and some students got under unnecessary pressure and hence messed up their exam. Conducting the exam on 1 day will eliminate this sort of discrepancies. Exam will have two sessions (morning and afternoon) but the information flow would be restricted and will not have any impact on the students.

Change in time from 170 minutes to 180 minutes

While 10 minutes might not look like much, but 10 minutes can be a long time if you are tired. At the end of a competitive exam you are bound to be tired and mentally exhausted. I personally have never been in favor of longer exams but I don’t make the rules. What you, as a CAT aspirant, need to do is to train your body and your mind to remain focused for three hours. It will be extremely difficult to do that directly in the exam if you are not trained for it. May be you are a fit person, may be you have run races before, may be you regularly jog for 15-20 minutes every day but if you need to run a marathon – you need to train for it. So, you should start the training as soon as possible. Start preparing for CAT exam in sessions of 3 hours. While it is virtually impossible to have a 3-hour session every day. You should have a 3-hour session for CAT preparation at least once a week. Some of these 3-hour sessions (approx 10) should be mock CAT exams on new pattern.
CAT 2020 Online Coaching

3 sections instead of 2

CAT 2014 had two sections –
(1) Quantitative Aptitude (QA) & Data Interpretation (DI)
(2)Logical Reasoning (LR) & Verbal Ability (VA including Reading Comprehension)

CAT Exam will have three sections –
(1) Quantitative Aptitude (QA)
(2) Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation (LR & DI)
(3) Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VA & RC)

Please note that the relative importance / weightage of topics is not changed.
1. QA had 34 questions in 2014. QA will have 34 questions in Exam
2. LR & DI had 16 questions each and a total of 32 questions in 2014. LR & DI will have 32 questions in Exam – the split will also most probably be 16 in each part.
3. VA had 18 questions & RC had 16 questions in 2014. VA & RC will have 34 questions in Exam – the split will most probably remain the same.

However, this change will have an impact on sectional cutoffs. Some students who were not so strong with English were able to clear the cutoff for Section 2 (LR & VA) by doing just the LR questions. That will no longer be possible. Having said that, if you prepare for CAT exam in an organized fashion – clearing sectional cutoffs should be the last of your worries.

60 minutes for every section

CAT 2014 had no restrictions with respect to the time that you could allocate to a particular section. You could, theoretically speaking, do just enough in one section to clear the cutoff whereas work on another section to maximize your score. Such a thing will no longer be possible in CAT. You will have to spend 60 minutes for every section. This rules out various options in terms of strategy and eliminates any advantage that was enjoyed by the students who were good in one section. The previous sentence is a politically correct way of saying, “Engineers who relied purely on quantitative and aptitude skills – you are screwed”.

Introduction of an on-screen calculator

This is brilliant. This is epic. This is probably my favorite move in the new pattern of CAT Exam. Fast calculation tricks, that I teach as a part of my online coaching course for CAT Exam, will lose some relevance but the idea is – they should not be taught in the first place. Calculating fast should never be a criteria for selecting or rejecting a candidate in today’s day and age.

Introduction of Direct Answers / Questions

In the new pattern of CAT exam, some questions will not be multiple choice. They will be of a fill in the blank nature. Now there are various kind of questions that are possible in “Direct” category. What I think will happen is more on the lines of what happens in other computer based non-objective exams. In the CAT exam, students will be given a text box instead of a multiple choice. So, instead of picking 17 out of 16, 17, 18, 19 – you will have a text box in which you will have to enter 17. I strongly doubt that anything complicated will be asked with the help of “Direct” category questions because anything even remotely complicated will need to be evaluated by a human and let’s face it – that is not going to happen. I will make a detailed post about the same.

I hope that this post was able to clarify all your doubts with respect to the new pattern of the CAT exam. If you still have any questions, feel free to post them in the comment section. If you enjoyed this post and found it help, please:

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    Ravi Handa

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    2 responses to “CAT Exam New Pattern – What are the key changes?”

    1. […] Q3. How will the new exam pattern impact a CAT 2015 aspirant? Ans. Read this blogpost to know more about the new exam pattern. […]