|(TF Content expert, Gaurav, appeared for the online version of MAT 2010 on 14th Feb 2010. In this article, he shares his experiences along with a brief analysis of the paper)|
14 February 2010 – Experiences from Online MAT 2010
Apart from CAT and NMAT, MAT is the third national level examination that has gone online. This time around as well, the examination did not provide any surprises in terms of the overall content and managed to provide a smooth test taking experience as well compared to the CAT experience at the same centre (though the number of students appearing was quite less).
I have divided this article in two parts, the first dealing with the overall test taking experience and the second with the actual paper. Since the overall composition of the online MAT was similar to the paper-pencil based MAT, the actual analysis is not discussed in too much detail.
Test Taking Experience
My centre for the online MAT was the same as my CAT centre (Thakur College in Mumbai). As such, I was apprehensive about the overall test, but to my surprise the process went off quite smoothly. My test was scheduled for the 9:00 a.m. slot on 14th February. Our admit cards were first checked against their database and we were then ushered into the respective labs without the headache of biometric scanning or fingerprinting. The MAT organizers had simplified the overall process such that the Login details were directly available with the student on the admit card. This ensured minimal reliance on the administrator of the test. The Login was followed by a brief easy-to-use tutorial, post which you could launch the test as soon as you wanted. The MAT player was quite user friendly apart from the odd shortcoming which I will discuss below. Finally, unlike other exams, you were free to leave in case you felt that you were done with the paper before the schedule time.
Salient Features of the Exam Player
- You are not forced to start with a particular section. The player asks you to select the section that you want to start with. One you finish with a particular section, it automatically moves to the section which is next in terms of the numbering. However, if you do not want to attempt that section, you can always skip it and move to another section. For instance, if you had started with Section III, the player would have moved to Section IV after completion of section III. In case you did not want to attempt Section IV first, you could have directly moved to Section I, II or V.
- You were allowed to partially attempt a section, move to another section and then come back and complete a particular section.
- In each section, you were allowed to move to later questions without having to click “NEXT” all the time. Also, there was a counter that constantly updated and displayed the number of questions that you had attempted across the paper.
- At the same time, there was a colour coding scheme within the section that automatically marked a question with a certain colour once you attempted it. This could have been extremely useful if you wanted to come back to a particular section and try the unattempted questions.
- The only glitch (possibly) in the player was that group questions were arranged horizontally instead of the more common vertical format. In the latter, the chart or RC is continuously visible on the left hand side while you can scroll down each question on the right hand side. Here the chart/diagram/RC was on the top followed by multiple questions below. While this may seem innocuous, the problem was that the chart/diagram/RC was not fixed (unlike the Freeze Panes function in MS Excel). Consequently, once you scrolled down to the third or fourth question of the set, the diagram automatically moved up. As such, while attempting such a question, you were in no position to see the common data. Thus, it not only increased the solving time but also the effort required in reading the data and calculating the required values.
1) Data Analysis and Sufficiency
- As per the general pattern of past MAT exams, this section was a combination of Data Interpretation, Data Sufficiency and Quantitative Comparison questions. It needs to be noted that the Data Sufficiency or Quantitative Comparison were not clubbed together but were randomly arranged. However, these were quite simple. Also, all the Data sufficiency questions did not have the same instructions. Not only were the instruction difficult but even in cases where the instructions were the same, the order of the instructions was different from question to question. This made the Data Sufficiency questions tricky.
- As explained earlier, the Data Interpretation questions were rendered slightly more difficult due to the peculiar nature of the test taking interface. The actual DI sets were not very difficult.
- In general, 30 minutes could have been allotted to this section and approximately 25 questions could have been easily attempted.
2) Mathematical Skills
- This section was dominated by questions from Arithmetic. The concepts covered within Arithmetic were mainly Time and Work, Time and Distance, Profit and Loss, Percentages and Interest and Growth Rates. There was also the odd question from Mixtures and Alligations or Averages.
- Geometry questions were mainly asked from Trigonometry and Mensuration.
- There were very few questions from Algebra and Modern Maths.
- One the whole, this section was Easy to Moderate in terms of difficulty. 22 – 25 questions could have been attempted in around 35 minutes.
3) Language Comprehension
- This section had questions from these major areas – Reading Comprehension, Jumbled Sentences, Fill in the Blanks and Errors in Usage.
- The RC passages were short and easy to comprehend. However, they were slightly difficult due to the peculiarity of the exam player as explained earlier. Like previous MAT papers, the questions were a mix of factual as well as inferential questions. In general, the RC questions were quite simple in terms of difficulty level.
- The Jumbled Sentences were of moderate difficulty level. While linkages between individual parts were easy to form, getting the exact flow right was slightly more difficult.
- There were a lot of questions on correct usage and sentence formation. These consisted of identifying the option where the given sentence was correct in terms of grammar as well as context. These were of Moderate difficulty level.
- The Fill in the Blank questions were quite simple and were predominantly based on usage of grammar.
- There were also questions from other concepts such as Paragraph Summary.
- In general, this section was Easy to Moderate in terms of Difficulty. 18 – 20 questions could have been attempted in around 30 minutes.
4) Intelligence and Critical Reasoning
- The Critical Reasoning questions in this section were primarily of two types: Reason-Assertion and Course of Action. The Reason-Assertion questions were on the difficult side while the Course of Action questions were slightly simpler.
- While the Logical Reasoning questions in this section were quite simple, they were predominantly asked as single questions. Thus, there were quite a few questions based on Linear Arrangement, Complex Arrangement, Relationships and so on where the information to be processed was substantial but only question was asked. Thus, the marks that could have been obtained for each set solved were disproportionate.
- An interesting feature in this section was that in a couple of cases where there were actually group questions, the questions were scattered across the section. For instance, there could have been a family tree question that could have been first asked as question 5. A student may not have attempted it because of the effort required for one mark. However, this same set with another question would then appear again as say, question 13 and then as question 19. This was extremely unnerving as well as uncomfortable as a student.
- A point to be noted is that there were questions in this sections which were directly picked from previous years papers, as late as 2009. I saw at least 4 questions that had also appeared in FMS 2009. Of course, the names had changed but a student who would have appeared for FMS seriously would have identified the question very easily. Not only was the question identical but also the options and correct option were the same.
- In general, this section was of Moderate difficulty level and 17-19 questions could have been attempted in 35 minutes.
5) Indian and Global Environment
- Questions in this section were from varied areas such as Banking, Sports, Topical Knowledge, Recent Happenings and Auto Industry and so on. A person who would have a good reading habit would have been able to spot the sitters very easily.
In general, the online MAT examination was not too different from a conventional MAT paper and should have been a cake walk for a candidate well prepared for a conventional MAT examination.