CAT 2012 – Third Day, First Slot – Gaurav’s Experience
Now that the online CAT has more or less stabilized over the first three years, the major expectation from CAT 2012 was in terms of difficulty level and paper style. However, CAT 2012 has more or less stuck to the style, break-up and difficult level that I encountered in 2011.
I am generally one of the common first day, first slot CAT takers every year. This year, I took CAT on the third day to see if the difficult level and coverage of chapters varied significantly compared to the first two. With this in mind, I went to take my CAT in the morning slot on 13th October 2011.
I may not be able to analyse the test in detail (in terms of chapter break up) or reveal question types due to the Prometric NDA, but let me take you through some of the things that you should keep in mind, based on my experience.
1. As I have maintained all along, reach the exam centre well in advance, and if possible visit it beforehand. An earlier visit helps if you have your own vehicle (like me), from a parking point of view (which can be troublesome at a lot of centres).
2. Please make it a point TO CARRY ATLEAST 2 PHOTO IDS in original. My recommendation would be to show the photo-ID where your photograph resembles you the closest. While any valid photo-ID should not be a problem, some Prometric staff members have their own “set of standards and rules” and refuse to accept a photo-ID if they feel that the photograph does not match. Also, if you are planning to show your college ID card as a photo-id, please carry one more photo-ID as some centres are accepting this as valid proof while some are not. Also, now UID cards (Aadhaar) cards are being accepted as well. Do keep that in mind.
3. While my centre allowed us to deposit our bags in a separate room, other centres may not. So, take only as much material as you seriously need. Also, you will not be allowed to take anything apart from your wallet inside the test lab. So, there is not much point in loading yourself with too much stuff. On a related note, some test labs can be extremely cold or you may land right below a powerful AC. So, it may be a wise decision to carry a jacket or wear appropriate clothing so as not to hamper your test.
4. Once the biometrics process was completed and we were made to check-in in the respective lab, we had to endure a wait of more than an hour. This is in fact, the worst part of the entire experience as we could not even talk to our neighbours. We were allowed to take toilet and water breaks till 9:30 a.m. post which neither was allowed. Have your breakfast and refreshments accordingly. These rules apply in the second slot as well. So, those in the second slot would do well to have a light lunch.
5. Our tutorial started at 10 a.m. and this entire exercise was done in a very professional manner. Coming to the tutorial now, this is a critical part of the entire process. Please make it a point to go through this tutorial, as it gave a complete overview of each screen and was extremely helpful. The tutorial is the same as last year. However, even if you have taken CAT earlier (and are familiar with the tutorial), please go through to it in detail. This will not only familiarize you with the screens and features but also help you relax. Finally, in our lab, we were not allowed to start the test even if we ended the tutorial early. Everyone had to start the test at the same time i.e. 10:15 a.m. So, skipping the tutorial didn’t really help people.
6. Like the last three years, once the tutorial ends, you will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement within 5 minutes. Since the agreement is just a 2-line declaration, this should not take too much of your time. Please ensure that you have signed this within 5 minutes, else your test will end at this stage itself.
7. In section I (QA + DI), a notable change from CAT 2011 was that the quality of questions in my test was significantly higher than that of last year. Not only did the questions test the application of concepts in most of the expected areas but they also checked the knowledge of basic formulae and properties in some not-so-common areas. This necessitates that your preparation in these last few days be focused more towards revision of concepts and basic theory.
8. My opinion on QA was that the questions were slightly more challenging compared to last year and definitely involved knowledge of core-concepts e.g. cardinality of sets, range and domain etc. (Please note that these are just indicators of types of concepts that you need to know). However, there were at least 3-4 absolute sitters also.
9. An important thing to note is that both section I and II had a reasonable representation from DI and LR respectively. While I may not be able to disclose exact numbers due to the NDA requirements, the proportion was the same as what we have used in our iCATs. Also, the proportion of DI and LR was the same as CAT 2011.
10. I felt that the DI questions were definitely time consuming but simple. However, I found at least 3-4 DI questions where smart calculations and conversion of percentages to fractions helped me solve the questions fairly quickly. On the other hand, LR was innovative. There were a couple of sets that were unconventional (but solvable). However, all the sets could have been solved on drawing a figure and plotting all the data points.
11. I found Verbal Ability slightly better (in terms of quality) compared to CAT 2011. However, most questions types were repeated from CAT 2011. As such, I was able to attempt all the questions in around half an hour.
12. I felt that both the sections had a good mix of a few sitters, medium level questions and some difficult to very difficult questions as well. In such a situation, scanning the section will definitely help you. I scanned each section in around 5-6 minutes and could identify 8-9 questions that seemed simple. While I could not solve 1-2 of these, the rest were indeed fairly manageable. So, this did help in increasing my attempts. Using this approach, I managed to attempt around 25 questions in section I with a reasonably high accuracy (I am confident of around 21-22 questions) and attempt all 30 questions in section II with a very high accuracy (I am confident of around 25 questions). As such, while I felt that my test was good, it was definitely challenging.
13. I would definitely recommend that students prepare for slightly challenging papers with a few new question types. Question selection and the order in which you attempt is going to be critical.
Wish you all the very Best!