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CAT online: Challenges and myths

April 29, 2009 12:07 IST

Finally, almost a year-long mist of uncertainty vanished when the IIMs confirmed that "CAT 2009 will be administered online".

It has been declared that the test will be conducted over a few test days rather than in one day and it will be similar to the pattern of the GMAT and GRE.

At this juncture, when aspirants and training institutes are bewildered with the new method of test administration, experts at TCYonline welcome the move.

The challenges

Those who have already begun their CAT preparation need to de-learn a little to be able to accept the CAT 2009 challenge head on. With many perceived challenges for test-takers, one thing is sure -- the average time per question will increase. TCYonline recommends that the following areas of your preparation be focused on:

  • CAT Verbal getting more importance
    We know from past stats that the test developers have been trying hard to make the overall test more 'Verbal Section centered'. This together with that fact that CAT 2009 is online confirms that your verbal skills must be a strength area for expecting a high percentile. The unexpected extra weightage given to the Verbal Section in CAT 2008 confirms this.

    Moreover, in other standardised online tests like the GMAT, the verbal percentile has more impact on one's overall percentile than the percentile in other sections. Now, with the CAT taking its GMAT avatar, it is expected to re-state this emphasis on verbal ability.
  • New RCs means new approach
    Gone are the days when we used to do an RC on paper. We could easily surf through all the questions before even looking at the RC's content. Imagine, an RC on the computer screen (visit
    www.TCYonline.com to experience hundreds of such RCs) where it appears vertically on the left half of the screen and the right half has questions coming one by one. Moreover, there is ZERO possibility of underlining the keywords in the passage. You will have no option but to jot down the keywords, topic sentences and inferential information in the passages on to a paper to answer the questions in time. Additionally, do you think reading paper-based news bulletins will help if the ultimate reading is required to be done on a computer screen?
  • Old DI with new challenges
    The next challenge before test-takers is to manage the large amount of data in the DI section without any option of writing or underlining key information on the screen itself. One will have to either calculate mentally or to look up to the screen and then down to the paper to jot down the figure for calculations. This will substantially increase the time one would spend on each question.
  • CAT preparation
    The biggest challenge before test-takers is how to prepare and test themselves before the actual exam. If the ultimate test is online, it is high time, with 5-6 months at hand, to switch to computer-based preparation and practice. If not, they will stay fit only for paper-based IIFTs and SNAPs. Moreover, with CAT going online, be prepared for news of SNAP, JMET, XAT (once again), MAT, NMAT, FMS and IIFT also going online soon.

CAT 2009 preparation myths

So what should your action plan be? Start looking for places where computer labs are offered? Or rather get hold of some testing CDs? Is the preparation strategy all about computers and online tests? Here are a few myths that TCYonline terms baseless:

It's not about CDs and computer labs
The reason that CAT is going online holds the key to its preparation strategy. As the number of test-takers increases it is obviously impossible to manage its administration offline. And it is this increase that demands heavily on the assessment and testing. Hence, only online testing cannot help. An analytical approach to
CAT 2009 (http://www.tcyonline.com/cat2009/cat1.php) preparation is the key. You must check everyday how much closer you are to 99+ percentile, failing which you are definitely going to lose your rank to the those who are.

Unless you do the post-mortem (question by question, topic by topic, strength and weakness analysis) of each test that you take, whether a chapter-wise or mock test, you can never be certain of its probable contribution to your ultimate percentile in November. Analysis is all that counts for belling CAT 2009. One such resource is the 'TCY Analytics' (http://www.tcyonline.com/cat2009/tcy_graphs.html) system which gives you analytics to check your improvement, analytics to compare your percentile with that of other test-takers, expert recommendations to improve your performance on a topic or a group of topics.

And the trainers, can they really help?

Yes, they can; provided they know a lot more than the subjects they teach. That is, with the test analytics available for each test a student takes, it is vital for the trainers to be trained on how to infer from such graphs and tables in order to help students improve the percentiles in the subsequent tests. Only technology-driven trainers can bring the element of objectivity in CAT 2009 preparation.

CAT preparation gets difficult
It actually got easier. One major advantage that CAT 2009 offers is that one can gain quick access to the tests and preparation material at any time of the day if it is available online. This will offer customisation and flexibility to the test-takers preparing for CAT 2009.

Top Careers & You (www.tcyonline.com) has been preparing national and international candidates for high-end tests viz. CAT, XAT, JMET, SNAP, CET, FMS, IIFT and GMAT since 1998. Visit www.tcyonline.com to gain FREE access to thousands of these tests.