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CAT exam likely to be tweaked to tap students of diverse background

Published On: 06 Aug 2012 | Last Updated On: 06 Aug 2012

The IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) are keen to revamp the CAT (Common Admission Test) format to admit students from various academic backgrounds and not only engineers. With this the students from humanities discipline may also get a chance to crack the CAT exam.

Presently, batches of leading business school comprises of 80% of engineers. For instance, at IIM-A 95% of the students have been engineering graduates since past 3-years.

The idea was proposed by the directors of old IIMs at a meeting conducted in Kochi in July to deliberate the future course of the test. The IIMs are now aiming to make the exam more comprehensive so as to attract students from humanities discipline as well.

It is easy for the engineers to crack CAT because of the continuous evaluation during each semester in college. The move aims at making CAT exam accessible by students of other streams as well. However, no changes will be made this year.

Sources of all IIMs are of view of reviewing the examination system. However what all changes would be brought in to broaden the scope for students from other streams are still to be finalized.

The CAT scores are used by 13 IIMs and few other B-schools for providing admission to management programs. The exam is held every year by one of the old IIMs on rotation basis. CAT is one of the most competitive exams in Asia after UPSC and IIT-JEE and comprises of 2 sections – Verbal and Quantitative which tests the data interpretation, quantitative ability, logical reasoning and verbal ability of students. Though the institutes are yet to decide on how to tap students from humanities stream, educationists have expressed that quantitative section could be made easier.

The other exams such as GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) which also tests verbal and quantitative ability of students is not biased for engineers. The probable reason could be the mathematics section is comparatively easy and helps non-engineering background students to score better. Although the maths topics asked in CAT exam are of class X and XII standard, the difficulty level of questions is higher than that of GMAT.

Another probable solution could be to make CAT computer adaptive just as GMAT. In computer-adaptive tests, the computer selects the questions corresponding to the ability level of each student. The student’s knowledge and individual growth can be better gauged by the real time Results than any other type of tests available.

Sources from IIM-Lucknow revealed that tweaking the CAT format would hardly affect the numbers of engineers in IIMs. Engineering students score better in both quantitative as well as verbal sections. So, even if the weightage of verbal ability section is increased by 1.5 times, engineers will continue to perform better.

Sources from IIM-A see it as a big challenge as the management study requires good quantitative skills so the content of CAT could not be changed. Also adding subjective questions would not solve the problem because then evaluation would become a headache. So IIMs have limited options.

As per IIM-A only possible solution is to bring top 10% humanities students at par with the top 10% engineering students. People are raising questions that the CAT exam is biased for engineers. The IIM directors should primarily make out if this assumption is actually true or if there is a crucial deficiency in ability and potential of non-engineering students.

The quantitative section could be simplified or the test could be made computer adaptive just like GMAT.

Source: India Today

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