The test, which holds the key to admissions to the 13 IIMs and other major B-schools in the country, will be conducted between October 22 and November 18, 2011.
Though the number of questions remain the same,CAT 2011 will have two sections instead of three, and students will get an additional five minutes to tackle them.
According to a statement released by testing agency Prometric and IIMs, the first section will focus on quantitative ability and data interpretation while the second will be on verbal ability and logical reasoning. These two sections will be implemented sequentially with separate time limits.
It will be a 140-minute exam. Candidates will have 70 minutes to answer 30 questions in each section, which will have an on-screen countdown timer. Once the time ends for the first section, they will move on to the second without having the option of being able to go back. Although new in the computer-based version of CAT, this format was previously used in some of the earlier paper-and-pencil years," the statement, released on Monday, said.
The change is vital for the entrance test as admission to IIMs is based on sectional cut-offs. "This move is aimed at being student-friendly. There are many students who lose out on a seat as they would have failed to perform in one of the sections," Prof Janakiraman Moorthy, convener, CAT 2011, said.
An additional five minutes have been added to the existing two-and-half hours available to students. This includes a 15-minute tutorial that will guide students through the process. "Considerable effort has been made in maintaining a similar level of difficulty across papers. A small number of statistically and psychometrically validated questions are randomly inserted in each question paper as equating blocks. These will be used to assess post-test equality across the days," Moorthy said.
Meanwhile, taking CAT closer to northern states, Bhilai, Jammu and Dehradun have been added to the existing 33 test locations. The number of testing days will remain 20. The check-in time has been reduced by half-an-hour from the previous two hours after considering "the continued punctuality of the candidates". With this change, the afternoon sessions will start at 3.15pm.
A practice test to help candidates familiarize themselves with screens, layout and navigation will be made available in the coming weeks and a video on the conversion of CAT to a computer-based test and candidate impressions of this transition will be available on YouTube by the end of this week. Also, buying CAT vouchers won't be very tough-they will also be available at 201 Axis Bankbranches, an increase of 30 outlets. Last year, around 1.85 lakh students had taken the exam.
More details will be available on the website www.catiim.in by August 8, 2011.