Friday, April 1, 2011

Different between CAT and MAT

 MBA entrance exams are many in India. Common Admission Test (CAT) and Management Aptitude Test (MAT) are the two national level MBA entrance exams. CAT is conducted for admission to top tier B-schools in India including IIM’s and MAT is used by next tier of B-schools for admission. Universities and colleges accept scores of common test like CAT, MAT or conduct their own entrance exams like SP Jain or Symbiosis or IIT’s. 

Common Admission Test (CAT)
Amongst all the MBA entrance exams CAT is the foremost entrance exam. To get good percentile, proper attentiveness and hard work is highly desired for while preparing for CAT exam. This is the only gate-way by which A-grade MBA colleges in India accept candidates. Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) is the apex body that conducts CAT entrance exams and the exam dates are also fixed by the same institute.
The IIM’s are considered as the pioneer business schools in the country. They conduct CAT exam in order to screening the applicants who wish to join the institute. Other than the IIM’s, other B-schools that take CAT scores are NIRMA, MICA, the NIT’s, IMT Ghaziabad, SP Jain Mumbai, etc. CAT exam is conducted every year. In order to appear the CAT exam, the applicant should have a degree with at least 50% marks. Final year students can also apply. The entrance exam includes areas such as problem solving, critical reasoning, verbal ability, reading comprehension and data interpretation. The pattern and the number of sections changes each year. Students must clear the cut-offs marks required for each section to get a call from the top institutions. The cut-offs are calculated depending up-on the difficulty of each section. There is negative marking for wrong answers. Time management, practice and speed play an important role in cracking the CAT.
Management Aptitude Test (MAT)
MAT is conducted by AIMA and is approved by MHRD, GOI as a National Entrance Test. In a year there are four MAT exams done in February, May, September and December. More than 500 institutions participate with the MAT exam each year. MAT exam is carry out in written and computer based exams. An average student can easily score more than 80 percentile in MAT exam. But only those candidates who have a score above 95 percentile is taken into those top grade next tier B-schools in India. Some of the colleges accepting MAT score include Alliance Business Academy (Bangalore), Christ College Institute of Management, Bangalore, Indian Institute of Finance (Delhi), IMS (Ghaziabad) and BIMTECH (Noida)
Candidates with a good MAT score can apply to AICTE approved colleges and universities. A degree holder or a final year student awaiting results is eligible to apply for MAT. The test pattern is pretty much the same as that of the CAT. In MAT, there is an additional section on General Awareness. Even though clearing each section is compulsory, the General Awareness section score is not taken while calculating the percentile. 

Key differentiators between CAT and MAT
CAT is a mandatory entrance exam conducted by the IIM’s. This is the first stage in the admission process to all the six IIMs which is followed by group discussion and personnel interview. Other than IIMs other business schools also consider the CAT scores as the main eligibility criteria for enrolling students in their management courses. AIMATS conducts the MAT exam and it is known as the National Entrance Test for MBA and similar programs like PGDM. MAT is carried out four times in a year were as CAT is only once every year. The A-graded business schools review CAT scores where as MAT is reviewed by B-grade schools in the country. Both the test evaluates the potential of students by judging their mathematical, verbal and analytical writing skills. However CAT is much tougher to crack compared to MAT as difficulty level of questions is more in the former compared to latter. CAT exam pattern has frequent changes, hence previous exam papers are less useful compared to MAT, where solving previous exam papers can help you to a larger extent.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CAT 2010: 10 tips to prepare in remaining months

With less than 3 months to go for CAT 2010, you should take your preparations seriously. Conducted on October 27th, it is time to start taking practice tests and master your weak areas. Here are tips compiled by experts, IIM alumni on how to bell the CAT-:

1) Increase your knowledge in each section of the test: You should work hard to increase your knowledge and to clear your basic concepts in all sections- Vocabulary, Grammar, Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning, quant, data interpretation and Logic.

2) Build your speed: Take as many model test papers and see how much time you're taking to answer questions in all sections. This will tell you in which sections you need to work on your speed.

3) Allocate your time per section: For some aspirants, solving the section in which you are strongest in works the best to ace the test.

4) Measure your performance with others: To benchmark yourself and understand your relative strengths and weaknesses versus other CAT aspirants, it is important that you join a test series which is written by a number of students to know where you stand.

5) Know which questions to attempt: The CAT papers have so far been designed in such a way that it is almost impossible to correctly attempt all the questions. You must be 100% sure which questions you will leave as they are as important as questions you attempt.

6) Read regularly: You must read newspapers and reading material to improve your knowledge in economics, world affairs and sociology.

7) Improve your vocabulary: Make a conscious effort to improve your vocabulary.

8) Identify the time of day when you study the best: The sooner you start preparing for the CAT, the better will be your preparation strategy and better will be execution.

9) Read the paper carefully: Be it actual CAT or mock test paper, you should take your time and read both the questions and data set carefully. Understand what you are being asked to do before you begin figuring out the information.

10) Set goals: While preparing for the CAT, make sure you have set realistic goals and strive hard to achieve them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Syllabus of CAT

CAT - The Common Admission Test to the six IIMs is also the entrance test for few other top B-Schools such as SP Jain, MICA, and T A Pai. CAT tests your skills in five broad areas viz.
  1. Verbal ability and reasoning
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Quantitative skills
  4. Data Interpretation
  5. Analytical and Logical reasoning
Verbal Ability & Reasoning
Verbal ability and reasoning accounts for half of the verbal section
A typical 50 marks section of verbal comprises Verbal ability and reasoning section and the Reading Comprehension section. Verbal ability accounts for about 25 to 30 marks questions in the verbal section and the reamining 20 to 25 marks questions are Reading comprehension questions.
In CAT 2004 there were 0.5, 1 and 2 marks questions in the verbal section and in CAT 2005 there were 1 mark and 2 marks questions in the verbal section. CAT 2006 and CAT 2007 had 25 questions in the Verbal Ability section with each question carrying 4 marks. Of these 12 to 15 questions were Reading Comprehension question and the remaining questions were Verbal Reasoning questions.
The questions that typically appear in the verbal section can be classified in one of the following types
1.Vocabulary Based
Questions based on testing one’s vocabulary could be plain vanilla “synonym - antonym” questions as it appeared in CAT 2001, CAT 2002. Alternatively, the questions on vocabulary may appear as fill in the blank with the appropriate word as it appeared in the 0.5 marks section of CAT 2004 or as part of the 2 marks section in CAT 2005.
There have been interesting variations to this question as in CAT 2001 and CAT 2002 where a simple word was given. Four alternate usages for the word was given and four different shades of meaning for the word was given. One had to match the usage with the appropriate meaning. A sample of such a question is given if you follow the link at the bottom of the page.
However, please note that the emphasis on vocabulary has been on the decline and the need to memorize meanings of words such as “pleonasm” or “pterodactyl” is not essential to crack such questions in CAT.
2.English Usage / Grammar
Sentence correction or Grammar based questions appear in different flavours in the CAT verbal section. It could be questions where you are asked to spot the section of a sentence that is gramatically incorrect or it could be questions where a part of a sentence in underlined and you are provided with four or five alternative choices. You have to select the choice that0 corrects the error in the underlined part.
More recently in CAT 2005, questions on grammar appeared with a twist. A set of 4 sentences were given and you had to find out how many out of the 4 sentences were gramatically correct.
A good understanding of the basics of English grammar coupled with adequate exercises on the different types of common errors that appear in CAT will help you sail through these kinds of questions.
3.Verbal Reasoning
These questions could take multiple forms. The most common one is that of rearranging sentences of a paragraph. It could also include paraphrasing what has been said in a paragraph. In some CAT papers questions similar to the ones that appear in the Critical Reasoning section of GMAT have been tested.
CAT 2006 witnessed the comeback of Fact Inference Judgement questions. These questions which were a standard feature in CAT in the early 90s made a comeback in 2006. You will be given 3 or 4 sentences and will be asked to select which of the statements is a fact, which a judgement and which an inference.

CAT Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension accounts for a third to a half of the verbal section in CAT

A typical 100 marks section of verbal comprises Verbal ability and reasoning section and the Reading Comprehension section. Verbal ability accounts for about 40 to 60 marks questions in the verbal section and the reamining 60 to 40 marks questions are Reading comprehension questions. In CAT 2006, 15 out of the 25 questions in the verbal section were reading comprehension questions (i.e., 60 out of 100 marks). In CAT 2007, 12 out of the 25 questions in the verbal section were reading comprehension questions (i.e., 48 out of 100 marks).

Reading Comprehension questions come in groups of four to eight questions, and are based on reading passages that range from 250 to 750 words in length.


To be able to perform well in these types of questions you need to:

  1. read quickly in a way that will allow you to understand the main idea of the passage
  2. eliminate answer choices that could not possibly be correct
  3. take advantage of outside knowledge
  4. take advantage of inside information (the answer that is generally correct in exams like CAT), and
  5. find answers in some cases without reading the passage.


Passages that you will find in the CAT exam can be broadly classified into one of the following types.

  1. The social science passage
    This usually concerns a social or historical issue. You might see a passage about world population control or the history of the rise to power of a clan in medieval India.
  2. The science passage
    This might describe a scientific phenomenon, such as aviation, super conductivity or plate tectonics.
  3. The business passage
    This usually discusses a business-related topic. For example, you might see a passage about the privatization of state-owned industries, pricing of options and futures or the causes of inflation.
  4. The entertainment passage
    This usually discusses a topic related to entertainment, sports, leisure. The passage could be on a topic such as the lifestyles of the rich and famous, the reason for the success of a Hollywood or Bollywood movie.
The Quant (Math) section in CAT usually accounts for a third of the questions in CAT. For instance, in CAT 2006 the quant section had 100 marks worth questions out of the total of 300 marks worth questions. More often than not students who take CAT find the quant section as the toughest one. Albeit, CAT 2006 was an exception

CAT Quantitative Ability (Quant / Math)

Broadly categorized as Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry CAT typically tests a student’s quantitative ability from over 25 topics. These topics that appear in CAT are of high school level. Click on the links that follow each topic for details of what is covered in Ascent’s Quant Refresher books on these topic and for accesing an archive of sample questions from these topics.

  1. Arithmetic
    1. Number Systems and Number Theory
    2. Percentages
    3. Profit and Loss
    4. Interest
    5. Speed, Time and Distance
    6. Pipes and Cisterns
    7. Races
    8. Averages
    9. Ratio, Proportion
    10. Mixtures and Alligations
  2. Algebra
    1. Linear and Quadratic Equation
    2. Logarithm
    3. Progressions - AP, GP, HP
    4. Binomial Theorem
    5. Inequalities
    6. Permutation & Combination
    7. Probability
    8. Function
    9. Set Theory
  3. Geometry
    1. Geometry
    2. Co ordinate Geometry
    3. Trigonometry
    4. Mensuration

Data Interpretation (DI) Section

Data Interpretation accounted for 50 marks questions in the Common Admissions Tests (CAT) since CAT 2001. CAT 2005 had 30 questions in this section. 10 of the 30 questions were 1 mark questions and the remaining 20 were 2 marks questions. CAT 2006 and CAT 2007, each had 25 questions in this section. Each qeustion carried 4 marks

Data Intrepretation section can be broadly classified as comprising two types of questions.

  • Data Interpretation (DI)

    In these questions data is presented either in the form of a table or a bar chart or a pie chart or a line graph or as a combination of one of these formats. Following each of these data presentations, there will be 4 to 6 questions. You are expected to answer the questions by interpreting the data given in the table or graph. Here is a sample data interpretation question.

  • Data Sufficiency (DS)

    Every Data Sufficiency problem consists of a question followed by two statements. You have to decide NOT WHAT THE ANSWER IS, BUT WHETHER THE QUESTION CAN BE ANSWERED based on the information given in the two statements.

    CAT exams till 2004 had DS questions either as part of the quant section or as part of the DI section. CAT 2005 and CAT 2006 did not have any DS questions at all. But it staged a comeback in CAT 2007. Hence, one cannot rule out such questions in future CAT exams.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Syllabus of CAT 2010

CAT - The Common Admission Test to the six IIMs is also the entrance test for few other top B-Schools such as SP Jain, IIBS, Bangalore, MICA, and T A Pai. CAT tests your skills in five broad areas viz.
  1. Verbal ability and reasoning
  2. Reading Comprehension
  3. Quantitative skills
  4. Data Interpretation
  5. Analytical and Logical reasoning

Monday, September 20, 2010

I have added few must read books for ant MAT-aspirant. All of them are free to download. Requests and grants of books are heartily welcome. By grants i mean if you have any very good book that you want to share with others Please post the link or at least the name. If you want some other books that are not listed here you are welcome to post the request.