Quantitative Analysis (QA), the section that often jeopardises the chances of non-engineering candidates of getting into Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), turned out to be more difficult than expected this year in the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2018.
Gateway to the 20 premier IIMs and over 110 non-IIM B-schools, CAT 2018 was held in a reportedly smooth manner across 147 cities in two slots on Sunday.
The entrance test was of 180 minutes, divided into three sections, including Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Analysis (QA).
According to CAT experts, unlike last year, when QA was "easy", this year the section was "reasonably tough".
Unlike VARC and DILR, QA is a section most suited for candidates with an engineering background.
Apparently candidates were allotted 60 minutes for answering 34 questions each in QA and VARC and 32 in DILR without being able to switch from one section to another while answering questions in a section.
According to CAT tutorial experts, the restriction in movement across sections during the test could help non-engineering candidates.
"Similar to the last two years, this year too there was a time limit to each section with candidates unable to switch sections. This offers a level playing field for engineering and non-engineering candidates, who have to spend equal time on sections easier or more difficult to them," said Ramnath Kanakadandi, National CAT Course Director at T.I.M.E.
IIMs have been introducing such features to ensure diversity in terms of academic backgrounds, thereby encouraging non-engineering students to join IIMs.
There was a roughly 4 per cent rise in registration over last year. As against over 231,067 registrations in CAT 2017, this year the test saw registrations close at 241,000 after the window was extended by a few days. According to Gautam Bawa, Group Product Head, Career Launcher, while VARC and DILR were relatively easy or moderately difficult compared to previous years, QA "came out all guns blazing", ending up as the most difficult section in the test this year. This is despite the fact that over the years, IIMs have been relying less on QA to encourage more non-engineering candidates make it to the IIMs.
IIMs offered candidates the option to select four test cities in order of their preference, with centres being assigned to candidates only after the last date for CAT 2018 registration. Registrations for the entrance test to the 20 IIMs, along with over 110 non-IIM management institutes who use CAT scores, had opened on August 8 and closed on September 26, after being extended from the initial closing date of September 19.
Last year, total registrations for CAT 2017 had closed at over 231,067, marginally down by 0.59 per cent over the previous year 2016, which had seen registrations close at 232,436. Gender-wise, however, share of female applicants had risen marginally by 1.16 per cent.