CAT is the Common Admission Test. It is an online test for seeking admission in a graduate management program. It includes three sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DLIR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). It is offered once a year, usually in November/December. The duration of this test is 3 hours, one hour for each section. It has a section-wise cut-off i.e the candidate must acquire a minimum mark in each section to qualify in that section and also in CAT.
CAT is established and administered by the Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) for admitting students for their MBA or PGDM. It is conducted and managed every year by one of the IIMs based on the policy of rotation. CAT is a national level test and the annual number of test-takers is around 244,000. Last year, there were around 2,04,267 students who appeared for this test and competed for 1550+ seats thus making it the most competitive exam in the country.
Before 2009, CAT was a paper-based test. It was later declared that CAT would be a computer-based exam on 1st May 2009. Initially, i.e from 2009 to 2013, the American firm Prometric was assigned the responsibility of conducting CAT on computers. The first test had significant technical issues and this was due to the two major viruses ‘Conficker’ and ‘W32 Nimda’ which caused the server to hinder. Subsequently, since 2014, the TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) has been conducting CAT. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, IIM Indore decided to conduct CAT within a duration of 2 hours and 40 minutes.
The candidates who achieve the sectional cut-off, as well as the overall cut-off, are further selected for the Group Discussion (GD) or Personal Interview (PI) by the IIMs. This happens to be the significant and the ultimate step for the selection process in the top business schools of our country.