CAT is not just for Techies

India’s most reputed management entrance exam The Common Admission Test (CAT), has been altered for this year. The emphasis on mathematics has been weakened, making it smooth for students of the humanities and other streams to enter management schools.

Indeed, aspirants coming from streams other than engineering are ecstatic at this relief gesture. This breakthrough step is paving the way for science, arts, and humanities students in top B-schools.

Key changes introduced this year

Introduction of descriptive questions
Less emphasis on quantitative analysis
Test has to be taken in a single day
Test duration increased by 10 minutes to 180 minutes
More test cities and test centres

Management classes need non-techies also
For so long CAT has focused on quantitative ability (QA) and data interpretation (DI), skewing it towards a “particular set of candidates” restricting the entry of students coming from non-technical backgrounds. The IIMs have fewer than 10 per cent of non-engineering students and about 32 per cent of women students. Experts believe that organizations need people who must not think like engineers. Students from arts and humanities can approach a problem from a different perspective. Diversity in a management class encourages spirited debate and the different opinions required for innovative problem solving at the workplace

New changes may benefit non-engineers slightly
Some of the changes introduced in CAT may offer a few advantages to non-engineers, but the basic composition of the test hasn’t changed much. Candidates weak in calculations can heave a sigh of relief as they will now be allowed to use online calculators.

Accommodating students from varied backgrounds
Some B-schools (XLRI, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, and MICA, Ahmedabad, to cite but three) have created their test to accommodate students from a wider background, measuring the overall personality of the candidate. This is an effort to include non-engineers, women and students from small town India into management studies.

CAT needs changes on the lines that will promote real diversity in premier B-schools to produce more well-rounded business leaders. CAT exam should be made possible for all students irrespective of the stream they come from.

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