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Preparation Strategy for the Computer-based CMAT

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has issued a notification for the First Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) 2015-16. The scores of CMAT are accepted by the institutions that are running AICTE-approved management programmes.
Ramnath Kanakadandi
Course Director,

Some of the top colleges in the country that will take CMAT scores are Jamnalal Bajaj, K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research, Prin. L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management & Research, etc., among over 3000 other B-schools that accept CMAT scores.

Let us look at some details about the exam

Eligibility Criteria:
For General Category graduates from any discipline, 50% of marks is required (45% for reserved category students). Final year students of Graduate Courses can also apply.

What does it test?
There are four sections in the test. The sections are
  1. Quantitative Techniques & Data Interpretation
  2. Logical Reasoning
  3. Language Comprehension and
  4. General Awareness.
There are 25 questions in each section. The duration of test is 180 minutes, with no break during this time window. So, students could move back and forth between sections. This means that the sections are not timed individually, and the onus is on the students to manage timing between the sections, while ensuring that they show their competency in all the sections. There is a negative marking of one mark for every wrong answer.

Test Pattern:
Section No. Section Name No. of questions Marks per section
1 Quantitative Techniques and Data Interpretation 25 100
2 Logical Reasoning 25 100
3 Language Comprehension 25 100
4 General Awareness 25 100
Total 100 400

Scoring Mechanism:
CMAT will rank its takers based on both the over all test score and individual sectional scores. Those with high overall scores will get better ranks. Ties will be decided based on the performance of the students in the individual sections – those who scored better in Quant will get better ranks. Logical Reasoning, English Comprehension and General Awareness follow the Quant section in the pecking order to decide a tie.

No disqualifications:
CMAT has been designed to rank all the candidates who appear in the test based on their aptitude towards the management education in the order of their merit. The objective of the test is not to eliminate the candidates from the process of seeking admission in the AICTE approved management programmes, rather to facilitate the institutions to select the suitable candidates as per their merit.

A list of b-schools that will use CMAT is available on the website: Since AICTE is the body that is responsible for approving B-schools, CMAT is will be used by a large number of B-schools and should be one of the exams that a large number of MBA aspirants will take.

About the Test
CMAT is a computer-based test like CAT and NMAT. The test will have four sections:
  1. Logical Reasoning
  2. Verbal Ability / Language Comprehension
  3. Numerical Ability + Data Interpretation
  4. General Awareness
Each section will have 25 questions. The duration of test is 180 minutes, with no break. So, students can move back and forth between the sections, unlike CAT & NMAT this year.

This also means that the sections will not be timed individually, and the onus is on the students to manage timing between the sections, while ensuring that they show their competency in all the sections. While the right answer will get four marks, there is negative marking of 1 mark for every wrong answer. A trial test will be available on the CMAT website from 10th August onwards for students to get a flavour of this test.

Paper Pattern
Section No. Section Name No. of questions Marks per section
1 Quantitative Techniques and Data Interpretation 25 100
2 Logical reasoning 25 100
3 Language comprehension 25 100
4 General Awareness 25 100
Total 100 400

Going by the feedback received from the test takers of the test held in February 2013, the difficulty level of the exam was more or less consistent across slots during the 9-day test window. General Awareness and Verbal Ability sections were reported to be of relatively higher difficulty level than what was expected by the test-takers.

Preparation Strategy for various sections of CMAT

Quantitative Techniques & Data Interpretation
For the section on Quantitative Techniques and Data Interpretation, a good preparation on basic arithmetic concepts like Percentages, Profit & Loss, Ratios, Simple & Compound Interests etc should be enough. Those who have prepared for other management entrances like CAT will have it easy, though it would be advisable for a student to focus also on areas like Co-ordinate Geometry, Trigonometry (Basically Heights & Distances), Statistics, Quadratic Equations, Progressions, Permutations & Combinations, Probability and Number System, as the exact exam syllabus has not been made clear yet.

Language Comprehension
For the section on Language Comprehension, it would be advisable for students to revise concepts pertaining to Critical Reasoning (especially on identifying argument structure and argument elements, and inference based questions), since the CMAT presents a good number of such questions, at different levels of difficulty. The critical Reasoning questions would in general be a part of the preparation for those who gave the CAT exam, They can revise these concepts by going through those chapters/material again. For the rest of the English Language part, it would be advisable for students to revise concepts pertaining to Reading Comprehension, Sentence correction, and Vocabulary based questions. Questions in these areas have been very doable, and effective revision would help students cash in on these questions. The RC passages in CMAT have been short (a paragraph or 2) and quite easy to read. Students have time to read carefully and analyze the content, and must do so, since the choices are, sometimes, close.

Logical Reasoning
For the section on logical reasoning one has to prepare on all the reasoning topics like linear arrangement, circular arrangement, selections , distribution puzzles, comparisons, binary logic, cubes, Venn diagrams, deductions and connectives. The question pattern is slightly different from the regular MBA entrance tests pattern. Unlike CAT here one would find individual questions in all the above topics. Sometimes data may not be sufficient to figure out the complete solution , but would be sufficient to answer the given question.

The other areas of reasoning including number series, coding and decoding, symbols and notations, blood relations, direction sense, input-output, calendars and clocks should also be prepared. As the range of topics covered is very large, students should prepare thoroughly to ensure that no area is left out.

General Awareness
For preparation on General Awareness, in addition to reading newspapers regularly, it would be advisable for a student to prepare from the following sources:
  • Financial newspapers
  • Manorama & CSR Year Book
While this section is pegged at the lowest rung in terms of scoring hierarchy, to break ties, this ends up being the deciding section in boosting your score. A good performance here is what helps people score high.

Few good B-Schools which accept CMAT score:
The following is the list of some of the good B-Schools that accept CMAT score for admission into their Post-graduate program in Management:
  1. JBIMS-Mumbai
  2. Sydenham-Mumbai
  3. KJ Somaiya-Mumbai
  4. Welingkar-Mumbai
  5. Goa Institute of Management-Goa
  6. Welingkar-Bangalore
  7. IMT-Nagpur
  8. Sdmimd-Mysore
As per T.I.M.E. ranking, JBIMS is rated as one of the Top 10 B-Schools of India; Sydenham and KJ Somaiya are graded in the “A” category; GIM and Welingkar-Mumbai are graded among the BBB grade B-Schools. IMT-Nagpur and SDMIMD-Mysore are graded in “BB” category.

Computer-based test format
The format of the test is more or less the same that of paper-based format except that a candidate reads a question on a computer terminal and clicks on the correct answer, instead of reading on a paper booklet and using a pencil to darken the ovals on an answer sheet. CMAT trial test is available on the website for candidates to get familiarized with the functionality and navigation of the actual Computer Based test.

Advise to the students who do not have a good academic record..
Over the last 20 years, our experiences with students have led us to conclude that the Written Test has the maximum weightage in the selection process while each of the following - Group Discussion, Personal Interview, Bio-data including Academics and Work Experience have lower weightages. Therefore, while your past academic scores have some weightage, you can certainly overcome any handicap that you might have by performing well in CMAT and the GD & Interview.

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Published date : 21 Mar 2013 02:20PM

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