CMAT Exam Pattern, Preparation Strategy and Useful Books

Right now there are four national level admission tests for management education viz., CAT, MAT, XAT and ATMA the scores of which are acceptable to Indian B-Schools. MAT is conducted four times in a year on the first Sunday in the months of February, May, September and December. Other three examinations are conducted once in a year on scheduled dates. CMAT, now being conducted by AICTE, would be the fifth national level test. It is also conducted once in a year. In addition, Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an international non-profit association of business schools based in McLean, Virginia, USA is gaining its acceptance in many B-Schools.

There is consensus on the need for reducing the multiplicity of management admission tests. However, there is no consensus on streamlining the tests. The initiative taken by AICTE to address this problem is welcome from the students and the parents’ point of view. However, AICTE is meeting with stiff resistance from the B-Schools.

In fact, the notification issued by the AICTE about the Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) a few days ago has caught MBA aspirants, B-schools and coaching institutes’ off-guard. Many schools have not received intimation about the new test. Students are clueless and confused on whether they should register for it. There is no clarity on the B-schools accepting CMAT scores for granting admissions. There are questions about the standard of the test, syllabus for preparation, what to study, etc. It is also not clear whether AICTE is making it mandatory for all the schools/institutes approved by them to accept CMAT scores for granting admission into management programs. However, given the fact that over 4,00,000 seats have been sanctioned by AICTE in various institutes/universities, it may be able to push its plans forward and succeed in making a good number of institutes/universities to admit students with CMAT scores.

The eligibility criterion for CMAT also raises questions. The notification states “Graduates in any discipline or Final year students of Graduate Courses can apply for CMAT.” As per the latest AICTE Approval Process Handbook 2011-2012, eligibility criteria for admission into MBA and MCA courses is revised stipulating 50% (45% for reserved categories) of marks at the qualifying examination. Non-adherence to this criterion may lead to some students taking CMAT examination, who are otherwise not eligible for admission into management programs.

Students aspiring to join premier B-Schools generally target some schools of their choice and prepare for the examinations which are relevant for those schools. In the absence of list of schools/institutes which are accepting the CMAT scores, the test may find poor acceptance from the students. In fact students should be informed about CMAT accepting institutes well in advance.

On the other hand, some premier B-Schools have already communicated in no uncertain terms that they would not take CMAT scores for the next academic year. This is appreciable as most schools have already published the prospectus for the coming academic year and announced their policy for admissions. Interestingly the notification of admission test issued by AICTE states “scores awarded will be used for allotment of seat in the AICTE approved Institutes/University Departments.” Can AICTE impose CMAT on institutes/University Departments? Going by the past experiences, if this is attempted, it may meet with stiff resistance from the B-School managements. Clearly the admission policies of a B-School are the prerogative of the management.

For the coaching institutes such as T.I.M.E., IMS, Career Launcher, etc. it’s a new opportunity for preparing the students to take another entrance test. These institutes are already in the mode of planning for their programs.

AICTE’s intervention for conducting a common admission test for management programs is a right step forward. It addresses the concerns of many parents and students. However the way CMAT is implemented is raising eye brows. AICTE is expecting nearly 1.5 lakh students to appear for the CMAT which will be conducted in 61 centres all over India.

Pattern of examination for CMAT

The test will be of 100 marks and will be divided in four different components of 25 marks each. There shall be negative marking for wrong answers, for each wrong answer 1 mark shall be deducted. The CMAT test duration is for 3 hours. The test will be conducted in two shifts viz., 930 hrs to 1230 hrs and 1430 hrs to 1730 hrs.

Pattern of examination for CMAT:

1) Quantitative Techniques & Data Interpretation: 25 questions
2) Logical Reasoning: 25 questions
3) Language Comprehension: 25 questions
4) General Awareness: 25 questions
Total: 100 questions

How to prepare?

CMAT is being conducted for the first time. AICTE has not given detailed syllabus and the rigour of the test. Hence at this stage one can only go by the approach of AICTE and the philosophy by which they are guided. Preparation required for any good management admission test should suffice for CMAT too. Suggested books and magazines which would see candidate through the test is provided in the table. In addition to these, students should read an English newspaper without fail. Reading and understanding the editorial and the critical articles is important. In addition, one can watch news program on one of the international channels, a national channel and a business channel.

Important Dates for CMAT 2012:

1) Registration window opens on: 9.12.11
2) Last Date for Online Registration: 9.01.12
3) Print out of Hall ticket: From 30.01.2012
4) Online test dates: 20.02.12 to 28.02.12
5) Test Timings : 09.30 am - 12.30 pm (1st Shift); 02.30 pm - 5.30 pm (2nd Shift)
6) Declaration of result: 11.03.12 to 11.04.12

What should you read?

Quantitative Techniques and Data Interpretation:

1) How To Prepare For The Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning for the CAT by Arun Sharma, Tata McGraw-Hill
2) Data Interpretation And Logical Reasoning for the CAT by Nishit K. Sinha, Pearson Education
3) Quantitative Aptitude for MBA Entrance Examinations by Guha Abhijit, Tata McGraw-Hill
4) Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Agarawal, S. Chand
5) How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT by Arun Sharma, Tata McGraw Hill
6) Mathematics books for 8th, 9th & 10th standard by NCERT

Logical Reasoning:

1) Arihant Analytical & Logical Reasoning by BS Sijwali, Ajay Singh, Arihant Publication Pvt. Ltd

Language Comprehension:

1) Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis, General Book Depot
2) A Communicative Grammar of English by Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik, Longman
3) Business English and Communication by Lyn Clark, McGraw Hill
4) 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary by Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis, Pocket Books
5) Student's Companion By Wilfred D. Best, HarperCollins Publishers India Pvt. Ltd.

General Awareness

1) Business Magazines: Business Today, Business World
2) General Knowledge: Competition Success Review

Only time will tell us whether CMAT will be able to make a mark in the market place and gain credibility for granting admission in the premier B-Schools or end up catering to tier II and tier II schools. But for now, CMAT is one more addition to an already cluttered admission test space. It’s a long way for AICTE to achieve its objective of reducing the number of tests by increasing the acceptance of its test score. For parents and for their beloved students the ordeal of multiple tests at exorbitant costs continues.

We wish all the aspirants of CMAT all the very best.

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