The countdown for the MBA aspirants has begun.

The Common Admission Test (CAT) committee has announced the dates of the test to be conducted later this year. CAT 2012, coordinated by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Kozhikode, on behalf of 12 other IIMs and other participating institutes in the examination, will be a 27-day affair starting from October 11, 2012 and concluding on November 6, 2012.

Taken by over 2 lakh MBA aspirants every year, performance in the CAT is crucial for admission to the IIMs and some of the top business schools in the country. This year, apart from the IIMs, more than 130 B-schools across the country are subscribing to CAT score.

A decade back in 2003, CAT recorded 1.5 lakh aspirants taking the test. The number of CAT aspirants peaked in 2008 when 2.76 lakh aspirants registered for the test. But in 2009 when CAT shifted to computer-based mode from the traditional paper-pen model, it raised controversies. Major technical snags were reported from across centres because of which the testing window was extended to 20 days in 2010.

This was also the year, when nearly 20 per cent dip in registration was recorded. In 2010, during registration, some aspirants found the portal hosting viruses, but later such technical glitches were removed. CAT 2011 not only remained glitch-free, it also witnessed a marginal increase in the number of candidates.

“This year, no surprises have been announced. The dates are a little early but they would clash only with Dusshera, not with many other festivals as in earlier years,” said Punit Varma, who teaches mathematics to aspirants.

Starting last year, the computer-based test comprises two sections that are separately timed. The sections are (a) Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation (b) Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning. Each section will be of 1 hour and 10 minutes’ duration and there will be 30 questions in each section. Once a section ends, aspirants can no longer go back to it. Aspirants will be presented with the section on Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation first, followed by Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning.

“This only means the candidate has to be fast and really sure of the answers. It will not be the traditional pattern where you can leave the tough ones for later,” said Mr. Varma.

CAT features

A CAT candidate can appear for the exam only once during the 21-day testing window which is October 11 to November 6, 2012.

The CAT 2012 video will be available on www.catiim.in.

Mere fulfilment of minimum eligibility criteria will not ensure consideration for shortlisting by the IIMs. Prospective candidates must maintain a valid and unique e-mail account and a phone number throughout the selection process.

The voucher has to be bought in the name of the candidate as it appears in the school leaving certificate.

More details at http://www.catiim.in/cat_eligibility.html

Important dates

Sale of CAT Vouchers: September 17 (Monday)

Registration: September 19 (Wednesday)

Test dates: October 11 (Thursday), November 6 (Tuesday)

Results: January 9, 2013 (Wednesday)