D-Day is round the corner. For lakhs of management aspirants who have been tirelessly preparing for the high-profile Common Admission Test 2009 — which will determine their chances of entering the portals of the Indian Institutes of Management — the following week is a critical one. While some will try to cram in as much studies as possible into the days that follow, others might have mastered the art of keeping their cool and sharpened those few skills that really matter. The exam, being conducted in a computer-based format for the first time, will be held between November 28 and December 7.

The Hindu EducationPlus brings to you a few tips, some must-do's and a couple of pointers to help you in the last leg of this all-important race. In the run- up to CAT, IIMS and Prometric (the company that has taken the gargantuan responsibility of taking this exam online) have released a document termed “the practical guide to CAT.” This document, and a video guide which can be viewed on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaKHWpiFToE ), will be your first pit stop. Coaching centres have advised students to take printouts of this guide and go through it more than a couple of times in the days to come.

Pointers

While the guide offers little in terms of academics (most of what is required here is known and well-documented), it offers some pointers to make the test experience a smooth one. Firstly, candidates are advised to arrive two hours prior to the session time, in order to finish security checks, identity verification and checking in (refer to table to see what you are required to bring)

Further, identity checks may involve a long process of verification, besides the mandatory fingerprinting to record your biometric identity. The actual duration of the test is 135 minutes, with an additional hour provided for those with scribes. Prior to this, a 15-minute tutorial to familiarise candidates with the layout of the screen and functionality available during the test will be provided. Rough work cannot be done on any other paper/sheet, as nothing will be allowed inside the testing room.

The IIMs have not announced any change in the test pattern this year. As usual, the paper will have three sections — quantitative analysis, verbal ability and data interpretation — and each section will have about 60 to 70 questions (the surprise element usually is the number of questions). While attempting the paper, you may highlight text, mark questions for review, use the review screen to check out how far you've got, and make use of the on-screen timer to keep track of your timing.

Prometric assures candidates that all contingency plans are in place, so even if there are issues which will be solved in a matter of minutes, the candidate gets to start from where he/she left off.

Further, Prometric has stated that in the case of those applying under the Differently Abled (DA) category, organisers will only be providing screen magnifiers. Other aids such as hearing equipment or wheelchairs must be arranged by the candidate.

As for warming up to this exam, experts suggest that it's time for some consolidation.

Ajay Arora of the Triumphant Institute of Management Education says: “Focus on revising concepts and chapters you already know. Revise the questions you went wrong with during your mock tests, and focus on the silly mistakes you tend to make.”

It is important that when you see the final question paper, you know how to prioritise, and this comes from identifying strengths and weaknesses, he believes. Further, do not burn yourself out by writing one mock after the other; now is the time for analysis and formulating strategies for D-Day.

What candidates must bring

1. CAT 2009 Admit Card

2. One acceptable form of photo-identification

3. Valid document as proof of SC/ST eligibility (if applicable)

4. Similar photo identification for scribe of a Differently Abled candidate (if applicable)

5. CAT 2009 Voucher

* Photo ID must be an official one, preferably License, passport, voter ID or college ID

**Contact: 1800 103 9293., an Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS), 9am – 6pm, Mondays to Saturdays, until the end of the CAT 2009.

RELATED NEWS

Cracking the quantitative ability section in CATNovember 23, 2009

The right approach paysNovember 23, 2009