|Students take OMETs to schools like XIM Bhubaneswar (above) at par with CAT
WITH CAT 2011, the biggest of all the management entrance exams in India, done and dusted, it is time now for the students to focus their energies on the Other Management Entrance Tests (OMETs). While many students write these tests as a back-up to take care of a not-so-good result in CAT, some mainly target these tests due to the institutes that they open doors to.
Some make these tests their main targets after CAT either because they know that they had a bad day in the CAT or because, in the case of a very small minority, they have missed CAT due to late coming, inadequate ID, etc.
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A couple of significant changes took place this year on the OMET calendar. The IITs have scrapped JMET declaring that they would consider CAT scores for admission into their schools of management. Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) of Delhi University has announced that it is also scrapping its entrance test and would consider CAT scores instead. These two changes have reduced the count of the exams and therefore the options for better performance (compared to CAT) that the students have. They have also lessened the stress of preparation and test taking that students go through.
This year has also witnessed pattern changes with CAT and NMAT going the individual timed section way, which could impact the way you answer.
Institute of Rural Management (IRMA), Anand, has already kick-started the OMET season with its entrance test, on 13th November, last year. While IRMA has not changed its pattern, it certainly gave a jolt to the students. The usually tough GK section, ‘Issues of Social Concern’, was not so tough this year while the Quantitative Ability section was unexpectedly tough with a majority of calculation-intensive data interpretation (DI) questions and very few questions from arithmetic.
The students now once bitten will be twice shy before they sit for another OMET. They would like to take stock of the situation and prepare for all eventualities. Here is a ready reckoner to help in preparation for the OMETs that are coming up.
Entrance exam for Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) has always remained an enigma to students in terms of marking pattern, number of sections, sectional cut-offs, etc. Until a couple of years ago, students did not know if there were sectional cut-offs. In 2009, IIFT clarified that they expect students to show their competency in each of the sections, meaning that there would be sectional cut-offs.
After varying its patterns for quite some time, IIFT 2009 and 2010 had the same pattern in terms of sections and marking. The marking pattern, however, is complex with the marks per question ranging from 0.4 to 1. An extremely difficult Quant section and a calculation-intensive DI section have been the hallmarks of IIFT over these two years.
A revision of the basics to get the concepts right and preparation on speed Maths to tackle the calculation intensive DI questions is essential for a good performance in IIFT entrance. For General Knowledge, reading up on economy, and related terminology along with current topics is needed to a great extent. While preparing for this section, focus on issues related to national and international events, world bodies, and foreign trade, information related to international business is needed to a great extent.
NMAT, conducted by Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, has a significantly shorter test window this year compared to last year, down from three months in 2010 to two months and seven days now. Multiple attempts (three) are allowed this year too. This would mean that the time to recoup will be shorter this year. The best score, out of the three attempts, would be used for evaluation.
Changes in NMAT
- Individual section timings: Individual section timings are being introduced in this year’s NMAT. This means that the test-taker needs to answer the questions of a particular section within the allotted section time. In case a candidate completes the section before the section time is over, the time left will not get added to the next section(s). This year the students can also select the order in which they wish to answer the sections.
- No negative marking: There will be no negative marking in NMAT, which would mean that when not able to decide between options one can take a guess and mark an option with no risk of losing out if the option marked is incorrect.
- More no. of questions than CAT: With double the number of questions in CAT to be answered in almost the same time, i.e. 120 questions in two hours, NMAT is a speed-based test. With the time allotted to the Language Skills section being the lowest, i.e. 22 minutes, the students should focus on improving on their reading speed. Focus will be needed on speed Maths too. It is very important to avoid getting stuck with any question for more than a minute. Selecting the correct questions in order to spend time on is critical for good scores, especially in the Quantitative Skills and the Logical Reasoning sections of the test.
Symbiosis National Aptitude Test (SNAP), conducted by Symbiosis group of Institutions, Pune, is by far one of the most consistent of the management exams in India, in terms of pattern, sections, difficulty level, etc. SNAP 2009 and SNAP 2010 did not do anything to change this image. The minor change in the year 2009 in terms of the number of questions was absent in SNAP 2010.
The point to be noted in terms of the pattern is that Analytical and Logical Reasoning is the section with the highest weightage – 60 marks. The remaining three sections – General English, General Awareness and Quantitative Analysis (QA), Data Interpretation (DI) and Data Sufficiency (DS) – are for 40 marks each.
General English - For the section on General English, it would be advisable for a student to revise concepts pertaining to vocabulary (meanings, idiomatic usage) and grammar and composition (recognition of function, error identification, sentence correction, arrangement of jumbled sentences). The Reading Comprehension passages tend to be pretty straight forward.
QA/DI/DS - For the section on Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency, a good preparation for CAT should be more than sufficient to help you crack these examinations easily. So always keep this in mind while preparing for the CAT.
Analytical & Logical Reasoning - For the section on Analytical and Logical Reasoning, concepts pertaining to puzzles, number and letter series, analogies, coding and decoding, strengthening and weakening an argument, and non-verbal reasoning are to be revised.
General Awareness - For the section on General Awareness, focus is needed on concepts and facts pertaining to definitions (past exams have posed questions on terms like dendrochronology and ekistics!), economy, acronyms, history, sport, science and technology, and current affairs.
Alphabetically and chronologically the last premier entrance examination to be conducted for the season, XAT is second in stature only to the mighty CAT. Conducted by XLRI, Jamshedpur, it is the only examination that tests the writing skills of the students as well. XAT is also unique in its progressive negative marking pattern. XAT 2010 and XAT 2011 were arguably the toughest papers of the management exam seasons of the last two years, on the lines of XAT 2009, so prepare to the best of your ability.
Verbal ability - The verbal ability (VA) section saw a large increase in difficulty level in 2010 and tested the students not just on their ability in language but also in their logical and analytical skills. The answers were also quite difficult to arrive at, primarily because they tested interpretation, the understanding of implications, and reasoning.
DI and Quant section - In 2010, the Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation section was also very tough. In fact, this was the most difficult section of the test. Question selection and getting out of the potential time guzzlers quickly was the key to this section. The Quant part had a fair sprinkling from different arithmetic and pure Maths areas and the students are expected to be very strong on their basics to be able to get a good score here, where they can score well.
Selection of questions - The key feature in XAT is that sitters/easy pickings will be hard to come by. The students need to be, therefore, very selective in attempting questions to get a good score.
In conclusion, while most areas of preparation for the OMETs are covered if a student prepares well for CAT, additional areas like GK and Reasoning are needed for some of these exams. Students should make sure that they focus on these areas and give the necessary mock tests to get enough practice on the pattern of these exams.
All the best!
K.Ramnath is Course Director (CAT) at T.I.M.E., Mumbai.