Observations: NMAT 2012

Verification Process: Students appearing for NMAT had been asked to carry the printout of the confirmation mail sent to them and 2 ID cards (in original) for the exam. However, we would recommend that you should carry the photocopies of your ID cards as well. Some students reported that the staff at the test center did not allow them to take the test without collecting the photocopies of the 2 ID cards. Though it was not mentioned anywhere that students need to carry photocopies of their IDs, it may be safer to carry the photocopies with you in order to avoid getting into an argument right before your exam.

NMAT: The major change in NMAT 2012, as announced, is the introduction of timed sections. The three sections are:

  • QA – 48 questions – 60 minutes
  • VA – 32 questions – 22 minutes
  • LR – 40 questions – 38 minutes

The good thing is that NMAT 2012 allows the student to decide the order in which they want to attempt the sections. A section-order-screen appears after the tutorial which shows all the six possible permutations: VA-QA-LR, QA-LR-VA, VA-LR-QA etc. A student has to select one of the six and then the sections are displayed as per the selection. Once the selection is made, it cannot be changed at a later stage.

Since there is no negative marking in NMAT 2012, you should mark all 120 questions. The last 1-2 minutes in each section can be reserved for reviewing the “Incomplete questions” and marking them randomly. If you finish a section earlier than the allotted time, you can move on to the next section. However, since the time saved in one section does not get added to the next section, it is advisable not to submit the section earlier and revise the questions instead.

There are two major issues in the testing interface of NMAT 2012:

  • The “Review” button, which is provided to check the unattempted and flagged questions, appears only at the end of a section. So, for e.g., if you are attempting the QA section, you cannot use the Review button before clicking the “Next” button at least 48 times. This reduces the utility of the Review button massively. For e.g., if you finish 24-25 questions in QA in around 30 minutes, you will still not know if you are on the right track since there is no way to check what’s in store towards the end of the section. Therefore, it is advisable to keep a buffer and skip any time-consuming questions in the first round and attempt them in the second round if time permits.


  • In a group question, you cannot see the number of questions in that particular set on the first screen. So if you want to see if the set is worth attempting, you will need to click the Next/Previous buttons a few times and then check. This is quite irritating especially in a speed test like NMAT. 

Summary Analysis of CAT 2011 so far:

Over the years, the hallmark of CAT has been its unpredictability. This year though, a conscious effort seems to have been made to ensure standardization and reduction in the unpredictability quotient.

For starters, the number of questions across sections was announced beforehand, thus ensuring that one of the biggest surprises was no longer there at all. The fixed time limit per section and the fixed order of the sections (QA + DI followed by VA + LR) ensured that students no longer had to worry over the vexatious issues of time management across sections, sequence of attempting different sections and so on. Perhaps the only surprise that CAT threw up this year was that even in the same slot, some students have reported that there were different papers.

Feedback from students who have taken CAT this year further indicates that the difficulty level has not varied drastically across slots or across different papers in the same slot. This will further ensure that no student will feel hard done by as everyone has got a comparable paper. This is perhaps the biggest improvement in CAT this year as opposed to some of the previous years.

Overall, the analysis of CAT across 11 different slots so far suggests that CAT this year, has not thrown up very tough papers. Around 20-22 attempts in QA + DI section (the first section) with about 85% accuracy should be a very good effort. In the VA + LR section around 23 to 24 attempts with about 80% accuracy will also be a good effort. This should be enough to get at least a few calls from top B-schools.

Further, combining DI with QA and LR with VA has resulted in a more even spread of questions than earlier. Every student should be able to find a few easy questions and a few tough but attemptable questions in either section this year. This will serve to ensure that CAT is that much more competitive this year and accordingly, cut-offs can be expected to be on the higher side.

We have already presented our analysis of the first 11 CAT slots so far. With not much variation appearing across slots or across different papers in the same slot, it is rather unnecessary to post a detailed analysis of each slot any longer. We will continue to post a tabular analysis of the difficulty level in each slot and the expected number of attempts. If any slot or paper comes up with a surprise, we will post a more detailed analysis of that slot.

We hope that our analysis was of assistance to all students and helped you better estimate your performance or soothed any anxieties that you may have had regarding your impending paper.

All the best,

To those who have already appeared for CAT 2011 and are now biting their nails in anticipation of the result.

And to those who are yet to appear for CAT 2011 and are biting their nails in anticipation of their paper.

– Team CL