CAT - 2014 pattern changes and Test preparation strategy


It is known that CAT - 2014 has bought in major changes in the test pattern with 100 questions to be solved in 170 minutes.  i.e., little less than 3 hours.  Instead of conducting the test in 20 slots spanning over 10 days, now there are only 4 slots.  Dates also fixed. November 16th and 22nd. There is no option to choose the test date. You will be allotted one of these depends on the test center you have given highest preference. You have to give 3 options of your favorite test center.  Also It is done away with sectional time limits.  You can free to move from one section to another section and spend more time at your will.

Why these changes?  
Most probably, CAT - 12, 13 has drawn huge criticism of repeated questions and giving unfair advantage to the later slot test takers. "ANT" question from CAT - 13 almost appeared in all the papers.  Also the normalization process adopted by the Prometric has risen many doubts about its reliability.  and more over conducting a test on 20 days required more man power which affect the class work of IIMs as some faculties are on test duties.  

CAT in earlier days,until 2004, used to have 150 questions. It is paper based test. And you are free to move between sections.  In those days the CAT strategy is to pick easier ones and skip difficult questions as all questions carry equal marks. After 2004 number of questions slowly came down and finally reached 60. The idea is to see whether a student can really use all the available opportunities instead of picking the right opportunities. When the number of questions less, those who can solve these questions are strong in problem solving but it is not the only criteria to be tested. A manager should not only be a problem solver but also good in other areas like strategy etc. 

So the recent change of increasing the number of questions indicates that the less questions strategy is some what not fulfilling the real aim of CAT. Identifying the future managers who can spot opportunities amid uncertainty.  

New paper pattern:
Section 1: Quantitative aptitude + Data Interpretation = 50 questions
Section 2: Verbal ability + Logical Reasoning = 50 questions. 
Time: 170 minutes or 2 hour 50 minutes
You can expect 35 questions from Quant, 15 from DI and 35 from Verbal ability and 15 from Logical reasoning. 

Changes in your preparation plan?
The new pattern is surely a big relief as you can score more concentrating on your strength area.  As there is no section time limits you can spend more time in your weak areas. As the number of questions have gone up, you can expect questions from all the areas of quant.  Earlier CAT used to give more questions from only geometry, algebra and less questions from number system, arithmetic. 

As there is no section time limits, you have to apportion your time carefully as CAT requires equal performances across all the sections.  If you are good at quant, spend less time on quant and spare more time for verbal ability and vice versa.  But ideally, 80 minutes for quant/di and 90 minutes for va/lr is good strategy.

Instead of worrying about your weak areas you better concentrate on your strengths and try to score more.