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About the tests
Aptitude test basics
Written tests for MBA entrance are aptitude tests. These are a test of your intelligence, common sense, IQ and your ability to apply your knowledge judiciously in a limited time situation. The basic skills tested are Quantitative, Reasoning and Linguistic.
The tests are based on a person’s general intelligence and basic aptitude in a few areas, viz: Reading Comprehension, Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation & Sufficiency, Logical Reasoning, and General knowledge.
Most of the institutes have similar test patterns. Although institute specific unique elements may exist in specific tests, the overall flavour remains same.
The most demanding of the tests is the CAT, both in terms of the toughness of the test and the competition level.
Reading Comprehension RC
This section consists of passages on varied topics and questions based on them. There are no fixed topics for the passages. The passages are usually extracted from standard newspapers, magazines and general literature. The best way to go about developing RC skills is to improve your reading habits and speed of reading. To compete successfully, you must regularly read standard English newspapers and magazines, in addition to good non-fiction literature.
Verbal Ability VA
Verbal Ability (and English Usage) is the section that tests your understanding of the English language. Questions are asked in different formats aimed at checking a real understanding of the language. Typical questions comprise synonym-antonym relations, sentence sequencing, sentence correction, fill-in-the-blanks, verbal analogies, verbal reasoning etc.
The names may change, but the underlying philosophy remains the same. Creating quality managers.
Quantitative Aptitude QA
The syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude generally covers topics upto X std. mathematics. The objective questions asked in the test stress more on the student's reasoning skills rather than computational skills. A clear understanding of the basic concepts coupled with sufficient practice should be enough for even a non-Maths background student to gain comfortable mastery over these topics.
Data Interpretation DI
This section tests your skills as far as understanding data presented in different forms is concerned. Several sets of questions having bar graphs, tables, charts, line graphs, etc. are given and you are expected to deduce the required results from these.
Data Sufficiency DS
About 5 to 10 questions are asked in major national level examinations on DS. It checks whether the given data is enough to answer the question asked or not. More or less, DS is a type of logical reasoning.
Logical Reasoning LR
The section tests your ability to logically analyze the question/situation and reach a conclusion. Generally questions on Logical Reasoning are asked in QA section and/or in DI/DS section. CAT has grown to be an intensely logic heavy test, over the past few years.
General Awareness GA (Current Affairs Awareness / Business Awareness)
This section is not a part of CAT, but is an integral part of some other national level MBA entrance examinations. It basically checks whether you are in the swim or not. As a future manager, it is a must, for you, to be aware of the environment around you.
At most of the institutes, apart from securing the qualifying cut-off scores in each of these sections, you are also required to secure more than the aggregate cut-off score to qualify for the next round of the selection procedure, i.e., GD-Interview. Since the CAT has started giving the Test Scorecards to students from 2002-’03, a lot of transparency has come in a selection system otherwise completely opaque.