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In-Depth Jobs

volume-35, 30 November-06 December 2019

Management Entrance Examination Test Pattern and Preparation Strategy

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

For postgraduate qualification , over the years,  a Master's Degree or Postgraduate Diploma in Management has become a preferred choice for many of the students. There are many reasons for this. Graduates from any discipline can go for a management course .The course duration of two years is not very long, there are options to choose for specialization and there is abundance of institutes offering management education. Also a management qualification is considered to carry relatively more value in the job market. Given below are nomenclatures of various such courses-

MBA-Master of Business Administration

MBM- Master of Business Management

MMS - Master of Management Studies

PGDM- Postgraduate Diploma in Management

For many subjects , pursuing a master's degree  becomes possible if you've scored well in the qualifying  graduation level examination. Not for Management. Here you have to go through an aptitude test which is conducted to judge if the candidate has what it takes to study  management and become a good manager. There is a written examination (mostly online), followed by group discussion and interview.

All the  students willing  to pursue a postgraduate qualification in management should have clarity as to  from where they want to do this course. Accordingly they have to apply  for specific admission test and prepare for it.

Common Admission Test , CAT is the most well-known test which is primarily conducted for admission to different establishments of Indian Institute of Management. Though many other institutes shortlist candidates on the basis of CAT score.

Other well-known tests include Management Aptitude Test (MAT) conducted by All India Management Association, New Delhi and AIMS Test for Management Admissions  (ATMA), taken by Association of Indian Management Schools headquartered at Hyderabad.

Many states through their relevant body,  conduct centralised test for admission to management courses offered by universities and colleges within the state. For example in Maharashtra, MH-CET is conducted by the government's Directorate of Technical Education (DTE). In all the cases related websites carry the list of universities/colleges which accept the scores of a particular test.

Also there are institutes which conduct their own  admission tests, even though in some cases they would be accepting  CAT/other scores. Some of such tests*  are-

Indian Institute of Foreign Trade MBA (International Business)

Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT)

Symbiosis National Aptitude (SNAP) Test

NMAT by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)

Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) by National Testing Agency

TISS-NET for courses at Tata Institute of Social Sciences

MICAT for courses at Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad

IRMASAT for shortlisted candidates for admission to Institute of Rural Management, Anand

(*indicative list)

Managers need to be fast, accurate, logical  and good communicators. Composition   of management tests  is centred around such expectation and by and large  all the tests mentioned  above  have segments  to find out if the candidate has the above traits. It is not  difficult to see that all the tests  have  largely similar composition though the nomenclature may be different. Also the difficulty level may vary from one test to the other. This doesn't give  you opportunity  to become relaxed about your preparation. Any test, with lower or higher difficulty level, is same for everyone and to qualify you have to stand in merit. So the objective should be to garner maximum score. Usually a management entrance  test  will have  the following sections:

General English: Since the medium of instruction in all business schools in India is English, the students are tested for understanding of English  language.  This section  of general English will be further divided into Reading Comprehension, Verbal Reasoning, Verbal Ability etc.  Based on the passage given, the candidate would be required to answer certain questions which may relate to draw conclusions, match statements, find  words with same or opposite meaning etc. There are questions in which a sentence divided in parts  randomly will be needed to arranged in proper sequence to give proper meaning. In other sentence based questions, the candidate has to find which part of the sentence contains mistake or if there are no mistakes at all.

Analytical reasoning : Analytical reasoning questions are like puzzles. If you understand this puzzle you may answer all the questions related to it. The challenge is to explore the answer  from the information which may be given in jumbled form. Also there may be some information which would be superfluous and you'll have to make sure that it doesn't confuse you. There would be questions containing multiple scenarios which you'll have to put together to find the correct answer.

Logical reasoning: Test of logical reasoning expects candidates to assess given information and draw conclusion based on meaning, relationship and pattern. Questions are mostly based on arrangements that will have certain conditions to be fulfilled and may relate to seating arrangements, ranks, team formation, blood relation, direction sense, clocks and calendar, syllogism, assumptions etc.

Quantitative Aptitude: This section is aimed  basically  to test mathematical knowledge. Problems may relate to arithmetic, algebra or geometry etc. Expect questions on speed/time/distance,   number of people/work, percentage, average, area, diameter/radius,  interest calculation, profit/loss/discount, ratio/ proportion/variation, progression and series, mixtures/allegations, probability, number system etc.  What you have read in your H.S.C. maths course will come handy here.

Data Interpretation : You might have seen in newspapers tables and graphs intended to bring out  certain facts related to economy, society etc. By interpreting the data, the  particular trend or trends  can be understood. In data Interpretation questions, you've to apply procedures on the given data to arrive at conclusions as required in questions asked. Data can be presented in multiple formats like charts, tables, graphs, pie charts. For example in a bar graph, the height/length of the bar are proportional to the value of the data they represent. Comparison of the bars can tell you in which year the production or sales or anything  related to the question stood higher or lower and to what extent.

Data Sufficiency: In important  life situations, for objective decision making, some relevant facts are required to be taken into consideration. In data sufficiency questions, for imaginary situations, two or three statements will be given. The candidate has to find if the data (in any form) given in one or more statement/s is /are sufficient to answer the question or explain the situation. Similarly based on the given statements you've to find out what follows and what not follows. These are only few examples of the questions under data sufficiency tests.

General Awareness: In many of the management entrance examinations,  weightage given to general awareness questions is  between 15  to 25 percent. Your preparation for this segment   is also likely to  help you to do well in group discussion and interviews. Questions may relate to recent   business and political events nationally and internationally, sports, economy, agriculture,  global summits, Indian constitution, environ-mental and educational issues, books/ authors, company logo identification, capitals/currencies  of nations, United Nations and its various agencies etc.

Step by step preparation

Those who plan to take a management course in the upcoming session 2020-21, in all probability, would already have started their preparation. The preparation should be systematically planned and focussed. Whichever test you are going to attempt, you should have thorough understanding of its pattern. The next step would be to  make a self-assessment as to where you stand with your capability in attempting the test. There may be few areas in which you are strong and few in which you are not so strong. You need to make a schedule which gives more time for those sections where more preparation is needed by you.

To prepare well you need resources. By resources we mean the material which you're going to use for preparation. It is not required to spend lot of money on these resources. You may buy one or two management entrance examination guides containing sample papers and solving strategies. You should thoroughly explore website of the test organiser to look for model/sample/previous  years' question papers. These need to be studied carefully to guide your preparation in the right direction. In few cases these sites also let you attempt mock tests provided.

Mock tests  can be performed by using books and websites which provide this. In fact there are many websites which let you know structure of the tests mentioned in the beginning of this article, analysis of  past years' question paper  pattern and guiding notes to do well in the tests. Some of the students who could make to the reputed management institutions  have also shared their experiences and strategies adopted for the benefit of others.

Sample Papers can also be found in competition magazines. Don't rely just on fresh issues of such magazines. Exploring back issues may bring you sample questions and past examination papers.

 Resource in form of work books should be extensively used for practice.

National Testing Agency has established  a number of Test Practice Centres at different locations in the country where candidates can get a feel of computer based test  and practice it. These centres will have people to guide candidates and make them familiar with CMAT and similar examination.

For quantitative aptitude you need to refresh basic principles of arithmetic by selectively going through  the coursebook of  S.S.C. maths book. You should be able to calculate ratios, simple and compound interest, averages, mean, median and mode etc.

To become good at reasoning questions, you should make an assessment  whether you may think sequentially and logically with regard to pattern of the questions. Work side by side with such questions to develop the required way to think which will make solving reasoning questions easier. For many of the questions, you'll do better to solve the question on (rough) paper, and then mark your answer, rather than solving it just through your mental process.

For general studies you need to have newer edition of a good year book. Such yearbooks are moderately priced. Additionally you should be in regular habit of reading at least one national daily newspaper and note down anything which you consider important from the point of forthcoming test. Online edition of newspapers may also be referred to as mostly these have free access.

English portion also needs preparation. Just because somebody has studied in  English medium, doesn't mean that she is fully equipped to perform well  in the test. One should take up sample questions, solve it and evaluate one's performance to find out where more preparation is needed. Your vocabulary may be poor or  grammar may be weak. Any such situation can mar your performance and needs to be corrected.

Data interpretation, for many of you, require more preparation because usually this is not covered in our regular syllabus. If you dig deeply you'll find that it is easier to find answers as the data is before you and you only need to compare  or analyse it to draw a conclusion. Your practice should extend to all possible varieties of questions expected under this section.

While solving data sufficiency questions. In some cases it would be better to start from the end. For example when you attempt a question which wants to know whether data given under a particular option is sufficient, you need to judge what is the minimum requirement of data and then match the option with it.

For almost all the management entrance tests, negative marking applies for wrong answers. Usually it is one fourth of the mark(s) allotted to a particular question. For example in NMAT, each question is of 4 marks and one mark would be deducted for each incorrect answer. While making guesses you should keep this in mind.

Just because an institute has offered you admission citing your score, doesn't mean that you should rush to take admission. Check its credentials first. Some of the institutes, not considered of good standing, try to fill their seats much early. You need to be careful here.It is also advisable to check fee refund policies of the institutes. In  many cases candidates decide to withdraw their admission when offered admission to an institute which is more preferred by them.

(The author is a career counsellor based in Mumbai. Email: v2j25@ yahoo.in)

Views expressed are personal.

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