Among the several changes that have come out in the CAT 2015 notification (you can see our post on that here – http://examvictor.com/cat-2015-announcement/), one that has caused some amount of noise is the availability of an on-screen calculator.
So first of all, what are we talking about? What will this on-screen calculator look like?
Based on what we’ve been able to find out by talking to some TCS folks and other research (TCS is the company that makes the software that powers the Online CAT), the on-screen calculator is going to look something like this:
So it’s going to be a reasonably basic affair. More importantly, you will be able to use it only with the mouse. So that will significantly slow down the speed of inputting something in it. On the whole, the on-screen calculator is going to be only somewhat useful. Sure, it will greatly simplify your life if there are tough calculations to be done. But a student who can make quick mental approximations to solve simpler calculations is still going to be faster.
What does this mean for students? Are questions going to get tougher in CAT?
Most probably not. The IIM folks have been saying several times that they want to increase the diversity of the incoming batches, and take more people from a non-engineering background. (Vivek’s note: when I was at IIMA, 93% of my batch had an engineering background!) So this could simply be a step in that direction, to reassure people from Arts or Humanities backgrounds that simple fear of calculations need no longer stop them from attempting CAT. Further, the IIM folks have specifically said that the Quant section will be somewhat easier this year, for the same reason as above. This leads us to believe that this does not mean ordinary calculations would get tougher. That was never what was being tested in CAT anyway.
We at ExamVictor are going ahead and featuring this on-screen calculator in our Mock Tests as well, because it is important for students to practice in as realistic an interface as possible. So while it is no longer necessary to memorize the cubes of numbers till 35 (kidding, this was NEVER necessary, don’t be fooled by what the coaching classes tell you), being able to quickly approximate and mentally calculate will remain as important as ever.