The registrations for CAT 2014 have increased marginally from last year's 1.94 lakh to 1.96 lakh this year bringing cheer to most of the B-Schools. On one hand, academicians are considering the increase in number of test takers as a sign of optimism, on the other, they are cautious not to infer too much from a small spurt.

"Earlier because of the sluggish economy people may not have wanted to leave their jobs to pursue an MBA but the overall sentiment and confidence in the economy is positive this year and more aspirants may be looking for better career prospects with an MBA," said P. Rameshan, Director of IIM Rohtak.

He also cautioned, "We should not be reading too much with a marginal increase in CAT takers but a sign of recovering positive sentiment is there." Rameshan is confident the coming placement season will be better than the previous year's.

Ashok Panjwani, Dean of Graduate Programmes at MDI Gurgaon, consider the increase in CAT registrations a sign of improving job opportunities. "The increase in the CAT registration number is definitely a good sign," says Punjwani. "The outside world is witnessing the positive change in the economy and it has created a promising environment in terms of job opportunities for MBAs too."

According to Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director of IIM Indore, the increase could be due to the availability of test centres. "The number of test centres this year has considerably increased and it is more convenient for people now to give the test," said Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director of IIM Indore. IIM Indore is conducting the CAT this year.

"For a few years now the number of test takers is hovering around 2 lakh. I am not worried about the number of people who take CAT; in any case the number of seats in the IIMs is restricted. It is more important that people know what they want when it comes to their careers and make informed choices," Krishnan added.

This year's CAT may spring a number of surprises for test takers with total number of questions increased from 60 to 100 this year. CAT 2014 will also have the flexibility to switch between the two sections throughout the exam.

The test duration this year will be 170 minutes. Last year it was 140 minutes for two sections with 70 minutes allotted for each section.

The number of test sites has increased to 354 in 99 cities as compared to 45 sites in 40 cities in 2013.

Last year a tutorial of 15 minutes to familiarise the user interface was available at the test centres. This year however, the on-site tutorial will not be provided.

This year's CAT will also become a gateway to 6 new IIMs, which are proposed to be opened in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha, and Maharashtra.

CAT 2014 will be held on 16 and 22 November this year in four slots.