CAT 2017 Accepting B School in India
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Prof. Anupam Narula, Marketing



It is true that dream of getting into the flagship PGP batch of IIM A, B, C, L and other IIMs and top B-Schools may not become a reality unless candidate’s score a high percentile in Common Admission Test (CAT). But we need to know whether IIMs really need only high overall percentile of 99+ or there are certain other factors even more important than scoring 99 or 100 overall percentile in CAT to get your dream B-school.


According to Dr. Anupam Narula, Faculty in Marketing at FORE School of Management, New Delhi, the most important part to win the race is how to overcome the ignorance and succeed in your endeavor by knowing the following three criteria’s and working on it in the right direction for getting into IIMs and top B School’s in the country.


1. Overall high percentile in CAT not a necessity.

CAT aspirants prepare throughout the year with dedication and some working professionals go for a drop year giving up the job to prepare hard. They secure high overall percentile also, but a slip in balanced sectional percentile which defeats the purpose.


CAT aspirants should be aware of this surprising fact that IIMs and top B-schools need a high balanced sectional percentile instead of only high overall percentile. All the IIMs fix a minimum sectional cut off. Usually, the minimum sectional cut off is above 85+ for newer IIMs and 90+ for older ones especially IIM A, B, C, L. For example a candidate scoring 98 overall percentile might have scored 100 percentile in Quant and 96 in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) and 83 in Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC). Despite such a high score, his/her sectional percentile is not to the minimum prescribed standard. He/she would not be shortlisted by any IIM unless his/her sectional percentile was above the minimum prescribed cut off point of 85 or 90.


No top B- School prefers to offer any grace percentile option and therefore even if candidates are short of one percentile in scoring the minimum cut off percentile, he/she wouldn’t be shortlisted. On the other hand candidates with good sectional percentile of 85+ in each section for newer IIM’s or 90+ in each section for older IIM’s, despite having lesser overall percentile say 96 or 97 not only receive the calls from older IIMs but also would stand fair opportunity to convert them.


Candidates should target a high balanced percentile in all the three sections of CAT exam else it will be difficult to even get shortlisted.


2. Focus on the Profile:


IIMs and Top B- schools give higher weight age to the candidate’s profile with a vision to improve academic and gender diversity in the classroom. Candidate’s profile consists of 3 most important items out of which one is beyond the reach and lies in the hands of God; for remaining two they are also static and nothing much can be done right now.


Academic Profile- Candidate’s academic excellence can give a boost to his/her percentile and in converting the call. IIMs award points on a scale of 100 in a range of 8 to 15 for scoring high marks in 10th, 12th and graduation. Good academics mean percentage of marks above 85.


The preferred candidates in IIMs and top B-schools for upcoming PGP batch would be from Humanities, Arts, Commerce etc back ground. Accordingly the propose higher weight age for the candidates coming from non-engineering back ground and the maximum weight age will be awarded to the students of Arts, Commerce, Economics and other non technical courses.          For example if candidate has scored 90% marks in class 12th and in graduation and are from engineering back ground, his/her excellent academic profile would get lesser weight age as compared to his/her peer who scored less marks but is from non-technical back ground.


This weight age despite being very important is static now and candidates may not be able to do much about it, in case the graduation final exams are also over. So for short listing, the other option left is to prepare well for CAT.


Work experience- IIMs and top B-schools award weight age for relevant work experience while short listing the candidates for GDPI. If candidate’s have quality work experience of 2-3 years after completing graduation degree, it is considered best and would go in his/her favor. No IIM gives any weight age to the work experience of less than 6 months. Work experience beyond 4 years onwards also has very less or no weight age and is not much preferred by IIMs. Work experience should be in supervisory cadre. The work experience with an NGO or participation in spread of education and other contribution to social cause reflect the leadership skills of the candidate. 


Gender diversity-IIMs and top B-schools are planning to improve gender diversity in their classrooms. The girl candidate will be awarded some points on a scale of 100 while short listing for GDPI after result for CAT is announced. For example IIM Calcutta awards 3 marks out of 100 to a girl candidate in short listing the candidates for final admission round. If candidate is a girl candidate, she may have better luck. But for others it can’t be helped.


3. Focus on Communication Skills:


Please remember apart from high overall scores in CAT both balanced sectional as well as overall, Candidate need to have good writing and verbal communication skills as almost all the IIMs and other top rated B schools conduct Written Ability Test (WAT) in their final admission interview round. Candidate’s Verbal communication is assessed in personal interview (PI) round and in the 2 minutes extempore round conducted just before the PI.


So how the candidate present himself/herself in the WAT/PI round is very important. Almost half of the weight age will be awarded to WAT/PI round by IIMs and top B-schools after CAT scores. If candidate perform well in written communication as well as oral communication, he/she will surely get an edge over others.

We have come across number of students who are bursting with knowledge but are more confused and are not able to express themselves coherently. There may be candidates who have great speaking power but find it difficult to pen down their ideas and thoughts in a natural flow.


IIMs and top B-schools need such candidates who can develop good managerial skills, the ones who have clarity of thought and can write well, can convey the message in their writing piece with no ambiguity. With use of simple and clear vocabulary words they should be able to speak out what they want to say. Hence the reputed B-schools need a person with good knowledge and intelligence who is smart enough to project himself/herself later in the corporate world.


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