Why CAT exam score matters less in IIM admission process
An analysis of the selection process across top IIMs -- Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta -- prove that at the final stage your academic record, performance in interview and writing ability test matter more than just a high CAT score.
Are you preparing for CAT 2018 under the impression that a high score in the Common Admission Test (CAT) will be your ticket to the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as an MBA student? You could be mistaken as cracking the CAT is no more the equivalent to joining an IIM.
A close look at the selection process of some of the top IIMs reveals that for the 2019-21 batch, most of them are looking for MBA students who come with a great academic background, captivating communication skills and impressive work experience. A high CAT score can take you to the final stage of the personal interview (PI) and written ability test (WAT) but will not take you further unless you fare well enough on other parameters.
IIM Bangalore has made it clear that its comprehensive multi-criteria selection process is such that those who have a high CAT score but come with an unimpressive academic record and work experience get sifted out in the second phase of selection.
CAT score gets less weight in the final round
An analysis of weight allotted to different parameters in the final selection process also makes it quite clear that a high CAT score isn’t enough to secure an IIM seat. At IIM Bangalore, CAT gets only 25% weight while at IIM Calcutta the weight is 30% in the final selection.
On the other hand, increased weight is given to performance in PI and WAT, which means communication and presentation skills can turn the tide in your favour even if your CAT score is lower than that of your competitors.
Although the CAT exam is the same for all students, each IIM has its own selection criteria, which take into account a number of other factors besides the CAT score.
CAT 2018 convener and IIM Calcutta professor Sumanta Basu told Livemint that more weight to PI is to understand the candidate. During a PI, he said, the interviewer doesn’t get biased in favour of someone who has scored a brilliant 95-99% in the CAT but is, however, seen performing below average in PI.
“The interviewer does not get biased based by the CAT score. They are experienced individuals trained to evaluate on distinct evaluation scales. Both the CAT score and interview performance are important to us," Basu, also the chairperson of the admissions committee at IIM-C, said.
Here is a look at how much importance each of the top 3 IIMs gives to CAT scores:
To be shortlisted for PI and WAT at IIM Calcutta, you need much more than an excellent CAT score. A 40% weight is given to your Class X and Class XII marks. You even earn 2 extra points for being a female candidate as part of a gender diversity initiative.
For final selection in IIM-C’s flagship PGP course (post-graduate program in management), your CAT score gets only 15 points out of 50. What matters in the final stage is your PI performance, which gets 24 points, WAT gets another 5 while 4 points are for work experience and 2 for those coming from a non-engineering background.
IIM-B also considers previous academic performance along with the CAT score in the first phase of selection.
In the second phase, the weight given to the CAT score is 25 while it is higher for PI at 30. Your academic record and work experience gets another 35 points and another 10 to WAT. So together, the CAT score gets only 25 points while all other factors contribute a majority of around 75 points.
IIM-B’s selection criteria works in favour of those who may have narrowly missed a high CAT score but their CV boasts of an excellent academic record and work experience.
To be considered for interview and analytical writing test (AWT) at IIM-A, your CAT score is taken into account along with marks in Class X, Class XII and the bachelor’s degree course.
“The final selection is based on a diverse set of attributes which includes performance in CAT, AWT and PI, academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular achievements, work experience etc," IIM-A says.
The institute has a rule that a certain number of top candidates from each academic discipline will be shortlisted for AWT and PI.