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Is CAT Score Important in IIM Admission Process?

The MBA season has begun and applications have commenced for all major management entrance exams. Candidates looking to get into a top b-school this year, have already started applying for various exams and colleges.

Amongst several management entrances, CAT (Common Admission Test) is the most popular one. The number of applicants is very high and its score is considered for admission to most top notch b-schools. But the CAT score alone is not assurance for success in IIM Admission Process.

So a high score in CAT 2018 is doorway to the top colleges/IIMs?

Well, if you are going through this line of reasoning, then you are badly mistaken. While CAT score is a significant factor in your admission process, but it is not everything that you need. And especially in case of top 3 IIMs, IIM Ahmadabad, Bangalore and Calcutta, there are several other things that matter more than the CAT.

Country’s top business schools use a dynamic and rigorous process while offering admission to their post graduate courses, which includes academic records, work experience, interview performance, WAT score along with your CAT 2018 score. The admission process generally has two steps, one is getting shortlisted for PI-WAT (a.k.a. getting the call), and then final selection after appearing in this process.

So does your CAT score really matter in IIM Selection process? Let us find out by going through the admission criteria of top 3 IIMs: –

IIM Ahmadabad Selection Criteria

Being country’s best business school, IIM A requires much more than a good CAT score to get the admission. First of all, it has strange and unique rule of calling top 100 candidates (in terms of academic scores) from each academic background (science, arts, commerce etc). For such candidates, their CAT score is actually of very less significance, as they are given the option of appearing in AWT-PI process solely on the basis of their academic prowess.

For all other candidates, CAT score gets a 70% weightage while calling for AWT and PI process.

However, since getting a call or getting shortlisted is not enough, we need to know that how much does that CAT score matter in final selection. And this is the place where the actual game begins.

In the final selection, IIM A gives a weightage of around 28% to the CAT score. Yes, you heard that right. In the final score, 50% weightage goes to PI score, 10% to AWT score and 40% to the composite score. And further within the composite score, 70% weightage goes to CAT score. So technically (0.4*0.7), only 28% weightage goes to CAT score.

And thus, it is quite clear that you need to perform extremely well in PI and AWT to get into IIM A. Not to forget that since this is country’s best business school, the candidates appearing for their interview processes have both the qualities in them, excellent CAT scores and scintillating academic scores, so the only thing that makes the difference is your PI and AWT score, which matter the most.

IIM Bangalore Selection Criteria

IIM Bangalore is among the IIMs which gives the lowest weightage to CAT score, both while shortlisting candidates for PI-WAT and in final selection.

While calling candidates for interview rounds, IIM B gives only 40% weightage to CAT score, which is amongst the lowest in all IIMs. 50% weightage is given to academic scores, 10 points for work experience and gender diversity. So for appearing in PI-WAT process of IIM Bangalore, your academic scores matter significantly more than CAT Score.

This weightage drops even further when it comes to final selection. In final selection process, CAT score has a weightage of only 25%. Academic Score get weightage of 25%, PI score gets 30%, WAT score gets 10% and rest is for work experience. So even if you have a staggering CAT score, if you don’t have a good academic background, or don’t perform well in PI-WAT, you actually have no chance of getting the admission.

IIM Calcutta Selection Criteria

On similar lines, IIM C also weighs your profile more than your CAT score. While Shortlisting candidates for PI-WAT processes, IIM C gives a weightage of 56% to CAT score, which is certainly good news. Further, IIM C gives zero weightage to graduation score, but Class X and XII scores are given an important weightage of 40%, which is huge. Remaining 4% marks are allocated to gender diversity.

But as soon as we move to final selection, the value of CAT Score falls heavily. In final selection, CAT score matters for only 30% of the total score. This, again, means that you need much more than a good CAT score to get through. PI and WAT, combined, get the highest weightage of 58% in the final selection.

CAT weightage given by other IIMs

Other top colleges like IIMs of Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode also follow a similar pattern. IIM Lucknow gives 60% value to CAT score while shortlisting candidates for WAT & PI, while only 30% value is given to it in the final selection.

On the other hand, IIM Kozhikode gives a healthy 75% weightage to CAT while calling candidates for Interview rounds. For final selection, this weightage drop to 35%, but is still higher than most of the IIMs.

Amongst the older IIMs, IIM Indore has the least weightage for CAT. It gives only 20% value to CAT Score, both while shortlisting for PI WAT and for final selection. So admission to IIM Indore is very faintly dependent on CAT score.

From the admission criteria, it is quite visible that CAT score gets a decent weightage, but other factors like academic scores and PI-WAT scores matter much more than CAT scores.

CAT 2018 convener Sumany Basu said that higher weightage is given to PI, to better assess the candidate. During the PI process, the interviewer does not get biased towards someone who has a brilliant percentile in CAT, but has been performing badly in academics. “The interviewer does not get biased by the CAT score of candidate. They are experienced individuals who know how to evaluate candidates on different scales. Both CAT score and performance in the interview are important to us.”

So as an answer to the question, that “does CAT score really matter in IIM selection process?” can be answered by saying that yes, it matters upto an extent, but there are other factors also which play a better role than CAT. There are candidates who did not get a single IIM call even after getting a 99.8+ percentile, while there are some who are studying in old IIMs with percentile of around 95.

At most, candidates can take CAT as a way to get shortlisted for WAT-PI process. After that, your PI-WAT performance along with other factors is responsible for landing in your dream b-school.  Good Luck!

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