ACING THE IIMs

Getting an MBA degree is seen as a step towards advancing your career. The all-round development that MBA students undergo at a business school makes them a highly attractive proposition for employers. Management has become such a varied profession that MBA graduates find a place in almost every industry, from healthcare to finance.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that every single student who appears for entrance examinations to get into MBA, dreams of getting through to the IIMs 

Indian Institute of Management, popularly called the IIMs are India’s most prestigious institution to pursue business management education. There are many reasons why getting into an IIM is every MBA aspirant’s dream

  • IIMs have a legacy, having the IIM name on your CV will definitely push your application to the top of the pile
  • You get to learn from the best teaching faculty,
  • The skills that a student learns from an IIM; they are bound to get higher pay as compared to the others.
  • The IIMs are known to have some of the best events and competitions on campus which include ITC Interrobang, HUL Lime, and more.
  • The opportunity to form strong network connections in itself is something to boast of.

Notwithstanding there are some changes in the selection process in IIMs for admission in 2022.

  • CAT score cutoff reduced for 1st stage shortlisting.
  • Less Weightage to CAT exam score.
  • Some of the IIMs like IIM Rohtak do not require sectional CAT cut-offs and would shortlist with overall CAT score.
  • IIM Shillong has prescribed only sectional CAT cut-off and not overall cut-off
    More Weightage to Academics and Academic Diversity.
  • More Weightage to Gender Diversity (Bonus marks to female candidates in the IIM Admission process).
  • Many IIMs like IIM Calcutta, IIM Rohtak, IIM Kozhikode, and IIM Visakhapatnam will not conduct the Writing Ability Test (WAT) in their final selection process due to Covid.
  • PI Round to be conducted online by many IIMs for Admission 2022.

However, MBA entrance exam preparation is not a day’s job and requires months of hard work and determination. The selection in IIMs for admission depends on your performance in 3 stages – CAT exam, Academic record, and Personal Interview round.

STAGE-1: CLEARING THE CAT

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is the only way of getting into IIMs. It’s a national-level management aptitude test that is conducted in the month of November every year across India. A good performance in the CAT exam is the 1st step towards securing an IIM seat. All IIMs prescribe their minimum CAT cut-off as well as sectional percentile to shortlist candidates.

CAT Eligibility Criteria
One must possess a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 50 percent aggregate or equivalent CGPA (45 percent aggregate for SC, ST, and PWD/DA category) from a recognised university to appear in CAT 2022. Those appearing for the final year of bachelor’s degree or awaiting the result are also eligible to apply for the CAT 2022 exam.

Exam Pattern
The exam is divided into three sections: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Aptitude (QA) with the number of questions being 24, 20, and 22 respectively. For each section, 40 minutes are allotted. Candidates are required to solve both MCQ and Non-MCQ type questions. For every right answer, 3 marks will be awarded and for every wrong answer, 1 will be deducted. The exam is conducted in online mode and the medium of instruction is English. 

How to prepare for CAT

  1. Prepare a study plan- Get familiar with the syllabus and exam pattern and create a timetable where you plan to give at least 2-3 hours daily for preparation. Try to allocate equal time to all sections while focusing more on your weaker areas, since sectional cut-offs also apply to get a call from IIM.
  2. Polish your basics for all CAT sections- Devote the initial months of your studies on getting your basics right. Start working on your vocabulary, and mathematics by setting a target of learning 5 new words and attempting 5 new problems on a daily average.
  3. Read a lot- If you do not have a habit of reading regularly, you will find the VARC a problematic section. The best way to improve this is to start reading newspapers, books, research papers, journals, etc. Stay well versed with current affairs too. Reading will not only help you crack CAT but also assist you while appearing for the PI round.
  1. Invest in good study material- Finalise your study material and try not to deviate from it. Selected books that you can consider for self-preparation are
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning by Gautam Puri
  • Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT by Nishit K. Sinha
  • Data Interpretation & Data Sufficiency by Ananta Ashisha
  • How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma
  • Quantitative Aptitude by Arihant publications
  1. Join CAT Coaching Classes- Given the complexity of the testing process, a structured training course is often recommended. Thus, opting for offline or online coaching enhances your chances of performing better.
  2. Attempt and evaluate your performance in CAT mocks- Solving mock papers is the best way to prepare for CAT. Allocate the 2 months before exams specifically for CAT mock solving. Take a mock daily and do a post-mortem analysis for the same. 

STAGE 2: PROFILE BUILDING

After you have fulfilled the CAT sectional and percentile score requirements, next stage is the shortlisting process. Although the parameters and weightages to the components differ from one IIM to another, most of the IIMs award good weightage to Academic excellence, Academic diversity, and Work experience in the shortlisting process. For a student who wishes to study management in IIMs, a strong profile always carries a lot of weightage. It highlights the expertise, skills, and achievements of an individual that play an important role in enhancing his/her career aspects

  • Take certification courses- Pursuing a certification course in your field of interest will help you develop a particular skill set. It will also provide you an added advantage over the freshers. For example, aspiring to pursue an MBA in finance, certificate course in Excel, Financial Planner, etc would be very helpful for your profile.
  • Internship- It plays an important role in polishing your knowledge and allows you the flexibility to explore various career options, and improve your communications skills.
  • Volunteer Work with NGOs- Volunteering for NGOs will not only sharpen your social skills and leadership qualities but also help you gain knowledge and confidence which will further hone your personality.
  • Engage in Extracurricular activities- You may join a toastmaster’s club in your city, learn a foreign language, or join a club during your graduation to add an extra feather. 

STAGE 3: PERSONAL INTERVIEW
For the Admission 2022, many IIMs have dropped the GD and WAT process and will conduct Online Personal Interview. PI round commands higher weightage than the CAT score in the IIMs selection criteria. This round checks your soft and interpersonal skills such as communication skills, subject knowledge, listening power, confidence, leadership skills, presentation skills, interactive skills, etc.


Preparing for the interview

  • Equip yourself to answer common questions- When it comes to PI there
    are some common questions that one needs to be prepared with. For e.g.- Tell us
    something about yourself, why do you want to join our college, where do you see yourself 5 years down the line, and what are your strengths; prepare for these answers well.
  • Give mock interviews- Give at least 3 to 4 mock interviews in order to understand and assess your preparation.
  • Be modest with what you say- Be truthful with whatever you say. If there is anything that you don’t know, inform the panel honestly. Know your resume thoroughly and try to answer crisply.
  • Know about your academics- It is very important to know your basics well. Hence, revise your UG subjects well before the interview.
  • Be prepared and updated– Keep yourself updated with all the latest happenings across the world by reading newspapers and other magazines.
  • Body language and attire- Your body language should be positive and confident and make sure you dress appropriately for the interview.

After the completion of the PI round, varying weightages are awarded to your performance in the final round, CAT scores, academic profile & diversity, work experience, and gender diversity to prepare the final merit list and then admission offers will be made by the respective IIMs.

For MBA exam preparation, one needs to adopt a strategy that enables you to build knowledge & speed skills without compromising on accuracy & rational thinking. It always seems impossible until it’s done. You all have the skill you need to crack CAT and covert IIMs. It just comes down to who works their way to it. 

Stay motivated, keep working hard, and make it happen!

Written by Mr. Vikram Soni – Jitin Chawla Team