CAT Weightage for Interview Short List at IIMs – Part 1

There have been several myths around the admission process at IIMs for PGDM programmes. Over the last 2 years, the IIMs have started declaring their Admission processes, thanks to RTI. Supposed to clear the air on the selection criteria and methods being adopted at the IIMs, these have, unfortunately , given rise to 2 very 'popular' myths. I should state upfront here that the IIMs have done what they could have, in making the information public, the mistake lies entirely with the audience interpreting the information.

The myths:
1. The importance of CAT score in the selection process is diminishing
2. If a student has poor academics and/or lacks Work Experience, he/she stands very little chance

Both these myths, together, point out to the rise in the importance of Academic Performance and Work experience and a corresponding decrease in the importance of CAT score. Let us look at the weight given by the IIMs to CAT score in each of the selection phases – Interview Shortlist and Final Selection

Weight of CAT For Interview Shortlist:

- 5 IIMs – 100% - IIM Shillong, Ranchi, Raipur, Trichy, Udaipur
- 4 IIMs – 70 to 80% - IIM Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Lucknow, Kashipur
- 3 IIMs – 50 to 55% - IIM Kozhikode, Indore, Rohtak

IIM Bangalore gives 30.77% weight to CAT in preparing interview shortlist

(All the figures/information used in this article have been taken directly from the official selection process documents uploaded & available on the respective IIM's official website. These are documents made available for CAT 2011, for selection into the class of 2012-2014.). This shows that 9 out of the 13 IIMs give a weight of 70+ percent to CAT, while 5 out of those 9 only look at CAT score and nothing else, while shortlisting for the Interview process.

Earlier, when no clear weights were made public by the IIMs, the supposed weight for CAT was around 60 -70 percent, while acads and work experience were supposed to carry the remaining weight. The data above, proves that the importance for CAT has in fact increased for many IIMs, contrary to the common myth that it has gone down.

What gives rise to such myths is anecdotal/base less statements by some aspirants who generalise their case to everybody else. The students need to understand that every case is a unique combination of the different parameters (CAT score – Overall & Sectional, Academic Performance, Work Experience, Reservation Category etc). Going by some body else's comments which are based on their unique case is not the right thing to do, especially when different IIMs have different selection criteria.

What exacerbates the situation is that the students who make such generalised statements, also generalise them for all the IIMs. For example, there are 5 IIMs which do not look at Acads / work-ex at all for the first short list. But a generalised statement will be made based on a case of non-selection for, let us say IIMI which gives around 45-50% weight only to CAT, that even with a good CAT score, one cannot make it into the IIMs. The converse of this will also be generalised that with out good academics/work-ex, one cannot get into the IIMs.

The point to be seen here is that, with out good academics/workex, one cannot get into those specific IIMs, but there are quite many IIMs which one can get into, inspite of having not so great acads/workex, as they give much higher weight to CAT, upto 100%.

Some students complain of not getting an interview call from the older IIMs despite having a very good CAT percentile. Let us look at IIMA to look investigate this. IIM A has around 192 General Category seats for which it released around 540 interview calls for CAT11. If we assume that the top 540 students in CAT are General Category students, it would mean
that to be a part of that interview list, one has to be in the top 0.25 percentile, out of the 2 lakh+ CAT takers. That would mean that even those with a very good percentile, above 99.5, may not stand a chance, unless it is much higher.

This percentile, however, keeps moving down as we proceed from the older IIMs to the newer ones. The 6 new IIMs gave calls to general category students till 97 percentile, as long as the sectional cut off requirements are met.

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