Roshan from Chennai has asked - I am studying B.Tech (EEE) final year and I want to become an IIM graduate? What's the best road map or plan for me?
Answers : Success comes to those who have clarity of thought, clarity of purpose and ability to persevere to reach the goal. It is heartening to note that you have set a clear goal for yourself. A B.Tech degree with management education from IIM is a powerful combination which puts you in a different league altogether.
Getting into IIM is a three stage process. At the first stage you have to crack Combined Admission Test (CAT). Second stage requires clearing the Group Discussion (GD) and finally the third stage involves Personal Interview (PI).
A candidate must hold a Bachelor’s Degree, with at least 50% marks or equivalent CGPA, awarded by any of the Universities or possess an equivalent qualification recognized by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India to be eligible for appearing in the CAT. IIMs shortlist candidates for next stage of selection based on CAT scores. The remaining stages of selection may be independent of each other IIM. A part from GD and PI, the process may include Written Ability Test (WAT) in case some IIMs. However, performance in CAT examination is an important component in the admission process.
Some IIMs use previous academic performance of the candidates, relevant work experience and other similar inputs in short listing and ranking of candidates at various stages of the admission process. The processes, academic cut-offs and the weights allocated to the evaluation parameters may vary across IIMs.
The CAT test is developed in alignment with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. It has two sections viz., (1) Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, (2) Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning. Scores are calculated for each section based on the number of questions answered correctly (3 marks for right answer), incorrectly (-1 mark for wrong answer), or questions that are omitted (zero mark for unanswered). Three scaled scores are presented for each candidate – overall and two separate scores for each section. The overall score range is 0 to 450. The test is designed to identify the candidates who can perform. Candidates are ranked based on their scores.
With the kind of competition one faces in the CAT examination, it would be a right decision to go through a coaching institute to get professional guidance. It is very important that you are thorough in each and every topic and develop confidence on the subject matter. If you have limitations on any topic, just keep it aside and concentrate on what is of your interest. While preparing for CAT, take as many mock tests as you can. This practice will help you immensely in your CAT examination, particularly in managing time.
To be able to score well in CAT examination, it would be better to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Subjects/topics where you are weak deserve allocation of more time during your preparation, while your areas of strength may require relatively lower allocation of time.
During the last one to one and a half month period before the examination, analyze on how you scored in the mock tests and where you have gone wrong. Learn from your mistakes and improve your abilities. If a particular question during the examination is taking more time and you are unable to reach the finality, keep it aside. Time management is the essence.
Once you crack CAT, move on to prepare for GD and PI. The topic in a GD is usually a general topic. In terms of content, there is only limited preparation that an individual can do. Reading regularly and keeping oneself updated on the current affairs would be helpful. Logic when putting across an argument is an important parameter. The evaluators observe your flow of thought and logical arguments. Body language of a candidate plays an important role. One should be alert about his engagement in the discussion and presence of mind.
In the PI round, one can perform well if you take it as a conversation to put across our views and opinions. It is a place where you can exhibit your potential. With advance preparation and effective articulation of the content, PI should be comfortable. Be clear about the concepts of your graduation courses. Be confident while answering. If you don’t know, just admit it. Do not lie. Not knowing answer is understandable. Don’t be defensive at any stage of your interview.
If there is a written ability test, after CAT, do face it. Answer with right vocabulary, be economic usage of words, stay with the subject matter and present clear thoughts in a logical sequence.
The best road map for achieving your goal to step into some IIM is to plan a year in advance, have a clear strategy and work hard to see you through in the selection process. Note that there are no shortcuts to success. While doing all this, do not lose track of your graduation studies.