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One of the most important indicators of a nation's progress is its economic development and organisations are the agents who bring this economic development by producing, marketing and selling goods and services in the country's market place. In the process of doing so they create employment, growth and opportunities. To be able to do all of these, organisations need able management professionals who can take the responsibilities of running organisations effectively and efficiently. Organisations can hire a management professional from another organisation or they can train and promote their own staff to managerial roles. But the most popular method of recruiting management professionals is to hire MBA (Master of Business Administration) graduates from B-Schools (Business Schools).

Though MBA is a generic name used for all post graduate degrees in management, candidates should know about the different post graduate degrees available in management. The degree MBA or MMS can only be provided by universities, deemed universities, or colleges awarding university degrees by tying up with state/central universities for eg:- FMS (Delhi Univ. MBA), NMIMS (Narsee Monjee deemed university), JBIMS (awards Mumbai Univ. degree) etc. Individual colleges, including Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) cannot award MBA- they award Post Graduate Program in Management (PGPM) or Post Graduate Degree in Management (PGDM).

What is the difference between MBA and PGPM?
If a candidate wants to pursue her/his career in corporate then there is no difference whether a candidate is MBA or PGPM. Depending upon the ranking of the college and the level of the candidate, she/he is recruited. But, if a candidate wants to pursue her/his career in academics then PGPM will be considered as a Post Graduate Diploma and not as a Degree. Hence a candidate having PGPM can go for Fellowship Program in Management but cannot purse PhD. A candidate having MBA does not have such limitations.
Every year IIMs conduct Common Admission Test (CAT), as the 1st round, to initiate selection of the most deserving of the MBA aspirants for the 20 IIMs. Additionally CAT scores are accepted by more than 100 institutes (both Govt. and Pvt.) across the country. This makes CAT the most important exam for an MBA aspirant.

Ranking of B-Schools and Career Prospects
There are more than a thousand B-Schools, but only a handful are reputed enough to impart a good education as well as give a good start to the career. The need of every management aspirant is different so it is not possible to generalise which B-schools are worth going and which are not. A list of B-Schools affiliated to CAT categorized according to their average placements in 2017-18 has been given below. Candidates should note that placement, though a very important criterion, is but one of many criteria to choose a perfect B-School for oneself. Aspiring management professionals should do a thorough study of B-Schools and their facilities before joining one. Also note that this list is not comprehensive; there may be some more B-Schools which have not been included in one of these categories.

B-School categories (through CAT):
Level-1 (Average package > Rs. 18 lakhs) - IIM-A,B,C,L, FMS Delhi etc.
Level-2 (Average package Rs. 15-18 lakhs) - IIM-I,K,S, IIT-M, MDI-Gurgaon, SP-Jain Mumbai, NITIE Mumbai, IIFT-Delhi etc.
Level-3 (Average package Rs. 10-15 lakhs) - New IIMs, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kharagpur, IMT-Ghaziabad, IMI-Delhi, MICA-Ahmedabad, DU-MFC, IIFT-Kolkata, IRMA etc.
Level-4 (Average package Rs. 8-10 lakhs) - GIM-Goa, IIFM-Bhopal, TAPMI-Manipal, NIRMA-Ahmedabad, DU-MHROD & MIB, KJ-Somaiya Mumbai etc.
Note: B-Schools with average salary less than Rs. 8 lakhs have not been considered.

Any eligible candidate, who aspires to join a B-School through CAT, is required to register online for CAT first. Apart from this a candidate needs to fill the form of the individual B-Schools (except IIMs) that she/he is targeting. For IIMs, candidate needs to choose, in the CAT form only, the relevant programs and campuses that she/he is interested in. The application fees (CAT 2019) for general and OBC candidates is Rs. 1900 and for reserved category candidates is Rs. 950.

To know about the procedure in detail you can click on the link given below.

CAT 2019 Official Notification

In 2019, the registration started on 7 August and closed on 25 September. The CAT 2019 test day was 24 November.

Essential academic qualifications:

Graduation with at least 50% marks or equivalent, in any discipline from a recognized University or any equivalent qualification recognized as such by the central government. Those who are in the final year/ semester of their graduation may also apply provisionally subject to the condition that they would submit proof of completion (provisional mark sheet or certificate from principal) before or during joining process.

Age and number of attempts:

There is no age bar for taking CAT, but affiliated institutes may have their own criteria for selection. The same is true for work experience too. A few programs and a few affiliated institutes may require work experience. The details will be available in notification of the individual B-Schools.

The selection procedure for affiliated institutes through CAT is normally in 2 phases i.e. online examination (CAT), and college level selection (through WAT, GD, PI etc.). The candidates who satisfy the individual B-School's qualifying criteria in CAT will be called by the respective B-Schools for the next round (College level selection)

Phase-I: Online examination (CAT)

CAT is a computer based test, conducted over 3 hours, consisting of 3 sections and 100 questions. All questions are in English. There are 2 types of questions: MCQ and non-MCQ. Each question has 3 marks. MCQs have one-third negative marking whereas non-MCQs have no negative marking. Each section has individual time limit.

CAT-2019 pattern

Section No. of questions Duration
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) 34 60 mins
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) 32 60 mins
Quantitative Aptitude 34 60 mins
Total 100 200

To know about CAT exam pattern in detail you can click on the link given below:

CAT 2018 Analysis

CAT is conducted in 3rd or the 4th week of November. Results are normally declared by the second week of January. CAT releases scorecard of each candidate. The scorecard has section wise and overall scaled score and percentile. The affiliated B-Schools have access to the score cards hence the candidates do not need to send the scorecards separately to B-Schools.

If the candidate qualifies in the eligibility criteria of the B-School, according to CAT score and any other criteria*, then the B-School intimates the candidate about the time, venue, and process of the next round provided that the candidate has applied to that B-School. Typically, Category-1 B-Schools call candidates in the ratio 5:1 i.e. 5 candidates are called for every 1 seat whereas Category-4 B-Schools call candidates in the ratio 20:1 i.e. 20 candidates are called for every 1 seat. The call ratio for the other category B-Schools lies in between these 2 ratios.

* Note:- B-Schools have different criteria for different programs. CAT is one of the criteria (and in most cases the most important criterion), but there are other criteria too which along with CAT scores determine whether a candidate will be called for the next round.

Phase – II: College level selection (WAT, GD, PI etc.)

Institutes have their own process in Phase-II. A combination of activities is used by the B-Schools to evaluate different aspects of a candidate's personality, communication skills and other skills. Some of these activities along with some B-Schools who conduct the respective activities have been listed below:

  1. Statement of purpose (SOP) [FMS, SP Jain etc.]
  2. Writing assessment test (WAT) [IIM-A,B,L etc.]
  3. Group Discussion (GD)/ Group Task (GT)/ Group Exercise (GE) [MDI, IIT- Mumbai, Delhi etc.]
  4. Personal Interview (PI)/ Group Interview (GI) [Almost every B-School conducts PI; very few like SP Jain conducts GI]
Out of the above activities, SOP activity happens either at the time of form filling or at the time of registering for the interview process (after qualifying for the second round).

Final selection

Institutes have their own criteria based on which they make the final selection list. Some institute may consider only the second round scores for the final selection whereas others may consider both the scores of CAT and second round for selection. In the latter case, the weightage given to CAT scores and second round scores also differ from institute to institute.

Candidates should realise that to perform in a highly competitive exam like CAT, they should be good at both concepts and application. Rather than going through concepts from various sources, one should concentrate on regular practice once the concepts are cleared. Practicing regularly is key to performing in competitive exams like these. Playlists of important concept lectures have been provided below. Candidates can take help of these lectures from Meritshine to strengthen their basic concepts.

Our Free Resources (click on the links below for accessing the relevant content)

Lectures for Objective Paper (Prelims and Mains)

Lectures for Descriptive Paper (Mains)

Lectures for Group Discussion & Interviews:-

Our Paid Programs
While we are yet to start with our CAT programme, our other paid courses such as IBPS PO and SBI PO are designed on similar lines and we recommend them to the aspirants for all such exams. Look out and register for these programs for a more intensive preparation.

The overall cut-off percentiles of CAT 2017 B-School and Reservation category wise have been given in the table. The cut-off percentile is the average percentile score of candidates selected in some of the B-Schools in the respective category. The cut-off marks differ every year according to the competition and the paper’s difficulty level. One year's cut-off is in no way predictive of subsequent years' cut-offs. Attaining the overall cut-off percentiles in respective categories as listed below does not ensure a sure-shot call as there might be additional criteria for calls. Also apart from overall cut-off B-Schools employ sectional cutoff while shortlisting students for interviews. Also as few institutes (especially some of the top IIMs) use a combination of CAT score, academics, extra-curriculars and work experience to give a call for the second round, this B-School category wise average percentile score might not be a good indicator to ensure calls from those institutes. These might call students with lower percentiles too provided their combined score is higher due to high scores in other criteria.

Note 1:- The reservation category wise cut-off is only for Government Institutes (like IIMs, FMS, IITs etc.). For private B-Schools (like MDI, SP Jain, IMT etc.), only the General category cut-off is relevant.

Note 2:- The table below should not be used as information for selection process. This is an indicative list only. It is to be used by the candidates only to get a general idea about the level of preparation she/he needs to do to get into her/his dream B-School. To get detailed idea about the selection processes of each B-school candidate should visit their respective sites.

CAT 2017 cut-offs

Category of College General OBC SC ST
Category-1 (>18 Lakhs) 99%le 95%le 90%le 85%le
Category-2 (15-18 Lakhs) 95%le 90%le 85%le 80%le
Category-3 (15-18 Lakhs) 90%le 85%le 80%le 75%le
Category-4 (8-10Lakhs) 85%le 80%le 75%le 70%le

P.S. If you still have a query, you may write to us at info@meritshine.com.