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The Mystery Behind Calls!

On January 9, the IIMs declared the CAT-2008 results! We were surprised at the kind of transparency that all the IIMs showed in giving out calls. This is quiet a development considering the fact that not long back CAT results were nothing short of a mystery. Yes, the IIMs have a long way in declaring the results and giving out calls. Let us track these developments over the years:

Pre-CAT 2003
CAT 2003 was eventful in more than one way! The students came out of the exam hall, only to find that the test would be conducted again in February thanks to a bunch of candidates who leaked the paper on the previous night. This not only made CAT famous (thanks to all the media limelight showered on CAT due to this incident), but also compelled the IIMs to give the test paper back to the students after the test a trend that still continues.
Yes, you guessed it right? Before CAT ’03, one was not allowed to carry home the CAT paper. No question paper meant no anxiety about the answer key! The answer key along with a part of the question paper would only be published only in the next year’s CAT bulletin. So, one had to judge his performance purely on the basis of his gut feel. And then there was a long wait for the calls. Though, the CAT score card would give you some idea about the kind of calls you should be expecting, this would in no way be the basis of giving the actual calls.

One would be surprised at the vagaries in the calls. One would wonder how a person with more than 99.5 percentile overall (and clearing all the sectional cut-off’s) did not end up getting a single IIM call? How can a student get an IIM Ahmedabad call, but no other call? Why would a person, in spite of having not so great CAT score, get an IIM B call, when the other deserving candidates did not?
Those were the days when the world wide web was still ancient (at least when it came to CAT results!). The calls were physically given out by the different IIMs through registered post. So despite all odds, one would still be hopeful of getting a call. “Maybe my call letter is lost in transit”. “Maybe I will receive the letter in the second round of calls”. And after a while when the reality dawned, one would console self by saying, “Maybe I lost out by a whisker”. There was a time in the distant past, late ‘80s when the IIMs even used to send not only ‘Call Letters’ but also ‘Reject Letters’. The ‘Reject Letter’ would dash whatever little hope you had about the call.

CAT 2003 to 2005
CAT 2003 changed the way students anticipated their results. The credit goes, not to the IIMs, but to the training institutes all over the country. The question paper being given back to the candidates, started a mad rush amongst the institutes to put the analysis and the answer key. Every institute wanted to be the first one to display the expected cut-off’s on their web site. This ended the speculation and the anxiety in the minds of the students about their results. Now, the students could not only calculate their CAT scores but could also rate their chances of getting calls from one of more IIMs. However, when the actual calls were out there were still some discrepancies in students expectations and the actual calls.

CAT 2006
CAT 2006 was the year of ‘Right to Information Act’ (RTI). Add to this, the verbal section was reasoning based (read confusing) and there was a lot of inconsistency in the answer key published by different institutes. This compelled the IIMs to release the official answer to CAT for the first time (before the results). This CAT was also marred by errors, because of which some questions had to be discarded (not considered for final evaluation).

CAT scorecard also changed! Instead of giving your score in every section as a ‘percentage of the topper’, they started giving it as a ‘percentage of the overall marks in that section’.

That same year, IIM Bangalore officially released their criteria for giving out calls for GD PI the first time any IIM had done so. The highest weightage was given to the CAT score (30%), followed by class X and graduation scores (23% each), then the class XII score (15%) and finally the work-experience (9%). This was followed, IIM A releasing a document stating the breakup of the students who applied to the institute under different categories and the number of calls given by them in these categories. They also mentioned the percentile scores at which these calls were given.

CAT 2008
We are now in the information age. This year most IIMs have officially released their basis of giving out calls and the percentile scores at which they have given calls. While IIM A has given importance to the CAT scores and the class X and XII score, IIM B has also given importance to graduation and CA/ICWA scores. The short-listing criteria of IIM C is skewed towards the CAT score, with as high as 75% of the total weightage given to that. It also has 5% weightage for relevant work experience.

Here is a comparison of the weightage given by different IIMs in CAT
2008 to various parameters:

CAT Score 20% 30% 75% 60% 90%
Class X 40% 23% 10% 10%
Class XII 40% 15% 10% 10%
Graduation 23% 10%
Work Experience 9% 5% 10%
Others 10%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

The cut-off percentiles as considered by different IIMs in CAT 2008:

Quant 94 95.52(38) 85 92(33)
Logic & DI 94 95.86(38) 85 92(34)
Verbal 94.5 95.87(51) 85 93(44)
Overall 98(121) 98.97(113) 90 98(121)

This should put a lot of speculation to end. Rumors like IIMs prefer more work experience candidates over freshers or more engineers over other graduates can be safely put to rest. As you can see, all the IIMs lay a lot of emphasis on your CAT scores and less on your Work Experience.
CAT 2009 aspirants, put everything else behind you and make all efforts to have a good CAT score. After all that counts more than anything else. Learn from the CPLC students, who have had about 100 IIM calls in CAT 2008.

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