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Gyaan From The CAT Guru

Troubled with CAT preparation? JAM gives you a comprehensive tour of what it takes to crack CAT.

The entire CAT giving junta can be divided into two broad groups:
The engineers (includes IT workers and lots of freshers)
The non – engineers (includes CAs, BCom, BA grads)

Now preparation for CAT usually starts a year before for most non-engg types. And around in July for most engg types. But remember either way it does not make that much of a difference on your performance in CAT.

Simply because there is nothing to prepare for CAT …it’s a very to the point aptitude test which tests your nerves, decision making ability and commonsensical thinking more than it tests your calculating or vocab prowess.

The two fields which CAT tests you on are English and Maths (DI & Quant).
– CAT maths is usually 10th-12th std. stuff that an engineer or non-engineer both can solve.
– At the same time the English is purely basic and does not require that great a vocabulary which only Shakespeare spewing English Majors will be comfortable with.

However owing to the two maths based sections, one can safely say that CAT is an exam where engineers have a psychological advantage and hence they also tend to do well.

But doing well could also be due to the reason that most engineers at most times are a lot more ambitious, nerdy and can put in very dedicated amounts of hard work.

The entire process of getting into IIMs etc. unfortunately is one based on elimination

Because the numbers are too huge for any other basis to work. Out of the 1.5 lac junta which gave CAT last year a good 1.2 just gave it for time pass or at least were not aiming for the IIMs . That leaves the other 30,000 where the real competition is. Now again after the calls have been given, in most cases the higher Percentiles will get through because the maximum weightage in any Selection process is for the CAT score itself. So in effect the Group Discussions/interviews too are to remove the bad attitude, communication problem or panicky types from the process. Again none of this holds true for exceptional people with exceptional records and remember:

  • Work ex people will have an edge over freshers.
  • Girls will have an edge over boys.
  • University rank holders will have an edge over other bad academic types
  • Respected company applicants will have an edge over lesser known company applicants.

But an edge is just that and hard working students can always smoothen it out in their favour.

Like everything else the CAT examination too has a dark side which is increasingly becoming irrational to rational test takers every year.

For years CAT papers were not allowed to be taken home and for years scores were never really given out. The cry for transparency led the authorities to allow CAT papers to be taken home and two years ago the scores (read percentiles) started coming home and of course on the net.

Crack the CAT!
Sites to help you in your preparation

  • www.pagalguy.com – Any self respecting CAT giver must register at pagal guy and keep an eye on the material, information and news available here. Don’t get carried away but be informed. It’s a fantastic place to discuss CAT related queries and yet remain impersonal.
  • www.coolavenues.com – informative site.
  • www.ptindia.com – Lots of previous years’ papers can be found here
  • www.careerlauncher.com – All mock CATs available online
  • www.time4education.com – Good info available
  • www.imsindia.com -Good site to keep track of last dates of getting form, applying etc.
  • www.cflogic.com – Career Forum’s site. Again good info available.

The Dark Side of the Moon
But the results continued to stupefy students.

People with lower percentiles would sometimes end up getting a call over higher percentiles.

People with equal percentiles and scores would not get the same set of calls. The end result is a lot of pointless speculation and a feeling of total befuddlement among students .

For e.g. Last year, a person I know with a score 99.5 (split 95, 97, 99) was only given an IIM C call while people with 97.9, 96.7, 98.5 were all called by IIM B! Why? No one knows. There are numerous shocking stories every year. Up till now no one really knows what are the criterions of selection for different IIMs. Though the criteria should be made transparent, the IIM authorities think otherwise.

The only absolute is that a student with 99.6+ overall and 97+ in all the three sections can expect to get at least 4 calls out of the six.

It is imperative though that a student scores at least 93+ in each section to secure any calls whatsoever. For that matter people with 99.5 overall will not get a single call if any of their sections fall below 90.

Even while giving Mock Cats. Do not forget to focus on the cut offs of each section. If you are scoring a 99.9 in each Mock Cat but less than 90 percentile in Quant (or any other section) every time, then rest assured you are not going to get any calls. Of course nothing is an absolute.

Once percentile scores have come and calls given out, don’t speculate too much over the call pattern especially on the basis of the percentile scores you and your buddies get. The scores are just an indicator of your performance. Nowhere do the authorities mention that calls are given on the basis of these scores. The basis of calls could include Work experience, Accuracy, Academics, Sectional scores even the questions you answered, who knows? Just focus on the calls in hand and convert ’em.

Remember the dedicated dudes who can work hard and more importantly work smart will be the ones who will come out good. You do need to get a little lucky at times but overall its your determination and attitude which will matter. Whatever happens never give up. It just boils down to those two hours of the actual examination and those who can keep their nerves then will come out clean.

Inside info on who’s looking for what
01. IIM A: Prefers Accuracy in CAT, 65%+ acads
02. IIM C: Prefers high quant scores
03. IIM B: Does call lower percentiles
04. IIM L: High quant
05. XLRI: Max weightage for PI
06. FMS: Prefers overall high scores in FMS exam, 60%+ in acads
07. SP JAIN: Toppers, high work ex and applicants who fill their essay form well are given calls. Gives least weightage to CAT amongst all Top B schools.
08. IIM K: High overall percentiles get the calls
09. IIM I: Likes people with High English and overall CAT percentiles
10. MDI, Gurgaon: Issues 330 final calls for 120 seats. Easy to convert a call.
11. NITIE: 95+ in quant required, 60%+ acads.
12. JBIMS: Top 40 CET scores usually get through. Real tough institute to get into.
13. IIT BOMBAY SJMSOM: JMET rank :1-400 get calls

Of course there is nothing like IIM ABC and one should try giving CAT at least twice to get into those. But don’t waste more than three years for these three IIMs, they simply aren’t worth that much. (then try for a foreign MBA – if you must have the degree!)

Some people get fixated and say only IIM A but trust me the top twenty students of the top ten B schools are all the same, the next twenty too are all the same. Except for the brand power and network there is nothing special about the IIMs. And guess what– all companies know this!!!

Some CAT aspirants are hard core IIM types who would skip XLRI or FMS to go to IIM I or K.

Here too emotion is taking place over practicality. XLRI or FMS are way better institutes than IIM I and K and to some extent even L because they have a by far superior alumni network and a lot of companies who will keep coming there simply because people who run those companies belong to these schools.

On the other hand I and K are placed in smaller cities and so HR people will always opt for metros where its more convenient to recruit (a reason why recent Mumbai B schools like NITIE, SP JAIN have done exceptionally well)

Best Of Luck!! Go Bell The CAT!
-Intellectual Fart

The information was compiled from personal experiences, pagalguy.com and a number of successful CAT repeaters!

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