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Belling the CAT - Guidance for MBA Entrance Exams

Indian Institutes of Management are the most coveted B-schools in the country and no doubt anyone looking at management education looks towards these institutes. While IIMs may not be the only management institutes in the country, they are definitely the most sought after. Entry to these requires you to go through a long process of preparation, written examination, and interviews.

Preparation for the exam lasts anything from 4 months to 4 years based on how early a candidate decides to appear for the exam. There are students who start preparing in their first year of bachelor's course itself. I have had people contact me before going for their engineering course asking on how to utilize their time before joining engineering college to be ready for CAT when they end their course. While this may be one extreme, there are also those who wake up a couple of months before the exam and plan to crack it. I am already putting aside those who wish a weekend of prep would get them through these exams. While there is no right answer to the question - How early should one start prepare for CAT? However, I do believe that 4-5 months is something that an average student would need to be ready for CAT, assuming they have the exam on priority and the other conflicting commitments take a back seat.

Next is the written examination stage which is the basic CAT - Common Admission Test. This is computer-based selection test that is used to screen candidates based on knowledge of basic mathematics, logic, and language. Based on the exam score and other criteria specific to each institute, a set of candidates are shortlisted by each IIMs. Shortlist candidates are invited to attend the second stage of selection process.

The second stage varies across the institutes and could involve a group discussion, written ability test,and/or an interview. Traditionally most IIMs conducted a GD but the trend has shifted to a written ability test where candidates are asked to express their views in writing rather than a verbal discussion. Invariably, a personal interview is conducted where a panel of professors try to gauge the interest of candidate in the course and their aptitude.

Once the process is over, results are released by first quarter of calendar year and students join their colleges by the end of first half of the year.

Hope this initiative to put down some guiding tips and exoeruebces frim my own journey thorugh this exam would help future candidates. In case you have specific questions, please do put them across in comments or mail them to me. I generally respnd to most of the queries as soon as possible.

Preparing for CAT First Stage Exam

  • First Five Steps Towards CAT – Basics in Place - All set to begin your journey towards the coveted MBA entrance exams but unsure of where to begin? Do you doubt if you would be able to manage all on you plate? What should be the first thing you need to do? Find some of your answers in this article.
  • Bracing to Bell the CAT? Here's some help for you !! - If you are preparing for the CAT exam and are looking for some help with preparations in terms of the right approach, things to remember and how to prepare, here are few handy tips to get you started.
  • Simplifying the Conundrum of Verbal Ability - The dreaded topics for most engineers - something for which maximum mugging goes in - is often thought of a mere vocublary test. But that is not how IIMs see it and their opinion matter. Some tips on preparing for your Verbal section.
  • Acing Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation - Expert in maths and numbers are your thing? Agreed. But CAT needs something more than knowledge - Speed. Here is how to ace this section.
  • Use your last 30 days effectively - D'day approaching soon and last month blues bugging you? Use these 30 days before the CAT exam judiciously and provide the much needed finishing touch to your preparations.
  • Introduction of Calculators - Boon or Bane? - They allowed you to use calculators in the exam and you are excited as long cumbersome calculations in DI won't bother you. But pause and think - It comes with new challenges. Develop the best strategy to leverage this facility.

Setting up for Second Stage - GD/PI/WAT

  • Group Discussions - Prepare to Handle Topics - Group Discussioni is one of the format where your real knowledge - the general knowledge - comes to fore. Most GDs have a countable types of topics and there are specific ways you should approach various types. Here is a primer for you.
  • Group Discussions - Acing the Softer Aspects - Group discussions are as much about communication skills and presentation as content. It is important to manage the soft skills and come out as team player. This article brings to you some tips on getting those soft skills right.
  • Written Ability Tests - Tips and Tricks to Ace - A newer evaluation tool in market i.e. CAT. This is more geared at writing down your views rather than verbal expression and is all about crisp clear expression on paper. Get to know more about this format.
  • IIM Interview 5 - IIM Calcutta - A beautiful campus in East India is perfect setting for an interview. Learn my experience.
  • IIM Interview 4 - IIM Shillong - Amidst dreams of hills and clouds, a discussion with elite panal was good experience.
  • IIM Interview 3 - IIM Bangalore - This was where I was destined to and hence is closer to heart than others. A stress interview and strict gruel led to happy endings.
  • IIM Interview 2 - IIM Kozhikode - Campus in God's Own Country would attract fancy of everyone. Know how goes an interview for entry into this scenic campus.
  • IIM Interview 1 - IIM Indore - An interview with the panel from IIM Indore attempts to evaluate you on more than one skills at a time.

Year Specific Pointers

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