CAT is Done and Dusted – Now What? Sudhendar Hanumantha Rao, Professor :: MYRA School of Business

Now is the time to exhale. All the study and practice sessions, mock tests, coaching classes, on-line advice sessions (including by yours truly) and finally, the culmination of it all, the examination itself are behind you. This wait for the results of all your efforts could be one of excruciating tension. Yet, you can use this waiting period productively.

First of all, it is important to remember that any exam like CAT is a one-time snapshot. Unlike any continuous assessment system, success in a one-time exam is a result of – your hard work, quality of preparation, your inherent aptitude and a presence of mind to leverage it at crunch time – all coming together in that brief interval of time. It works out for many of you (at current numbers, approximately 2000 applicants would qualify in the top percentile). Depending of the score, many applicants may also decide to retry the exam next year to improve upon their score. This write up is not for such folks. Your path is clear and straightforward. This write up is for those applicants who score something in between and who would like to start their pursuit of an MBA this year itself.

As mentioned above, this is a waiting period. And a principle of good management is to have an alternate plan (called Plan B) ready in the case that your primary plan (Plan A) does not work out. You can use this waiting period to develop your own Plan B just in case. While developing your Plan B, consider the following actions and choices.

1. Consider B-Schools which use multiple criteria without a CAT cut-off

Most B-Schools today recognize that a one-shot exam such as CAT may not accurately evaluate a candidate applicant on his or her aptitude and preparation for a rigorous academic schedule. Even those schools which impose a very high CAT cut-off often use additional criteria such as performance in GDs and interviews for their final selection. An increasing number of B-Schools are relying on a multi-dimensional approach to decide upon admissions without imposing cut-offs on any single criterion. For example at MYRA, we evaluate applicants on four major dimensions:

– Academic record from high school to graduate degree

– Score on a standardized test (GMAT/other)

– Candidate’s work experience

– Career and other objectives articulated in a Statement of Purpose (SOP) plus interview

One action of Plan B is to make a list of such B-Schools and identify the ones from that list that make the best fit with your background and career aspirations and apply to those schools.

2. Take other entrance tests

While CAT is the most commonly accepted entrance test for B-Schools in India, there are many other tests with varying degrees of acceptability. Some of these are conducted by well known B-Schools and are often limited to that group of schools. The two most commonly accepted tests after CAT are probably GMAT and MAT. GMAT is internationally the most preferred score for admission to a management course and is considered as the best indicator of a candidate’s aptitude and level of preparation for a management education. It also gives us a common measure to evaluate candidates who otherwise come from widely different educational and work backgrounds. Hence, many schools are willing to accept GMAT (including MYRA).

The Management Aptitude Test (MAT) is conducted by AIMA and is accepted by over 600 B-Schools as per the AIMA web site. You can consider taking either of these two tests. GMAT has the added advantage over CAT of international acceptance. It may be too late to take MAT for 2015.

3. Burnish your resume

This is especially important of applicants without work experience. Anything that can add to your resume and stand out as a positive addition must be considered during this interim period. Some of the activities (but by no means all) to consider are:

– Do an internship at a relevant organization. Whether it is a paid or unpaid internship should not matter.

– Volunteer for any public service activity or work for an NGO helping with their organization, etc.

– Indulge in your favorite hobby and do something outstanding in that activity. For example, if you love trekking, a Himalayan trek (if you can afford it) would stand out on your resume, for example. Many of these activities also give you an opportunity to take a break and gain a different perspective on your options.

There is nothing like a great CAT score. However, having said that that is not the be all and end all. You do have alternatives to pursue to reach your desired end of a great management education. Developing a good Plan B is in itself a sign of you being good management material!

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