Looking to secure admission to IIM Ahmedabad? Discover firsthand experience from CAT topper – Sanjit Sarkar on how he secured admission to the MBA program at IIM A. Explore the admission criteria and learn about the selection criteria used, with detailed CAT scores. Get insights into the IIM admission process and how to check your eligibility for selection at top IIMs. 

Embarking on a journey to fulfil one’s dreams is no small feat. When it comes to cracking the CAT examination and securing a spot at a prestigious institution like IIM A, the challenges become even more exhilarating. In an exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Sanjit Sarkar, the CAT topper of 2022, as he graciously shared his inspiring journey to IIM A and the remarkable preparation that led him to success.

Throughout the conversation, Sanjit delved deep into the hurdles he encountered on his path and how he overcame each one with unwavering determination. His experiences mirror the quintessential journey most students undergo in pursuit of their dreams, making his insights invaluable for aspirants aiming to conquer CAT 2023. 

A stellar academic background, with exceptional scores in both 10th and 12th education from ICSE and ISC boards, set the foundation for Sanjit’s relentless pursuit of excellence. After graduating with flying colours from Manipal Institute of Technology in mechanical engineering, he ventured into the corporate world, working as a Territory Service Manager at Hero Motorcorp. However, driven by his ambition to make a mark in the world of management, he took a leap of faith and decided to dedicate himself to preparing for the CAT examination in 2022.

In this article, we explore the riveting tale of Sanjit’s journey, encompassing the trials and tribulations he faced along the way. His story serves as a reservoir of invaluable lessons and learnings that aspiring CAT candidates can carry with them as they tread their own paths. So, join us as we unravel Sanjit’s path to CAT glory and discover the pearls of wisdom that can guide you on your own transformative journey to your dream b-school.

Chapter 1: The Shift from Engineering to Management 

I completed my 10th and 12th education from ICSE and ISC boards, respectively, achieving a score of 94.5 percent in the 10th standard and 93.2 percent in the 12th standard. Following this, I pursued engineering in the mechanical domain at the Manipal Institute of Technology, where I graduated in 2019 with a GPA of 8.63.

Following my graduation, I joined Hero MotoCorp as a Territory Service Manager and worked there for approximately 3 years (around 35 months), taking on a role that combined technical and managerial responsibilities.

This unique position exposed me to the world of management. As I delved deeper into the managerial aspects of the job, such as decision-making and handling people-related tasks, I discovered a strong inclination toward pursuing a long-term career in this field. 

Gradually, the desire to be part of the hardcore management domain and pursue an MBA became crystal clear to me. Therefore, after dedicating approximately 3 years to my role at Hero MotoCorp, I made the bold decision to quit my job and fully commit myself to preparing for the CAT examination, where I scored an impressive 99.28 percentile. 

Chapter 2: The CAT Exam Strategy

When I began my CAT preparation journey, I opted for an online coaching service called IQuanta, which specifically focused on coaching for various MBA entrance exams like CAT, GMAT and XAT, among others. It became my primary source of preparation, and in addition, I took IMS mocks to further enhance my skills. For practice, I acquired a couple of books, with Arun Sharma’s LRDI and Verbal sections being my predominant references. I made sure to maintain a balance between all three sections and worked on them simultaneously.

For Verbal, I adopted various techniques like elimination, familiarising myself with different types of RCs, and practicing all kinds of questions related to Verbal Ability. When it came to the DILR part, I knew that understanding the various question types and categories was crucial, so I dedicated ample time to practice this section. In the Quant section, I focused primarily on Algebra and Arithmetic, as they were the most dominant aspects, and I aimed to master them thoroughly.

In terms of my day-to-day preparation, I kept it flexible, setting daily targets and ensuring I accomplished them by the end of each day.

During times of difficulty, one thing that proved to be immensely helpful was taking mock tests. I cannot stress enough how vital mocks were in my journey. They assessed my proficiency in specific sections and honed my time management skills and other nuances that proved invaluable on the exam day. Mocks helped me understand my weaknesses and comfort zones, enabling me to identify areas that required more practice. They played a significant role in shaping my mindset and boosting my confidence for the D-day.

Chapter 3: The Highs and Lows – Overcoming Burnouts and All That Lies In Between

In the early days of my preparation, I faced challenges with my mock scores, often getting around 40/50, which would really demotivate me. However, I soon came to realise that this journey was bound to have its ups and downs. It was crucial for me to pick myself up and focus on how I could improve. Taking each mock as a learning opportunity, I analysed my performance and identified areas for growth. It gradually became a continuous cycle of learning and progress.

Throughout the preparation, there were moments of intense burnout. To cope with it, I found it essential to keep my extracurricular activities and hobbies alive. Being a passionate cyclist, after every mock, I would shut my laptop and head out for a cycling session lasting a couple of hours. This simple activity helped me recharge and uplift myself, enabling me to return to the preparation with renewed energy and determination.

Chapter 4: IIM Admission Process & IIM Selection Journey 

I applied to several premier colleges in India, which included all the IIMs, FM, SPJIMR, and IIT Bombay, among others. It was crucial for me to choose a B School that resonated with my personal values and aspirations. To gain a better understanding of each college’s culture, I reached out to the alumni and sought insights from their experiences.

After the Common Admission Test (CAT) results are announced, the colleges proceed with their selection process, which includes sending interview calls to eligible candidates. The initial stage of admission into the IIM A involves taking the CAT exam. Subsequently, you go through the Written Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview (PI) rounds, which serve as the primary criteria for selection for MBA for IIM Ahmedabad. 

The final selection of candidates takes various factors into account, such as work experience, educational background, and more. A final composite score is formed based on these factors, leading to the ultimate decision. Additionally, some IIMs conducted additional tests, like Analytical and written assessments, before the interview phase.

During the interview, the focus was mainly on my background and the work I had done. As the interview process is highly subjective, it varies from one college to another. To prepare for my interviews, I sought assistance from an alumnus engaged in mock interviews, and which significantly contributed to my improvement.

Overall, the application and selection process to get admission into IIM Ahmedabad, including other Indian Institutes of Management, involved a combination of factors, making it essential to approach each step with thorough preparation and personal alignment with the institutions.

Chapter 5: Choosing My B-School & Call from IIM A

I had made the decision to join IIM Ahmedabad, and I was genuinely excited about this opportunity. The prospect of being surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the country fills me with anticipation. I believe that being in such an intellectually stimulating environment will offer unparalleled learning and experience. Interacting with my peers will undoubtedly help me develop invaluable qualities that will benefit me throughout my future professional journey.

I am aware that IIM Ahmedabad is renowned for its rigorous curriculum and exceptional faculty. This will provide me with the relevant knowledge and expertise needed to excel in my chosen field. I am eager to immerse myself in the academic rigour and gain insights that will shape my career path.

Additionally, I know that IIM Ahmedabad has a well-connected and efficient placement process. This is reassuring, as it means I’ll have access to excellent career opportunities that align with my aspirations and skillset.

How I got admission at IIM Ahmedabad: FAQs

Q1: When does IIM Ahmedabad start its application form for MBA program?

Ans: The IIM A Admission cycle is from August to May.

Q2: What is the CAT cut-off at IIM A?

Ans: The CAT cut off percentiles for IIM Ahmedabad admission are as follows: 80 for General category, 75 for NC-OBC/EWS, 70 for SC/PwD, and 60 for ST candidates. Generally, the final CAT cut-off percentile ranges around 99-100 for the General category and 95 for the reserved categories.

Q3: What are the admission criteria and eligibility criteria at IIM Ahmedabad? 

Ans: The admission criteria and eligibility criteria at IIM Ahmedabad for the MBA program require candidates to meet certain educational qualifications. To be eligible for admission, a candidate must have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent qualification from a UGC-recognised university. The bachelor’s degree should have been obtained after at least 12 years of school education. Additionally, the candidate must have secured a minimum aggregate of a minimum of 50% or an equivalent CGPA (45% for SC/ST/PWD candidates) in their bachelor’s degree.

According to the IIM Ahmedabad admission policy for the 2023-25 batch, the shortlisting process considers an Academic Rating (AR) Score, which is computed on a scale of 25. This score takes into account the candidate’s performance in class 10 and class 12 examinations, as well as their work experience. The points obtained in the AR Score are then pro-rated to 35 for the final shortlisting.

Overall, to secure admission to the MBA program at IIM Ahmedabad, candidates need to fulfil the educational eligibility requirements and perform well in the shortlisting process, which includes consideration of the Academic Rating Score.

Q4: Which is the No. 1 IIM in India?

Ans: According to the NIRF ranking for 2023, IIM Ahmedabad maintains its top position as the No. 1 institute, with IIM Bangalore securing the No. 2 spot.

Q5: What is the selection procedure at IIM Ahmedabad for management admission?

Ans: The selection procedure at IIM Ahmedabad for management admission follows a comprehensive process that includes multiple stages. The recent notification states that the bachelor’s degree component has been removed from the shortlisting criteria in response to the CAT 2022 Committee eliminating the minimum percentage requirement for bachelor’s degrees. This change was necessary due to the pandemic’s impact, which led to universities granting pass/promotion certifications to graduating students without conducting examinations.

Here is the step-by-step explanation of the selection procedure:

Preliminary Screening Process

  • Candidates must clear the minimum cut-offs or score in CAT for sectional percentile ranks in Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC).
  • They should also achieve a positive raw score in all three sections and obtain an overall percentile that meets the eligibility criteria the required cut-offs, and the composite.

Application/Academic Rating Score (AR Score)

  • The AR score is calculated using components such as class 10th and 12th percentage, bachelor’s degree percentage, and work experience duration.
  • The score is normalised using percentile equivalence of score distributions based on the previous year’s CAT data.

Shortlisting Process for Analytical Writing Test (AWT) & Personal Interview (PI)

  • Outstanding achievers from various academic disciplines are shortlisted for AWT and PI based on their “Composite Score” (CS).
  • The top 5% of candidates from each academic category (AC), considering CATF_CS and Normalised AR score, are further shortlisted for AWT and PI.

Final Selection Process

  • Candidates shortlisted for AWT and PI undergo a final selection based on their “Final Composite Score” (FCS).
  • The FCS is computed by considering the normalised scores of PI, AWT, CAT, and AR.

Note for Foreign Passport Holders

  • Students holding foreign passports must appear for the GMAT exam and apply through the Supernumerary Quota category.

It is crucial for candidates to perform well in each stage of the selection process to increase their chances of admission to IIM Ahmedabad’s management program. For more detailed information, candidates can visit the official website (

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