Should I Take CAT again?
A classic question that needs to be answered every time CAT Results are out. What makes it worth giving it another shot? When do you say its enough?
It depends on three things :
- Choices Available
- Resources – Time & Money
If you want to get into Mckinsey & Co. or a similar kind of a consulting firm only then the routes are pretty well defined and few. You have to get into certain schools only. You will have to take CAT again. Whether you should be so fixated on one company or a role is a question for another time.
However, if you want to get a good job that pays well and you get to enter the domain/industry of your choice you should not be too concerned about the brand and take up the school you are getting. After all, entering the job market earlier also has major advantages, you start earning higher faster as compared to waiting and taking a chance.
People have different goals – they want to experience a great campus life, some people want to get global exposure, some people want to build a network among India’s best minds, some people truly value the learning experience (i have come across very few such people though), for some MBA is purely transactional and a means to a high paying job. So you decision will depend on these factors.
After Goals, the next obvious question is what do you have in hand? If you have scored 55 percentile, my advice is to not do an MBA. Any school who accepts you at that percentile is highly likely to not be worth the tuition fees (unless they accept another exam of repute and have a higher standard there). In this case if the MBA dream is important and you can wait a year there is no other option but to take CAT again.
What if I am getting admission in IIM K and I want to only go to IIM A? Well, to each his own but my own suggestion would be to take up IIM K. 1) There is no guarantee you will do as well next year. 2) From a strictly pragmatic stand point, 5 years into the industry it will definitely not matter. Of course, if you are hell bent on a brand then IIM A is big as it can be and maybe you need to wait but I do feel then the decision is largely based on ego rather than a clear goal. A clear goal in this case could be that one wants to only join a top notch VC/PE firm – that you will probably get only at certain schools like IIM ABC and ISB. But if your goal is a FMCG marketing job there shouldn’t be any reason to reject IIM K.
This plays out at different levels. For e.g. IIM K vs IMT G – should I take CAT again?
Not everyone can afford to wait. Some students need to start contributing money to the family as soon as they can. Some women candidates fear being forced to get married soon (its regressive and abominable but still true). In both the above cases, the student’s hand will be forced.
Resources are also important to take into account when you have offers from a school with a poor ROI. The long term value and the experience may be awesome but a poor ROI on graduation can severely impact your finances. For e.g. if you have an EMI of 35k a month and your in-hand salary is likely going to be only 70k, does joining such a school make sense at all? Maybe, taking CAT again is a better option especially if you are already working somewhere and have some income flowing in during the extra year’s wait.
There is no one clear rule when answering this question and it will be different for different people. But I hope this framework helps to form an initial thought process.
Creator of InsideIIM.com, IIM Indore alumnus
One attempt to answer this had taken place earlier a couple of years back by Career Launcher’s National MBA head (then CEO of Vistamind) – https://insideiim.com/mba-dream-shattered-the-way-ahead-part-i/?src=comm
ARKSS has answered in form of FAQs for 3-4 types of CAT takers
- First time CAT takers and are less than 25 years of age
- Students with More than 2 years of Work-Ex
- Students with more than 3 to 4 years of Experience
- A candidate with pressure of being asked to get married
ARKSS has been doing this for 20 Years. One better consider his suggestions seriously! Also, he is an IIM Calcutta alumnus
Here’s IFMR students’ attempt to help you in this question :
Been there. Done That.
@Ankit- I hadn’t prepared whole heartedly this time, semester exam were too in last november. I gave a decent practice in quant section and got 86 percentile in it.
skipped college placements as well. So Should I take cat again?
70.12 percentile CAT’17. NMAT-186
10th-8cgpa, 12th-83.6%, btech (till 6th sem)- 63%
Most of the important factors to be kept in mind while deciding on whether to take CAT again or not have been nicely discussed in the earlier posts. Having said this, I would like to lay emphasis on an extremely vital phenomenon called ‘Causal Ambiguity’.
In our context, what it means is that the candidate who has managed to first score high in CAT and then went on to convert the GD/PI rounds of a top B-School doesn’t actually know the exact reasons behind his success either in CAT or the GD/PI stage or worse even – both! Basically, you’ve succeeded but you cannot map the particular actions to their contribution in your success. Now the causal ambiguity can be at three levels:
- You don’t the reasons behind your success in both CAT and GD/PIs: If this is the case, I’d strictly suggest against taking CAT again the next year. Given the double uncertainty that prevails in both CAT and GD/PIs, it’s wise to make the most of what you’ve achieved today. This is a high risk and low returns option.
- You don’t know the reasons behind the success of either of the two: This calls for a personal call of the candidate as to if he/she is ready to risk it for the next time and hope that he/she performs better in both CAT and GD/PI.
- You know exactly why scored what you scored in both CAT and GD/PIs: In this case, the candidate can certainly try his/her luck to take CAT again. A focused approach on further cementing one’s strengths and eliminating the identified weaknesses before the next CAT can reap great results. This is a low risk and high returns option.
I had performed the Causal Ambiguity analysis on myself before joining IIM Indore in July'16.
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