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Should I Take CAT again?

Should I Take CAT again?

Team InsideIIM, asked 2 months ago

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?

5 Answers
Ankit Doshi, IIM Indore (Since 1996) answered 2 months ago

It depends on three things :

  1. Goals
  2. Choices Available
  3. 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.

Choices Available

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

Tanya Pahar, MBA Aspirant

replied 2 months ago

Ankit , if you could also clear a little bit on this –
given that I want to get into niche marketing jobs in FMCG or e-commerce, IIM K vs IMT G – should I take CAT again?

I don’t know what niche marketing jobs means to be honest. Can you clarify more? Also, I have given 3 factors to be considered. It depends on that too. There is a massive difference in the roles offered at IIM K for all kinds of roles not just Marketing as compared to IMT G. There is a significant gap.

This article helped me alot.
Before the results are out i wish to take CAT again. This was my first attempt with two months of preparation. Now, results are out and i got low marks. I made my goal clear to take up CAT again..!!
But I always get some pop ups in mind..whether work experience is more important?? Am very curious to know answer? Help me out ?

You should garner work experience irrespective of whether you take CAT or not. You should always be employed.

i m fresher i have got 82 %wth decent academics from bcom ,should i retake ..or join anycollege

You nailed the entire thing in writing if you desire bcg, bain or mckinsey, there is probably just one way. My goal is precisely that.
1.I have 87.4 % in 10th, 79.83(in 6 subjects) and 82 in best 5 in 12th. 73.17(percentage of marks) in grad but 69.61 if calculated through the method of credits.
2. I scored 75 perecentile in CAT’15 with 1 week preparation. Also, I scored 80 percentile in XAT’16.
3. I scored 89.26 percentile in CAT’16 with approx 1 month preparation. Sectionals being VA – 97.xx, QA – 84.5, DILR – 41.xx. Also, I scored 91 percentile in XAT’17.
4. I scored 83.xx percentile in CAT’17 with quite a bit of preparation and 5-6 mocks for the first time in 3 years. Sectionals being VA-86.xx, QA-80.xx,DILR- 73.61. Currently, waiting for XAT’18 result.
5.I have 2 yrs of consulting experience in EY as. Data Analyst and around 6 months in Bank of erica where the work profile is not so good, basically boring, substandard and irrelevant considering my Analytics knowledge.
Qs. Should i quit around 35 month mark to prepare for Cat’18 (if XAT’18 too doesn’t turn out in my favour) with approximately 5 months to exclusively prepare for CAT?
P.S I contemplated the same after 24 months but couldn’t because of financial constraints that’s now been taken care of courtsey my present job which pays me close to 8lpa. But this job is boring as hell and I feel lost in life.
Can you please help Ankit Doshi.

@Anup – You shouldn’t take up a school at 83 percentile as it is unlikely you’ll find a school that will increase your salary by a big factor post MBA. There are always exceptions but it is difficult. Not worth spending 2 years doing a MBA at a not so popular school. Your profile may end up being short for the consulting firms you mentioned you want to get into. Not only will you have to get into specific schools you will also have to be among the top 5% there. You should definitely not quit your job. You could change a job to one which is more of your liking. At 35 months work-ex and 8 l.p.a you should only join a B-School that will ensure you get at least double of your salary before joining b-school.

@Anupam – Insufficient data to help you. How do I know what your aspirations are?

My point is that i never got a chance to whole heartedly prepare for CAT. I had switched job precisely to gain more time and that i did to some extent. I also utilised that time to the best of my ability. The main problem is no. of mocks – just 5/6. Playing safe sounds justified as i did last year but it doesn’t appeal to my soul anymore. May be am being stupid in being highly aspirational. Being pragmatic is no doubt crucial but I guess sometimes it’s something above all this.
Would i be at disadvantage(or ignored to a large extent) if i drop after june during the interviews, hypothetically assuming i managed to bell cat’18 (getting above 99 percentile)?

It is possible you will score better in CAT. It is possible that you will get a very high percentile. However, given your academic record, you won’t necessarily make it to the schools you want to which offer the roles you want to pursue. CAT is just one factor. You can give yourself the best chance but the question is, is it worth it? Have you considered EPGP/PGPX at IIMs or ISB? Anecdotal evidence suggests that people with higher work-ex tend to get fewer shortlists in the 2 year PGP programmes at IIMs and other top schools unless the person’s profile is absolutely spectacular. Also, people who need to take a break from a job for CAT are definitely looked at less positively vs. those guys who crack CAT while doing a job. Who do you think the panel will prefer on most occasions?

I can see logic in your argument and yeah my past academic records were the reason I never gathered courage to leave my job altogether.
Thanks Ankit.
Last qs. :P,Though by that logic, is it even worth to give CAT one more time this year with job?
P.S – I will definitely ponder over GMAT, ISB and PGPX etc programmes once i complete 3 years of work ex.

You should take CAT only if you are able to give it a good go with 4 hours of dedicated prep daily. Refer to stories on InsideIIM which help give a schedule for managing CAT Prep along with a full-time job.

Hello Ankit! Your points in the article sums up things pretty well. Kudos to you on that!

I am a Commerce graduate and have been working as a Derivatives intra-day trader ( or “Market Analyst” to sound more niche) since July’17. Just want to know how much of a value does the job of a trader add to the applications for IIMs and ISB. Also, is it worth working for 2-3 years as a trader before applying to the top b-schools.

You have been replying to the questions very diligently. Much appreciated!

@Mukund – Quality of work experience is an important metric. How you present the quality of your experience is what matters whether at ISB in your essay and interview or at IIM in your interview. It doesn’t matter which field you are in. The weight given to work ex in the final score is generally well defined in the selection process. In India, there are very few places where it will be in excess of 35% at best. A good work ex does help in making an impression in the interview. At ISB 2 years work ex is compulsory to apply. Otherwise I don’t see any significant advantage to a Derivatives Trader work ex because you’ll still need to have your CAT score, acads etc. in place.

Adarsh Pal, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

Sir, I really want your suggestion. Currently, I am in my final year of engineering CSE.
My past acads – 9.2 CGPA in 10th, 83.8% in 12th, 6.8 CGPA till 7th sem.
NMAT 2017 score – 212
CAT 2017 – VA 48.01 LRDI – 72.31 QA 97.34
OA 85.37
IIFT 2017 – Not shortlisted
I have a job offer from Infosys but only a meagre package of 3.25 lakhs.
My average mock scores in AIMCATS were near 90%ile. But I ended up doing worse than that. Also appeared for XAT and TISSNET.
TISS score 74/100 according to memory based question and answer key by CL.
I am also appearing for CMAT and CET just for JBIMS.
Should I give CAT again? Also should work or prepare at home since the hectic training at Infosys for 4 months straight will hamper my CAT prep. Also CAT form asks for the work ex upto 31st July of that year. And the internship doesn’t count. So in all, I’ll end up having no extra weightage for workex during my admissions. So, what should I do? I’m really low and confused right now?.

Poulami, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

Hi Team,
I need an advice of whether I should take CAT again next year as I am in a big dilemma right now . Myself Poulami Moitra. I have an engineering background and currently working in IT sector with about 2yrs 4 months experience.
I had appeared for CAT this year but my result is not upto the mark. I will not be getting admission in any of the colleges of my expectations hence have decided not to take admissions this time.
But there is a concern which is putting me in a dilemma whether I should take CAT again next year and start my preparations because next year around this time I will have almost 3years 4 months of experience in IT and I have been told by many that this long experience in IT is going to hamper by chances in getting admission in a good college and even if I get through I will have many disadvantage in getting a good placement anywhere other than IT. Hence I am not sure if I should retake CAT again in 2018. 2017 was my 1st attempt for CAT.
Kindly please advice what I should do.

@Adarsh – We always tell people to never quit their job and find a way to prepare with the job. Its hard but its the right thing to do. You can decide to take time off and prepare only for CAT but be sure to find a job immediately after CAT is done. You will make a less than desired impression in an interview if you are a candidate without a job when you meet a panel.

@Poulami – You should take CAT again one more time. If it doesn’t work out next year you should consider PGPX/EPGP. You should consider ISB too in the next intake.

Poulami, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

Thank you so much Ankit for your advice. I was a little confused because of my work experience as people were telling me 3+yrs in IT is not good for MBA. I have quite a clarity now.

VIVEK N, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

Hi Ankit,
I’m having 3.1 years of IT experience and my CAT 2017 was a disaster 🙁 could you please answer my queries.
1) i am in dilemma whether to take CAT again or i should try GMAT?
2) High IT experience considered as disadvantage during selection and placement?
3) Can i shift to other fields of specialization during my studies with high IT experience?
4) Should look for regular MBA or 1 year MBA as my experience will become 4 years next year?

1) Definitely look at GMAT seriously.
2) IT Engineers are more in supply than others. Obviously there is an impact on demand for your bretheren.
3) A lot of people have successfully done it. It will be a challenge but it is possible.
4) Look at ISB/GLIM or even PGPX/EPGP from IIMs 2 years from.

VIVEK N, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

Thanks Ankit for your valuable information and finally one more question. Is 1 year mba worth? i mean what can we learn in 1 year? 2 year MBA helps to understand concepts in depth right?

Poulami, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

But for PGPX/EPGP don’t we need to have minimum of 5 years of work ex?

Team InsideIIM,

replied 1 month ago

@Poulami – Yes for PGPx and EPGP, you need 60 months of work-ex. For ISB/GLIM your current work-ex is enough.

Team InsideIIM,

replied 1 month ago

@Vivek – You need to look at outcomes. 1 year MBA is for those who have work-ex and hence do not need as much time in the classroom as they have practical real life experience. ISB students also go to Mckinsey and IIM students also go to Mckinsey. Eventually the outcome is the same.

Ritu Mittal, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

@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%

CAT : 65.52%ile

10th : 78% (Maharashtra Board)
12th : 73% (Maharashtra Board) (Commerce)
Bachelors in Accounting and Finance : 70% (Mumbai University)

General Category

Dependent of Ex-serviceman


Achievements :
Google Adwords Certified
Certified in Digital Marketing
Leadership lessons from Harvard Experts
Attended Global Leadership Summit
Certified in Integrated Marketing Communications
Participated in a workshop conducted by alumnus of London Business School
Appreciated by Helpage India for my efforts to raise funds for elderly
Appreciated by Kerala Catholic Association (Charitable Trust) for distributing food to the needy people
Recieved the “Nightingle Award For Singing” for securing 1st place in Interschool Competition
Secured 28th position securing A grade in Thane Talent Search Examination
Secured 1st place in Interschool Debate Competitions
Secured 3rd place in R.R Inter-Dojo Karate Tournament
Participated in Maharashtra State Level UCMAS Competition 2007

Working as a Freelance Musician

Can I expect any profile based calls from a good college?

Team InsideIIM, answered 2 months ago

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

  1. First time CAT takers and are less than 25 years of age
  2. Students with More than 2 years of Work-Ex
  3. Students with more than 3 to 4 years of Experience
  4. 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

Hi @teaminsideiim I scored 70 percentile in cat. I know i wont get admission in a tier1 bschool. The placements in this category is in the range of 5-7 lakhs. But will it ever be a hindrance to future career growth? Like, will I be constrained to specific jobs or posts? @Ankit @teaminsideiim

Depends entirely on the business school you go to. 5 years from now very little will matter but in the near term a good school almost guarantees a good start. Look at good schools that focus less on percentiles. 5-7 Lac jobs shouldn’t be that tough to get from schools like MYRA, IFIM, Athena etc. But is that what you want is the question

VIVEK N, MBA Aspirant

replied 3 weeks ago

Hi ankit,
I am getting onsite opportunity now so it is wise to take onsite opportunity and doing 1 year mba after coming back is good or I should look for 2 year mba next year? As I already have 3 yes IT experience?

I have no context to your situation. If you value the on-site opportunity you should take it up. 2 years or 1 Year depends on options you have after you crack the entrance and after you have got calls and what your salary is then. Too hypothetical at this stage

VIVEK N, MBA Aspirant

replied 3 weeks ago

Actually my aim is to do MBA and I don’t want to miss this opportunity so I want to know whether insite experience will strength my profile during mba selection process??

10/12/UG-90/93/71, cat 2018 OA-82, passed out 2017 no work experience . i got call for CAP, do i have any chance that i can convert the call.

Team InsideIIM, answered 1 month ago

Here’s IFMR students’ attempt to help you in this question :


Been there. Done That.

I got 92% in 10 th , 88 %in 12 th , 69 %in grad , and at presently I got 60 %ile in CAT due to my lack of preparation , I am planning to have a work ex and then give CAT next year with full fledged preparation ,are my grad scored really bad that it wouldn’t lead me to iims even after getting a good percentile next year ?

Your grad score is slightly low but given your acads I would advise you to take CAT again especially since you are a female candidate.

i got 81% in 10,75% in 12th(west bengal board,so hopeful to get my marks normalized) and 8.6(78%) in btech..i got 80% in cat this year.Looking at this year trend,i am really worried of getting a call from old iims..do i have any chance of getting call from IIM L or K assuming i will score decently in CAT 18??

Team InsideIIM,

replied 1 month ago

@Abhijit – Difficult to say. Your acads are not great. You should keep an open mind. In any case first you need to score in excess of 99 percentile to stand a chance.

I will have 2 yrs of work ex next yr….so will that anyway increase my chances of getting a call from at least IIM k next yr if not L?

Team InsideIIM,

replied 1 month ago

It will have very little impact. Check the selection criteria. Unless of course the criteria changes next year.

Ritu Mittal, MBA Aspirant answered 1 month ago

 @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%

@Ritu – You should take CAT again if you think you can prepare better. In any case, 70 percentile is unlikely to give you too many great options.

Ritu Mittal, MBA Aspirant

replied 1 month ago

@Ankit—Is it possible to take 70%ile upto 95%ile? I mean hv u ever known someone who made it?

@ritu – https://insideiim.com/from-62-87ile-to-99-93ile-in-cat-2015-mohit-jains-journey-to-iim-calcutta/ There are also people who have bounced from 45 percentile to 98

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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.  
  3. 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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