Should You Quit Your Job For CAT Preparation? What About A Year Drop?

Find it difficult to manage CAT Prep after a frustrating day at work? But how will a year drop look on your resume? How would you defend it? Is there a way? Of course, there is and we have, Deepak Mehta, an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, answering one of the most sought after questions when it comes to CAT Prep.



Taking risks is fine. Taking unnecessary risks is plain stupid.

CAT as an entrance examination is a shining example of everything that is wrong with the educational system.

  1. Eligibility and admission criteria: The criteria changes every year and is a really bad proxy for a candidates’ worthiness.I remember, that in my year, there was equal weightage to 10th, 12th and Grad scores. In the year next, the criteria was so inflexible (multiplicative. Seriously?) that no one with a less than 80% score would be eligible. Implying, one with (assuming) even a 79% in 10th, 99% in 12th, a perfect 10 GPA and 99.9+ %ile in CAT would be ineligible.
  2. Multiple papers and the normalisation process: This has been the matter of much discussion, hatred and speculation lately. Spread over 40 different papers, the examination is notorious for the varied difficulty level across examination slots. Sure, there is the normalisation process, but no one knows how it exactly works.
  3. Lack of transparency in the system: You have no idea what your actual scores were, what were the changes after the normalisation, what are the normalisation rules etc.
  4. Too much weightage to past credentials: The weightage to past achievements (which no one can help) is still large. What if someone came down with serious medical issues just before his 10th examinations? Why shouldn’t he/she be given a fair chance?
  5. Undue advantage to certain sections of the community vis-à-vis reservation:
    A friend of mine (no reservation) with a 99.8%ile did not get any calls. And I know people with an 80%ile who were selected.
    To put things into perspective, a 99.8%ile translates to a rank of 400 (assuming 2,00,000 applicants) and an 80%ile translates to 40,000.
  6. Judging everyone on the same criteria and not acknowledging differences: It is easy to score good marks in CBSE board in India. Not so much in ICSE or SSC. It is easier to get a good GPA in Engineering. Not in Humanities, Arts, Medical or Law.IIM students are majorly (>97%) from Engineering backgrounds. Despite the clear disparity, no measures have been taken.

All these factors make CAT a risky examination.

What you need to remember is that you should always have a backup plan or two. Do not quit your job. You can prepare while simultaneously working.

A couple of hours of preparation each day and extended hours + classes on weekends for the 1st 6 months should be more than enough for anyone with a Mathematics+English background to clearly understand all the topics that one needs to know for the examination.

That followed by 3 months of giving mock tests, mulling over your weak areas, honing your strong skills. revisiting the concepts and preparing yourself for the final day should ensure that you are as ready as you will ever be to appear for the examination.

After that, you need to prepare, with the same dedication for the GD/WAT and PI rounds.

Remember that there a lot of external factors at play whilst your fate through the Common Admission Test is being decided.

Do not quit your job. Do not be at the mercy of the whim of the people who decide the eligibility criteria for the year or the ones who set the different papers. Have a backup plan.


This answer first appeared on Quora!


About the Author:

Deepak Mehta is 27, highly eccentric. He can be found at most party venues. Deepak loves to read (And occasionally write). Originated in the hills (Nainital) but lost his heart somewhere on a beach in Goa. If found, kindly return to the owner.

A Computer Science graduate from BITS – Goa and an MBA from IIM – Ahmedabad. Currently resides in Mumbai. Also, he is one of the top writers on Quora!




Yes you nailed it! CAT sucks! I know people with 99%tile and above average acads not even getting calls from new IIMs LUL! I advise everyone to stay from this trap of IIMs and CAT – its a waste of time 🙂

Akshat Maheshwari

You sound like someone who scored really badly in it and is just spreading the hate.

Sudheer Kumar

hey! i was recently laid off from a startup. i have 1.5 years work experience. would it still have an adverse effect if i don’t give priority to job search but instead prep for cat?

Akash Choudhury

It won’t affect you if you definitely want to do your MBA contingent on a few things.
CAT is not that tough an exam hence you cannot explain a year’s worth of time solely spent on CAT preparation. This will only work if you build your profile in the direction in which you want to do your MBA . Finance ? Get a CFA lvl1. Marketing ? Get some digital marketing or branding courses. Ops ? Get a six sigma certification.

Start a blog. Record your experiences. Because that is how you will stand out. More importantly that is how you will grow and MBA is all about growing yourself.


first of all i dont have a job to begin with..i completed and have no job…my 10th and 12th marks are in 70s and i only have 60% in bcom.and i am seriously preparing for there any reason for me to even dream about joining in IIM if i am aiming to score more than 99 percentile?