Which Tests To Take – Which Schools To Apply To – A Guide

It is the time of the year when the B School Entrance notifications (CAT, XAT, etc.) and majority of B School notifications are given out in leading newspapers.

By the time you read this all the major exam notifications would have been released. The important dates to remembers are the following

22nd November 2015           : IIFT  (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade)

20th November 2015            : CAT (Common Admission Test)

23rd December 2015 : SNAP (Symbiosis National Aptitude Test)

3rd January 2016       : XAT   (Xavier’s Admission Test)

6th Oct to 19th Dec     : NMAT (NMIMS Management Aptitude Test)

Others such as TISSNET and MICAT also have given their dates and all these can be found on the Exam Notification/B School Notification page of www.vistamind.com.

MBA is probably the last stop in formal education for majority of the students. Hence, investing TWO years for an MBA education, in the right B School, becomes imperative for a successful career.

There are more than 4000 B Schools in India giving out various versions of an MBA. Call it an MBA, MMS, PGDM, PGPM, PGDBM, PGPX, EPGP or a host of other such Two year and One year MBA programs. Choosing from these myriad BSchools offering a variant of an MBA while ensuring that the two years/one year of Bschool education gives the right benefits for a growth oriented career becomes even more daunting.

Almost every B School claims 100% placement, world-class education, industry exposure and unique curriculum!  How would one choose the right school then?

If you get into the top ranked schools, the decision would be far simpler. However, when it comes to institutes that are not ranked AND or not in the top 20, the selection is much more complicated and requires thorough analysis of various factors that go into making of a top class institute.

In this article, we look at the various parameters one has to look into before taking a decision to apply and subsequently join the B School for your MBA!



The single most important parameter considered by the student in selecting a B School is the Placements at that institute. Placement information, in terms of average package, no of companies that visited the campus, no of offers made per student, the highest package offered, etc. form the core metrics which helps a student to take a decision favouring one Institute vis-à-vis another Institute.

We believe that apart from the above metrics, the MEDIAN Salary (the package offered to the student who has the 50th percentile in the class) would be a far more reliable metric to judge a B School. If an Institute has 200 students, then if all the salaries received by the students are ranked from highest to the lowest, then the package (Salary) of the 100th ranked student is the Median Salary.

Median salary gives a better understanding of what you (as a student) can expect if you are in the top 50%ile of the class.

While the highest salary offered in the campus will give you the best possible opportunity that a student can get at that institute, the worst case scenario can be ascertained if one can get hold of the lowest salary on offer in that campus!

It is imperative to remember that the actual placement (including the company and the salary) you may get at that institute is a function of your past academic records and achievements as well as the performance (curricular, co-curricular and extra curricular) at the Bschool in the two years of your study.


Quality of Students

This is another parameter that a student has to keep in mind before taking a decision. The better the quality of students at the institute, the better are the chances that you would learn from them and compete.

A simple yardstick for ‘Quality of Students’ in any institute is the percentile cutoff that the institute considers for calling students to the Interview stage. IIMA and IIMC have cutoffs close to 99.7 percentile for General Category students. It can be safely assumed that the quality of the students at these institutes would be of the top order.

Do not join an institute that has NO such cutoffs.


Return on Investment (ROI)

The whole idea of doing an MBA is to better your ROI in terms placement package received to the fees paid, as well as the opportunity cost of the two years of doing your MBA.

While the top 30 to 40 B Schools would have a very good ROI over an extended period of time, choosing an institute between two seemingly similar level institutes can get resolved if one calculates the expected ROI!

Institutes such as FMS in Delhi and JBIMS in Mumbai have excellent ROI and can be preferred over a host of IIMs (barring IIMA, IIMB, IIMC) and other B Schools!


Quality of Faculty/Faculty-Student ratio

This is an important parameter. However, it is important to evaluate faculty members in terms of their corporate and industry exposure rather than the number of PhDs they may have. Even otherwise, it is difficult to gauge the quality of faculty by just seeing their academic achievements. Having said that, the higher the Faculty Student ratio, the better the institute normally is!


Location of the Institute

Barring IIMs and XLRI, the location of the institute does matter. Corporates prefer to go to Pune than Bhubaneswar even though XIM Bhubaneswar may be as good or better than SIBM or SCMHRD (in Pune).

If you are choosing an institute that is outside the top 30 bracket, then it may be wise to choose the ones in Mumbai, Bangalore or Delhi/NCR over the ones in other cities.



While the basic infrastructure should include a decent campus, fully equipped (audio and video) classrooms, high speed internet connection, library and computer resources, there is no need for larges acres of land for a Business School. Unlike an engineering or medical college, there is almost no requirement of any labs (save a computer lab) for a Business School. If the B School subscribes to the latest journals from across the world and has access to the best databases for getting economic and business data, it would be more than sufficient for the two years of study for a enthusiastic and sincere student.


RANKING of B Schools

A detailed ranking of all the top B Schools in the country would be released on the website (www.vistamind.com) by the end of September. The same would also be made available on InsideIIM

VistaMind team has undertaken extensive research on B Schools and has been gathering data from direct and indirect sources to validate the information obtained and crosscheck so as to give the most reliable and unbiased B School ranking among all rankings!


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ARKS Srinivas

ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.