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Home CAT (Common Admission Test) Failed In CAT Attempt 2023? - What to Do, Alternatives 2024

Failed In CAT Attempt 2023? - What to Do, Alternatives 2024

Dec 11, 2023 2K Reads

Common Admission Test, popularly known as CAT is one of the toughest entrance examinations in India for Post Graduate Management degree programs. CAT is conducted by the prestigious Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and is a gateway to the best and top 1% B-schools in India, which is why it is the most competitive examination. CAT is an exam where you need to not just score good but you must score better than the others to gain a good percentile. At least 95 percentile is expected from students for admission to the top IIMs. 

How to take admission in IIM without a CAT Score? Is it possible? CAT Exam Fail

However, gaining this 95 percentile in a CAT exam is not at all a piece of cake! It takes not just rigorous studying but also exhaustive practice. The exam is not just about knowledge but about how to use that knowledge effectively and efficiently in the least amount of time. So, it is a lot more about time management, which is what makes it a difficult exam to crack within the given time limit. 

Every year, more than 2 lakh students in India appear for the CAT examination and only a handful of them get admitted to the top IIMs and other top institutions like FMS, SP Jain, MDI, IIFT, etc. Even if you wish to get admitted to the smaller IIMs, you need at the very least 85 percentile, below which you will have to resort to tier 2 and tier 3 institutions. More than 50% of the students appearing for CAT do not actually get admitted to a B-School because of their low percentile. 

Well, there is nothing to worry and lose hope because CAT is not the only road to your MBA degree. Since CAT is the most prestigious of all the management entrance exams, many mistake it to be the one and only way to get into a good B-School. There are still other good options as well because after all, it is your end goal that matters, which is- an MBA degree from a good college for a successful career ahead. This blog will explore all the alternatives that are there if you have failed to score a good percentile on your CAT exam. 

What to do if I didn’t score well on my CAT? 

CAT is quite a competitive examination and also one of the toughest ones in India. So, if you have not been able to score well on your CAT exam, it is not the end of the world. If you have worked hard preparing for your CAT examination but have failed to achieve the desired results, then it is now time for you to work smart and explore the alternative of CAT examination and get on with your Management Education journey. 

  1. Other Management Entrance Tests (OMETs) 

CAT is just one of the many entrance examinations in India for admission to MBA programs in top B-schools across the nation. There are other tests as well that help you get into prestigious management institutes in India as well as abroad. One of the best options after CAT is the GMAT exam. 

The GMAT exam is typically conducted for getting admission to MBA abroad, however, not many people know that various top B-schools in India like IIM A, B, C, SP Jain, XIMB, BITS Pilani, etc. also accept GMAT scores. This is a great advantage because a GMAT exam is much easier in comparison to a CAT exam and you get a total of 5 attempts within a single year. Another benefit is that the GMAT scores remain valid for 5 years so that you can take admission whenever and however it pleases you. 

Apart from GMAT, there are other exams conducted by a few universities whose scores are considered by many other universities across the country. Given below are these top examinations to get you into top Indian B-Schools: 

  • XAT- Xaviers Admission Test  
  • MAT- Management Aptitude Test  
  • CMAT- Common Management Admission Test 
  • SNAP- Symbiosis National Aptitude Test 
  • NMAT- Narsee Monjee Management Aptitude Test  
  • IIFT- Indian Institute of Foreign Trade Entrance Exam   
  • MAH CET- Maharashtra Common Entrance Test 
  • TISSNET- Tata Institute of Social Sciences National Entrance Test 

All the above mentioned exams are comparatively easier than CAT and scoring well on these will help you get admitted to prestigious institutes like SP Jain Mumbai, Symbiosis Institute of Business Management Pune (SIBM, Pune), Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS Mumbai), Xavier School of Management (XLRI Jamshedpur), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT Delhi), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS Mumbai), IMT Ghaziabad, etc.      

  • Appear Next Year Again & Stronger 

If you have failed to secure a good percentile on your CAT exam this year but you believe that with a little more practice you can ace the exam, then you can take up another year, prepare well, practise harder, and come back stronger. However, taking a gap year is a big commitment and so you must be sure and determined to score well this time. 

Things that you need to keep in mind are that you must not repeat the mistakes from your earlier attempt. With one attempt, you will get a good idea of what the exam looks like, the environment of the exam hall, the pressure that you’ll face during the exam, the importance of time management, etc. With this experience, this time it will be easier for you to prepare because now you have the first-hand experience of the exam. 

This time you will have to prepare with new strategies. Give as many mock tests as you can and with different strategies to see what works out the best for you. How will you know the strategy that is the best for you? For this, something which is way more important than giving mocks is the mock analysis. It is very crucial to deeply analyse each and every mock test. The mock analysis will guide you about your strengths and weaknesses so that you can move forward with your prep accordingly. The best tip for you to perform better would be to give as many mock exams as possible followed by detailed mock analysis for each of them. 

Another important aspect is to keep up with the current trends of the CAT exam. Each year, the exam is conducted by a different IIM and each IIM has its own pattern for each section. So, you can prepare according to your own sectional strengths and weaknesses. For this, you will have to analyse previous question papers of the particular IIM to determine their pattern and the topics from which they ask the most questions.    

  • Get Work-Ex & Appear Again 

Another very good alternative is that you can start working based on your undergrad background and profile. Work experience in any industry is beneficial for the CAT aspirants as you will have a chance at getting admission to top IIMs with lesser percentile than what is expected of freshers. 

Gaining work experience before appearing for the CAT exam helps you become a better prospect for admission as the top institutes prioritise working executives over freshers. Your work experience will result in a better profile and resume for you and will earn you more points on your application to the IIMs. 

If you have less than 3 years of work experience, then you will have to go for a complete 2-year MBA degree program. However, if you have at least 5 years of work experience, then you are eligible for a 1-year Executive MBA program which is meant to shape experienced professionals into corporate leaders. Both ways, an MBA will act as a catalyst taking forward your career with exponential growth. 

  • Pursue your End Goal Directly 

Before looking out for prospects other than CAT, it is important to first contemplate on what your end goal is. Why are you pursuing an MBA program? What are you going to get out of the 2 years of an MBA program? What is it that an MBA is going to give you to help with your career goals? 

If CAT is not a major beneficiary to your end goal, then it is not compulsory to pursue it. If you can achieve your end goal by solely first-hand experiences, then investing 2 years of time, money, and efforts into pursuing an MBA is not quite judicious. There are so many people who are mistaken that an MBA is a necessity for every management related job. What most of these people do not realise is that you do not need an MBA degree for most careers. In some cases, first-hand experience is more beneficial than the degree obtained within a classroom.   

So, if you already have some experience in your career and you only need knowledge about a few topics relevant to your career, then rather than pursuing a complete 2-year MBA program, it is wise to pursue short-term vocational courses teaching the specific skill you need to learn or enhance. You can very easily pursue these courses online without hampering your current professional commitments. 

  • Online MBA    

If you haven’t scored well on CAT or any other management entrance exam, you can still pursue MBA from tier-1 B-Schools in India. You can do so in the online mode. Many prestigious management institutions in India now provide the online MBA program in an attempt to provide quality higher education beyond geographical barriers. 

Online MBA has been a phenomenal step in the world of education because it has opened doors for all to pursue this prestigious course which was otherwise reserved for the ones who could afford its sky-high fee structure. Affordability is not the only plus point here. The flexibility of this online mode of MBA has made it possible for so many categories of people like working professionals who can not quit their jobs, married women, professionals wanting to switch fields without a gap in their professional career, and many others who can not attend regular college due to several personal reasons. 

Above all, online MBA is that chance for all those MBA aspirants who couldn’t score well on their CAT exam but also do not want to invest another year preparing for it and do not wish to pursue a job as well. So, if you are determined to pursue MBA despite failing to score well on CAT, then online MBA is your way to go. 

There are several myths surrounding an online MBA program like if it is valid at all or if it is even worth giving a shot. If you also have such similar thoughts in your mind then you will not regret reading the following myth busters. 

Is an online MBA valid & accepted? 

With the advent of online learning platforms in India, the online MBA degree has gained quite a prominence. However, the question that often arises is whether an online MBA holds the same validity and acceptance as its traditional counterpart. Well, this is a very valid question and it is very crucial to consider several factors that contribute to the credibility and recognition of an online MBA program. Here are key points to bear in mind when evaluating the validity and acceptance of an online MBA: 

  1. Accreditation: Ensure that the online MBA program is offered by an accredited institution. Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain educational standards. Look for programs accredited by recognized bodies like UGC, DEB, NAAC, etc. 
  2. Reputation of the Institution: The reputation of the institution offering the online MBA is important. Established and reputable universities tend to have more recognition in the job market.
  3. Curriculum: A well-designed online MBA program should cover core business principles and offer specialised courses in areas like finance, marketing, operations, etc. The curriculum should be comparable to that of traditional, on-campus MBA programs.
  4. Faculty Credentials: Ensure that the faculty members are qualified and experienced in their respective fields. You can do so by cross checking if the faculty is the same as for their traditional on-campus courses. 
  5. Interactive Learning: Effective online MBA programs should include interactive elements like live webinars, discussion forums, group projects, and case studies to foster a dynamic learning experience.
  6. Networking Opportunities: Look for programs that offer opportunities for networking with fellow students, alumni, and industry professionals. Some online programs facilitate networking through virtual events, forums, and alumni networks.
  7. Career Services: Many reputable online MBA programs offer career services such as resume reviews, interview preparation, and access to job listings.
  8. Flexibility: One of the main advantages of an online MBA is its flexibility, which allows working professionals to balance their studies with their job and other responsibilities.
  9. Employer Recognition: Research whether potential employers in your desired industry or location recognize and accept degrees from the institution offering the online MBA.
  10. Licensure and Certification: If you are pursuing an MBA for a specific profession (e.g., healthcare management), ensure that the program aligns with any necessary licensure or certification requirements.

Ultimately, the value of an online MBA will be determined by the quality of the program and the institution offering it. Many reputable universities now offer accredited online MBA programs, making it a valid option for those seeking to advance their education and career in the business world.

Is an online MBA worth it? 

Online education has revolutionised the way individuals pursue higher degrees. Among the programs that have gained substantial popularity in the virtual realm is the Master of Business Administration (MBA). However, the question that looms large is whether an online MBA is truly worth the investment of time, effort, and resources.

First and foremost, the worth of an online MBA hinges on the accreditation and reputation of the institution offering the program. A degree from a reputable, accredited university holds weight in the job market and can significantly enhance one's career prospects.

The curriculum of a well-designed online MBA program mirrors that of its traditional counterpart. It covers a comprehensive range of subjects, including finance, marketing, operations, and leadership, equipping graduates with a solid foundation in business principles. Additionally, many online MBA programs incorporate interactive elements like live webinars, virtual group projects, and case studies, fostering a dynamic learning experience.

Networking opportunities are another critical factor to consider. If you think networking is not possible with an online MBA, then you might need to rethink. While online, students have access to forums, discussion groups, and virtual events that facilitate interaction with peers, alumni, and industry professionals. This networking can lead to valuable connections and potential career opportunities.

One disadvantage with online MBA is that there are no placement drives, however, there are placement assistance services to compensate. Services such as resume building, interview preparation, and access to job listings can be invaluable in helping graduates transition into new roles or advance within their current organisations.


You might be looking at it as a major drawback but if you consider the price you are paying for it, it might all seem worthy. Traditional on-campus programs often come with hefty tuition costs ranging between INR 20-25 lakhs, not to mention additional expenses for accommodation and commuting. In contrast, online programs tend to be more cost-effective, making them a financially prudent choice for many.

Considering the Return on Investment (ROI), online MBAs often demonstrate favourable outcomes. Since you do not have to quit your job to study MBA online, you continue earning throughout the 2 years of the program, and experience salary increases and enhanced job opportunities once you have completed the program, which help to offset the initial investment in education.

However, it's important to acknowledge that an online MBA may not be the ideal choice for everyone. Some professions may require hands-on experience or specialised training that is better suited to traditional, in-person education. Additionally, the lack of physical presence on campus may limit certain networking opportunities that can be crucial in certain industries.

In conclusion, the worth of an online MBA ultimately hinges on various factors. When pursued from a reputable, accredited institution, it can be a valuable asset in your career journey. The flexibility, comprehensive curriculum, and networking opportunities offered by online programs make them a viable option for many working professionals seeking to advance in the world of business. However, you should carefully consider your specific career goals and circumstances before embarking on this educational endeavour.

Which is the best college for online MBA? 

Given below is a list of top approved universities offering online MBA program: 

  • IIM Raipur 
  • Amity University Online
  • Manipal University Online 
  • Amrita University Online 
  • Lovely Professional University (LPU Online)
  • Jain University Online 
  • DY Patil University Online 
  • SASTRA University Online 
  • UPES Online 
  • Uttaranchal University Online 
  • Graphic Era University Online 
  • BIMTECH Online 
  • Chandigarh University Online
  • GLA University Online
  • Vignan University Online 
  • MMU Online 
  • DMIMS University Online 
  • Shoolini University Online
  • Chitkara University Online 
  • Manav Rachna University Online 
  • SRM University Online
  • Dr. MGR University Online
  • Symbiosis (SCDL)
  • Parul University Online 
  • Andhra University Online 
  • KL University Online 
  • Bharathidasan University Online 
  • Kurukshetra University Online 

All of the universities mentioned above are great universities for online MBA with different USPs. Now, what is important here is which of these is the best for you particularly. To know this, you need to compare them all and see which university tops the parameters that you prioritise. It is surely a tiring task to individually compare them all. 

You can save all the trouble because College Vidya does the work for you. It first creates a customised list of universities based on your needs by asking you a few questions and then lets you compare universities from that customised list within 2 minutes with just a few clicks. 

It is easy, convenient, time-efficient, and absolutely free. You can also connect with career counsellors and academic mentors to know more about a course or university or for career guidance. In short, College Vidya is your one-stop solution to any problem regarding an online MBA course or any other online course.

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In conclusion, failing to score well on your CAT exam is not the end of the world. As discussed, you have several other alternatives like other management entrance exams like GMAT, XAT, SNAP, IIFT, NMAT, etc, or appearing again next year with better preparation and a stronger mindset, gaining work experience and then pursuing MBA later on, or pursuing an online MBA. You need not worry about the validity of online MBA as it is now widely accepted by employers around the world. The career scope is the same for offline and online MBA, it majorly depends on how well you perform during the course irrespective of the mode (online or offline). 

Online MBA has its own advantages too when pursued from the right university. Visit College Vidya and find the university that fits you well. Choose the best only after comparing all your prospects. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

If you didn't score well on your CAT exam, there are several viable alternatives to consider. You can explore other management entrance tests (OMETs), opt to appear for the CAT again, gain work experience and reattempt, or pursue an online MBA.

There are several other management entrance tests that can open doors to prestigious institutes. Some notable options include GMAT, XAT, MAT, CMAT, SNAP, NMAT, IIFT, MAH CET, and TISSNET, among others.

Gaining work experience before attempting the CAT exam can significantly improve your chances of admission. Many top institutes prioritise candidates with work experience, as it adds value to your profile and enhances your application.

Yes, pursuing an online MBA from a reputable and accredited institution is a valid and accepted way to further your education. It offers flexibility, affordability, and opportunities for networking and career advancement.

Online MBA programs tend to be more cost-effective compared to traditional on-campus programs. This is because they often have lower tuition fees, and you can save on expenses like accommodation and commuting.

When assessing the validity of an online MBA, consider factors such as accreditation, the reputation of the institution, curriculum, faculty credentials, interactive learning opportunities, networking opportunities, career services, flexibility, employer recognition, and alignment with licensure or certification requirements.

To find the best online MBA program for your career goals, you can use tools like College Vidya, which helps you compare universities based on your specific needs and preferences. It's important to prioritise parameters that matter most to you, such as accreditation, course content, and flexibility.

Online MBA flexibility allows working professionals to balance their studies with their job and other responsibilities. This means you can continue working while pursuing your MBA, ensuring minimal disruption to your career.

To excel in your second attempt at the CAT exam, analyse your previous attempt thoroughly, identify strengths and weaknesses, develop new strategies, and give multiple mock tests. Familiarise yourself with the exam environment, and stay updated with current CAT trends.

No, an MBA degree is not a necessity for every management-related job. In some cases, first-hand experience can be more beneficial than a degree. If specific skills or knowledge are needed, pursuing short-term vocational courses or online learning can be a more judicious choice.

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