why should you not waste your time on the cat exam
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Why should you not waste your time on the CAT exam?

Dec 11, 2023 1.5K Reads

As we pursue our goals, we are confronted with many options that will determine the course of our professional lives. The desire to be successful and pursue an MBA from prominent institutions like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) propels us ahead. It compels us to push ourselves to our physical and mental limitations. But in the middle of all of this competition, a significant issue arises: Is concentrating on the CAT exam the only way to be successful? Not only does achieving success require us to be dedicated and put in a lot of effort, but it also requires us to figure out what we truly desire. It is not only about passing one exam or going to one location; rather, it is about choosing decisions congruent with our aspirations and objectives. The trip consists of locating our way as well as crafting a future that is congruent with who we are as individuals.

In India, the Common Admission Test (CAT) is regarded as the most important examination for students who wish to enrol in the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) or other top-tier institutions of higher education in business. But despite the esteem in which it is held, there are persuasive arguments that should cause you to rethink devoting your time, resources, and hopes to pursue this examination.

What is CAT exactly?

CAT, which stands for "Common Admission Test," is an entrance test given in India and is very tough. It is an important test for getting into advanced management programs, mostly at the well-known Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other business schools nationwide. The test checks how well candidates can do with numbers, words, and understanding facts. The CAT is known for being hard, and getting a high score is often a big part of getting into well-known management schools in India.

Is preparing for CAT worth it?

There are good and bad things about preparing for the Common Admission Test (CAT). You can get into top business schools like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) if you do well on the CAT. It can help your work and give you a lot of chances to learn and get jobs. It can be very upsetting, though, to only think about the CAT. It's very tough and requires a lot of learning. If you only think about the CAT, you might miss out on other good courses or jobs that might be a better fit for you. You might find something that fits you better if you look into other courses and job routes besides CAT. CAT prep is helpful, but you should also think about other choices if you want to find a fulfilling job path that fits you.

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Going to college or university is, without a doubt, a big decision that will have a big effect on your job. Putting all your hopes and dreams into passing the CAT exam could give you a narrow view of your career options. Even though the IIMs offer great education and networking opportunities, going there might only help some reach their career goals or suit their chosen learning style.

Some Key Highlights

  • Competition on the CAT: Only the top 1% of CAT exam-takers enter top colleges. This shows how tough the CAT exam makes it hard to get into first-rate schools.
  • CAT Percentiles and Job Prospects: Getting into college if you score between the 80th and 85th percentile on the CAT might not guarantee you a job that's usually only open to MBA grads. In this case, people might get jobs that don't require an MBA.
  • Exam Choice and Career Paths: The GMAT might be a better choice than the CAT for people who are good at speaking but could be better at math. Because they test different things, GMAT scores might be better for some job choices than CAT scores.
  • Engineering Background and Exam Challenges: Applicants who aren't engineers might need help with the CAT's math and LRDI parts, which could hurt their results. On the other hand, a 90 percentile score on the GMAT was enough to get into prestigious colleges like ISB, while a 99 percentile score on the CAT was needed to get into top colleges like IIMs.
  • Investing in Exam Fees: Even though the GMAT exam is cheaper than the expensive MBA programs, investing in the GMAT could greatly improve your chances of getting into a better school, making it a cost-effective option for people who want to get a good education and work in management.

People who want to take the CAT are usually under a lot of stress during the long and hard training time. The worry and nervousness that come from the high-stakes nature of the test, the intense competition, and the long hours of studying you have to put in can sometimes even lead to burnout. There may be more mental stress than benefits from studying so much for the CAT if your job, hobbies or tastes are more varied than what an education focused on the test would teach you. This is especially true when the preparation for the CAT may help.

What are the chances of IIMs?

Different IIMs will likely call you for interviews based on your resume. The most important thing is the CAT score. If your percentile is above 99 for the General group and between 97 and 98 for OBC, you have a much better chance of getting calls from top IIMs and schools. For OBC applicants, new IIMs aim for a ceiling of around 90%. On the other hand, the lack of diversity can be bad for male developers. For example, an IIT student with high grades might miss IIM calls because their background isn't diverse enough. However, an engineer who isn't from IIT or a non-engineer with slightly lower percentiles might still get a call because their background is diverse. Your resume can also be improved by work experience, certifications, and notable school successes, such as in sports. Some of the best business schools, like FMS, MDI, and new IIMs, care about more than academic grades. A 99+ percentile (GEN) and a 97–98 percentile (OBC) for top old IIMs will give you the most chances.

One of the most important reasons to rethink the CAT test is the desire to explore a wider range of universities and institutions. Additionally, there are many other business schools and educational institutions that offer excellent management programs, each with its own unique set of benefits and opportunities. Furthermore, these top universities and institutions are now offering these management programs “ONLINE”, which makes it simpler for students, as these online MBA or Management programs usually don’t require a good CAT score. Some people might not have time to look into other options if they spend all their time studying for the CAT. This could make it harder to find a degree program that fits better with their long-term career goals.

What are your other options?

While IIMs are the best, there are many other business schools and universities that teach management that have their unique places in the field. Other choices include SPJMR, MDI, FMS, IITs with MBA programs, and DBE and DSE under Delhi University. All of these are trustworthy institutions. It's good to expand your views and think about different options. Practice tests can help you guess what your real score will be and help you apply to schools correctly. Apply to a few schools where the minimum score is higher than you think you'll get, so you have a safety net in case you do well. Another important choice is to look into Online MBA programs and certifications from well-known business schools and universities. By focusing on these different educational paths, you could greatly increase your management career possibilities and make your skills better.

One of the best things about online classes is their flexibility, so people can learn while juggling work obligations. Access to courses from well-known universities worldwide and the freedom to learn at your own pace are also big pluses for a well-rounded education. Many online programs offer a variety of skills and networking opportunities to help people with a wide range of job goals.

By putting a lot of effort into exploring these other ways to get educated, especially Online MBA programs and certifications from well-known schools, people who want to become managers can greatly improve their chances of getting a job and get ready for the fast-paced needs of the business world.

Is CAT worth your another year?

How well you do on the CAT depends on how well you can show proficiency in many academic areas, especially in math and analysis. However, it is only sometimes a good sign of a candidate's full set of skills or the personal traits necessary for success in the workplace. Focusing too much on doing well on the CAT test could make someone ignore developing soft skills, getting real-world experience, and exploring other hobbies, which are important in the working world. But the real question is, Is it worth putting another year into CAT preparation? 

Your devotion and the amount of time you dedicate to studying will determine whether or not you should take the CAT a second time. Taking the time to prepare for the CAT exam will benefit you if you are willing to give it your full attention. On the other hand, if you have a habit of putting off your academic work or postponing it, devoting an additional year to it might not be the most prudent decision.

Suppose you're interested in exploring other possibilities. It could be a good idea to look into alternate routes, consider getting an education online, or investigate getting an Online MBA. There is a possibility that delaying the decision to pursue an MBA in a foreign country for the time being. An educational path that is flexible, easy, and diversified may be pursued through online learning, notably with an online MBA. These programs allow you to continue your current professional responsibilities while enhancing your abilities and credentials, putting you in a strong position to succeed in today's highly competitive professional environment.

When one considers doing anything other than taking the CAT exam, they open themselves up to a new universe of potential prospects. Students have access to high-quality education at a broad selection of business schools and management programs, where they may take engaging classes, participate in experiential learning opportunities, and build professional networks. As a result of the increased focus placed on these alternative pathways, aspirants now have the option to improve the breadth of their skill sets, do research into more specific areas of interest, and develop more comprehensive profiles.

In conclusion, the choice to spend time studying for the CAT examination must be thoughtful and well-informed. The draw of the IIMs and their notoriety cannot be denied; nonetheless, the pursuit of a profession that is both meaningful and successful involves a variety of different factors. It is essential for a well-rounded professional journey to have a clear understanding of one's career goals, to investigate a variety of educational alternatives, and to strike a balance between academic pursuits and the development of holistic skill sets.

The CAT exam may have relevance for many people, but for others, pursuing a more diverse array of educational and professional opportunities may offer a journey that is more enlightening and satisfying.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

People often take Common Admission Test (CAT) to get into advanced management programs in India. These programs are mostly at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other well-known business schools. To get into these prestigious schools, you must have a high CAT score.

The candidate's raw score in each part is used to figure out their CAT percentile, which is then normalised to get the end percentile. It looks at how well the candidate did compared to those who took the test.

The CAT test has three parts: VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension), DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning), and QA (Quantitative Ability).

To prepare for the CAT, you need a structured study plan, a deep understanding of basic ideas, regular practice through mock tests, and the ability to solve questions from earlier years. You can also prepare by signing up for coaching programs or online classes.

The person applying must have a Bachelor's degree with at least 50% marks or a CGPA that is the same as that. Students in their last year of college can also apply.

No, the CAT test is only given once a year, in November most of the time. In a given test year, candidates can only take the CAT once.

CAT grades are a very important part of the first selection round for management schools. They are often used with other tests for acceptance, such as the Group Discussion (GD), the Written Ability Test (WAT), and the Personal Interview (PI).

Along with IIMs, many other good business schools and colleges also accept CAT results. You could also pass other management entrance tests or look into other ways to get educated, such as specific certifications or programs abroad.

Quantitative Ability is often seen as the hardest part of the CAT because it requires you to solve complicated problems quickly and have a lot of practice and understand the concepts well.

Taking a drop for CAT can be a personal choice that depends on the person. Even though it gives you more time to prepare, it's still important to think about your skills and goals for a successful try.

Not preparing for the CAT could hurt your chances of getting into top B-schools, which could hurt your chances of getting into a prestigious management program and future job possibilities.

The CAT is still a useful test for many people who want to go to business school. But how useful it is can depend on a person's job goals, skills, and the type of management schooling they want to get.

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