MBA Exams: Is the economy giving a thumb-down to MBA market?
It’s a reality check. After witnessing exponential growth of MBA market where seat availability increased by more than four-fold in the last decade, the B-Schools which are already struggling to fill their capacity may now face further demand shortage with registration for major MBA entrance exams including CAT, XAT and NMAT dipping this year.
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While interest seems to be waning for the placement-starved B-Schools for now as quality become core concern for cautious recruiters, B-Schools believe that ‘bad economy’ coupled with volatile job market is playing dampener.
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The official data of most of the prestigious MBA entrance exams for academic year 2014-15 shows a decline in registration numbers. Sample this:
The registration number for CAT 2013, the Common Admission Test for IIMs and many other top B-Schools in India, witnessed a decline of about 9 percent with only 1.94 lakh candidates registering as compared to 2.14 lakh last year.
After it dipped to a record low this year, the number of test-takers has further fallen with only 1.74 lakh candidates appearing for the test. According to CAT 2013 Testing partner Prometric that conducted CAT 2013 on behalf of all the 13 IIMs, the actual number of candidates appearing for CAT 2013 is only 173,738.
Registration for Academic year 2013
Registration for Academic year 2014
XAT 2014 registration number has also declined by about 3000. XAT 2014 scores will be the basis for shortlisting candidates for admissions to XLRI and 116 other B-Schools which have agreed to accept the same as first stage of their admission process.
Another important exam - NMAT, which is conducted for admission to about 600 management seats across different management programmes at NMIMS School of Business also witnessed over 5000 lesser registrations as compared to its last year’s 69,000. Dr Rajan Saxena, Vice Chancellor, NMIMS confirmed the numbers.
Across the board phenomenon
The official data is unavailable for exams like SNAP, TISS-NET, IIFT entrance and other entrance exams. However, experts believe that the trend is across management institutes in the country. But they feel that the decline in number may only affect the B-Schools beyond the top 25-30 where output quality is key concern.
Is the demand for MBA also growing at the same pace? As the economy has slowed down since 2008, that’s clearly not the case.
The CAT-like scenario, where actual number of test-takers dipped further by 10 percent is enough to haunt the B-Schools, which are already facing application crunch. A significant fall of 20,000 candidates is an indication of last-minute change in the mindset to pursue an MBA degree.
Why did the number fall?
B-School Directors believe that the bad economy where expected Return on Investment (ROI) is not guaranteed even after a heavy investment on an MBA from top B-Schools is at the core of this crisis.
Reflecting on the low numbers, Dr Rajan Saxena, Vice Chancellor, NMIMS says, “The number this year has fallen mainly because our economy is not doing good and there is uncertainty in the job market.” He adds,“The working executives who are already holding a good job don’t want to take a risk as they are not sure to get a similar job even after making big investments for their MBA degrees.’
Dr Pritam Singh, Director General, IMI, agrees. “All types of professional education suffer when the economic scenario suffer through uncertainty,” he said.“Good B-Schools today charge about Rs. 10 lakh for their MBA degree. In this scenario, candidates look at what kind of return they are getting on the investment. Given the slow placement this year even at top B-Schools, students are very cautious on whether they should go for an MBA,” Dr Singh added.
R Nandagopal Director, PSG Institute of Management, however, believes that only economy can’t be blamed for the declining numbers. “Today there is very little confidence in students that they will get a job after their MBA degree. Though a large volume of aspirants is entering into MBA programme every year, there is a certain lack of soft skills amongst students at graduation level which hampers their chances in the industry especially when the market sentiment is not very good and employers are picking from amongst the best.”
Will Top B-Schools remain unaffected?
Top B-Schools, however, look into the crisis with ‘half-filled’ and not the ‘half-empty’ approach. The top B-Schools remain confident that this will not affect them as the reduced number of test-takers only show elimination of non-serious candidates and their number based on interest of quality aspirants will remain intact.
“I wouldn’t be too worried because among students who write the CAT, the seriously good core has remained the same. That hasn’t changed,” says Professor DevanathTirupati, Director In-charge and Dean (Academic) at IIM-Bangalore.
IIM Rohtak Director Professor P Rameshan terms the low numbers as a ‘temporary phenomenon’. “Given the difficult economy and job market where getting a better job is tougher than ever before, aspirants currently in decent jobs might not be willing to leave the job and join an MBA programme. However, when the economy recovers and moves back to the high growth path, MBA interest will pick up,” he says.
Dr Pritam Singh also says that the lesser number will only worsen worries of B-Schools at bottom. “Our application number is nearly the same as compared to our last year’s number.”
Swallowing ‘their’ pride
The agencies conducting MBA exams are, however, still in a denial mode as apparently they are yet to come to the terms to the ground reality that the number has actually declined.
IIMs shared with Careers360 the actual number of test-takers, which came out to be significantly less than what it had been claiming since the CAT exam, ended this year. Careers360.com repeatedly questioned the validity of Prometric data released on November 12, a day after CAT 2013 window ended. Earlier, in a media release, the agency had shared that “A total of 194,516 candidates completed testing in 76 secure test centres across 40 cities over a 20-day testing window.”As per revised Prometric data, as many as 20,776 registered candidates did not take CAT exam this year.
CAT 2013 Convenor Dr Rohit Kapoor, who earlier expected the CAT voucher sales of 2.5 lakh-plus, says, "The decline in actual number of candidates does not worry us. Instead, this time round, we will have more serious and focused candidates sitting for the exam."
Prof Vishwa Ballabh, Admission Chairperson, XLRI, terms the decline in XAT 2014 registration number as ‘insignificant’. “Only 3 percent lesser candidates have registered this year as compared to 2012 whereas CAT numbers witnessed around 9 percent dip this year,” he said, adding, “We stand almost unaffected with our number very close to the last year’s number.”
Dr R C Natarajan, Director, TAPMI, which accepts CAT as well as XAT scores, says, “The declining number is definitely showing that number is not on a steep rise for now. I am, however, not sure whether it is a short-term phenomenon or a long-term phenomenon.” He adds, "Employment market is currently not good and engineers and other professional do not want to take chance now. But I firmly believe that the ratio of serious candidates will be more.”
Is it a Market Correction?
The B-Schools, however, agree that the lowering numbers this year should work as a wake-up call for all management institutes including those mushrooming B-Schools in India where focus is increasingly on volume and not quality. Experts feel that average quality B-School graduates is not much relevant to the industry.
Raj Dhankar, Dean, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) Delhi, says, “Besides the economic slowdown, the crisis is partly because the fact that B-Schools are not able to produce skills required by market forces.” He added that the dipping average quality makes it difficult for industry to hire quality human resources from B-Schools.
IMT Ghaziabad Director Dr Bibek Banerjee says that the numbers in MBA exam are only an indication towards the market correction. “When there is gap in the demand and supply side, these sort of correction is bound to happen to bring equilibrium,” he said, adding, “I would expect more serious candidates from the reduced number of CAT applicants this year.”
Dr Pritam Singh agreed with the market correction logic, saying, “Last year around 200 B-Schools were closed and again the declining number will force yet another 200 to close next year. The increased volume and low output has shaken the confidence of candidates in MBA education.”
Despite the concern on demand-supply mismatch, there has been a steady increase in the supply of MBA/PGDM seats. According to AICTE, the B-Schools’ intake capacity has seen a steady rise over the past seven years with the number of seats in management education increasing more than four-fold. While the total seats approved by AICTE stood at 94,704 in 2006-07, the number went up to 385,008 for admission year 2012-13.
Dr R Nandagopal, however, feels that the trend will continue for about next five years until the B-School delivering low quality are forced to shut. “The market will force them to do so. And the market will correct it,” he says.
Creating Relevance is the key
Experts feel that the declining number may push B-Schools to introspect and take a re-look into their market relevance. They way forward, according to them, is qualitative growth of MBA education.
“We are producing very traditional graduates. I feel B-Schools should focus on quality and building industry-relevant skill sets among their students. Once the industry is positive and the placements at B-Schools pick up, the interest of candidates in MBA education will revive and CAT numbers will grow again,” says Dr Dhankar. “I also feel that sector specific programmes and emphasis on functional areas can also bring more value to the industry. It will help students to build profile and also bring value to the industry,” Dr Dhankar adds.
Dr Bibek Banerjee feels, “B-Schools should not over-emphasize placements and rather they should invest their energy in developing skill sets and quality of their students to make them industry relevant.”
At the end of the day it appears that entrepreneurial skills need to be developed for creating more jobs and B-Schools should make efforts towards the same to free themselves from the tag of ‘placement agencies’.
Stay tuned to bschool.careers360.com for more news and feature articles on MBA exams.
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Questions related to CAT
sloved question paper of CAT b.des 2020
Here is the link of CAT previous years question papers with solutions (2017,2018,2019) . Hope this will help you to boost your preparation for the exam.
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i belong to telngana gor 321 marks in neet2020 air289957 can i get b cat mbbs female candidate
Reg Help &
confirm seats under MGMT/NRI Quota,
only NEET qualified.
bookings started for confirm seats
all over india.
My branch is Electrical Engineering and in my college i have very less chance of placements . So what jobs should i go for so that it could be counted as work experience if I want to go for CAT exam ?
For MBA , work experience is not compulsory. You can get into MBA colleges without a work experience. It's like good food placed in a good plate. If you have a work experience you will get a good job or with more package . Otherwise it will depend on your academics.
My Neet 2020 score is 566 . I belong to BC cat. in Tamilnadu. What are my chances in Tamilnadu government colleges??
It's quite difficult to predict that whether you will get seat or not as cut off marks for medical colleges keeps changing every year depending upon various factors like number of students that appeared in the exam, kind of marks obtained by them , toughness level of the examination etc.
But when we go through previous data then with 566 marks , you hold a chance to get a seat in a Government Medical College
In Neet 2019, 470 marks for obc category was the cut off marks to get a seat in Government Medical College under Tamilnadu state quota and it was for Government Medical College and Hospital, Pudukottai
With 566 marks also have chances in following govt college under state quota-
*Government Medical College, Omandurar Estate, Chennai
*Government K.A.P.V. Medical College, Trichy
And a few more
Above prediction is on the basis of past year data but cutoff keeps changing every year due to many factors as mentioned earlier, so to have a clear picture of the colleges in which you have to chances and
to get the complete list of colleges in which you have chances, you can go through our college predictor at
It gives you a personalized report with top college in which you have chances for admission , with the help of predicted colleges you can make better choice while filling your choices of colleges during your counselling
what jobs an engineer can do if he does not get campus placement and want to appear in CAT exam so that his work ex will be counted??
Most IIM's usually gives only 5-15 % of weightage to work experience (major weightage is for CAT score and PI) with points for approx. 24-36 months of work after which they don't count it ( which means work experience of more than 2-3 years will not give you any extra edge during selection)
Since you are an Engineering graduate, it is usually advisable to go for a technical job related to your field not just because it is easier to get but but because it is easier to justify in your CV. CAT values versatility but there is a fine line between versatility and randomness. What I mean to say is that if you go for a job which isn't even remotely related to your field of study then you'd probably be asked for reasons as to why you chose to do that. So if you were to go for a sales job after completing a degree in say, Electrical Engineering, you'd have to to explain your shift in career paths. To avoid such justifications and to to make the most of your CV, go for a technical job or maybe an Analysist position, anything which you can either link to your Engineering degree or to a Management degree.
Best of luck, Good day!