What after CAT 2018? Shift Focus on MBA Admission
Ranjini Basu, 18 Jan 2019, #CAT
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What after CAT 2018 - IIM Calcutta has successfully conducted CAT (Common Admission Test) 2018 on Sunday, November 25, 2018, in two slots; forenoon and afternoon. Overall, the difficulty level was a little higher than that of last year. The QA section was tougher than that of last year, however, the Verbal and Reading Comprehension was comparatively easy. Unlike last year, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR) section was of moderate difficulty level.

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Now that the much awaited MBA entrance exam is over, the journey to reach one's destination, one of the top B-schools, is not over yet. CAT test takers need to focus on the next steps for a successful MBA admission. The next steps include preparing for other entrance exams and selection procedure. Careers360, in this article, brings to you the answer to the pertinent question, what after CAT 2018?  

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What after CAT 2018? Shift Focus on MBA Admission

The to-do-list should include the other MBA entrance exams, applying for Non-IIM B-schools and preparing for the next step of selection procedure at B-schools, including GD, PI and WAT rounds. Let us have a look at each of these steps in detail.

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Prepare for other MBA entrance exams – They say, more the merrier. The more options you keep, the better is your chance for securing admission at a B-School of your choice. There are several other MBA entrance exams, which are yet to be conducted and some of the entrance exams still have the application window open. The table below brings to you those exams and the important dates. 

Upcoming MBA entrance exams

MBA Entrance Exam

Exam Date

Application Deadline

XAT 2019

Sunday, January 6, 2019 (10 am-1 pm)

Friday, November 30, 2018 (without late fee)

Friday, December 7, 2018 (with late fee)

CMAT 2019

Monday, January 28, 2019- Two slots           

  • First shift - 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
  • Second shift - 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm

Friday, December 7, 2018

TISSNET MBA 2019

Sunday, January 13, 2019 (2.00 pm-3.40 pm)

Monday, December 10, 2018 (online submission)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 (offline submission)

IRMASAT 2019

Between February 11 and February 23, 2019

Monday, December 31, 2018

MAT 2018 (December)

Sunday, December 9, 2018 (Paper-pencil mode)

Saturday, December 15, 2018 (Computer-based mode)

Friday, November 30, 2018 (Paper-based Test)

Friday, December 7, 2018 (Computer-based Test)

IBSAT 2018

Saturday, December 22 to Sunday, December 23, 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

SNAP 2018
Sunday, December 16, 2018 (2 pm to 4 pm)
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
IIFT 2019
Sunday, December 2, 2018 (10:00 am - 12:00 pm)
Monday, September 24, 2018

Next to CAT 2018, the upcoming top MBA entrance exams scheduled next are IIFT 2019 on December 2 and SNAP 2018 on December 16, 2018. Concentrate on the specific section wise preparation for the other entrance exams. Although the major sections and patterns are similar to CAT, certain exams have a section on General Awareness/ Knowledge (GK) or Decision Making (XAT), subjective questions on essay writing or story writing (XAT/MICAT) which are not there in CAT. Since some of the above-mentioned exams are conducted in paper pencil based mode, take mock tests in the offline mode within the exact exam duration.

Apply to B-schools based on your expected percentile – After taking CAT, you must have got an idea about the expected percentile. If not, try the Careers360 tools like CAT Result Predictor and Pathfinder to know your expected percentile and the B-schools to apply for. The answer to what after CAT also includes applying to B-schools based on your expected CAT cutoff. Apart from the 20 IIMs where the application takes place by default along with CAT, you have to apply separately for the other CAT participating institutes. There are over 100 B-schools which accept the scores of CAT for the admission to their two year full-time management programmes apart from IIMs. The cutoff of the B-schools ranges from 50 to over 90 percentile. Based on the institute cutoffs and your expected percentile, apply within the deadline stated by the B-schools.

Click here to know the top B-schools accepting CAT scores and cutoffs.

Prepare for WAT/PI rounds - After taking the CAT exam, it is time to buck up with a strategy to crack the WAT and GD-PI. After taking the exams, shift your focus on the preparation of your soft skills in order to ace these rounds of the final selection. Clarity in your thought process is the key factor in cracking these rounds. 

Different B-schools allot varying weightage to these rounds. While some management schools have all three rounds, some conduct just one round as a part of their admission criteria. As far as IIMs are concerned, they conduct WAT and PI rounds. IIM Lucknow, which used to conduct GD rounds along with WAT and PI processes till 2015 has done away with GD for the academic year 2016-18 onwards. 

Over the years, WAT is gaining prominence over GD owing to the more organized structure of the component compared to GD. Moreover, the panellists and admission committee members at the top B-schools feel that GDs often create unnecessary chaos resulting points made by other members with relatively lower voice pitch inaudible.

Written Ability Test (WAT)

For WAT, reading and practising are key factors for preparation. Read up from different sources, be it books, newspapers or magazines. Try to cover all the topics from current affairs and build a clear thought process on it. “I tried to cover all current and trending topics and develop my point of view for each one of them. I practised a lot,” shares Nishtha Khanna, an XLRI Jamshedpur student.

Mostly, the time limit for WAT is approximately 30 minutes. 

Shubhra Pratim Halder, an IIM Lucknow student says, “When it comes to WAT preparation, there is no substitute for extensive writing practice within a fixed time frame. I went through lots of current affairs topics ranging from economy, politics, business, entertainment and society at large to develop my own thoughts on them. It helped me to generate ideas and content, whenever I faced an uneasy topic to write.”

Group Discussion (GD) 

Along with reading and building up the knowledge base on current affairs, building the communication skills and interactive ability within a group. “The preparation for GD should start with your analysis of strengths and weaknesses, followed by planning on how to improve and/or tackle them. Finally, practising as many GDs as possible on varied topics to gain confidence is very important,” says CAT topper Nitin Tibrewal who cracked FMS Delhi GD.

Personal Interview (PI) 

For Personal Interview, make sure you have quick responses to the below questions:

  • Who are you?

  • What do you want from life?

  • What excites you really?

  • Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • What would you really like to become one day? 

Akshat Modi of IIM Rohtak shares his PI experience, “The toughest moment in my PI was when there was a standoff between me and one of my interviewers. He asked me about the machinery specifications in the mine where I did my summer training and although I did not remember the exact details of each machine, I gave him the answer to the major machines used and their specifications. He then challenged my answer blatantly and told I was wrong. I stuck to my point. But, even he was adamant and told me that he had been to that place and he has seen the specifications. It was very tough for me because I had to give the right answer without offending him. I think he was trying to check my confidence level.” 

It is important that you keep yourself updated with the all the recent news or happenings around the globe. Along with that, know your CV inside out. It is the tendency of the interviewers to ask questions about yourself, or what you have mentioned in your CV to be precise. Make sure you are prepared enough to answer each and every question and justify properly. The interviewers may also question you about your WAT or GD. Make sure that you are able to explain yourself or the point made by you during the previous rounds. Stick to your point of view and don’t change your opinion even if the panellists try to convince you against it. This ploy is often used by the interviewers to test your perseverance, subject knowledge and confidence in yourself.

Gautam Puri, Vice President, Career Launcher, says, “One needs to be honest with oneself and one needs to think objectively about the basic questions. There is no right or wrong answer in an interview; it depends on how the candidate offers his responses. The interviewers expect honest answers without any bluffing.”

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