Is CAT exam only for IIMs?

“IIMCAT: How did these two words become conjoined?”

“Those gates look so pristine in the moonlight, man,” remarked my friend in a sombre tone as he peered down the balcony with longing eyes.

“You are a lucky man. People would give anything to go through the gates. You only need to jump through your balcony to enter the most coveted educational institute in the country!”

“Yeah, well it is such a pity that most CAT exam coaching centres do not share this beautiful view. All they would need to do is give us a good push, and we land straight inside IIM Ahmedabad.”

As we sat on the balcony and looked at the campus of IIM Ahmedabad, where red-bricked structures and greenery moulded in beautiful unison, my friend rambled on about how 99 percentile was a distant dream. This is when a problem slowly reared its head in my mind.

CAT exam student travels inside his own head

Do people give CAT exam only to get into IIMs?

This is a common myth amongst most people that I have met on the long and daunting road towards the dreaded CAT syllabus. Please don’t mistake me when I label CAT as “dreaded”, even though most of you might agree with me on this. However, have you ever questioned the reason behind why most MBA aspirants “dread” this examination in the first place? Well, just like my friend with whom I had the above conversation, most of us are consumed by the immense need to get into IIMs through CAT. Add a handful of expectations from teachers, parents, and friends and we’ve got a “dreaded” and potentially “fearful” entrance exam for MBA called CAT.

Let me act as your saviour here. Here is a fact that will help you prepare yourself for the coming onslaught of MBA “gyaan”.

PRAQTISE Fact File: About 67% of colleges consider scores from multiple MBA entrance exams for admitting students into the institutes. On the flip side, 33% of B-schools consider the scores from only one examination, even though this may vary between different gateways such as XAT, CAT, SNAP, ATMA, GMAT, and MAT.   

MBA carved in his heart

Now that we have some specific things out of the way let me get to the point. The scope that opens up once you are done with CAT exam is wider than you think. Even though most people enter the examination room with the expectation of getting into IIMs around the country, there are avenues that they can explore beyond this.

Most people approach CAT as a test of fire, where their mathematical skills and logical reasoning is tested to the limits. However, some individuals have crossed this realm of fire without burning their own personal ambitions and aspirations.

A PRAQTICAL Look: Shashank Prabhu, the founder of, was a 100 percentiler in CAT 2011, who had the chance to get into the most prestigious IIMs in the country. However, he opted to go for FMS (Faculty of Management Science) instead of the IIMs, owing to several reasons. One of the main reasons he cites for the same is that apart from the brand value of “IIM”, there is not much behind all the hype and the moolah. He is also quick to clarify that as far as operations, banking and finance are concerned, IIMs take the cake. However, elements like technological innovation, fee structure and placement statistics make institutes like FMS and ISB (Indian School of Business) at par or even better than the IIMs.    

CAT exam answer pattern

Only a meagre few CAT examinees, in their IIM-soaked mindsets, would have dared to opt for such a background and hoped for any valuable future. Well, guess what! The times are changing, and the paradigms are shifting. There is now much more scope for the initiation of students into top business colleges without the need to be a perfect engineer. Your educational background can be as varied and diverse as you want it to. Moreover, there is also a paradigm shift in the way colleges are using the CAT exam as their evaluation playground. Even though the IIMs are still the top bullies in this playground, more and more institutes are raising their levels gradually through the years.

Just to set things into perspective, here are the top ten non-IIM b-schools that you can gain access to by giving your CAT exam:

Name of the InstituteCAT Cutoff Score

1 Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi 95 Percentile
2 IIT Roorkee 90 Percentile
3 Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur 95.2 Percentile
4 Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi 98.54 Percentile
5 National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai 97 Percentile
6 Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, IIT Mumbai 95 Percentile
7 Management Development Institute, Gurgaon 92 Percentile
8 SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai 85 Percentile
9 IIT Kanpur 95 Percentile
10 Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 90 Percentile

Numerous b-schools around the country are rising to the ranks of IIMs and are planting the seeds of opportunity in this educational playground. They are slowly but surely making use of the immense potential that the CAT exam provides them with. However, the real question is whether students are ready to leap into this vast ocean and avail the enormous potential that this examination provides them with?

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