Is it worth taking a one-year drop for CAT?

Manoj and Swati have cleared MBA entrance examinations with good percentile and have begun getting calls from many of the top B-schools in India. However, neither Manoj nor Swati have secured a call from the B-school where they want to study. Manoj plans to take a one-year drop for CAT and other MBA entrance examinations. The following is a conversation between Manoj and Swati:

Manoj: Hey, Swati, how are you?

Swati: I am fine, how are you?

Manoj: I am fine too, but I am a little worried because I haven’t gotten a call from either of the top IIMs, which is where I wanted to study.

Swati: Yes, even I am a little worried because even I haven’t gotten a call from the IIMs. However, I have received numerous calls from the newly opened IIMs and many other B-schools across India.

Manoj: Yes, even I have received numerous calls from the other IIMs and most other B-schools. However, I don’t think I am going to accept the calls. I think I will take a one-year drop for CAT and appear for CAT and other MBA entrance examinations again. I will surely get into one of the top IIMs if I have more time to prepare.

Swati: Let me stop you right there. My mother tells me that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Do you understand what it means?

Manoj: Of course, I know what it means. But I have always wanted to study in one of the top IIMs, and that is where I will study, even if it means a one-year gap after graduation.

Swati: You may be making the right call for yourself, but I think I will accept an admission into the best B-school into which I get admitted. I don’t want to waste another year going through the same repetitive routine every day. I believe, even after graduating from a slightly inferior B-school, I can capitalize on the entire year, instead of taking a gap year for CAT, toiling it away.

A student contemplating the pros and cons of dropping a year to get into a top B-school of her choice

To drop or not to drop, that is the question!

This is the case with most students who do not get accepted into the B-schools of their choice. However, is it a wise decision to wait another year in the pursuit to secure an admission into an institute of your choice? Or is it a more prudent decision to accept an admission into a slightly inferior B-school and capitalize on the time that you would otherwise toil away. Some believe that taking a gap year for CAT and other MBA entrance examinations and getting into a B-school of their choice will open a world of fortune to them. Others think that waiting another year to get into a marginally better B-school would not make much of a difference.

There is no decisive answer to this question. It is entirely based upon the thought process of every individual. No one choice is better than the other – both the choices have their advantages and their disadvantages. You are the best judge of what is a better option for you out of the two. However, after reading this blog, you might have a better answer to the question than you had before. This blog will provide a better understanding of the gap year after college pros and cons as well.

One-year drop for CAT – Is it worth the wait?

Taking a gap year for CAT is often a risky choice because of the uncertainty involved. If you wait for another year, there is no guarantee that you will score better than before. Even if you score better, what if the others score better than you? If that happens, there are chances that you will score lower percentile than before. Another risk is that even if you get an interview call from the B-school of your choice, you might have to learn how to explain gap year in MBA interview. There are workarounds to this question, but it is sure to arise in the interview, and you must have a satisfactory answer for the interviewer. Here are some points that you should consider if you plan to take a one-year drop for CAT and other MBA entrance examinations to get into a better B-school.

Prioritize top B-school based on your percentile

After the results of the entrance examinations are out, make an exhaustive list of colleges which will accept you based on your percentile. Narrow down to a list of five or ten top B-school which are likely to accept your application based on your scores. If you get into either of the colleges from your list, then there is no scope to drop a year and apply again next year. If you plan to take a one-year drop for CAT to get into IIMs, make sure that you aim for only the best. Waiting for another year to prepare for MBA entrance examinations only to get into a marginally better college cannot be justified.

Let’s say that you are likely to get into a B-school that usually stands between ranks 11-15 in most rankings. Waiting for another year will be actually worth only if you are able to secure a b-school in the top 5 ranks. As an aspirant, you are likely to be more emotional when deciding on such things. It is, therefore, better to seek advice, ideally from a B-school pass-out.

Economic changes that can affect your prospects

If drastic economic changes take place during the year when you plan to take a drop, it can also affect your chances in top B-schools. For example, during the catastrophic economic meltdown in 2008, many people lost their jobs. Many of them turned towards further education and appeared for MBA entrance examinations. Then, what happened was, that top B-schools started selecting candidates with work experiences, as compared to those without. So, if you are a student, and you don’t have work experience, this is an important consideration that you should bear in mind.

Probable changes in fee structure

The fee structures in the top B-school keeps on changing often. Most of the top B-school increase their tuition fees every year to cover the costs that they incur. Hence, if you plan to take a drop and wait to get into one of the top B-school, this is an important financial consideration you must bear in mind. We had some insights from an IMT, Ghaziabad alumnus, after getting into a conversation about waiting another year to get into a B-school of their choice. He could not get into the B-school of his choice on his first attempt. Hence, decided to take a gap year after graduation. On his second attempt, he got into IMT, Ghaziabad.

When he commenced business studies, the fees to complete business studies at IMT, Ghaziabad was around 10.5 Lac. Whereas, had he gotten into IMT on his first attempt, he would have been able to complete his education in a mere 8 Lac rupees. One might think that as the fees increase, so must the placement packages – however, that is not the case. The average placement packages don’t increase much in comparison with the changing fees. Hence, if finances are a constraint, then you must think about this before taking a one-year drop for CAT and other examinations.

Don’t just prepare for the entrance examinations

If you have decided to take a one-drop for CAT and other examinations, you must plan your activities meticulously. You cannot justify a one-year drop for CAT and MBA, by saying that you were preparing for the entrance examinations. Hence, you must be able to answer the question – How to explain gap year in MBA interview – with efficacy. Most people can easily prepare for the entrance examination within three to four months, even when they have a job. Here are a few things you can do while preparing for the MBA entrance examinations:

  • Contribute to a social cause of your choice and be an active participant
  • Apply to short-term online courses from reputed websites
  • Look for a part-time job, which can help you gain perspective into the subjects in which you want to specialize

There are numerous personal and professional factors which affect the decision whether or not to drop for one year. However, aforementioned are some of the major factors which you must consider before making a decision. Even after considering all the points, if you still decide to take a one-year drop for CAT, then you should plan the year meticulously. For more information to help you plan your drop year, you can also seek the help of experts at Praqtise.


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