GMAT : An Introduction

Introduction to GMAT


Owned by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a computer based, standardized test which is taken up by the students who want to apply to for various business management courses after graduation in order to attain a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Students appearing for GMAT can apply to more than 2100 universities across the world that offers a choice of more than 6000 programs  in various business and management streams. GMAT has its test centers in 112 countries and can be taken up at any point of time during a particular year, whenever the students would like to appear for the GMAT exam.

GMAT analyzes a person’s reading, writing, analytical, logical and quantitative skills through its unique pattern. It includes 4 sections that includes – Verbal Ability, Quantitative Aptitude, Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning. The sectional format for GMAT is as follows:

GMAT Test Section No. of Questions Question Types Duration
Analytical Writing Assessment 1 Topic Analysis of Argument 30 minutes

Integrated Reasoning

12 Questions Multi-Source Reasoning

Graphics Interpretation

Two- Two Part Analysis

Table Analysis

30 minutes


37 Questions Data Sufficiency

Problem Solving

75 minutes


41 questions Reading Comprehension

Critical Reasoning

Sentence Correction

75 minutes
Total Exam Time     3 hours, 30 minutes


What edge does GMAT has over other exams is the question that comes first in the mind of anyone who wants to pursue a Master’s degree from some reputed B-School. The answer to the question is very simple. Being accepted by more than 6000 courses for business and management programs, GMAT is the first preference for world’s business leaders to get into the world’s leading business schools. It simply works. The skills that are respected by these leading schools can be very well showcased through the GMAT exam.

“Writing GMAT exam is ensuring your first successful step towards a glorified career.”

Once GMAT is cleared it guarantees you admission into world class business classroom. From nearly 60 years, reputed B-Schools all across the world have been trusting GMAT and have been using it to accept students in the courses offered by them. GMAT provides the following advantages not only to these schools but also to the students applying in these schools:

  • It provides a sync between the skills that you possess and those required by schools:With its unique Integrated Reasoning Section, GMAT allows you to showcase the skills that matter the most to these schools and business houses.
  • Tested and Certified measure of one’s success:After being researched for decades GMAT has been confirmed as a reliable and valid predictor of a person’s academic journey in the present world graduate management courses.
  • Having its acceptance by most business schools across the world: GMAT is accepted  by most of the management schools and allows you to take maximum number of courses. The number is way more than any other examination.
  • Give the exam when you feel like giving it: Once you are convinced about your preparations for appearing in the exam, you can sit for GMAT in world’s best state-of-the-art facilities specially designed to give you an incomparable test-taking experience so as to bring out the best in you.

GMAT Content Relevance

The content for GMAT has been designed in such a way that it evaluates your skills and abilities in one just 3 hours 30 minutes. All the sections are designed in a manner that they measure  your –

  1. Reading and Writing Skills –With the help of its Verbal and Analytical Writing sections you can be very well judged for your abilities on reading and writing. You can prove it in these two sections that you have the skills required in you.
  2. Understanding the Real world situations –The Integrated Reasoning Sections allows you to showcase your abilities in understanding the real world situations and inferring the relevant information out of them.
  3. Quantitative Reasoning power –The Quantitative Aptitude Section that brings to you data sufficiency and problem solving challenges allows you to display your abilities to solve the quantitative problems in one go.
  4. Comprehending Capabilities –The Reading Comprehensions under the Verbal Section allows you to display the brilliance in you as far as understanding of the passages is concerned. GMAT passages can be from ‘n’ number of fields like – economics, psychology, sociology, history, politics, literature, etc. Answer them correctly and showcase your comprehending capabilities.
  5. Analytical & Logical Abilities –Almost every section require you to apply logic and analysis in solving the questions. Pertaining to the questions in those sections, if you apply the correct logic and analyze them in the best manner, you can communicate your brilliance in these two aspects.
  6. Graphical Understanding –One thing that is very much crucial in any business is the understanding of the graphs. The Integrated Reasoning Section brings up such challenges for you. The correct solution to these problems displays your abilities in proper understanding of Graphs.
  7. Analysis of Situation – The Analytical Writing section provides you with one topic on basis of which you need to provide your analysis of arguments. Providing with the best reasons, analyzing the situations in the best manner, expressing them in the best written format allows you to score high, thereby showcasing your analytical and writing skills. 


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Posted by Yogita Kapoor Friday, October 21, 2016 01:15:00 PM 


Virtual (CAT) calls


The CAT is online, and for management aspirants, accustomed to paper tests, the e-CAT can present some challenges and many opportunities.  Arun Sharma assesses the face of the  online CAT.

After all the suspense and confusion starting way back from 2007,it was in 2009,that CAT was held online for the first time.The typical student reaction to this was one of fear and nervousness. A common refrain was, “The CAT was already a tough exam for us. And now we have to deal with this!” There are, of course, a small minority of people, who are actually welcoming this move, since they are computer literate and net savvy.

Over the past few years, the IIMs had felt a constant increase in the pressure involved in conducting an exam of this scope. The CAT exam had a growing number of students applying to take the test in November each year. Hence, it is obvious that the reason the IIMs have chosen to go online is to ensure a smoother exam process.

The IIMs are, therefore, set to better facilitate the CAT. How does this affect an aspirant though? And what does an aspirant need to do to prepare better?

The key to success lies in the ability to focus on what is within our control. Hence, take a deep breath, and start thinking about the most important issues that you need to keep in mind.

  1. Reading intensive questions gets tougher

Perhaps, the most important change occurs in reading intensive questions like reading comprehension, paragraph jumbles and critical reasoning. Hence, you will need to train yourself to ‘think on the machine’. If you are a ‘pen and paper’ person, perhaps this is the most urgent issue to be addressed. ‘Thinking on the machine’ means learning to concentrate while working on the machine.

A lot of us, who are used to pen and paper thinking, actually struggle to get our concentration going, when we are sitting in front of the machine. This is one thing that you absolutely must address. This is an issue that is extremely crucial in the English section.

The obvious solution is to use a computer and the Internet daily. But there is more to it than that. You also need to ensure that you perform certain specific exercises in this context. You can: 

  1. Read material like newspaper editorials, books and articles on philosophy, sciences, geography, history, psychology, medicine, engineering, etc.
  2. Find a few sites, where you can actually spend time reading serious material. Suggested sites include, ebooks from and similar sites, and websites of international magazines like The Economistand TIME.

This exercise is designed to improve your comprehension, and familiarise you with reading complex literature on the Internet. The idea is to improve your span of concentration to 10 to 15 minutes.

  1. Things do not change much in the quantitative aptitude and data interpretation sections

The problems related to ‘thinking on the machine’ are not that prominent, as far as the data interpretation and quantitative aptitude questions go. Typically, while solving such questions, you will still be working out the problem with a pen and paper.

Also, questions in these sections require you to concentrate for a far shorter period than sections like reading comprehension, which require sustained, focused reading. Hence, the elements do not change too much for QA and DI, and you can continue most of your preparations in pen and paper mode.

However, it is advisable to practice problem solving on a machine. Look for books that are sold with a CD, like most GMAT and GRE material is, so that you are acclimatised to practicing papers on the computer. Spend at least 20 to 30 minutes daily, solving questions on the computer (this is in addition to the time you spend on your normal pen-paper learning through books and study materials).

Other factors that might work in your favour – or against you – are:

  1. Reading Comprehension (RC) and Data Interpretation (DI) questions are likely to get shorter, hence, difficulty levels may be considerably lower in these areas, especially in the RC section. Implications for students here, are positive.
  2. Time management issues: Unlike a normal pen and paper test, where test takers are able to scan the entire paper at one time, with an online test, examinees are exposed to one question at a time. This could be good and bad. It is a good thing, because you would not need to worry too much about what you can’t see; bad, because it could hamper your time management, as you will not be able to move back and forth in the paper. However, there are also two significant ways that the computer-based test would help you save time:

Moving to and fro from rough pages is eliminated. The question is right in front of you all the time, and all you need to do, is solve it on your rough paper/ in your mind..

There is no time spent in managing your answer sheet. In a pen and paper test, conducted in schools (with it’s low benches meant for class three to 10 students) test takers typically find it difficult to manage their pencils, erasers, question papers, watches and answer keys. Very often, it becomes a kind of juggling act, which is a huge distraction for the student. With a Computer Based Test (CBT) all these problems are minimised. Also, marking with a pencil on an OMR answer key takes it’s own time, which would be done away with now, as you would just need to click on an answer choice.

Hence, when all is said and done, there are more positive changes than negative ones for CAT aspirants to look forward to. Embrace these changes. As Ayn Rand said, “People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and you will see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk.”

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Posted by Yogita Kapoor Sunday, October 16, 2016 02:35:00 PM

Belling the CAT


Belling the CAT

Appropriate preparation and application of the right thought process can help you clear the CAT exam without much difficulty. Arun Sharma presents the QA section of the CAT 2007 exam with tips on how to approach each question and increase your chances of passing

One of the things that has amazed experts and academicians about the CAT for a long time now, is that the exam continues to retain it’s aura of invincibility. This, in spite of the fact that most questions, which appear in the exam, are elementary class ten questions. 

The quantitative aptitude (QA) section of the CAT 2007 paper presented below further reiterates the fact, that answering each question in a logical and methodical manner is the only way to clear the exam.


Reminders (about the paper) before proceeding further:

  1. a) Test takers who were able to attempt seven to eight questions of the total 25 questions in the paper received an excess of 95 percentile (for this section). Students were given 50 minutes to complete each section in the exam. Hence, even if a student answered one question correct every 6 minutes, he/ she would easily be one of the top 95 percentile holders in the section.
  2. b) At zero marks in this paper, students reported a 20 percentile score. This in effect means that one in five test takers scored negative marks!
  3. c) The QA section in the CAT 2007 paper has widely been considered as one of the toughest QA papers of all time. Presented below are simplistic solutions that can be taught to children as young as those in class five.

It is advisable to look at the provided thought process and solutions only after trying to solve the questions before.


 1) How many pairs of positive integers m, n satisfy 1/ m + 4/ n = 1/ 12 where n is an odd integer less than 60?

            (a) 7     (b) 5     (c) 3    (d) 6        (e) 4


Thought process
Deduction 1: Since two positive fractions on the LHS equals 1/ 12 on the right hand side, the value of both these fractions must be less than 1/ 12. Hence, n can only take the values 49,51,53,55,57 and 59.

Deduction 2: After this, students need to check which of the possible values of n would give an integral value of m.

The equation can be transformed to 1/ 12 – 4/ n = 1/ m –> (n – 48)/ 12n = 1/ m. On reading this equation one should realise that for m to be an integer, the LHS must be able to yield a ratio in the form of 1/ x. It can be easily seen that this occurs for n = 49, n =51 and n =57. Hence, there are only three pairs.

Maximum solution time: 90 seconds


2) Suppose you have a currency, named Miso, in three denominations: 1 Miso, 10 Misos and 50 Misos. In how many ways can you pay a bill of 107 Misos?

            (a) 18   (b) 15   (c) 19                 

            (d) 17   (e) 16

Thought process
Deduction 1: If you were to use two 50 miso notes, you would only pay the remaining 7 misos through one miso notes.
Deduction 2: If you were to use only one 50 miso note, you could use 10 miso notes in 6 different ways (from zero to five).
Deduction 3: If you were not to use any 50 miso notes, you could use 10 miso notes in 11 different ways (from zero to 10).
Hence, the required answer is 1+ 6+ 11=18.
Maximum solution time: 45 seconds


3) In a tournament, there are n teams T1, T2, …, Tn, with n > 5. Each

team consists of k players, k > 3. The following pairs of teams have one player in common

T1 and T2, T2 and T3, …, Tn (1 and Tn, and Tn and T1.

No other pair of teams has any player in common. How many players are participating in the tournament, considering all the h teams are together?

            (a) n (k ( 2)      (b) k (n ( 2)      (c) (n ( 1) (k ( 1)

            (d) n (k ( 1)      (e) k (n (1)


Thought process
If one considers six teams and four players per team, one would get four players in T1 (each one of them unique), three more players in T2 (since one player of T2 would be shared with T1), three more players in T3 (since one player of T3 would be shared with T2), three more players in T4 (since one player of T4 would be shared with T3), three more players in T5 (since one player of T5 would be shared with T4) and two more players in T6 (since one player of T6 would be shared with T5 and one with T1). Hence, there would be a total of 18 (4+ 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+ 2) players with n = 6 and k = 4. Only option four would provide 18 as the solution.

Maximum solution time: 60 seconds.

4) Consider four digit numbers for which the first two digits are equal and the last two digits are also equal. How many such numbers are perfect squares?

(a) 4     (b) 0      (c) 1 (d) 3     (e) 2

Thought process
A number of students got stuck on this question for over five to seven minutes in the exam, since they tried to find out the squares of all two-digit numbers starting from 32. However, if one is well of the logic of finding squares of two digit numbers, one would realise that only three two-digit numbers after 32 have the last two digits in their squares equal (38, 62 and 88). Hence, there is no need to check any other numbers apart from these three. After checking these one would get the square of 88 as 7744. And hence, there is only one such number.

Maximum solution time: 60 seconds

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Posted by Yogita Kapoor Sunday, October 16, 2016 12:02:00 PM

Perfect preparation


Appearing for mock CATs is a crucial part of CAT preparations. However, taking these tests too seriously can actually hamper your performance at the actual exam. Arun Sharma presents some pointers for those appearing for mock CATs

The genesis of every achievement that has ever been achieved, of every victory that has ever been won and of every challenge that has ever been overcome is an underlying panorama of belief in oneself. Somewhere sometimes, humans across history have told themselves “I can” and this has been the single most important reason for all human achievements. So why are we talking about this in today’s article? Well to tell you the least, we have our reasons for the same. Consider the following query:

I am preparing for the CAT 2008 and have been appearing for a number of mock CATs in order to practice for the exam. However, whereas in the earlier mock tests I would score 95 to 96 percentile, my percentile has drastically gone down to a mere 78 and 82 in the last two mock tests.

I feel that undue pressure marred my performance in the last two tests and am now worried about my performance in the actual CAT when the pressure is inevitably going to be high. Please guide me as to how to prepare in these few days that are left for the actual exam now.

The query asked in the above email is commonly asked by many CAT aspirants and is indicative of the pressures that most CAT aspirants face before the exam. While on the D-day around three lakh people are expected appear for the exam only about 10,000 will actually write the test paper with the confidence of cracking it. So, the question arises, what should be done to avoid this lack of confidence? Before answering this question it is important to discuss the cause of such negative attitude, that is, the percentile syndrome. Around July to September each year, aspirants appear for a number of mock tests as part of their preparations for the actual CAT. However, as is evident from the above email, while mock CATs do provide you with the opportunity of practicing for the exam, their percentile scores and the consequent interpretation of the same can prove to be detrimental if taken extremely seriously. So except for the percentiles of those students who consistently score over 98-99 percentile, the percentiles of the mock CATs only serve to demoralise rather than motivate most aspirants. A typical attitude that most students adopt while giving the mock tests is to achieve a certain upper limit of percentile score and then constantly try to breach it. However, when they fail to do so, they get frustrated. Furthermore, based on their performance in the mock tests, students very often attribute a certain percentile range that they are most likely to score in the actual CAT. This can be dangerous as such a prediction tends to play itself out as a self fulfilling prophecy even before one starts writing the real test paper. 

So what can be done to prevent a loss in confidence at the actual CAT while appearing for the mock tests?

  1. Stop taking your percentiles seriously. Instead, start focusing on your percentage of marks and the percentiles will be automatically taken care of. While 40 per cent of marks have been safe all through, since the last five to six years approximately 30 per cent of marks as a net score have been sufficient to secure 95 plus percentile in the CAT. So focus on improving the percentage of marks you score in the mock tests. The simple logic is that if this percentage is good enough, a high percentile will follow on its own.
  2. Remember that the mock CATs are not the actual CAT. Hence, prepare for the CAT and not the mock CATs.

The CAT paper is designed keeping in mind a lot of factors that coaching classes cannot even consider while designing their mock test papers. For instance, no question asked in the data interpretation (DI) and logical reasoning (LR) section of the CAT requires more than six to eight steps for solving. However, some questions in the mock papers require as long as 20 steps to be solved.

  1. Perhaps, the most important thing to be kept in mind during this last month of preparation is to have faith in yourself.
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Posted by Yogita Kapoor Saturday, October 15, 2013 05:15:00 PM 

Ten Commandments of CAT


  1. ONLINE FAMILIARITY: Online exams are a thing of the recent past and CAT aspirants need to ease up to giving exams on the computer. In usual practise, most people go online for emails, social networking or simply surfing, all of which stretch for short periods of time. To be sitting for a couple of hours in front of a computer, in a tense environment can lead to stress, which could come in the way of performance. Arun Sharma says that CAT aspirants have to practise reading on the computer daily for a period of time. 
  2. ERROR REMOVAL: Arun Sharma insists that aspirants should give a considerable amount of study time on error removal. He further states that error sources in each question type is one of the most important issues during the lead up to the examination. Remember, “error removal is the easiest and fastest way to improve your score drastically.” 

III. ADOPT A STRATEGY: Every battle won in this world has always had a clever strategy behind it.Arun Sharma says that aspirants should spend the last 15 days before the test date in revising every question that one has solved during preparations. “Your preparation should be such that things should strike you during the exam rather than after it,” adds Sharma.

  1. MORE THE BETTER: There is strength in numbers and no better way to know it than in CAT preparation. Sharma asks CAT aspirants to take as many tests as possible as additional tests will only make work easy for them on the final day.
  2. PROPER ANALYSIS/REASONING: Arun Sharma takes the word analysis to a different level. Sharma says that aspirants must take time in analysing themselves as well as their studies. “For every test you take be sure to do a proper analysis. For every minute spent inside the test, you should spend at least 2 minutes outside analysing your performance in the same,” the author insists.
  3. KNOW YOUR STRESS POINTS: Sharma says that in Quants, the student should focus on balanced portion coverage, which essentially means covering every aspect of the portion. “This is important because unlike the earlier CAT examinations, the online CAT in 2009 had a much more balanced portion coverage structure.”

VII. SPEED HELPS: Speed is also a factor to keep in mind for a good score. Sharma suggests: “Work on your speed and reliability of calculations- especially focusing on 2 digits additions, multiplications and ratios. Also focus on approximation of ratios.”

VIII. QUEEN’S ENGLISH: Just a good grasp over colloquial English is not good enough to do well in CAT. Sharma says that CAT aspirant should focus on the ability to read and understand longer sentences on complex topics. “This is the most critical skill. If you can understand sentences, you can understand paragraphs and passages,” he adds.

  1. HOW MUCH TO STUDY: There is no single formula on ‘how much to study’ or else there would be more toppers than others every year. Each student needs to make his time-table according to his needs and capabilities. According to Arun Sharma, studies need to be planned with a design in mind. He advises, “plan your studies in such a way that you complete the last part of your preparations at least 15 days before you sit for the CAT.
  2. CAT – PAST AND FUTURE: Sharma recommends that aspirants create a strong back up plan for the next year in case one does not make it through. “We do not want those taking exams to be thinking on it while facing a problem during the exam,” the author said. 

Click here to attend a Free CAT Online Demo class by Arun Sharma Sir & Meenakshi Ma’am(Renowned authors of Books for CAT)

Posted by Yogita Kapoor Thursday, October 13, 2016 1:50:00 PM 

Increase your Word Power : By Arun Sharma


Arun Sharma provides tips to increase your word power for the language section of the CAT

You can adopt two kinds of strategies to improve your test scores in the verbal ability and reading comprehension section of the CAT – short-term strategies and medium to long-term strategies. No matter which strategy you decide to adopt, it is crucial to remember that your ability to read and comprehend English, depends on your efficiency in the language at various levels. Thus, in order to improve your scores, it is imperative that you gauge your expertise at each of these levels.


Generally, aptitude exams like the CAT, test a candidates proficiency at each of the following levels: word level, sentence level (viz multiple words), paragraph level (multiple sentences) and passage level (multiple paragraphs). Besides, these tests also assess your expertise at the chapter level (multiple passages) and book level (multiple chapters). In this article, we will be focusing on how you can maximise your word power in the CAT.


Over the past few years, the CAT and other management entrance exams in India have laid more emphasis on candidates functional knowledge of words rather than his/her ability to memorise words by rote learning (something that is still required for exams like the GRE). Here is what you need to do in order to improve your comprehension of words in the CAT:

1. Know your current ability. Judge the level of your vocabulary through your understanding of general articles in a newspaper or a magazine. Any newspaper or magazine article is written for the average reader. Hence, if you are unable to comprehend such an article, it indicates that your vocabulary is below par. So make a note of the number of words you fail to understand in an article of say 1000 words. While doing this, there might be two types of words you will struggle to understand: Words that you don’t know but can understand the meaning of, which are in the context of the passage. Words that you are unfamiliar with, and that prove to be a hurdle to your comprehension of the passage. The number of words in both the above mentioned categories would give you an indication of the level of your vocabulary. A person with good skills in language would be able to go through a 1000-1500 word passage, while encountering a maximum of nine words that are not understandable to him/her.

A newspaper like The Times of India would be the perfect paper to start with, for this exercise. In fact, if you conduct an analysis of the CAT and other management aptitude exams, and evaluate the kind of words they require students to be familiar with over the last few years, you would realise that there is actually no word that you might miss out on, if you comprehensively and dedicatedly read a paper like The Times of India for a period of six to 12 months.

2. Note down the words and memorise their meanings not through the dictionary definitions, but by attaching a visual value to each word.

3. It might also be a good idea to look up the thesaurus and group words with similar meanings so that you can memorise multiple words through one word. Perform this exercise until you reach a point where the number of unknown words, in every 1000-1500 word article, comes down to a single digit number.

Lastly, apart from words, you should also look at developing your knowledge of English by going through idioms, phrases and phrasal verbs. Refer to a good dictionary or a list of phrasal verbs, which you could download from the internet, for this purpose.

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Posted by Yogita Kapoor Saturday, October 8, 2016 01:12:00 PM

Do you measure up?


What’s your reason for taking the CAT this year? As the number of students applying to sit for this competitive exam rises every year, most not making the cut, it is becoming evident that for many students, taking the CAT is a consequence of herd mentality. Arun Sharma sets the record straight on the right reasons for appearing for the CAT

From barely 30,000 aspirants, who took the CAT in the mid- to late-90s, to around two lakh aspirants that are expected to appear for the test this year – the CAT has come a long way. This number is further expected to increase in the coming years, now that the CAT has become a computer-based exam.

In fact, in urban colleges today, preparing for the CAT has become something of a fad. However, for a prominent chunk of management aspirants, the primary reason for taking management entrance tests, like the CAT, is quite unclear. For many college students, the only reason to appear for the CAT is that everyone around them is taking it.

For many others, the CAT is perceived as a route to redemption – from the joblessness associated with a plain graduate degree, to the high profile (seemingly), high-flying career of a corporate executive. In this sense, CAT is more a means to tackle current issues and concerns a student may have, rather than a path they need to follow to reach a particular predefined destination. In other words, if the only reason a student is taking the CAT is because the career opportunities available after the IIMs and other B-schools are the best that are available, then there is obviously something wrong there. This fact will make itself very apparent, when the candidate makes it to the personality assessment/ interview stage.

In this context, as an individual student planning to appear for the CAT, you need to be sure that you’re taking the CAT for the right reasons.

You need to answer three very specific questions:

  1. Why should I take the CAT?
  2. When should I take it?         
  3. What should I do to crack the CAT?


Why should I take the CAT?

The answer to this question is really the answer to another question – Why should I pursue management education in the first place? The CAT is essentially just a means to admission to the best Indian B-schools.

Create goal alignment

When you’re considering applying to a top management programme, the first thing you should do is outline your career goals for five, 10 and 20 years – where you’d like to be, what kind of work you’d really like to be doing, etc – and then try to think about how you should go about it, and whether a management programme will help you get there. This point might seem trivial to most 20 to 25 year olds, who are aspiring to pursue a career in management, but not surprisingly, this is one of the key questions that interviewers will pose to you, when they are attempting to test your suitability to their management programme.

Know what you want

The first question an interviewer seeks an answer to is: “Does the candidate know why he wants to pursue management?” Even if this question is not posed explicitly in an interview, the interviewer still wants to gauge your motives for pursuing an MBA. If you answer this question with immature responses like, ‘I want to study management because it is the best option I have’ or ‘There is good money in management’, etc, most interview panels will eliminate you without hesitation.

B-schools look for guided missiles, ie, they want students who have made up their minds about who or what they want to become. Thus, you need to understand exactly what value addition you are hoping to gain from a management programme before you decide to pursue it. Unfortunately, a majority of students who take the CAT (especially freshers), have not had the time to think about these issues, and hence, respond to this question with half-baked, school-boyish answers.

It is no coincidence then, that B-school campuses are largely made up of students with some work experience. This is because, if you have worked a few years, the experience can equip you with the maturity that is needed to know what you’d like to do with your life, and how management education fits into your scheme of things. However, if you are a fresher, and have worked out what you’d really like to be or do, and exactly what you hope to gain from management education, your chances of making the cut could improve drastically.

So if the CAT is not limited to just candidates with work experience, your next question should be: When should I take the CAT?

When should I take the CAT?

Obviously, this question will arise only after you have determined how management education can help you achieve your goals, and what value addition you seek from pursuing a management programme.

Management is not a ‘getting out of college’ course

Unlike graduation, which you must pursue immediately after class 12, management is not something you need to necessarily pursue right after completing graduation. Rushing into a management programme is never the best approach.

Nevertheless, acquiring a reputed management qualification is one of the best ways to compete with the best of your generation. Typically, it is best to consider at least a two to three year window period before you take the CAT – starting, at the earliest, from your final year in college. When you are mapping out your CAT attempts, plan your approach thus: Define the lowest tier B-school you would be willing to settle for, and then give yourself three years to get into the B-school of your choice. So, if you are in your final year in college, and are taking the CAT this year for the first time, you should have CAT 2016 and CAT 2017 on your horizon. Moreover, you should have made up your mind to ‘only settle for the IIMs’, or ‘only consider the top 10 B-schools or the top 25 B-schools’, depending on what your aspirations are, and whether they are feasible options. It is a given, however, that you should not permit the tempo or intensity of your preparations to be affected by the fact that you have given yourself three years.

Your only other concern should be what you can do in the interim, when you aren’t studying.

Look for work experience, not job experience

Work experience and catching up on some diverse reading options are obvious answers to this dilemma. Which leads us to the question: what kind of work experience is considered valuable? The error most students make, while deciding on their course of action, is that only certain jobs in reputed companies are counted as legitimate by B-schools.

Here, you need to understand that there is a difference between ‘job experience’ and ‘work experience’. The IIMs look for the latter, and a vast majority of CAT aspirants, unfortunately, try to look for jobs rather than work.

This line of thinking gets us to one place – any kind of work you can justify to yourself, can be justified to the entire world, including an interview board. Even something like primary school teaching or social service work can be justified to an interview board, as long as you have learnt something from it, become a better person on account of it, and can convince an interview panel of it.

Once you have answered these three questions, you are ready to put your best foot forward in preparing for the CAT and other major management entrance tests. We will be discussing tips on how you can ace the CAT in coming issues, right up to the last issue before the test. Until then, here’s one line to get you thinking:

Whether it is the e-CAT or the paper-pencil CAT – the difference is only in how the question is presented to your mind. The solving of the question has to be the same in terms of how you solve it in your head.

The key to solid CAT preparation is ‘raise your intelligence’. Any preparation that does not do this is quite useless, and a waste of your time.

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Posted by Yogita Kapoor, Tuesday, October 04, 2016 04:12:00 PM 

Aptitude preparation – The intelligence growth perspective.


I have often been questioned about this – at workshops, in my classes, in social discussions and in corporate training programs….”Is a person’s IQ fixed?” Before I proceed to answer this question in this piece, I would like to first recount a very interesting experience I had once across a week in my life. In that week I was scheduled to speak to three different age groups of people – apart from my normal bread and butter aptitude classes for CAT and CSAT (where my audience is anywhere between 18 to 28 years of age) I also had speaking assignments in the same week at i) A corporate organization where I was supposed to talk about personality development and leadership & ii) A girls school – where I was supposed to talk about career planning – the first assignment being scheduled prior to the second.

So it was that I was speaking to this group of corporate executives who were in the 35 to 50 age group and included some very high-ranking executives in the hierarchy of the particular organization. And in my first hour of session with them, somehow we came around to the topic “ Is a person’s intelligence fixed? Is it something that one is born with??” & in case one is not born with it does it mean that he/she should simply accept the misfortune and carry on with one’s life. My contention as I started to speak about the issue was “No, Intelligence is not fixed!! It can be raised & there can be a system through which someone’s thinking capacity can be upgraded and developed.”

And the moment I uttered this in that august gathering- I faced a heavy backlash with people questioning the very thought!! It took me the better part of the next hour to get to the point where I had convinced the group about it.

And so it was that with this background I went to face 13-14 year old girls in high school & the first slide of my presentation carried this question loud and clear “Can intelligence be raised??” My plan while preparing my speech was to spend something like 20 to 30 minutes on the same (based on my experience with corporate vice presidents a couple of days earlier) before I moved on to other aspects of intelligence development based career planning. And lo and behold!! As soon as I read out the question to this group of young ‘inexperienced’ girls the whole auditorium resounded with a ‘YES’ and suddenly I did not know for a moment about what to say next – as my prepared plan for the next part of my speech had gone for a six.

Luckily my experience at public speaking carried me through the remainder of my presentation but it did set me wondering about a fact of life that was starkly brought out to me through these experiences & that was:

45-year old corporate vice presidents KNOW and KNOW damn well that IQ and intelligence is fixed. Their experience has taught them this very well.

The 13 year old school girl of course is ignorant of this fact – she believes that IQ can be raised because ‘reality’ as the world will show her over the next two decades has not dawned upon them and somewhere in between these two end points is the student preparing for aptitude exams like CAT, CSAT and the whole lot. He/she is on the way to finding out that intelligence is fixed and cannot be changed.

In my view this entire social learning process – where society teaches us this ‘fact’ is at the root of all under achievement that you, I and every Tom, Dick and Harry experience in our lives.

Just as surely as you can improve what can be called as your ‘physical intelligence’ (as Gardner calls it), so also can you raise your mind’s capacity to improve the processes and the capacity it has of thinking.

Not exploring this option – the option of raising your intelligence – is perhaps the biggest mistake that a majority of the work force make.

Think about it & think about it very seriously if you are embarking on a journey of CAT/CSAT preparation or for that matter any other aptitude exam that is likely to determine the course of your life.

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Posted by Yogita Kapoor Tuesday, October 04, 2016 04:05:00 PM


B School Admissions: Impact of your Academic Profile


“How much does Class X and XII marks affect my chances of getting a seat in a good B-school?” or “I had poor marks in board exams or in my graduation, should I be worried?” or “I dropped a year in between, is this going to decrease my chances?”. These are some of the questions which bug a large portion of students preparing or planning to prepare for CAT exam. Many students take it seriously and seem to lose confidence because of it. In this article, I will try to present my view point and opinions on this issue.

Question : I have a really low percentage in Class 10th and 12th. Will this hamper my chances of getting into the old IIMs?

First of all, when it comes to taking the CAT exam, the X, XII and graduation marks are used only for checking the eligibility for the exam. Therefore, your percentile will not be affected at all by your grades irrespective of good or bad they are. Then comes the issue of getting calls from good B-schools after CAT results. In this context, your grades do matter and its impact differ depending on the B-school. For example, IIM-A has an ‘AR’ rating which is used besides your CAT score to decide who should be given the call. As per this system, there is a significant impact of your grades. There is a difference of 19 points on a scale of 100 between two students (one who got 79% in X, XII and graduation and the other who got 80% in all the three) whereas IIM-C doesn’t even take graduation marks in consideration. Overall, grades might hurt your chances in getting calls from some of the B-schools, but the number is still small. Besides, in most cases where you are at a disadvantage, you can make up for it with a high percentile.

Once you get a call, you must rejoice and stop thinking about your grades, though, you may be asked about them and the answer you give will be scrutinized by the interviewer. A good score in Class X, Class XII as well as graduation shows that the person is a very consistent performer. Obviously, such a candidate has his/her grades or scores to back-up the claim of being a well-deserved candidate for that B-school as well as to convince the panel for the same. However, having poor scores in one or maybe 2 of those, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is not well suited for MBA. I have come across many B-school students including students belonging to IIMs who do not have stellar academic record throughout their student life.

Hence, the question which should be asked is, what can be done to compensate ordinary grades? The answer is simple – a convincing justification. There are many students who are involved in significant amount of qualityextra-curricular and co-curricular activities. I used the terms ‘significant’ and ‘quality’ in the previous sentence deliberately because just joining multiple ‘open for all, just pay the membership fee, do nothing and get certificates’ kind of committees won’t help you much. Similarly, just participating in everything and not winning or not standing among finalists will not be much of a value addition. For example, if you have been taking dance lessons and practicing for years for which you substituted some of your study time and as a result got selected for performing at state level events, then this is something you must highlight in the interview and convince the panel that your interest was more towards dancing and that you made it worth. Interviewers would surely give you a chance to justify and you have to make the most out of it.

Having seen myself and my peers trying to (consciously and sub-consciously) “calculate” their chances by adding up the profile-related points, I can assure you that this of no significant gain. In case the numbers are in your favor, does this guarantee that even with poor interview you will succeed or if numbers are against you, then you don’t stand a chance? Absolutely not. The bottom line is that you have to give your best irrespective of your profile or percentile. Be confident and deliver the best interview performance from your side and you’ll get what you deserve.

Question: I have dropped a year after graduation. I have too much of work-ex. Will this hamper my chances of getting into a good B-School?

Similar advice is for those who dropped a year or have too much of work-ex. If you dropped a year due to medical issues, convey it to the interviewers and if for some other reason, then, justify why you did so and what significant things you gained by doing that. Did it help you in getting to a good college or helped in preparation of CAT etc. The better you justify it and back-up your claim, the better it will be. The interviewers will never have any prejudice against you and hence you should focus on what is in hand rather than what is not. Also, many of my B-school peers have nearly 4 or more years of experience. They might have had some disadvantage but that was not big enough to stop them, then why should you give up? IIM-C gives points for work-ex with experience of 3 years given the highest weightage and if I remember correctly, the weightage for 4 year experience is equal to that of 2 years. (The last statement is only to show that work-ex is not taken negatively and keeping up with what I said earlier, one should not read much into it and just realize that work-ex is not as important as your performance in CAT and interviews).

Also, if you have quite a lot of work-ex, then you can use it for your advantage also. You will have to come up with some good points which proves that you have learnt something extra in those extra years of your work experience. More years of work could also lead to working on diverse projects, leading a project with multiple sub-ordinates etc. can be some of the points you can refer to. You must also justify why you are planning to go for MBA after you have been working for quite a lot of time. 

So don’t worry about the things that have happened in the past as you do not have a control over it. Try to give your best shot in CAT and the interviews, things will automatically fall into place.

You can post your queries regarding any such doubts that you have related to CAT in the below comment section. Will try to come up with another article on such type of queries.  

All the Best for CAT 2016!!! 

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Posted by Yogita Kapoor Monday, October 03, 2016 5:52:00 PM Categories: