Choosing the right B-school

Which Exams to Write?

The exams you write will clearly depend on the B-school you wish to join. However, often the dependence is not so clear. You can identify opportunities of a good B-school through the entrance exam as well. Read on.

The following things should be considered while looking for the B-schools to apply to:

Depending on your current level of preparedness, how much time and effort you are willing to put in and, you should get a realistic estimate of the score range you can expect in the main exam. While selecting the B-schools to apply to, you should select around 60% applications from the expected performance band (realistic case), around 20% from the band above your expected range (optimistic case) and the remaining from the lower band (pessimistic case).

AIMCAT percentile to actual CAT percentile:

We would want to give you a simple linear formula for converting the AIMCAT percentiles into your expected percentile in CAT. However, it often depends on a host of things and is not easily converted:

  1. Your CAT percentile depends not only on your level of preparedness but also on how you handle the pressure during the 170 min of the test. A difference of 2-3 right questions could mean a difference of 5-10 percentile points. AIMCATs are a measure of your level of preparedness at a given time, but they need not be a reflection of the degree of seriousness.
  2. As the AIMCATs progress, more and more "top – performers" join in to write the tests while many no-so-good-performers tend to stop writing the test. As a result, even though the number of test-takers remains the same, the degree of competition increases with every passing test.
  3. You can not say which is your true performance in the AIMCATs - a 98 percentile obtained in one AIMCAT or a 85 percentile obtained in another? It clearly is dependent on the recency of the performance and the degree of preparedness – as it has progressed.

In general, you can assume that if you perform to your potential during the test you would score several percentile points better than your best AIMCAT performance. The extent of improvement depends on the range of the best performance. The improvement would be around 5-8 points, 10-15 points and 15-20 points depending on your best performance being in the 90s, 80s and 70s respectively.

With the application (form) fee for each institute being in the range of Rs.500 to Rs.1600, you may not want to look at more than 10-12 institutes. It is always a good practice to select institutes across categories. At the same time, you also need to keep in mind that CAT, XAT, CMAT, SNAP, MAT and ATMA are comprehensive exams and you may need to apply to the institues seperately. So, the cost of application will have to be considered. The remaining exams viz IIFT, TISSNET, NMAT and MICAT are institute specific tests.

At the end of the year you could be choosing from a range of 12 B-school entrances (Institutes offering admission to more than a B-school: CAT, XAT, SNAP, CMAT, MAT, ATMA, Institutes offering admission to a single B-school (may have multiple campuses): IIFT, TISSNET, NMAT, MICAT, IBSAT).

Even though your CAT prep prepares you for all the exams, there are variations in the finer detail. And that could be an opportunity for you. For eg, XAT has a section on Decision Making, TISS NET has a relatively easier entrance test, IIFT has a liking for calculation intensive paper with a tough general awareness section, CMAT is a relatively easy exam offering B-schools in a very broad range. You only need to identify the exam where you are more likely to do better and make sure you apply to it.

Please click here to get an idea of the latest exam patterns for the National MBA Entrance tests.