The key reasons why a candidate should write other exams besides CAT are as follows:
Many top B-schools require you to write their own exams: For example, XLRI Jamshedpur uses XAT, SIBM Pune uses SNAP, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies uses NMAT etc. A lot of other b-schools would be using the performance of the candidates in one of these exams as a criteria for selection as well.
It helps to diversify your risks: If a candidate does not have any other option besides CAT, he will be under a lot of pressure while writing CAT. And, god forbid if anything goes wrong while writing CAT he will be left with no options.
Opportunity to capitalise on your strength(s): There are minor differences in the patterns of these exams including the areas tested and the difficulty level of the exams. It helps to identify the exam that best suits your strength areas and focus on them as well. For ex. If a student is good with general awareness then there are exams like SNAP, TISS, IIFT etc. For a candidate who does not have a very strong background in Math, TISS would again be a good target. CMAT is a new exam and is ideally suited for students who find CAT too difficult.
Some exams give you extra time to prepare: Many of these exams are conducted much later than CAT. This means that for a student starting his preparation a little late there is a few extra months time for preparation. Some of these are conducted as late as January (XAT, TISSET etc) which means you get almost 2 more months to prepare.
Awareness and adequate preparation for these exams is essential, as these tests have patterns which are different from CAT. Let us look at the major Other management Entrance Tests (OMETs) which would be conducted this year.
XAT is the second most popular management entrance examination after CAT. XAT is conducted by XLRI, Jamshedpur on behalf of Xavier Association of Management Institutes. Apart from XLRI, which is one of the top-5 B-schools in India according to latest rankings by various independent agencies, XAT scores are used by more than 100 institutes across India. XAT is usually conducted in the first week of January. XAT 2013 was conducted on January 6th, 2013.
Common Management Admissions Test - CMAT
From itsi launch in 2011 as a one-stop test for admission into all the AICTE approved B-schools in the country, CMAT has come a long way. The exam is proposed to be conducted twice a year. However, an additional CMAT is being conducted this year so as to provide a chance to candidates who missed out on applying earlier. The exam has grown from strength to strength with a lot of state entrance exams being scrapped in its favour such as RMAT, MHCET, GCET, MPMET etc. The last CMAT (in February 12) was written by approx. 1.5 Lakh students, which is next only to approx. 2 Lakh students writing CAT. Unlike other management entrance exams of similar nature, CMAT gives you a shot at the premier B-schools of the country such as JBIMS, Sydenham, KJ Somaiya, IMT Nagpur, Hyderabad and GIM among others.
Symobiosis National Aptitude Test (SNAP)
SNAP is an aptitude test conducted by the Symbiosis society as a first entry requirement for all the B schools under Symbiosis International University which has 12 B schools under its umbrella, 3 General management and the others- sectoral or specialized MBA's. The list of institutes includes SIBM Pune, SCMHRD Pune, SIBM Bangalore, SIIB Pune etc. The exam is considered a must for MBA aspirants thanks to this eclectic mix of colleges using its scorecard as a part of their selection processes.
Management Aptitude Test (MAT)
MAT is conducted by All India Management Association four times a year – February, May, September, and December in both the formats-Paper pencil as well as Computer based. Even though the paper has a section on General Awareness, the score in this section is rarely used by any B-school for shortlisting candidates for the GDPI process.
Exams conducted by Individual Institutes
IIFT entrance test for IIFT New Delhi and Kolkata.
TISSNET for Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai offering specialisation in a range of areas from HRM & IR to Social Entrepreneurship to Women empowerment etc. Like MAT, TISSNET is conducted in both paper-pencil and online format. The exam is usually conducted in the month of January.
NMAT for Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore offering General MBA, Banking, Capital Markets and HRM. It is conducted in online format and that students can take max of three attempts and the best of three is taken as their final performance while short listing for GDPI.
MICAT for Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad
IBSAT for ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad and several other locations in the country.
The exam notifications for many of these exams are already out. An interested candidate should go through the website of these exams and collect details regarding the exam date, last date for application, where to get the form from, which B-schools would accept the scorecard of the exam etc.