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I am planning to do MBA, shall write CAT this year“. When I interact with young people in my money awareness sessions, often I hear about people wanting to do an MBA and reasons are so varied , “My jobs sucks, boss is so mean”, “There are no challenges in current job”, “Parents are pushing me to marry so I shall join MBA”, “MBA pays a higher salary so I want to MBA“.   The impact of decision to pursue an MBA can be long lasting especially on personal finance, MBAs are so damn expensive and other than preparation cost,tuition fees there are questions like opportunity cost, badge value, alumni network, choice of career and Return on Investment. While evaluating whether to go for MBA or not, one should objectively evaluate the decision on many such parameters. So before we look at the cost of doing MBA, let’s spend some learn about how MBA,IIMS,CAT and more

Types of MBA

There are more than 1000 Business schools in India offering  different kind of MBA to aspirants. The various flavors of MBA are

  • Full Time MBA/PGDM Courses
  • Integrated (B.Tech + MBA) Courses
  • BBA/BBM Courses
  • Online MBA Courses
  • Part-time MBA Courses
  • Executive MBA Courses
  • Integrated (BBA + MBA) Courses
  • Certifications Courses
  • Distance/Correspondence MBA Courses
  • Global MBA’s

What is CAT?

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) are a group of 13 public, autonomous institutes of management education and research in India. Common Aptitude Test Common Admission Test or CAT is conducted by the IIM as a pre-requisite for admission to various management programmes of IIMs, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) and few other institutions. CAT is normally conducted every year during a 21 day testing window  in the months of October and November. A candidate can appear for CAT only once during the 20-day testing window. The test score is valid for admission to the forthcoming academic year only.

Before 2009, CAT was a paper based test conducted on a single day for all candidates. On 1 May 2009, it was announced that CAT would be a Computer Based Test (CBT) starting from CAT 2009. The American firm Prometric conducts the computer based test.The test is conducted every year by one of the IIM’s based on a policy of rotation. This test scores a person on the bases of quantitative ability, data interpretation, verbal ability and logical reasoningThe pattern, number of questions and duration have seen considerable variations over the years.

In 2007, there were seven IIMs, with a total of about 1,400 seats, while now there are 13 IIMs, with about 3,000 seats.

Fees for a post-graduate course have risen threefold between 2007 and 2012. Those who got admitted in 2007 paid around Rs 5 lakh, while those who will get admitted in 2013 will pay between Rs 13.5 lakh and Rs 15.5 lakh. It is in the older IIMs that this hike is the sharpest.

In 2008, 2.76 lakh people registered for the CAT. After steadily falling for three years, in 2012 the figure touched 2.10 lakh.

Details of CAT 2013

The registration window will be open from August 5, 2013 through September 26, 2013. CAT candidates can buy vouchers online directly from IIMs, from August 5 to September 24 or  purchase traditional vouchers for registration and scheduling from designated Axis Bank branches from August 5 to September 24.

CAT will be conducted over a period of 20 days – from October 16 to November 11, 2013 – across 40 cities. The total duration will be two hours and 35 minutes including the tutorial.

CAT 2013 will have two sections. The first section will focus on quantitative ability and data interpretation; the second on verbal ability and logical reasoning. These two sections will be implemented sequentially with separate time limits. The examination will be for 140 minutes. Candidates will have 70 minutes to answer 30 questions within each section which will have an on-screen countdown timer. Once the time ends for the first section, they will move to the second and will be unable to go back.

 Advertisement for CAT 2013 (pdf) is given for more details

Numbers and  CAT

Numbers and CAT


Alternative to CAT

The other common alternatives to CAT are as follows :

  • XAT is an all-India examination conducted by Xavier Labour and Resources Institute (XLRI) Jamshedpur, on an all India level to select students for its management program. Some 70 institutes use XAT scores to shortlist students for admission.
  • The Indian Institute of foreign Trade (IIFT) conducts the IIFT entrance exam for admission to its Postgraduate programs in management.
  • Symbiosis National Aptitude (SNAP) Test is a common written test for the admission to all the Postgraduate Institutes of Symbiosis International University.
  • NMAT (effective from 2010) is an online admission test conducted by Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) in India and abroad
  • CMAT is a national level admission test conducted for selection of to management programs approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The first edition of CMAT was conducted in February 2012.

Global MBAs

To do MBA outside India one needs to write GMAT. Over 5,000 programs offered by more than 1,600 institutions in over 110 countries use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria. In India, the GMAT exam is accepted for admissions at more than 200 plus programs offered at over 90 business schools. The GMAT exam consists of four sections—Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. The total score for GMAT exam is reported on a scale of 200-800 and is based on performance on the Quantitative and Verbal sections. The GMAT exam is administered year-round at test centers around the world. You may take the exam no more than once every 31 calendar days and no more than five times in a rolling 12-month period GMAT vs CAT Differences

In rupee terms, an MBA at top global B-schools can cost anywhere between 60 lakh to 69 lakh. Median pay for graduates with three years experience or less at these global schools has dropped to $53,900 ( 29.32 lakh) in 2012, down 4.6%  since 2007-08, according to US website that examined 186 schools. An MBA at IIM-Ahmedabad, on the other hand, costs 17 lakh and students graduating from it earn a mean pay of 13.73 lakh.

Rankings of MBA colleges can be found at multiple places like PagalGuy, siliconIndia , career 360, Most Popular Business Schools in the World  

Getting Good score(CAT or others) is just a first step. Even the very best CAT performance cannot guarantee CAT seat as shown in infographic from EconomicTimes below

After Good CAT score

After Good CAT score

Job after MBA

It is thought by most students, their parents and relatives that an admission to an MBA especially an IIM is a ticket to not just a job but a high paying job. At its zenith 2004- 2008 the question was not even whether hundred per cent placement would be achieved but whether it would achieved within a day or two. But if one reads carefully the placement data by sectors ,bull-run in Indian MBA market was driven by the steadily increasing hiring numbers and salary packages offered by the global banks. The global financial crisis was already unfolding  when number of IIMs got doubled.  But now MBAs including IIMs are struggling to place the batch.

Placements at IIMs are swayed by the mood in corporate India about expectations of growth and the mood currently is not Good. A a combination of factors, most notably the feeble state of the economy but also a bulge in the number of students, has made the placement season the most challenging in years despite IIMs reaching out to more companies. In all, 13 IIMs have to match 2,800-odd students with potential recruiters. More at EconomicTimes 13 IIMs unlucky for placements: Sluggish economy leave up to 15% graduates without employment or Subramoney Class of 2013: Confessions of an MBA school salesman 

Sameer Kamat’s Beyond the MBA Hype by admission consultant Sameer Kamat, an MBA from the University of Cambridge and founder of MBA Crystal Ball tells you truths such as:

  • Are you cut out for an MBA in the first place?
  • How to choose an appropriate school and how to apply.
  • What to expect in the classroom.
  • Which skills are required in the business world?
  • What are the likely job prospects after you graduate?

In this article we have given an overview of MBA, CAT, IIMs and other management colleges and exams. In the next article we shall talk about Cost of doing MBA. What do you think of doing MBA, About IIMs, About CAT, about Global MBAs? Why should one do an MBA ?


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