Friday, December 28, 2007


I just read this post through a link on Pagalguy. The author has lambasted the IIMs. I could not restrain myself from posting this reply to him. (This actually began as a comment on his blog :) Had to shift the text here in view of the length)

Heyy Kausar.. A very hot article :) But I dont agree with the largest part of it.. My responses to your complaints:

- CAT is flawed: Yes. I agree. In fact, I was directly impacted by this last year. Luckily, this year I went ready for errors in the Qn paper. And I did spot one. So saved some time and tension.

- Standardizing CAT: This would take the sting away from CAT. I believe CAT is a great exam simply because it tests your strategical reasoning powers as well. Standardizing CAT will simply kill it. And as for candidates getting confused, BOSS!! If one is expecting to get into a B-school overpowering 2 lakh other aspirants, he shdn't expect everything to be offered to him on a platter.

- Changing pattern every year: They do it just to make sure that people do not get in simply because they were TRAINED for it. A person's true value will manifest itself, when he is faced with something never-seen-before. The IIMs want only the best of the lot. I believe this is sure one way to do it.

- Intellectual Property rights: He he :) I donno if anyone else has noticed this. But going by how popular CAT is, am sure the IIMs wont take any chance. They would have taken some permission from the original authors. Maybe they did not print that on the Qn papers TO SAVE INK ;)

- Curbing coaching institutions by standardizing CAT: Even if the test becomes standard, coaching institutes will flourish as they do today. It's not abt the test dude.. It's about the B-schools.. Am sure all of us join coaching centers to hit the IIMs.. Not to crack CAT.. We target the IIMs, and the CAT is the route to them.. So we take the CAT.. If it was some other exam, we would still take that exam with due preps, and one means to that is to get professional guidance..

- IIMs should worry about the non-successful ones: Why would they do this? They did not ask 2 lakh people to apply.. They want only those 1500.. Do you think they consciously advertise and call for applicants? Nopes! We are the ones who apply in large numbers.. They simply pick the ones who are best suited for their insti, as per their judgment.. What else can they do?

- CAT should teach something that we can use in our daily life: CAT has taught me so many things: to get on with life without being bogged down by one problem; to pay attention to detail; to analyze and interpret data better; to read actively; to prioritize commitments.

- (234 ^ 234) / 6 :) If you had taken CAT in the right spirit, you would have realized that you don't actually need to tackle these questions.. You do get a whole lot of sitters in CAT too.. Questions at the same level as those in the GMAT (I have taken the GMAT too, so I know).. You can get thru the IIMs by cracking those questions alone.. CAT simply tests if you can identify which one to hit and which one to miss.. With your limited resources (time), how much of your unlimited wants (answering 75 questions) can you satisfy? this is what CAT tests..

- Errata from IIM websites: Sure do project the institutions in poor light.. I am with you in this..

- Minimum criteria for work-ex: As you yourself have stated, this is your personal opinion. But the IIMs know what they are looking for. My logic is this: If the class is full of ppl with experience, then fresh ideas would be missed sorely.. Cos when ppl gather experience, they are actually getting trained in systems.. They fall into a groove.. To think outside of that framework would require herculean efforts.. But that would come naturally to a fresher..

- CAT applicants should serve community for free: The IIMs are B-schools.. They are not NGOs.. Each and every entity has a purpose to focus on.. It would be great if just that purpose is served by that entity.. If we want CAT to impact the society positively, we may as well expect our cars to fly..

If you feel my views are not just, do let me know.. we can discuss further..


Nitin said...

The first thing that strikes me about the article that you've replied to is the overwhelming bias and bitterness that comes about when someone takes CAT too seriously and then fails at it - on a totally different plane, I guess this is true for everything in life and it helps to not get carried away by the hype and stakes that are attached with getting through CAT!

Coming to critiquing the CAT - the strengths are for all to see: a decent filtering mechanism considering the sheer numbers (and as you rightly put it, the numbers are what make the exam tough); a fairly well designed exam since it tests the applicant on multi-dimensional abilities and gives people from all fields a fair chance. People do claim that it is strongly biased in favour of IITians and other engineers, but I have a feeling that the ratio of engineers appearing for CAT to those clearing it will be similar to that for people from other fields.

The cons might not be very obvious until once actually goes through an MBA - the toppers in CAT, the infallible 100 percentilers are almost never toppers in IIMs (I can say this with certainty for the last 3 years at IIMA atleast) - that by itself does not say much since most of people with lesser than 100%ile also do not end up topping here :D

But in all seriousness, the skill sets required for accounting, operations, finance, HR, strategy and marketing are only very loosely related to the skill set that CAT crackers possess - which leads one to believe that there can be better yardsticks to separate the grain from the chaff. The GMAT is not necessarily a good yardstick either, but foreign B schools attach a lot of importance to other compenents such as the numerous essays that an applicant has to write. Moving forward, the IIMs can be expected to evolve similar strategies to complement CAT, which as a competitive exam scores over most others since it focuses on people who are intelligent and smart simultaneously.. and on very rare occasions, people who just get lucky!

Nitin said...

And as a very irrelvant aside - the remainder when 234^234 is divided by 6 is zero since 234 is divisible by 6.. this is a clear example of a CAT sitter that a 3rd standard kid can get - if he applies common sense! alas, at times we just assume things are tougher than they are..

Anupam said...

Hello Vishy ,

Amazing reply to Kausar's post .i agree to u fully in ur views about CAT.Logically speaking wat I wud like to stress here is that basically ppl who really fight it out hard for belling CAT n are unable to do well coz of any no of numerous reasons , bash CAT to a heavy extent (no hard feelings intended).Even i worked hard but dont think well get the desired results.So wat is required is an unbiased criticim or approval rather than criticism for teh heck of it.T obe frank , of all the exams i have given I must say that CAT is the most beautiful.I think some of u may agree that Cat can be cracked even widout studying really wid jst sm common sense .Like for example the cuttoffs for QA this year seems to be around 25 means a net of 7 correct questions .If one has just been faithful enough to his maths during his academicc carreer ,it seems esay to me.Wat Cat relly checks is how to reamin calm during the paper and I can bet u tht most ppl wid hard work dont get thru jst becoz tehy loose their calm during the paper.Cat never follows any any rules in a sense it has a maverick approach.You dont have to cram vocabulary , grammer higher maths formulaes neither u hv to solve the ques.Still its difficult n that is where its beauty lies.One observation that i Wud like to add here is that I definitely wasnt convinced wid the QA mistakes in last year paper which happens.But if u tk a luk at this years paper their was wrong ques in DI (no choices were matching) n it was uniform in all papers.I am very sure that this type of a mistake cannot occur again becoz proof readig must hv been done specially afters last yr's debacle.It seems to me tht it was deliberately added in the paper as a speed paper and most ppl wud hv fallen for it.Isnt tht helps u to kn wat to do n wat not to do -to set ut priorities.So bashing CAt for teh sake of it will not work.Cheers

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Anonymous said...

i thought only the post was good.. but the reply was terrific..
shredding each and every valid argument with an even more down to earth, simple looking counter!!
i always felt that a person with experience is better off studying for mba (though i decided to make myself an exception) you gave a real good reason why freshers need to do mba. but if thats the case, why haven't the ivy league ppl thought about it?
if i get selected for gd pi this time( which has a 10 percent possibility) dude i really would be better off prepaing it with you!!! :)

King Vishy said...

@nitin: interesting to see this kind of a view.. but of course.. u would know better with ur first hand gyan abt the IIMs..

@anupam: u hit the nail on the head man.. CAT tests if you are "cool", truly.. but am not sure if the IIMs would go to the extent of intentionally placing errata in qn papers :) They have a reputation after all!

@ramsundar: LoL.. That seems to be the path that most ppl take nowadays man..

@hantan: thanks for the compliments da :) btw the ivy league guys do accept freshers.. their admission processes involve no "minimum work-ex" clause (at least that of Harvard).. they simply would judge whether you would be able to withstand academic rigour, and whether you would be able to contribute to the univ in some way.. as for the GD/PI preps - lets hit it together boss! am in too!

Sheks said...

Kausar says that GMAT teaches basic English grammar which one can use in his everyday life(re:his comments section).Would someone who doesn't know basic English grammar ever think of taking the GMAT?

The high difficulty level in the CAT is purely because of the number of students taking the test.If there were only about say 20000 students taking the CAT every year,I'm sure the paper would have been less difficult,maybe even more standardised.