[Exclusive] CAT Insights for IPMers

CAT Insights for IPM Students

Dear juniors, this is just an effort at providing some realizations that a lot of us had after making through the cut. We have tried to garner info from most people who got into colleges outside Planet-I, and hope this provides you valuable insights for the journey to be. 

1. Why are you giving CAT, and what can you do in the meantime?

It\’s supremely important for you to answer this question because CAT is a 6-8 months commitment from exam prep to interviews. 

3rd year has a lot of free time, and you can use that time to gain skills, gain certifications like CFA/FRM, and beef up your resume. Irrespective of the elitist MBA college you are in, after one year, your resume would be super important. This is something that has hit me regularly. CAT can take away 1-2 hours of your day easily for 3-4 months, so make sure you know what you are about. 

Ideally, if you feel that if you assume one internship in pre-PGP summers would still not be enough and want to add more content on your resume, please reconsider CAT.

2. How are your 10-12th Acads?

Not having 9/9 in 10-12th can really be a pain in the ass, and you must read the admission policies of whatever college you aim to get in, because even if you get a kick-ass percentile in CAT, this can snatch away your calls.  Personal example, I had 95% in 12th boards.

IIM Lucknow rewards 10 marks for class 12th if you have greater than (not equal to) 95 in 12th. And 7.5 if you are less than or equal to 95. Those 10-7.5 = 2.5 make all the differences in shortlists and waitlists. It made for me. I am waitlisted at an extremely unlikely rank in IIM L, so I guess that\’s an L for me (pun intended)

Please realize your chances given your previous acads. Ignoring them would cost you important calls and may not be worth the 6-month effort. Imagine you get a kick-ass percentile and not having 2-3 BLACKI calls. So if you don\’t have 9/9 acads, understand you need something like 99.8+ to compensate for it. Only two IPMers had a 99.8+ this year (Parth Rajagopalan of IIM R and Rishu God)

3. How are your undergrad scores?

While most of the college\’s focus heavily mostly on 10th and 12th acads. Some colleges do have a significant weightage for your undergrad scores (namely IIM Lucknow and Bangalore). [For reference- A senior with 91% in undergrad received 7.69/10 in Lucknow\’s grading criteria.] So if your undergrad scores are on the lower side of the spectrum while 10th/12th are good, you might not get calls from B and L, but if you have a good percentile, you\’ll still end up with multiple calls from BLACKI and FMS. 

[Never fall in love with an institute without reading their admission policy]

4. Do some institutes don\’t prefer IPMers?

This is a very subjective question and the answer to this is solely based on our anecdotal experience of AY 2022 selections. The seniors felt that they didn\’t face any sort of discrimination in the admission process of any of the BLACKI institutes, except Lucknow. Lucknow for a weird reason has given significantly low marks in PI to all the ipmers. Now it could be the case that all of the 15+ IPMers gave extremely bad PIs for Lucknow (but I find it hard to believe that). 

Obviously, the trends can be reversed in the future, since in the previous year there were 3 IPMers that went to IIM L and hence this could be a one-off thing too. 

And it’s important to mention in the same breath FMS (in case you consider ROI), that FMS shortlisted just one person from IPM this year. Last and last two last also only 1 person went each year, but previously FMS wasn\’t applied to either. We had around 10 people who gave interviews for it this year, and only one has been shortlisted till now, apart from around 7 in waitlists. So, it begs the question, \”Ki tum me kis baat ka attitude hai?\”

5. Should you buy classroom(online) courses for your CAT? 

One of the most pertinent questions asked is should we buy video courses from Time/IMS/CL etc. Our two cents on this would be that even though you\’ll have a considerable amount of time in 3rd year, it might (most probably won\’t) not be enough to follow structured coursework of the CAT coaching institutes. Rather than buying video courses of these coaching institutes, buy multiple mock test series from them. You\’ll have a limited amount of time and you want to get into the habit of solving more questions, which essentially is what mock tests help you with. Mock tests + Sectionals also help you figure out what are your weak topics and then you can spend a considerable amount of time on YouTube for the same. 

Tl;DR- Don\’t buy video courses, you most probably won\’t watch it. There is enough content on YouTube. Buy Mock test

6. Now that you have chosen to give the exam, most prep is very obvious and similar to IPMAT 

  • Practice 
  • Give at least 20+ mocks, but not too many. Try to learn your weak points from every single mock you give, and reiterate from there. Also, don\’t stop the mocks because you are practicing your weak points. Mocks really help in building your strategy for each section, question selection, time spent on individual questions. 
  • I have given mocks from both TIME and IMS test series and I can confidently say that IMS test series is far better. You will get much more variety of questions in IMS and IMS is much better when it comes to being similar to the actual CAT exam. In the TIME test series LRDI questions usually follow the same format which is not good because LRDI is the make or break section, you need to solve a diverse variety of questions because in CAT LRDI questions never follow the same pattern as previous years question. 
  • Consistency is more valuable here, because CAT is a speed and strategy exam. So if your prep gets interrupted by Mid and End Terms, it\’s very important for you to jump back the next day so as to be consistent. Personally felt this when didn\’t study dirt shit in Term 7, after studying in SPC, and was very slow in QA and LR questions when restarting in Term 8.
  • A good way to not get stressed during exam week or before it, is to constantly remind yourself that this exam can\’t do shit to you. You are an IBMer, bound to graduate from one of India\’s best b-schools. This exam is only for an upgrade, your life doesn\’t depend on it. Chill bro

7. Interviews 

Interviews can be extremely random, many of us faced stress interviews, lost hope for those particular colleges and still made the cut. Some interviews may go well and you may not actually make it. 

Revise your acads, decide 2-3 main subjects that you will quote when asked to name your favourite ones. Also, brush up basics on some of our common subjects like Philo, Psycho, Socio etc. 2 of your seniors fucked up IIM Calcutta interviews because of not doing this.

In my opinion the interview is mainly dependent on your luck, the best we can do is leave no stone unturned when it comes to interview prep. Ideally you should be working twice as hard when it comes to interview prep as compared to CAT prep. After 7 interviews I can safely say that the interviewer can ask you whatever the fuck that they want, and if you don\’t answer their random ass questions, you will get lower marks. For freshers like us acads is the main thing that they ask us during interviews so be aware of that.

In terms of acads, I have been asked questions on the following subjects, so keep them in mind: 12th grade maths, 12th grade accounts, from basic economics to weirdly specific questions in advance economics, Game Theory (V.Imp), Basic Statistics, Political Science. The most important subject for me was economics since I was straight up with the panel that I suck at quants and stats.

In terms of mock interviews, I took the TIME mock interview series and honestly it fucking sucks, its a waste of TIME. In case you guys do want to do some mock interviews, feel free to approach any of your seniors, we will gladly help you with this.

You will always be asked why you leave IPM, and there are multiple different takes on it

  1. One school of thought is that we should not disrespect our IIM-I brand in anyways and hence, ideas like growth, change of environment, entrepreneurship (CIIE at IIMA, NSCREL Évangéliser at IIMB, and a very active IIM L incubator) etc can be argued for. 
  2. Another school of thought says that the profs in the interview panel can see through your lies, so rather be authentic. It\’s about placements then be honest about it. Anyways, whatever decision you make, be ready for good grilling on this question.

GK is a must, you should be habituated to reading news now only. And its important for you to have crisp summaries for that too.  Opinions on controversial events, clear insights of Budget, state elections if they are going on. “Kuch Bhi puchlenge.”

One candidate was asked to be a political consultant and recommend a strategy for a political party in UP. Now you can\’t predict such random questions, but you need to realize that you should have enough info to deal with googlies like these.

You should have a good understanding of the major national and international news stories that have happened in the last 2 years. Also, it does not matter if you are interested in finance or not, start reading a financial newspaper at least 3 months before your interviews start, you are a school student, the panel expects you to know this stuff. 

Also, if you are somebody who ends up with a great percentile, just a reminder – that\’s just half of the process. Most interviews have 50% weightage in the process. Don\’t get overconfident and fuck this up for yourself midway. Humble down and study.

8. Importance of saying \”I don\’t know\”

Please learn to say this. If you don\’t know the answer to a random question like No. of Telecom Companies, or where is Maggi originally from, don\’t guess. Don\’t look like a fool. Just, think of this 

If your answer is not 95% confidence interval wala and you aren\’t ready to bet 1000 rupees to verify that answer in the next 2 minutes, don\’t say it. 

Adding to the same point, The art of saying I don\’t know is not only limited to when you say it but it also encompasses how you word your \”I don\’t know\”. You won\’t know the answer to every question that is going to be asked to you but you should know how to get out of all such difficult situations. 

Here the links to a few resources that will be helpful during your interview prep.

A special thanks to Raghav Gaba (IPM19, IIM A), Vishwas Vaish (IPM19, IIM B) and Gautam Kapoor (IPM19) for the efforts and time they have put to create this informative blog.

Feel free to drop your queries in the comment below, we will answer them asap.

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