With the registrations for the national level aptitude test – CAT 2016, coming to a close on September 27, the focus of students shift to understanding the requirements for the top IIMs. Every years, lakhs of aspirants write the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) for admission into the top management institutes of the country, lead by the IIMs. For years now, the IIMs have given an extensive weightage to the CAT percentile while deciding on the admission policy of their famous PGP programs. This year, however, there is a marked shift and the same has been done keeping in mind the large skew towards engineering aspirants taking the top seats at the various Indian Institutes of Management. The nature of the CAT exam provides an advantage to engineering students who tend to work better with the Quant section of the paper. However, the IIMs understand that there are varying aspects to management and have decided to moderate their admission policies to provide less weghtage to CAT 2016 scores and also give due credence to academic performance of the candidates from Class 10 up till their bachelors. The top Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow and IIM Kozikhode have all released their admission policies which show a significant drop in the weightage given to CAT scores. More so, in the first stage of short listing, academic profile would get more weightage with extra emphasis on non-engineering backgrounds (i.e. students from arts/ humanities and commerce streams).

IIM Ahmedabad’s admission policy for PGP 2017 has seen a drop in the qualifying sectional percentiles of CAT 2016 from 80 to 70 percentile. This is significant and would provide a larger application base from students who are unable to perform well in the quant sections. Similar shift in the admission policy was seen when IIM Bangalore released its decision to give only 40 percent weightage to the CAT score while making decision for admissions to their PGP 2017 – 19 batch. 60 percent weightage would be accorded to overall academic score from class 10th till bachelors, female candidates and work experience. Simillarly, IIM Calcutta has also reduced the weightage of CAT 2016 for the first selection round. For its PGP 2017 admissions, IIM Calcutta would only provide 28 out of 50 points to CAT 2016. Subsequently, it has also increased the percentage weight to 40% from the earlier 30% for the score till class 12. As for IIM Lucknow, the percentage of CAT 2016 scores has been reduced from 78% last year to only 60% this year.

These changes are done in order to increase the diversity at the premium management institutes of the country. For years now, IIMs have attracted students with high percentiles in CAT. Statistically, the 100 percentiles have been scored largely by students from engineering background. The effective advantage of an engineering student in the Quant section of CAT was felt acutely. This however leads to a disadvantage to many students from varying backgrounds with exceptionally good academic scores from class 10 onward. Moreover, there was also a skewed bias towards male candidates. IIMs seek to invite more applications from women candidates and hence the increased weightage and reduced dependence on CAT 2016 scores.

One word of caution though, while the CAT 2016 scores would play a lesser role in the first stage of selection, they still constitute an important parameter for selection to these top management institutes. Furthermore, the scores of CAT 2016 would also be considered during the second round of selection, still making it one of the most important steps for students who aspire to become the managers of tomorrow.