Admission Criteria

Overview - IIM Admission Criteria

The IIMs follow a 2 stage selection process – the written exam (CAT) and the GWPI (Group discussion / Written ability test / Personal Interview). A shortlist of candidates is prepared after the first stage taking into account the performance in the written exam, academic background, work experience, reservation category, gender etc. The institues would also have a minimum criteria for candidature in terms percentages in school/college. However, this requirement is quite lineant and a serious student would not have any difficulty in clearing the same.

Shortlisted applicants are required to appear for the second stage of the admission process wherein they would go through a personal interview, written ability test and/or a group discussion. Most IIMs have now shifted to Written Ability Test (WAT) from Group Disucssion (GD) as a part of the selection process. The final list of selected candidates is prepared taking into account your performance in the written exam, the GWPI process, academic background, work experience etc.

Weightage - Various Components of Selection Process

The weightage of various components in the selection process varies across institutes and varies from year-to-year for most institutes. In general, we can say that the non-IIM institutes give increasing importance to the entrance exam (CAT in this case) with the remaining weight being allocated between the GD and PIs. However, for the IIMs we need to be a little more careful before drawing any generalization.

At this stage, many students are given to understand that getting a call from an IIM is extremely difficult and converting a call even more so. Through this section we will try to dispel a few myths surrounding the selection process of the IIMs. In the process, we will also share the details of shortlisting at various stages.

Some students have the misconception that even if they do exceptionally well in CAT, they may not get an IIM call as the IIMs give a lot of importance to academic background, work experience, extra-curricular activities etc. Lets take a look at the weightage to CAT in the preparation of Interview shortlist as followed by various IIMs.

Weight of CAT Score List of IIMs
100.00% (IIM Ahmedabad, Kashipur, Ranchi, Raipur, Shillong, Trichy, Udaipur)
75 to 80% (IIM Calcutta, Lucknow, Kozhikode)
53% (IIM Rohtak)
25 to 30% (IIM Bangalore, Indore)

As you will observe from the above table,10 out of 13 IIMs award at least 75% weightage to your CAT score in the preparation of their shortlists.

Minimum CAT percentiles for getting a call:

It is true that to get a call from IIM A or C a general category student would need upwards of 99.5 percentile in the entrance test. And IIM B lays a lot of emphasis on academic background for shortlisting. But let us also look at the shortlisting criteria for the other IIMs and see if it is really that difficult to get an IIM call.

IIM K shortlists candidates at 85 percentile and then uses other parameters to arrive at the shortlists. So, even at a 90%ile you can expect a call from IIM K. The lowest CAT percentile for PI calls for the new IIMs has been only a 97. And these figures are for the general category student. The corresponding figures for students from various categories are even more encouraging. Let us also look at the minimum CAT percentiles for getting a call from the new institutes to get a better perspective into things.

Category CAT Percentiles (to be eligible for shortlist)
  QA/DI VA/LR Overall
General 70.77 71.09 96.82
NC-OBC 63.95 63.81 81.35
SC 50.52 50.51 67.53
ST 41.42 40.8 50.71
DAP 41.42 42.21 50.71

The naysayers opine that if you are not a 90% throughout your academic career and do not have a minimum work experience of 3 years, you do not stand a chance to get into the IIMs. Let us look at the weightage to academic background and work experience in the preparation of final shortlists. As can be seen, only two of the 13 IIMs (Bangalore and Indore) give more than 20% weightange to these two parameters combined. For all other IIMs, these are far lesser important than they are made out to be.

Weightage Weightage to academic background+Workex in final selection shortlist
0 % 2 IIMs (IIM Ahmedabad, Shillong)
5-10% 4 IIMs (IIM Calcutta, Kashipur, Kozhikode, Lucknow)
11-20% 4 IIMs (IIM Ranchi, Rohtak, Trichy, Udaipur)
25-30% 1 IIM (IIM Raipur)
47-50% 2 IIMs (IIM Bangalore, Indore)

As they say, there are things outside my control and there is no use worrying about them. And, there are things I can control and lets make the most of them. If we assume that Academic background and work experience are not really within our control as far as writing CAT is concerned, and only our performance in CAT and the GDPI process are what we can control (call them 'controllables'), the distribution of these Controllables in the final selection stands as follows:

Weightage No. of IIMs
100.00% 2 IIMs (IIM Ahmedabad, Shillong)
90-95% 2 IIMs (IIM Kozhikode, Lucknow)
80-90% 5 IIMs (IIM Calcutta, Rohtak, Udaipur, Trichy, Kashipur)
50-55% 4 IIMs (IIM Bangalore, Indore, Ranchi, Raipur,)

What is amply clear from the above is that with a good performance in CAT and the GWPI process, we still have a good chance of getting into one of the IIMs notwithstanding the background. Also, there are many non-IIM B-schools like MDI, SP Jain, XLRI, IIFT, IITs which give substantial weightage to the entrance process and still fetch us excellent salaries. So, before you say you can't, say I'll try and then give it your best!