“How much does Class X and XII marks affect my chances of getting a seat in a good B-school?” or “I had poor marks in board exams or in my graduation, should I be worried?” or “I dropped a year in between, is this going to decrease my chances?”. These are some of the questions which bug a large portion of students preparing or planning to prepare for CAT exam. Many students take it seriously and seem to lose confidence because of it. In this article, I will try to present my view point and opinions on this issue.
Question : I have a really low percentage in Class 10th and 12th. Will this hamper my chances of getting into the old IIMs?
First of all, when it comes to taking the CAT exam, the X, XII and graduation marks are used only for checking the eligibility for the exam. Therefore, your percentile will not be affected at all by your grades irrespective of good or bad they are. Then comes the issue of getting calls from good B-schools after CAT results. In this context, your grades do matter and its impact differ depending on the B-school. For example, IIM-A has an ‘AR’ rating which is used besides your CAT score to decide who should be given the call. As per this system, there is a significant impact of your grades. There is a difference of 19 points on a scale of 100 between two students (one who got 79% in X, XII and graduation and the other who got 80% in all the three) whereas IIM-C doesn’t even take graduation marks in consideration. Overall, grades might hurt your chances in getting calls from some of the B-schools, but the number is still small. Besides, in most cases where you are at a disadvantage, you can make up for it with a high percentile.
Once you get a call, you must rejoice and stop thinking about your grades, though, you may be asked about them and the answer you give will be scrutinized by the interviewer. A good score in Class X, Class XII as well as graduation shows that the person is a very consistent performer. Obviously, such a candidate has his/her grades or scores to back-up the claim of being a well-deserved candidate for that B-school as well as to convince the panel for the same. However, having poor scores in one or maybe two of those, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is not well suited for MBA. I have come across many B-school students including students belonging to IIMs who do not have stellar academic record throughout their student life.
Hence, the question which should be asked is, what can be done to compensate ordinary grades? The answer is simple – a convincing justification. There are many students who are involved in significant amount of qualityextra-curricular and co-curricular activities. I used the terms ‘significant’ and ‘quality’ in the previous sentence deliberately because just joining multiple ‘open for all, just pay the membership fee, do nothing and get certificates’ kind of committees won’t help you much. Similarly, just participating in everything and not winning or not standing among finalists will not be much of a value addition. For example, if you have been taking dance lessons and practicing for years for which you substituted some of your study time and as a result got selected for performing at state level events, then this is something you must highlight in the interview and convince the panel that your interest was more towards dancing and that you made it worth. Interviewers would surely give you a chance to justify and you have to make the most out of it.
Having seen myself and my peers trying to (consciously and sub-consciously) “calculate” their chances by adding up the profile-related points, I can assure you that this of no significant gain. In case the numbers are in your favor, does this guarantee that even with poor interview you will succeed or if numbers are against you, then you don’t stand a chance? Absolutely not. The bottom line is that you have to give your best irrespective of your profile or percentile. Be confident and deliver the best interview performance from your side and you’ll get what you deserve.
Question: I have dropped a year after graduation. I have too much of work-ex. Will this hamper my chances of getting into a good B-School?
Similar advice is for those who dropped a year or have too much of work-ex. If you dropped a year due to medical issues, convey it to the interviewers and if for some other reason, then, justify why you did so and what significant things you gained by doing that. Did it help you in getting to a good college or helped in preparation of CAT etc. The better you justify it and back-up your claim, the better it will be. The interviewers will never have any prejudice against you and hence you should focus on what is in hand rather than what is not. Also, many of my B-school peers have nearly 4 or more years of experience. They might have had some disadvantage but that was not big enough to stop them, then why should you give up? IIM-C gives points for work-ex with experience of 3 years given the highest weightage and if I remember correctly, the weightage for 4 year experience is equal to that of 2 years. (The last statement is only to show that work-ex is not taken negatively and keeping up with what I said earlier, one should not read much into it and just realize that work-ex is not as important as your performance in CAT and interviews).
Also, if you have quite a lot of work-ex, then you can use it for your advantage also. You will have to come up with some good points which proves that you have learnt something extra in those extra years of your work experience. More years of work could also lead to working on diverse projects, leading a project with multiple sub-ordinates etc. can be some of the points you can refer to. You must also justify why you are planning to go for MBA after you have been working for quite a lot of time.
So don’t worry about the things that have happened in the past as you do not have a control over it. Try to give your best shot in CAT and the interviews, things will automatically fall into place.
You can post your queries regarding any such doubts that you have related to CAT in the below comment section. Will try to come up with another article on such type of queries.
All the Best for CAT!!!