Over 1.85 lakh candidates took the test across 36 cities

For many serious examinees, the Common Admission Test almost becomes an addiction after some time. Rajesh Balasubramanian from Chennai, who topped CAT 2011, the results of which were declared on Wednesday, will surely agree; and so will Ajinkya Deshmukh from Mumbai, another topper with 100 percentile.

CAT training institutes said nine candidates scored 100 percentile.

Both Rajesh and Ajinkya were also students of IIT-Madras at different times and while their eagerness to be part of this annual test is something similar between them, there are differences too. For Ajinkya, an employee of a business analytics firm, getting into one of the top three IIMs has been the motivating factor for the last three years; for Rajesh, also an IIM-Bangalore alumnus, it is more of an annual ritual necessary to be in tune with B-school aspirants. “It just helps me develop better MBA teaching content. It means nothing to me now, but I know how much it means to others,” said Rajesh, 31, who quit a banking job abroad to train students on taking CAT here. Rajesh scored 100 percentile this time, his fifth experience of CAT.

Their examples show that candidates sit for CAT for a variety of reasons and with varying levels of aspirations. Over 1.85 lakh candidates took the test, over a 20-day testing window, across 36 cities between October 20 and November 18, 2011, in 68 test centres. CAT scores are necessary for gaining admission to the management programmes of all 13 IIMs, the Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs) and the National Institutes of Technology, apart from 150 management institutions.

“The approach is very different when you take the exam as an employee rather than as a student. You are definitely under more pressure and you want the best. The good thing now is that most employers know the employees are not going to be with them forever, so it is easier to make these choices without official hassles,” Ajinkya told The Hindu.

Among the others who secured 100 percentile are a doctor from Grant Medical College, Mumbai, Shashank Prabhu, who is pursuing an MBA from Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi, and Sreeram Prasad from Nellore, a student of IIT-Ropar. The other toppers are from Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bangalore and Indore. “There has been an attempt to reduce the influx of engineers in CAT. The pattern of the paper has been changed, and the questions in Maths are becoming relatively simple, but even then, over 88 per cent of the candidates still come from engineering background,” said K.S. Murthy, professor, IIM-Bangalore.

More seats

According to officials at IIM-Calcutta that convened the exam this year, IIMs will start calling candidates for the next stage of the admission process immediately. Within a week, all the IIMs would have sent out mails to prospective candidates. This year, many of the new IIMs, including those in Tiruchi, Udaipur and Raipur, have increased their intake from 70 to 120. Even as many aspirants are thinking over their options of choosing a B-School over a job offer, some feel this might not be the right time to pursue an MBA.

However, S. Balasubramanian, director, Triumphant Institute of Management Education (TIME), does not think so. “The relevance of an MBA degree will always be valid. The market will always need managers who have a degree from a good B-school.”