Q1)Can you give some tips on how to prepare for and crack the exam?

A) The general rule about when to start preparing for an entrance exam is - the sooner the better. One should also learn to manage time effectively as at the end of the day it is all about how well you perform in the given exam time. Be result oriented and focused for an optimal performance.

Q2)The CAT has various sections. How should you go about preparing for all of them?

It is important to take one section at a time and revise it thoroughly. It is also important to practice a lot. Identify the sections you are weak at and spend adequate time in a day to tackle the topics in that particular section.

Q3)Is it important to have a strategy before you appear for the exam?

It is good to have a strategy in place, though you should not try to formulate a very rigid strategy. Critically analyze your areas of strengths- the particular set of topics, which you seldom get wrong in mock tests. Also identify the areas you are not so comfortable with. However it is always advisable to experiment with your strategies for different tests. 

Q4)What factors do the IIMs consider before selecting students?

In the last couple of years the selection process of the IIMs has incorporated a few more significant dimensions in selection criteria apart from just CAT scores. Many of the IIMs have started looking at an individual's record over a long period of time, starting from high school. They are apportioning weight-ages to the academic performances from high school onwards, the extracurricular records and work experience.

Q5)How do they go about selecting the candidates?

Though the popular process is of conducting a group discussion and interview, these B-schools go beyond to evaluate the leadership orientation and culture-fit of the individual, as their main aim is to look for candidates who are keen to push their own boundaries and create opportunities. So, the processes may involve group task or group exercise that will throw light on other abilities of the individual like risk taking, innovation, problem-solving, lateral thinking, group membership and leadership, openness to learning and feedback, collaboration and collective learning apart from listening, communication, idea generation, building on others ideas etc., that get explored in the group discussions. Many of the institutions do incorporate the group discussions along with group task too.

Q6)What does the selection process in top MBA colleges entail?

In many cases everyone who goes through the group task and group discussion is called for the interview too. Only after one goes through the entire process, the decision of selection or rejection happens. The interview process explores the vision of the individual. What is the purpose he or she is living for? How much clarity one has about where he or she wants to head? Is he or she aware of the business or industry that he or she would like to be involved in? How much does he know of what he has done in life so far?

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