What after CAT? Here`s what you can do!

CAT 2018 is now done and dusted. As an MBA aspirant, is the battle over? Definitely not! The CAT battle has come to a close but your war isn't over yet. Irrespective of how you might have performed in the exam, there is still a long way to go and many more opportunities that await to be discovered.
Bavitha CAT is only one among the multiple MBA exams - it is of course the most prominent one with more than 300 Top colleges accepting CAT score in their admission process. However, there are MBA Colleges that have their own exam or accept other exam scores too! In today's article, let us look at a few of those options. Further, a good performance in either CAT or any of the other exams is only the first step - the second step (in fact, the scarier step for most aspirants) is the Personality Round. Let us also look at how you need to get started with your preparation for the Personality Round in today's article.

Prepare for IIFT, SNAP, NMAT, XAT and other MBA entrances.
Other upcoming major entrance exams are IIFT, SNAP, XAT, and NMAT. A good performance in any of these exams also assures you an entry in to some of the top B-Schools in the country.

The next one in line is IIFT. IIFT exam score is not just accepted in Indian Institute of foreign trade but also by a few other popular MBA colleges. The exam is scheduled on 2nd December, hardly a week after the CAT. Though IIFT is only yet another MBA entrance exam, it is notably different from CAT. The tests differ in terms of the key parameters like the number of sections, the number of questions, and the extent of negative marking and of late, the mode of test conduct. The level of difficulty and the nature of questions asked also is different from what you have seen in CAT. And of course, the other big change is the presence of the GK section in the IIFT exam which focuses on International Trade and key Government policies and schemes related to trade.

The number of questions in IIFT can range from 118 (in 2014) to even up to 150 and are usually spread across four major sections (with sub-sections) - Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability (including Reading Comprehension), Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretation and General Awareness.

SNAP Exam, scheduled for 16-Dec, is the entry point in to 18+ B-Schools under the Symbiosis umbrella. SIBM Pune and SCMHRD are generally the top-rated instituted under this banner. This time is enough for you to understand what went wrong in CAT and not repeat it in SNAP. Questions in SNAP are of slightly lower level of difficulty than those in CAT. However, your ability to solve them quickly under time pressure becomes crucial to your success. Further, SNAP also has an additional GK section and a higher weightage for LRDI. It is a different challenge in terms of its focus and your preparation needs to adapt to that.

Some of the top MBA colleges accepting NMAT include NMIMS Mumbai, VIT Vellore, XIM Bhubaneswar SDA Bocconi Asia Center among others.

NMAT 2018 will be held from October 4 to December 17 this year. The level of difficulty of questions is moderate and is the only exam that you can take more than once if you are not satisfied with your score in the first attempt.

Unlike CAT, NMAT exam doesn't have negative marking and like SNAP, focuses on the candidate's ability to solve questions both quickly and accurately. CAT has a duration of 3 hours to work on 100 questions whereas NMAT has a duration of 2 hours to work on 120 questions

XAT exam is a gateway to not only XLRI, Jamshedpur and Xavier's associated B-schools but also by many other management institutes. XAT exam is scheduled on January 6th, which gives you a additional time to prepare. And it does need additional preparation. XAT exam includes a section on decision-making as well as on GK in a departure from CAT. XAT Exam also has a history of including questions with variable marking and the difficulty level of questions is often at a level comparable to or higher than those of CAT.

Prepare for the next stages of GD/PI
The journey of CAT or any other exam doesn't end after the written test. The shortlisted candidates in Written Test are selected for the Personality Round which could include Group Tasks, Essay Writing, Elocution, Case Studies and Interview. Based on their performances in these rounds, various MBA colleges select the deserving candidates. Preparing for GDPI is not a one or two days process; I would strongly advise you to start preparing in advance. To stand a better chance of successfully clearing the GD-PI, you can do the following:

Join a GD/PI workshop
No matter how confident you think you are, you should be prepared to perform under pressure and in front of an audience. Attending these workshops will make sure you have prior experience of it.

Seek the guidance of mentors
Guidance from seniors and mentors can also be of a huge help. You can gather some tips and tricks that can't be found in books or the internet. Learning from what they have faced will cover your preparation all-around.

Focus on case-based as well as topic-based GDs
B-schools are quickly adapting case-based teaching methodology. However, to test the general awareness of their candidates, some B-schools go for topic-based GDs. The ideal case is to prepare for both.

Brush up your basics and keep yourself updated with the latest GK
If you're a working professional, chances are that you've been away from the subject topics for a way a long time. So, brush up your basics. Also be up to date with the happenings around you. Chances are that if you're a working professional with more than 4 years of experience, you might be quizzed more on the specialization you want to opt for.

Keep in mind the specific format for each call
The formats of GD/PI change for every B-school. They have a distinct procedure and criteria for giving out calls. It is extremely important to know about the format for each call; else you might reach unprepared for the same and might miss out on your chance of getting an enrolment in a top B-school.

Know your profile
Chances are that you will be questioned about your interests, hobbies that you've mentioned in your profile. Do pay attention to what you are filling under your profile and be ready to answer any question based on these with ease.

As they say, if one door closes, another opens. Same is the case with the MBA Exams. A failure in one exam is not the end of your MBA dream.

All the best! Fight on!

Rama Sasank (IIM – Calcutta)
Chief Product Officer – Conduira Online
Published on 11/23/2018 7:06:00 PM
What after CAT? CAT 2018

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