CAT Counselling – Dates, Procedure and Admission Details

MBA admission process at Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) begins soon after the results are declared. There is no provision of common counselling for B-school admission. The next level of admission process at IIMs and other top B-schools accepting CAT scores includes multiple elements like Written Ability Test (WAT), Group Discussion (GD) and Personal Interview (PI). However, many private B-schools and even IIMs have scrapped the Group Discussion (GD) part recently.  

Candidates clearing the second level of admission process are shortlisted for the final admission list based on their merit on different parameters. Each of the IIMs issues its own CAT cutoff and similarly, other participating institutes also do the same.

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CAT Counselling – Overview

Post the CAT result declaration, the IIMs initiate the shortlisting process of candidates for WAT-PI. In this process, each IIM separately computes each candidate’s CAT score against the final cut off and academic profile to shortlist applicants. Post the first level shortlisting, the candidates are issued call letters to participate in the next level of admission process that generally includes WAT and PI. 

This is followed by an official communication by IIMs to the qualified candidates. Those shortlisted have to sign-in to the official website with their CAT credentials and are required to submit their name and CAT score. The final merit list for admission is announced in mid-March. IIM admission process of all the 20 institutes lasts for about 3-4 months and the classes start in June-July. Admission procedure of non-IIMs also follows a similar procedure and timeline. 

The CAT score is also used by non-IIM institutes such as FMS, SPJIM, MDI Gurgaon, etc. for shortlisting applicants. 

Latest Update: A few IIMs have decided to hold online GD/PI rounds for 2020 admission because of the COVID-19 pandemic. IIM Kozhikode, Lucknow and Indore have also postponed their interview schedule along with FMS Delhi and XIME Bangalore.

CAT Counselling – Important Dates

Events  Dates
Release of CAT 2019 Result January 4, 2020
Commencement of CAT Counselling Last week of January 2020
CAT Option Entry Dates Last week of January 2020
Classes begin from June 2020

CAT Counselling – Procedure

Candidates are assigned a particular venue where the counseling sessions are held. The venue is mentioned on the call letter which is sent online via mail. Candidates have to report to the allotted center in person, with all the necessary documents. Steps for CAT Counselling are given below:

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Step 1: Receipt of Call Letter

1. Selected candidates receive call letters on their registered CAT email ID.

2. The call letter contains the following information-

  • Registration link
  • Last date to complete the registration
  • Date of WAT/GD and PI
  • The venue of WAT/GD and PI
  • Slot of WAT/GD and PI

Step 2: Make Final Choice

  1. After the verification process, visit the official website of the college.
  2. Fill the form to register.
  3. Select and lock your choice before submission.
  4. You will receive an intimation via SMS or email. 
  5. After confirmation of the seat, visit the allocated institution and submit the seat allotment order.

Step 3: Report to Venue and Verify Documents

  1. Report at the allocated venue on the date and time mentioned in the call letter.
  2. Reach the helpline center with the original and photocopies of the documents required.

CAT Counselling – Documents to be Carried

List of documents required at the time of CAT Counselling are:

  1. Class X mark sheet and passing certificate
  2. Class XII mark sheet and passing certificate
  3. Graduation degree certificates
  4. Reservation category certificates (if applicable)
  5. Work experience certificate 
  6. Certificate of co-curricular activities/Sports participation 
  7. Interview letters
  8. CAT rank card

CAT Counselling – Written Ability Test (WAT)

  1. Written Ability Test is designed to test a candidate’s critical thinking ability and their ability to formulate and communicate their thoughts. 
  2. The candidate must write an essay on a given topic. 
  3. The time given to complete the test varies as per different IIMs. For instance, according to the records of last year admissions, candidates were given about 30 minutes to complete the essay. However, at IIM Lucknow, candidates were allotted 15 minutes to think about the topic and write the essay.
  4. A regular essay writing practice will improve your chances of scoring well in the written test. 
  5. The structure is to be given consideration, but the candidate should focus on time management too. 
  6. A candidate must try to put in as many ideas as possible in their essay but with clarity. 

CAT Counselling – Group Discussion (GD)

  1. Candidates are divided into groups of 8-10 during a GD.
  2. The students are required to put forward their views on a given topic.
  3. This round assesses the ability of a candidate to communicate their ideas clearly to a group.
  4. It helps in shortlisting candidates who understand group dynamics and are good team players.
  5. The topics for group discussion can vary for different IIMs and the discussion time too.

CAT Counselling – Personal Interview (PI)

  1. This round in the CAT Selection Procedure separates the candidate from the mainstream crowd. This round is a mandatory round at all IIMs and is considered as the most crucial one.
  2. The PI usually holds a weightage of about 30-40% in the entire admission process.
  3. Generally, a candidate has to face a panel of 2-4 interviewers.
  4. The key to a successful interview is- Be witty, funny, and confident at the same time.
  5. To excel in this final stage, candidates must be aware of the types of questions that are frequently asked in the personal interview round.
  6. The type of questions asked in IIM interviews range from questions about personal life, academic record and extra-curricular activities to work experience and outlook on contemporary issues.

CAT Counselling – IIM Selection Procedure

  1. Each IIM will publish its cut off for the year 2020. 
  2. These cutoffs will help in shortlisting candidates for admission in management courses in the IIMs.
  3. Shortlisted candidates will appear for further selection rounds like WAT and PI.
  4. There are various factors that affect the final selection of candidates in their preferred IIMs.
  5. The IIM selection panel considers various factors such as academic qualification, work experience, extra-curricular activities, etc. for admitting candidates.

CAT Counselling – Common Admission Process (CAP)

  1. New IIMs participate in the Common Admission Process (CAP) for its selection process. 
  2. CAP for new IIMs is held by one of the new IIMs. 
  3. Participating IIMs forward their list of shortlisted candidates to CAP conducting IIM.
  4. The conducting IIM combines these lists and sends notification to the shortlisted candidates for participation in further CAP rounds.
  5. CAP consists of two rounds i.e. WAT (Written Ability Test) and PI (Personal Interview) rounds.
  6. There is no provision of group discussion round in CAP.
  7. Representatives from participating IIMs judge the performance of the candidates.
  8. After the process is completed, conducting IIM prepares a list of scores of candidates based on their performance and sends it back to the participating IIMs.
  9. Each participating IIM then prepares its own final admission list separately, considering the candidate’s CAT scores, CAP scores, and profile.

CAT Counselling – Reservation Criteria

A certain percentage of seats in IIMs is reserved for SC, ST, OBC and PWD candidates. To gain an overview on seat reservation for different categories, check out the table below:

Category Reservation (in %)
Scheduled Caste (SC) 15
Scheduled Tribe (ST) 7.5
Non-Creamy – Other Backward Classes (NC-OBC) 27
People with Disability (PWD) 5
Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Up to 10

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CAT Counselling – IIMs Seat Intake 2020

Below is the tentative seat intake by different IIMs for the admission year 2020:

Name of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)  Number of seats in MBA/PGP
IIM Ahmedabad 395
IIM Kozhikode 375
IIM Visakhapatnam 120
IIM Calcutta 460
IIM Lucknow 500
IIM Bangalore 400
IIM Indore 450
IIM Rohtak 240
IIM Shillong 180
IIM Trichy 240
IIM Udaipur 260
IIM Ranchi 185
IIM Kashipur 240
IIM Raipur 260
IIM Amritsar 160
IIM Bodhgaya 120
IIM Nagpur 130
IIM Jammu 140
IIM Sambalpur 120
IIM Sirmaur 120

CAT Counselling – FAQs

Q. How much fee will I have to pay at an IIM after clearing the CAT exam?

The fee for different IIMs is not similar and ranges from INR 9 lakhs to INR 22 lakhs. IIM Ahmedabad cost the highest (INR 22 lakhs) with IIM Bangalore being the second most expensive (INR 21 lakhs).

Q. Is 70 percentile good in CAT?

CAT is a prestigious exam with tough competition. However, students who scored 70 percentile should not feel disappointed as there are some good options available for them. These are:

Birla Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida
Christ University Institute of Management, Hosur Road, Bangalore
CMS Business School, JP Nagar, Bangalore, and many more.

Q. What is the selection procedure for CAT?

After the CAT results are declared, the second level of selection process may include:

Written Ability Test (WAT)
Group Discussion (GD)
Personal Interview (PI)
Group Exercise (GE)

Q. What documents are required for CAT counselling?

Following documents are required for CAT counselling:

Class X mark sheet and passing certificate
Class XII mark sheet and passing certificate
Graduation degree certificates
Reservation category certificates (if applicable)
Interview letters
CAT rank card

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