B-School Selection
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The IIM Selection Criteria: Will I get a call from the IIMs?

Apart from the — how many questions should I answer to score a 99 percentile on the CAT — question, one of the questions that I get asked to answer most frequently both from my students as well as people on Quora is the one that is more or less framed as follows:

I have X% in X , Y% in XII and Z% in GRAD, will I get a call from the IIMs?

Given that this is such a popular question, I think it is time to dedicate a post to the same.

The first hurdles are not your Marks but your SECTIONAL and OVERALL Percentile!

Even before your Marks come into the play the first level of screening will be to eliminate all candidates who do not fulfil the minimum requirements in terms of overall and sectional percentiles.

So even if you have an overall percentile of 97 or 98 but do not clear any one of the sectional cut-offs, you are straightaway eliminated at this stage. The table below gives you a snapshot of the cut-offs for the six OLD IIMs.

IIM Selection Criteria 1The first three numbers represent the sectional percentiles and the last one the overall percentile. Once you clear this hurdle you will move on to the next stage.


The shortlisting criteria of various IIMs for a first call

By now you would know that whether you get a shortlist from your dreamed of IIM are depends on more than just your CAT score. What are the other elements that play a crucial part in the shortlisting process?

  • X Marks
  • XII Marks
  • Graduation Marks
  • Work Experience
  • Education Diversity
  • Gender Diversity

Each of the colleges gives different weights to each of these components. Some colleges might not use some components. The table below summarises the weightage/marks given to different components of your profile.

IIM-A IIM-B IIM-C IIM-L IIM-I IIM-K
X Marks 10 20 20 NA 36 NA
XII Marks 10 10 20 10 40 20
Grad Marks 10 20 NA 10 NA 20
CAT Score 70 40 56 60 20 20
Work Experience NA 8 NA 10 NA 13.33
Gender Diversity NA 2 4 5 40 13.33
Education Diversity Yes NA NA 5 NA 13.33

Some points to note that are specific to some of the colleges.

IIM-Ahmedabad Shortlisting Criteria
As you can see from the table above there is no numerical weight given to Education Diversity. Instead of giving marks to applicants from different streams, IIM-A uses a slightly different process:

  • The various graduation disciplines are divided into 7 categories
  • The top 100 students or 1% of applicants (whichever is fewer) are shortlisted based on their Composite Score – (Academic Rating).30 + Normalised CAT Score).70
  • This shortlist does not differentiate between GEN, NC-OBC, SC, ST or DA categories

The IIM-A process thus ensures that the best commerce student or doctor or lawyer compete with the best engineer. 

So if 9000 people belonging to a particular stream appear for the CAT, then the 90 top students from that stream will get a call for the WAT-PI round. The highest percentile in a particular education stream can be 97 but the topper will still get a call provided he/she clears all the sectional cut-offs.

IIM-Ahmedabad gives no weightage for work experience at any stage. So all that matters is how you do well in your PI, it does not make a difference whether you are a fresher or a working professional.

IIM-Bangalore Shortlisting Criteria
Unlike IIM-A , IIM-B gives weightage both to work experience and to Gender Diversity.

  • The weightage of 5 for work experience is calculated as follows:
    • The marks for work experience = 5*(number of months of work experience)/36.
    • If you have more than 36 months you will get 5 marks
  • Gender diversity plays a role only in the first call .
    • For the Final Call the 1 mark allocated to women applicants will be removed and the remaining 35 marks will be for your WAT and PI.

IIM-Kolkata Shortlisting Criteria
While work experience and education diversity play no role in the first call, they play a role in the final call with a weightage of 8 and 3 respectively.

IIM-Lucknow Shortlisting Criteria
There is no change from the First Call to the second call. There are 50 marks in total for all the components in the first call, to this 50 marks will be added for the WAT and PI to arrive at a final score.

IIM Indore Shortlisting Criteria
While graduation marks along with work experience and education diversity have no role to play in the first call, the final call will give a 15% weightage to graduation marks.

IIM Kozhikode Shortlisting Criteria
While there is a 5% weightage for Gender and Education Diversity, a candidate cannot get marks for both. He/she can get marks only for one of the two. So girls who are commerce graduates DO NOT end up getting an outsized advantage.

Also, X, XII & Graduation Marks will have no role to play in the final call. Work experience, which does not have a role to play int the first call, will have a weightage in the final call.


How is the CAT Score used in the shortlisting process of the IIMs?

Your CAT Score is first normalised — divided by the highest CAT Score among the applicants — and then multiplied by the weightage or marks given to CAT Score, which is different for each IIM and is indicated in the table above.

In a very easy CAT, the scores are all very close to each other and hence when divided by the highest score and then the multiplied by the weightage or marks, differences between scores are further reduced.

Hence on an easy CAT a higher percentile will not necessarily make a very huge difference as will the other components, whereas on a difficult CAT on which the marks will be more widespread, CAT scores will end up having a huge impact.

I suppose this explains why at times we hear statements such as CAT is very tough my friend did not get a call even at 99.XY. It is not because of a tough CAT but because of an easy CAT and other components of the profile.


How are marks across boards and streams made comparable?

This is usually a big concern for aspirants since different boards and different streams are known to award marks with varying degrees of generosity — the most generous being the ones, in my opinion, in the south of the country and most frugal ones belonging to the east!

Obviously something so obvious will be something that even the IIMs take cognisance of and each of them uses a different method to normalise the marks across boards and streams.

How do they equate scores across boards and streams?

IIM-A uses the marks of all the applicants that they have from the previous years’s to arrive at specific slabs for specific streams at both XII and Graduation Levels.

IIM-A XII Ratings

IIM-A Graduation Marks Weightage

The classification is an exhaustive one to give short summary:

  • AC – 1: Bachelors in Sciences
  • AC – 2: Bachelors in Arts, Law , Education
  • AC – 3: Bachelors in Commerce, Economics, Hotel Management, Business Administration
  • AC- 4: Bachelors in Engineering and Architecture
  • AC -5: Anything apart from 1 to 7 
  • AC – 6: Medicine
  • AC – 7: CA, ICWA, CS

Please note that there is no distinction made across boards but only across streams.

Other IIMs use different method use the standard normalisation process based on mean and standard deviation of the scores of all applicants.


How much of an impact will X, XII and Grad marks have on getting a shortlist?

While our parents had told us all along how important X and XII marks will be in “settling down” in life, they never really told us much about the importance of Graduation marks. To a certain extent even they, like us, assumed that life will more or less be settled after getting into a good engineering college (by the way there is nothing called settling down, only sediment settles down).

But given the selection criteria of the IIMs and the additional weightage given for educational diversity, it might turn out that one stands a better chance had one not chosen engineering in the first place. And if one did, one should have ensured a percentage above 80%.

As you can see from the table above, almost all colleges barring IIM-L, which gives no weightage to X marks, give weightage to X and XII marks.

Each IIM has a different marks at different slabs. For example, IIM-A has the following slabs for X:

  • 90 and above – 10 marks; 80 to 90 – 8 marks; 70 to 80 – 5 marks; 60 to 70 – 3 marks; 55 to 60 – 2 marks; less than 55 – 1 mark

All colleges barring IIM-C and K start at slabs of 90 and above. Since these days getting above 90 in X and XII has become quite common, those who get below a 90 in X and XII will have a tough chance getting a first call since they will be dropping valuable points.

The biggest differentiator can end up being Graduation Marks since some of us were good students until till we reached graduation!

So if you have a Graduation CGPA or percentage that is less than 80% then a WAT-GD-PI call from

  • IIM-A or IIM-B is ruled out even with very high CAT percentiles
  • IIM-C most definitely since there is no weightage
  • IIM-L is definitely possible since the weightage is quite low
  • IIM-I most definitely since there is no weightage
  • IIM-K is possible since the weightage is moderate

The table below summarizes a calls you can expect for most of the typcial Academic profiles.

Academic Profile Versus IIM Calls.jpg

If two out of three among X, XII and Graduation are below 80 then I am afraid there is only a very slim chance of getting a call from any one of the old IIMs.

Incase there is a combination I have missed out on, say 80-90-70, you can deduce it from the table and the analysis provided. You have to do at least some DI!

Can Work Experience can compensate for a slightly lower CAT Score?

If you look at the weightage for work experience, A, C and I have no weightage for work-ex, only B, L & K give 8,10 and 13.33 percent weightage to work-ex. 

So those who have work experience of two years and above (and good acads) can get a call from IIMs at Bangalore, Lucknow and Kozhikode at a CAT percentile between 98.5 and 99.

In fact we have had a girl candidate with 4 years of experience, a good academic profile and belonging to the General Category get a call from B at 96.5 percentile.

Which IIMs are freshers most likely to get a call from?

Freshers are with a good academic profile are likely to get a first call from A, C and L since all the three have more than 50% weightage for CAT Score.

The shortlisting criteria of various IIMs for a final call

The criteria for the final call will more or less remain the same with a few changes coming in here and there. Some b-schools bring in weightage for work experience in the final call stage and others remove weightage for some components such as Gender Diversity from the final stage.

But we will be running ahead of ourselves if we are discussing those elements at this stage. It is best that we cross the bridge when we get to it.

There might be changes this year

Later this year, the IIMs will announce their criteria for the 2018-2020 batch. Apart from IIM-B, most of the IIMs have tended to make some changes or the other every year. So do not treat the criteria as set in stone!


Do not worry about what you can’t change, control and change what you can

This post wasn’t intended to demotivate test-takers rather, as I had mentioned earlier, it has stemmed from a lot of queries posted by aspirants.

Some of you might feel dejected at this point of time that — Oh I didn’t know that IIM-A will not be possible! What’s the point if I can get a call only from one or two old IIMs?

Just take a breather and ask this question to yourself — What is the goal?

  • To get into IIM-A or to build a great career?

Getting into IIM-A might be much easier than surviving IIM-A!

  • Do you know that a number of students (sometimes as high as 20) from reputable graduation colleges drop out after the first trimester at IIM-A being unable to handle the heat!
  • Do you know that big consulting firms such as McKinsey barely give shortlists to candidates who are not from IITs or NITs.

We have to always play with the cards we are dealt. We have to always play the current round well. There is no point wishing for other cards or trying to undo other rounds, both are exercises in futility.

So what is it that you can control and change?

  • Your X, XII or Grad Marks — NO.
  • Your preparation towards getting a great Cat Score – YES.

And remember there is always FMS — the b-school with a fee of Rs. 20, 000 and average salary in excess of Rs.15,00,000 — that does not consider X, XII, Grad marks or work experience both for the first call and the final call. The only scores that matters for FMS are the CAT Score and WAT-PI Scores.

It is crunch time, NOW

I hope all the readers of this blog are aware that crunch time has started.

A lot of aspirants waste a year and get it on a second or third attempt since they do not bring their A-game early on. They still operate in the college mentality and believe that they can pull it off by getting semi-serious and taking all mocks from September.

Only after trying and failing a few times do they put in their all. Cracking the IIMs and getting that awesome salary is not tough but it is definitely not going to be as easy as getting a 90 or a 9 in your engineering. The CAT is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Those who succeed not just on the CAT(or GMAT) but also at a premier b-school and in their professional life later are those who are willing to plan, prep and put their best foot forward.


I’ll leave you with a story of one of the best students I have had in recent times. A fresher in his third year of engineering, he had enrolled for the GMAT with us last year and attended most of the classes diligently. Each and everything I told him, right from reading the GMAT blog to planning the mocks he followed to the T. After every Mock he brought his laptop along to discuss how he could get better; he was not late even for a single appointment.  He was taking the exam in Bangalore and so before he left to take the exam, he came to me to discuss a bit of the mental part of test-taking with me.

Three days later texted me saying he got a 760!

I asked him whether he was applying to the ISB YLP program and he said he was planning to work for three years and then apply to premier MBA programs abroad; he was not looking at any school in India.

For some reason throughout these 3-4 months, I had not asked him which college he was from. Listening to this career plans, I asked him and he replied that he was from IIT-Madras!

Given the stereotypes surrounding IITians’ ability (and hence their attitude towards coaching centers) and their attitude, it had not even remotely occurred to me that he might be from IIT-M. I thought he was a bright student from CEG, SRM or SSN.

If an IITian can be so diligent, organized and focused about his prep, I am sure many of you reading this blog should also do the same.

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152 Comments

  1. Shaswati Singh says

    Hello sir.. Your essay really cleared a lot of things. I got 10 cgpa in 10th and 85 % in 12th.. I am going to study bba this year… I know its a bit early, but i wanted to know how much percentage should i have to get in my graduation (bba) to be eligible for iima..
    Also, I am quite confident about getting 98 and above percentile for cat.. I was just wondering that how much focus should I give to my grad score, considering that I haven’t score very well in 12th.
    Thanks a lot

    Like

    • Hi Shaswati, Good to see that you have started thinking about your MBA this early. A graduation percentage/CGPA above 80 is a must, above 85 will s great!

      All the best for your prep!

      Like

  2. ayushi says

    hello sir,

    my acedemics details are as follows
    Xth – 94.2%
    Xth- 84.4%
    graduation BBA (3.49/4 )
    category- general
    gender- female
    sir i am yet to give my CAT. Can you tell me the chances of me getting a call from old iims and the cat percentile required for the same?

    Like

    • Hi Ayushi,

      You have pretty decent chances of getting a call form the old IIMs. You would need a percentile in the high 98s to get atleast one call.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  3. Hii sir,

    I have 64.4 percentage in 10th . 67.2 percentage in 12th and 79.44 percentage in b.tech. I have total 3 years of work experience . Is there any chances for me to get admission in IIMs(old or new ).
    I am also planning to leave my job to prepare for cat’18 . Please suggest .
    .

    Like

    • Hi Manish,

      It is really tough for you to get a call from the old IIMs, you have an outside shot at the new IIIMs. So you should apply to a lot of schools apart from the IIMs.

      Since you have 3 years of experience it is okay to quit your job but remember that you will face questions in the PI both about your marks and about your decision to quit your job. You should read the post about titled — Should I quit my job — that is on this blog.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

  4. Arpit Gupta says

    Hello sir.. i have about 93% both in class 10th and 12th. And 77% in my btech and mtech. I also have a work ex of 6 months as of now. Do I stand a chance at the old IIMs (ABCLI) if I score upwards of 99%ile in CAT18 ?

    Like

    • Hi Arpit,

      A and B are borderline since the grad marks are below 80 but the rest you will definitely get.

      Hope this clarifies.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Arpit Gupta says

        What should be my choice for ISB vs Rest of the IIMs(apart from A and B). I am planning to apply for ISB YLP.

        Like

      • Hi Arpit,

        It depends on the sector that you want to work in and the specializations you want to choose.

        ISB’s average work experience is close to 4.8 years and hence it tends to attract a lot of consulting profiles.

        So for those with two or fewer years of work-experience I will still say that A, B, C & L offer many more options, especially in Marketing and Finance, in both sectors the old IIMs offer a wider choice of roles.

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!

        Like

      • Aryan Gupta says

        As you have mentioned A and B are border-line for me, if I plan to apply to A using my CAT 2019 score, what can I do in this one year(profile building) to increase my chances (at A and B) ?

        Like

      • Hi Aryan,
        If you look at the selection criteria there is a weight for each element and for a first call, there is nothing in terms of profile apart from X, XII, Grad, Work-ex, Gender Diversity and Educational Diversity, CAT Score.

        The only thing you can change at this point is work-ex in terms of quantum of work-ex (and as you would have seen in the blog post, A does not have any marks for work-ex). So more work-ex can get you a few more points for B.

        the profile comes into play after the first call, when they send out a form asking you to catalog your achievements or to write an SOP. A good profile will help you fill those forms, write those essays and impress the panel in an interview.

        Thus, the most important thing at this point is to focus on getting a great CAT score, and doing things to build your profile, which you can know from reading my post on the same.

        Don’t waste any time on thinking about A and B, C is as good if not better.

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!

        Like

  5. Sarthak Padhi says

    Hello sir. I have 94.5% in my 10th and 86% in my 12th. but i have 7.3 cgpa in b.tech. my name is Sarthak Padhi. i am a male . can I get into iims with a good cat score?

    Like

    • Hi Sarthak,

      The IIMs A & B will be borderline since your grad marks are below 8, but the rest are definitely possible.

      All the best!

      Tony

      Like

  6. Harshit says

    I have 86.5 in 10th, 86 in 12th ,66 in grad and close to 2 years of work ex. what are my chances for IIM’s with a good score. also for gmat can more work ex make my profile good for colleges outside india?

    Like

    • Hi Harshit,
      Your grad marks will be a roadblock in all the IIMs, barring IIM-C if I am not wrong. But a good CAT score will get you calls from schools such as FMS.

      For international schools, 3 years of work-ex is the minimum that good schools expect, the average age as well at most of the international schools is around 26-27.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  7. Hi Tony,
    I have 92.2% in X(CBSE), 82.7% in XII (Science) and 80% in BE(Electrical and Electronics). I belong to the general category and am a female. I have a work experience of 3 years at Accenture as an application development analyst and am a freelance writer for publications in Medium and Travelista.org. Which IIMs are sureshot and how much should my CAT percentile be?

    Like

  8. Ankur Ajay says

    H
    I have 93 73 70ish acads btech with 14 months exp what iims do i have a chance at if i get above 99.5 %ile?
    thanks

    Like

  9. Arjun says

    Hi Sir
    I have 89% in Xth and 83 in XIIth board and 6.9 cgpa in Bpharm and i don’t have a work exp although i have passed out in 2017. what are my chances if i score high in CAT

    Like

    • Hi Arjun,

      You can get calls from one or two of the old IIMs and a few new IIMs and good private b-schools as well such as MDI and IIFT.

      All the best!

      Tony

      Like

  10. RISHABH RAJ says

    Hi Sir
    I have 85.5% in Xth and 77% in XIIth board and 56 % in B.E and i have a work of 1 year exp and also i although i have passed out in 2017. what are my chances if i score high in CAT ?

    Like

    • Hi Rishabh,

      You can get a call from the newest IIMs and other private schools.

      Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether you will get a call, just get the highest percentile you can.

      All the best!

      Like

  11. RISHABH RAJ says

    Hi Sir
    I have 85.5% in Xth and 77% in XIIth board and 56 % in B.E and i have a work of 1 year exp and also i am in NCOBC category , although i have passed out in 2017. what are my chances if i score high in CAT ?

    Like

  12. Gautam says

    HI SIR,
    i have got 88% in Xth, 87% in XII board.But in graduation(BE in Comp Science) i have got 65%. Also i an from OBC-NCL category. Im in the final year of college and am planning to write cat tthis time. How much cat percentile will qualify me for the iims(old and new)?

    Like

  13. Hi Sir,
    I have got 88% in Xth and 87% in XIIth boards. But in B.E(computer science) i have got 62%and also i am in OBC-NCL category.Right now, im in my final year and am writing cat 2018. How much percentile should i achieve to get a call from iims(old and new)?

    Like

    • Hi Gautam,

      If you had above an 80 in grad a percentile of around 95 would have sufficed to get all the IIM calls. But given your grad marks, you will need to score around a 97. Colleges that do not take graduation marks into consideration, such as IIM-C, will still give you a call at 95.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  14. Manoj Malik says

    Sir my marks are like 85.5% in Xth, 73% on 12th and 72.2% in graduation GEM will it be possible for me to expect any call from IIMs and at what CAT percentile??

    Like

    • Hi Manoj,

      Since your XII and Grad marks are below 80, it will be tough for you to get calls from old IIMs even at a very high CAT percentile. You might get calls from new IIMs if you score above 98.

      There are good b-schools apart from the IIMs, focus on applying to them and taking their tests as well.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  15. Arvind Prakash says

    Hello Sir!
    GENERAL ENGINEER MALE
    My 10th marks 94%
    My 12th marks 95.5%
    My Graduation marks is around 70%
    What are my chances?
    And is it true that some old IIMS can give you a call at even around 90 percentile provided that you have good academics and clear the sectional and overall cutoffs?

    Like

    • Yes, IIM-L has started to give calls at lower percentiles.

      But to get calls from most of the old IIMs you would need in excess of 99.

      All the best!

      Like

  16. Manoj Malik says

    Sir my marks are like 85.5% in Xth, 73% on 12th and 72.2% in graduation GEM will it be possible for me to expect admissions in FMS at a very good CAT score?

    Like

  17. CA Animesh says

    Hello sir ,sorry to bother you ,please suggest whether I have a chance of IIMs ?
    Xth- 80% (2005)
    XII- 87% (2007)
    Qualification- Chartered Accountancy (53.25%,2016)
    Work experience-around 4 years
    Thanks a ton sir

    Like

    • Hi,

      Given that you are CA and have a good amount of work-ex you stand a chance of getting a call if your score a good percentile as per the category you fall into – around 97.5 if you belong to the General category and around 93 if you belong to the NC-OBC category.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      Like

  18. V Venkata Phani says

    Hello Sir,
    Can you please suggest whether I have a chance of IIMs May not be A,B,C but Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode? If I got a chance what is the score that I should get in CAT to get an interview call.
    Xth- 95.6%
    XII- 97%
    Qualification- B.E Science stream (7.1 CGPA)
    Work experience-around 1.5 years
    Thanks in Advance.

    Like

    • You have a good academic profile.

      You will get a call from L,I, K if score 98.5 and above.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!

      All the best!

      Like

  19. Sourangshu says

    Hi Sir,

    I am a dual degree graduate from IIT, my profile is : X -9.2 , XII – 95, BTech+MTech – 8.1
    At what percentile can I get calls from A and B?

    Like

    • Hi Sounrangshu,

      You have a great academic profile. If you are fresher, you would need to score between 99 and 99.5 to get a call from both A and B.

      If you have more than 18 months of work-ex you can get a call from B at around 98.5.

      All the best!

      Like

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