CAT Strat
Comments 6

To re-take or not to re-take the CAT

At this juncture, it doesn’t take a magician to see what kind of anxieties aspirants might be going through. A small fraction of you have got the calls you want and are all excited and nervous about the impending interviews or the results of the same, others have  GD-PI calls but are not sure whether the b-schools that have given them the calls are really worth it, and still others knowing that this year is done have hit snooze mode till June.
This post will primarily deal with the dilemma of those in between — to re-take or not to re-take the CAT. It is not an easy call to take but your task will become easy if you ask yourself the right questions and give the most honest answers you can to them.

A look into the mirror

The answer to the re-take conundrum depends on three things

  • your evaluation of your ability with respect to the CAT
  • your evaluation of your mental state when contemplating another attempt
  • your evaluation of your aspirations

Let us try to make this a bit objective by making it a Q & A situation

The first question you need to ask — is this the best shot you could have given? Was this a full-fledged, completely-immersed-into-CAT attempt? Do you believe you have exhausted the limits of your aptitude as far as CAT goes? Answer of all these questions and then answer the question below.

Question #1
Do you believe that you have maxed out and can go no further in terms of percentile if you give another attempt — YES/NO?

The next question is whether you have enough mental fuel left to go through another year. Do not count the attempts that you made just like that. Is this your first or second or third fully serious attempt?

Question #2
Have your attempts so far taken so much out of you that you dread the thought of another attempt despite knowing that you can get better — YES/NO?

What do you think of the options in front of you right now? How do you view yourself vis-a-vis the options you have?

Question #3
Do you believe that all you need is a decent degree and a decent break and will make the most of the opportunities you get irrespective of the brand or do you believe that your aptitude, your profile and your ambition deserve a better college than the options you have in front of you right now — YES/NO?

If your answer to all the above questions is YES, most importantly the third question, then you should NOT RE-TAKE and get into a college this year itself.

If your answer is NO to all three then you should definitely re-take the CAT but also evaluate the GMAT depending on your profile and aspirations, which as mentioned will be taken up in the next post.

These are not easy questions to answer and I am sure there will be other personal considerations and pressures from different quarters that you would need to factor in. But understand that this decision is purely about your career and hence the decision has to factor only that consideration in and nothing else.

Not everyone might be happy with your decision but satisfying all is satisfying none and as far as your career goes you are the only one who has to be satisfied.

So you really need to answer these questions for yourself and take a decision.

If you decide to re-take

The moment you decide to re-take, other questions start popping up

  • should I quit my job to re-take for the CAT, something that I have discussed here
  • how do I go about my prep, what should be my mindset, something I have discussed in this post
  • do I need to take classroom coaching, what materials should I use, something I have discussed in this post
  • how should I go about my prep section-wise, something I have discussed here

So take your time and go through these posts. Feel free to post any queries you have in the comments section.


  1. Rahul says

    I am in final year BCom my CAT percentile is very less and I don’t have any job. This year I converted ISBM pune pgdm dual specialisation with CMAT what should I do?


    • Hi Rahul,

      As I wrote in the blog, one of the things that you should consider is whether the brand of your graduating college is above or below the brand of the b-school you wish to join. It will not be right for me to comment on whether you should join ISBM Pune or not, you know its stated average salary and its rank, if you feel you cannot get a higher percentile in CAT next year, you have done the best you could this year and ISBM Pune is okay for you based on the stats, go ahead and join, else give the CAT another shot.

      All the best!


  2. Yashh says

    Hi Tony sir!

    Need some help. I did my graduation in Fashion Designing from NIFT and have three years of rich experience under one of the country’s best designer. I gave CAT this year for the first time without much prep and got 98.2%ile. Because of my poor acads got calls only from the new IIMs (Didn’t fill any other college’s form).

    10th – 79%12th – 67%Grad. – 74%

    Wanted some suggestions:

    1. Are the old IIMs/XLRI/FMS by any chance possible with this profile ?

    2. Which are the top 10/15 colleges in our country which I can target (which doesnt give too much weightage to aademics) ?

    3. Should I try for CAT next year (can academics be a hindrance?) or look for better options through GMAT?

    4. Will it be okay if I leave my job and then prepare for CAT/GMAT?

    Really confused how to go abut my preparation. Will be great if you can help. Thanks!


    • Hi Yash,

      A 98.2 without much prep is really a great percentile, so well done on that front.

      Well I think given your academic profile, it will technically be an uphill task for you to crack the old IIMs.

      Your best bet will be IIM-C which does not have a weightage for Grad Marks. So to really stand a chance you need to get percentile in excess of 99.5 plus which is not a big leap in terms of marks from what you would have scored in CAT 2016.

      The other schools you should look at are FMS and S.P.Jain, the rest depends on your choice of specialization.

      I think with three years of experience it is not a bad idea to take a break and give a shot to the CAT and GMAT. You do not need to accumulate more experience.

      Take a break finish the GMAT by August-15 so that you can apply to ISB, and then prep for CAT.

      For a list of colleges drop me a mail at with your career plans post-MBA and I’ll get back, in case you are in Pune call up the Deccan centre, fix up an appointment and drop in.

      All the best!


  3. Kanupriya Chowdhary says

    hello sir. i have been reading your blog since last year. I had scored a 94.17 percentile(98.16/92.35/76) in CAT 2019. I have converted some colleges including DOMS IIT MADRAS which is my best convert. However, I feel I can prepare better this year since I have identified the gaps in my preparation last year. I don’t know if I should go for another attempt because I had taken a drop last year and don’t have a job in hand. I am considering joining my family business and actually learn how business in the real world works along with preparing this year. Do you think this will be a good action plan. Also, I am hesitant in joining IIT because I want to have a career in finance and the placements and opportunities are tilted more towards the analytics domain. My profile is –


    • Hi Kanupriya,
      It is a bit of a risk but if you can do the family business thing properly, with a formal appointment letter, salary slips and stuff it will make sense, else the panel will know that you took a two-year break.

      So yeah, if you want a good FIN job then go ahead and take another shot. Do attend my webinar on specialisations tom, will be covering Fin and other specialisations.

      All the best!


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