CAT Strat
Comments 51

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.


    • Yes, you can. Just ensure that if you are not working then you don’t just do CAT prep. You should take up atleast 3 profile building activities, read my post on profile building.
      All the best!


  1. Vimal says

    Hi sir.
    I attended your sessions in NAW workshop Bangalore and it was very helpful in my WAT-PI preparation. Thank you for the session.
    However, I am planning to take a drop as I had calls only from New IIMs and I believe that I can improve my CAT score considerably.
    However, I left my job back in September and I’m unsure if I should look for another job and prepare for CAT while working or should prepare for CAT and simultaneously do some courses(and which ones would be a good choice to take up).
    My academics are not very great so I would need some profile building as well.
    Thank you.


  2. Hi Sir
    I M in final year of BSc in ELECTRONICS
    X 90%
    XII 67.5%


    • Hi,

      Your XII marks make a final admission into an IIM next to impossible but it does not mean that you should not look at an MBA at all.

      If you want to do an MBA that gives you good career options, then there are enough colleges apart from the IIMs that will give you those options.

      Apart from the CAT, you should also take the XAT, NMAT, SNAP, and IIFT, apply to a broader range of colleges and should make it to a top-30 school.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  3. Manas says

    Hi sir,

    I attended your session in NAW bangalore and it was amazing.
    Name : Manas
    I am general engineer male(GEM)
    10th : 85.5% cbse
    12th : 74% mp board
    B.E : 73.7 R.G.P.V (bhopal)
    Work ex till present (i am still working) : 13 months completed.

    My CAT 16 percentile (no iim calls)
    VARC : 62
    DILR : 98.5
    QA : 98.3
    Overall : 93.52

    CAT 17 percentile (no iim calls)
    VARC : 56
    DILR : 97
    QA : 95
    Overall : 91

    CAT 18 percentile (10 new iim and iit roorkee, no pvt college applied )
    VARC : 82.71
    DILR : 98.7
    QA : 94.5
    Overall : 95.71

    Wat and PI of new iim : done. WAT was amazing. PI was fairly ok.

    Should i take a drop this year and go for fourth attempt to target new iim. Or should i join baby iim this year (if converted, i hope it would be) . I desperately want to do mba from top 6 new iim out of 10 (given my profile old iim would not call me even at 99).

    My email id :

    Please share your inputs on it sir. Will it be fine for you to share your contact number on my email ID??


  4. Manas Bhageria says

    Hi sir

    I attended you session at NAW bangalore and it was amazing.

    I am general engineer male (GEM).
    10th : 85.5% cbse
    12th : 74% mp board
    B.E : 73.7% rgpv (bhopal)
    Work ex till present (i am still working in IT company) : 13 months completed

    CAT 16 percentile (no iim call)
    VARC : 62
    DILR : 98.5
    QA : 98.3
    Overall : 93.5

    CAT 17 Percentile (no iim call)
    VARC : 56
    DILR : 97
    QA : 95
    overall : 91

    CAT 2018 Percentile ( 10 mew iim call and iit roorkee)
    VARC : 82.71
    DILR : 98.7
    QA : 94.5
    Overall : 95.71

    No other exams given this year. Neither applied to any private college.

    Wat and PI of new iim : done. Wat was amazing. PI was fairly ok. Answered all questions except 1 or 2.

    I am expecting baby iim (sirmaur, bodhgaya and sambalpur) to be converted. But i am not sure of 6 new iim (trichy, udaipur, etc).
    Should i join baby iim(if converted) or should i go for fourth attempt. I am desperate to go only in iim but not sure about my mental stamina for fourth attempt. What should i be doing according to you?

    Also in your opinion, which one is better iit roorkee or baby iims.

    Can you share your contact number on my email ID to discuss the same? It would be very helpful.


    • Hi Manas,

      Firstly, since you only have 13 months of experience it is okay to take another shot an MBA (not the CAT).

      Secondly, I feel that you are being too narrow by focussing only on old and new IIMs. I don’t know who advised you to not give any other exam or apply to any private college. Between the old IIMs and new IIMs there are many good private colleges and same is the case between new and baby IIMs.

      If you get a new IIM, go ahead and join.

      Think about another attempt only if you feel you have the stamina for it, else join a baby IIM.

      And if you decide to take another shot, you have to take XAT, NMAT, SNAP, IIFT, and NMAT (these colleges on average will give you better outcomes than the new and baby IIMs).

      If you take another shot and again focus on the then you will display a solid lack of the first quality an MBA needs — maximizing outcomes (you need to move on from the Indian obsession with colleges completely unmoored from the outcomes post the college).

      I have been a bit blunt but I think it was necessary.

      All the best!


  5. advaith says

    Sir these are my scores
    and iam from a commerce background my friends told me i wont be able to get into IIMs due to my scores, Pls tell me what to do


    • Hi Advaith,

      Since your Xth marks are below 80 it will not be easy to convert the IIMs. But this does not mean that your chances are absolutely zero, you might get an insanely high CAT score and get a call.

      But more importantly, your goal I suppose is to do an MBA from a college that will give you a chance to work with big brands, in good roles, and at good salaries. So, no IIM, what should I do, is the least prospective MBA-like statement to make.

      There are many good schools apart from the IIMs, some even better than them, such as FMS, XLRI, MDI, SPJIMR, and ISB. Other good schools such as IIFT, NMIMS-Mumbai, and SIBM-Pune, also offer salaries in excess of 15 LPA, which is a good break for a fresher.

      So prepare no just for the CAT but also for XAT, IIFT, NMAT, and SNAP.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  6. AJAY says

    my cat 2018 was not that good. I am planning to prepare for one more year.
    my academic marks are as follows:
    Xth- 8.6
    Xth – 82.8 CBSE ( I got 70 and improved to 82.8 next year)
    BTech- 7.2 GPA
    reservation – OBC
    sir, I want to know what all are my chances of getting into IIMs?
    Does the improved marks in the 12th matter?


    • Hi Ajay,

      As far as chances of getting into an IIM go, A and B will be tough because of your grad GPA (unless the conversion of GPA to a percentage for your board pushes it to above 80). You can get calls from other IIMs if you score around 96 percentile and if you score much higher, even A & B are possible.

      What matters are the marks on your official XII mark list, whether it is improved or does not matter.

      Hope this clarifies,

      Tony Xavier


  7. Hi Sir,
    I took cat this year and got a few calls but the conversion chances are very slim. I left my job to prepare for this back in September. I have a bad profile:
    x-9.8 cgpa
    work-ex= 24 months
    I am planning to carry on the drop for a few more months as I need to work on my quants section and a very high percentile to get a proper shot. In meantime, how can I improve my profile? Please guide me with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ashish Panjabi says

    Hi sir,
    My self Ashish(GEM).This year i took cat but did not get better percentile. i am planning to take a drop.
    i want to know that what are the chances of getting in to iims next year. My academic marks are as follows
    10th : 83.4%
    12th: 65.33%
    Graduation(Engineering) : 71.2%
    Till now i have a work experince of 24 months.
    For admiision in to older iims,new iims and baby iims how much percentile require ? please share your thoughts.


    • Hi Ashish,

      Your XII marks are quite low and your graduation percentage is below 80. Give these two, I think it will be almost impossible for you to crack an old IIM. If you score above a 98, you stand a chance to get a call from a new or a baby IIM.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  9. Aquib Raza says

    Sir having some personal issues regarding profile to discuss. Can I get your email ID? Would be of great help.


  10. Samarth says

    I have a 25 month work ex and I had left my job in September 2018. This year I scored 89%ile in SNAP, 99.4 in CMAT and missed TISSNET cutoff by 1 mark. I feel I could’ve performed better in SNAP and NMAT, and would like to take IIFT entrance this year. My profile is-
    10th- 86%; 12th- 76.4%, B.E. in IT with 68.4%(first class with distinction from Pune Univ) and 25 months work ex in Software Development. Currently I have converted SIIB and awaiting KJSIMSR result. Should I go for a retake, Sir?


    • Hi Samarth,

      It is a bit of a tricky situation since you already have 25 months of work-ex and have quit your job.

      If you had not quit your job, I would have asked you to maybe go ahead and give one last try.

      Since you already have a 6-month gap, another attempt with no work-ex might not be great for your profile unless you really take some very good profile building activities.

      I’d suggest waiting for the KJ result and taking a call after that (in the meantime learn more about the placements at SIIB from students who have graduated this year; I have heard that they are not bad)

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • Samarth says

        If I were to take a drop and engage in profile building activity, what all should I do in order to cover the impending 1.5-year gap?
        If I take a job which pays less than my last job, but the working hours are less, will it impact my placement prospects in the B-school?

        Awaiting your response for these two queries 🙂


      • The answers to both questions depend on the kind of roles you want to take up post-your MBA. If you can show that in both cases your choices helped you learn and improve your skills (not through CAT Prep) it should not affect your placement prospects.

        From that perspective taking up a job in a not-for-profit might be the best option or a course in data analytics might be a better option than taking up a low-profile job in your own sector.

        For more about profile-building, read this post —

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!


      • Hello Sir,

        First of all admire your dedication in helping out with everyone’s queries. This blog have helped me immensely during this seasons exams.

        I couldnt do well in CAT but I did well enough to convert SIBM. Appeared for IRMA GDPI. But I am thinking to let it go as I am really determined to get into IIM’s.

        This is my profile 10th-76 12th-63 B.E(E.E)-76 Work Ex- 14 months. Category -SC

        Sir do you think with this profile I have any chance to get into IIM’s.

        Thanking You,


    • Ankita says

      Hi sir,
      10th – 87.7%
      12th- 73.8%
      Be electronics – 70.31 %
      Work ex (Present)- 30 months
      With this profile can I get a call from IIM’s ?


  11. akshay says

    Hi Sir,
    I had left my job back in sept 2018 after working for 26 months. I gave several MBA exams and the results were not upto the mark. Shall I continue the drop and work hard in my weaker areas or shall I join the job again?Also I have a bad profile.
    Also can I get any reputed MBA college in the country?


    • Hi Akshay,
      You need to get back to a job otherwise the gap will be too large to justify.

      You can get into a respectable college, not all colleges give weightage to academics.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • akshay says

        Hi sir,
        Thanks a lot for the help.
        But Sir, I will have to make my profile as well, as during the interviews this year, I had nothing to talk except my academics and job experience. And I was heavily grilled. But along with job it would be difficult for me build my profile and simultaneously prepare for CAT, as my job is very demanding, I get around 3-4 hours everyday that too not regularly. Can I take few more months, build my profile and then join the job, will that be a wise decision?


  12. Hello sir,
    I am from Andhra Pradesh. I am having a situational dilemma.
    My 10th CGPA 8.8
    intermediate marks 958
    eamcet rank 6971
    graduation % 68.06 (JNTUA COLLEGE) 2018 passed out.

    Some achievements in sports in college and in school (winners in football in the competition held between 6 branches in our college), and some in studies and group discussions ( got 1st prize in boys out of 40 students for getting good marks in the school exams, I consistently came in top 5 positions in our section out of 40 boys from 2nd to 10th).
    Got 2nd prize in a workshop in IISc bangalore among 10+ batches.

    I did my graduation as a part time. I was into a network marketing business for 3years in my college from 2nd year onwards.
    I passed out from college in may. I took 2 months coaching for NX CAD design regarding our stream(ME). After, i took coaching for CAT. I didn’t get good percentile. I wanted to retake CAT and also other exams like NMAT, SNAP etc.,

    Now i got selected in semi voice process in Hinduja Global Solutions. I’m currently staying in bangalore. Should i take the job or should i work on building my profile without a job and if i took the job it would be difficult for me to go to the institute as it is far(7-8 kms). Considering bangalore traffic it takes around 2hrs from my job location to the nearest Ims institute(one way). So there will be no time to go to IMS and study or for classes except sunday. Please tell me sir that If i can build my profile without a job, or should i be definitely doing a job?


  13. Hello Sir,

    First of all admire your dedication in helping out with everyone’s queries. This blog have helped me immensely during this seasons exams.

    I couldnt do well in CAT but I did well enough to convert SIBM. Appeared for IRMA GDPI. But I am thinking to let it go as I am really determined to get into IIM’s.

    This is my profile 10th-76 12th-63 B.E(E.E)-76 Work Ex- 14 months. Category -SC

    Sir do you think with this profile I have any chance to get into IIM’s.

    Thanking You,


  14. Prashant says

    XII- 84
    Btech – 73 will graduate in 2019
    Got 89 perrcentile this year
    What should be my next course of action


    • Hi Prashant,

      You tell me! You won’t get any decent college as a GEM fresher with 89. So do you have any option other than a retake?

      All the best!


  15. Debabrata Das says

    Hello Sir,
    I secured a 98.59 percentile in CAT 2018. Past acad:
    10th – 89.14
    12th – 82.67
    Grad (B.Arch) 72 percent (currently in the final year)
    Got calls from MDI, IIMK and new IIMs
    How prudent would it be for a retake without any work ex?


    • If you convert MDI or IIM-K, go ahead and join, unless you are really sure that you can cross a 99.6of on a retake to a get a call from the rest of the old IIMs as a GEM fresher.

      What happens if you convert only the new IIMs, I guess we should cross the bridge when we get to it!

      All the best!


  16. Nalin says

    Hello Sir,
    Thanks for such a detailed analysis.

    BCOM GRAD- 81/95/79 & CFA L1
    CAT 2018- 88 percentile ( 1st serious attempt- not satisfied)
    Left KPMG in Aug 2018- 13 months experience—– learning about stock markets since then.
    Converts- TAPMI,GIM,KJ ( Specialisation- MBA Finance)

    I don’t have a problem with TAPMI but the only drawback is not in TOP 10.
    If I give CAT 19, I will be taking up a job from June.

    Please suggest sir what should I do?


    • Hi Nalin,

      Since you have a CFA and KPMG on your resume and your academic profile is decent, you should take up a job and go for another shot since none of the options you have will give placements commensurate with your profile.

      CAT deserves 2 attempts 🙂

      All the best!


  17. Kaustubh Patil says

    Hello Sir,

    I prepared for CAT18(2nd serious attempt after CAT17) after leaving my job in May, 18 with 31 months of experience at hand. I was able to score around 96 percentile. I had calls from New IIMs and MDI, Gurgaon. But, my conversion chances are slim. I attempted CET in which I was able to score 99.91 percentile(will get Sydenham, but not JBIMS).
    I am very sure that if I repeat another year I will be able to hit the 99 percentile bracket in CAT and also get a CET score good enough to get into JBIMS. But, I believe it will hurt my placement prospects. Also, I don’t have a very diverse profile.
    My academics are 10th – 90.46; 12th – 87.17; B.Tech. in E&TC from VIT, Pune – 66.15.
    Please suggest if I should take admission into Sydenham or if I should work towards profile building and give it another shot.
    Thank you,
    By the way, my answer to all the above questions is NO.


    • Hi Kaustabh,

      Since you already have a gap of a year, adding another year’s gap might not be wise. If you want to take another then you should take up a job and prepare.

      If you get into the new IIMs or MDI then join, else take up a job and give another shot.

      All the best!


  18. Sarthak Srivastava says

    hello sir,
    thanks for the blog,it is really helpfull.
    i have converted lbsim delhi. but answers of all the above questions is “NO”, except the profile one.
    my profile is bad,
    10 – 8.8
    12 – 75
    bsc grad (in maths) – “50.3”
    1 year gap
    cat 17 -89.37 percentile (iimjammu call)
    cat 18- 84.57 (lbsim converted)
    no job in hand, right now
    what are my chances of IIM’s ?
    and iift ?
    cant give nmat/xat/snap due to high fees.
    should I take lbsim or give another shot ?


    • Hi Sarthak,

      Given your academic profile, a call from the IIMs is ruled out. IIFT may be worth shot.

      At this stage, I feel you will be better off not adding further to the year-gap that you already have.

      LBISM is not a bad college, and some good brands visit the college for recruitment.

      You should go ahead and take it.

      All the best!


  19. Ankita says

    Hi Sir,
    10th – 87.7%
    12th – 73.8%
    BE Electronics – 70.31%
    Work ex (Present)- 30 months
    With this profile can I get call from IIM’s?

    Thanks & Regards,


  20. Raahul says

    Hello sir,
    X th – 9.2 CGPA-CBSE
    12 th- 94.8%
    UG (B Tech mechanical)- 83.6 %
    Work exp-28 months (as of may’19 )
    CAT -18 Scored a OA- 84 Percentile.(lack of serious planning and prep) Converted a few tire 3 college but didnt accept them.
    Can i give CAT-19 a shot or Should i focus on GMAT. I tend to have this confusion because of my work exp.
    Mentally im ready to give my best shot this time. Should i continue my CAT prep or should i channelise my focus on GMAT. Really confused. Please help.


  21. Sanidhya Tandon says

    Hi Sir,
    2013-14 10th 72%
    2015-16 12th 74%
    2016-19 B.Com. (Hons.) 61%
    CAT 52%ile
    XAT 25%ile
    CMAT 65%ile
    CET 80%ile
    NMAT 138 score
    (I was Called for GD PI at Welingkar though, but could not convert it even after the GD & PI went very well)
    All of these marks without any preparation, I used just the presence of my mind.
    Tentatively I have reserved a seat at ITM Business School Kharghar, Navi Mumbai and I want to pursue Marketing specialization. Is it a good choice given my scores? if not then what other option should I consider.
    Should I retake CAT this year?
    Do I stand a chance of converting premiere B-Schools given my academic record?
    And if I retake what should I do to make up to it? What Should be my strategy?


    • Given your academic record, joining ITM Navi Mumbai might not be a bad idea.

      If you can afford to take a break and prepare for another shot, you can. The only way you can compensate is by getting a good CAT percentile, you should be able to make it to a much better school.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


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