CAT Strat
Comments 32

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 be taken keeping only that in mind.

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. Rohan Mehra says

    Sir pls help

    10th 96.7 Rank 3
    12th 93.4 Topper, Best Scholar
    Bcom 78.5 Top 10
    CA first two levels done in first attempt and 4 months internship in audit.
    Want to quit CA (don’t like the curriculum) do MBA in Finance/Marketing
    Fresher, age 22.

    Extra curriculars- german A1 level, dancer, youtuber

    Calls – SIIB Pune, NMIMIS Bangalore and Navi Mumbai, SIBM Bangalore, Great Lakes PGDM.

    i have given 2 attempts, I have the capability but no mental strength for another attempt. I will be depressed and chances are very low that i will crack it next time.Not getting job too.

    Are any of these worth it as a career switch from CA to MBA?


    • Hi Rohan,
      You have quite a good profile that will get you quite a few shortlists but there is one big catch: you need to finish your CA!

      If you want to make a career in Finance, get the best jobs in Finance, then an MBA-CA/CFA combo is a must; this is the why number of CFA takers in the country have tripled since all engineers are now taking it to secure plum Fin roles.

      You do not like some subjects in CA but want to build a career in Finance, which is fine, but sometimes we have to do a bit of painful work as part of it before we get the great work.

      So finish your CA, take up an MBA from one of these schools, preferably Great Lakes or SIIB.

      The thing is that with CA-MBA combo you will get many good offers even if the MBA college is not that great. But the converse is not true, you won’t get great Fin roles without a CA or CFA even if you do your MBA from a top tier college.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  2. 10th – 9.5
    12th- 89.1
    BSc – 79%
    Age : 23
    2.5 years work ex as a developer in a consulting firm and a year gap since March 2020 due to health concerns.
    Calls received: Great lakes PGPM, NMIMS Bengaluru, IMT Nagpur, IMT Hyderabad, NIRMA Ahmedabad.
    This was my second attempt at CAT.
    I strongly feel that this is not what I deserve and I can do much better.
    But, is it a good idea to take up a job again and give another shot at CAT considering the work experience and age?


    • Hi Srujana,

      Both the age and the work-ex are not at all on the higher side and you can definitely go ahead and give another shot at the CAT along with taking up another job.

      Also, if you want to build a career in the IT/Technology space then joining Great Lakes will be a very good option.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • Srujana Chakravarthy says

        Converted Greatlakes PGPM.
        Have a call from KJ somaiya.
        And expecting calls from IIM Ranchi PGDM HR and IIM Kashipur Analytics .
        Which one to choose?


      • Hi Srujana,

        All the calls are as different as chalk and cheese in terms of career outcomes!

        GLIM PGPM — Would give you great options in IT, Tech, e-Commerce

        KJ — Marketing, Finance

        HR — is a completely different field; this post should help you decide whether you are an HR person or not —

        IIM Kashipur Analytics — again a very specialised field

        So, you are essentially asking me which one is better batting, bowling, or wicketkeeping!

        It depends on where you fit in best and where your skills and temperament will be maximised.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  3. Archna says

    Hi sir
    I attempted CAT this year but couldn’t got good scores. I have 21 months experience in TCS but after that I resigned because of health issues. I have got call from SDMIMD but not sure whether to go for it or not. I was thinking of getting some certifications this year along with preparing for CAT so that I don’t drop this year too. But not sure whether it’s right or not. Plus I am thinking of giving CMAT too because of JBIMS but still not sure. Please help. 😦


    • Hi Archana,

      From your message, it is not clear when you quit your job.

      I do not have much first-hand information about SDMIMD and the colleges through CMAT, my knowledge is a bit limited on that front.

      You can take another but need to take up at least three things on the side in the process — certification program(s), NGO/Social-Sector work, and some hobby tat you always wanted to pursue (say learning a language etc.)

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  4. Kunal Gulati says

    Hi Sir,
    10th – 95% (CBSE)
    12th – 85% (CBSE)
    Engineering – 71% (GEM)
    13 months work ex at Amdocs – Associate Software Developer
    I quit my job, in Aug end 2020, to focus on the CAT, other exams. But due to my covid +ve condition and further weakness, I lost my preparation and focus in the crunch months, and my CAT – DILR led to a horror show. Missed NM Mumbai by 1 mark, and SIBM/SCMHRD in a close situation. Also targeting CET for JB/Syd, and have hopes for the TISS (expecting TISSNET shortlist).

    I genuinely believe that I want to go again for CAT 21, in a full mode, and target the IIMs. I do not wish to settle with the options I have at the moment. What do you suggest, as I don’t wish to work, in order to give my best shot here ?


    • Hi Kunal,

      Sorry to hear that Covid put a spanner in the works.

      You can take up another shot since you have a legit reason to account for your failed attempt.

      You should not do only CAT Prep though; you need to take up three things — certification programs in the subjects from your domain of interest (Marketing, Finance, Ops, IM), social work with an NGO, and pursue a hobby or dreamt-of-passion seriously (languages, music, cycling, marathon)

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  5. Souvik says

    Hi Tony Sir,

    Please find my details below-
    -Xth: 95%
    -XIIth: 90%
    -Grad: Engineering, 65% from Jadavpur University, Kolkata
    -Work Ex: 44 months in TCS in a product design engineer role, Low salary
    -Age: 26

    This was my first serious attempt at MBA exams.
    -CAT: 88%ile OA; can definitely improve to 96%ile up, if I go for a retake
    -IIFT: 96%ile, GK borderline

    I have received calls from TAPMI, Great Lakes PGPM Gurgaon, SCMHRD MBA BA.

    I can improve on the scores for next year, but my main concern is my duration and quality of work ex and my age.

    What would you suggest I should do? I really need some expert opinion at this point.

    Thanks in advance!


    • Hi Souvik,

      With 44 months of work-ex you cannot afford to take another shot, you will enter the b-school with more than 55 months of work-ex and that will mean that bulk of the recruiters will not have roles for your profile — they visit the 1-year programs to get people of your profile.

      So I would suggest the Great Lakes PGPM Program as the best option right now to make the shift into the business side for better career progression prospects. I am not sure about the Gurgaon campus but if the placements are common with the Chennai campus you should not have any problem.

      If you are taking another shot it should be for the 1-year programs at the IIMs and other top schools via the GMAT.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  6. aditya says


    This year CAT was a disaster. I score 70% in dilr and wasn’t able to clear sectional for baby iims, OA: 93%. And CAP interview was a disaster as well. I have tried to identify what could be the reason.
    Few of them are
    1. Poor language skills.
    2. Have done nothing except my work for past 7-8 months while preparation of MBA. Didn’t have any extra curricular at all.
    3. Don’t have any understanding of how economy or market work don’t have any idea of basic terms.
    4. I wasn’t following news and not much aware about politics and geography and other things. And I had horrible time preparing for all of this in 30-45 days.

    I don’t want to be caught off-guard this year again. I am thinking of this as a resource allocation problem. I have around 1100-1300 hours of preparation time with me.
    1. First of all, I need to prepare for cat. 200 hours will go towards video lectures. And 400-500 hours of preparation. (600-700 hours)
    2. I need to work on my English. I want to complete 3-part books by Cambridge press (Essential, Intermediate and advance). This will help me in WAT and PI. 150-200 hours (total 750-850 hours)
    3. I want to have some social media presence. This can also help to build content in interview. I am thinking of doing research on various subjects and presenting my research on social media. This will be around 150 hours of work (total 900-1000 hours).
    4. I should read about 10 books around 80-100 hours (total 980-1100 hours).
    5. I would like to complete my graduation subjects. Specially subjects related to my work experience and prepare notes for it. Notes will reduce preparation time after cat. This I can do during work hours and required no extra time. I also need to increase scope of work in my project. Right now, I know only 35% of my work. I need to take some more responsibility at work. (total 980-1100 hours)
    6. I want to complete 5-6 course from SWAYAM without certificates. For me it takes around 2 to 2.5 times the actual video content. This will be around 250-300 hours. This will also be content in interview. (total 1230-1350 hours)
    7. Miscellaneous: I have some inclination towards finance and my profile is doing bridge design in civil engineering. I want to understand how construction contracts works (This is the closest thing I am able to find on my profile related to MBA). I have some inclination towards finance would like to understand how some sectors in India are doing (example renewable energy sector, infrastructure sector and government influence there). Be generally aware about politics and issues in India. This Will take around 100 hours (total 1350-1450 hours).

    Have I covered it all sir?
    Should I add or subtract something?
    Or is it a totally wrong approach?

    My profile 10/12/GRAD: 79/76/72, 2 years masters and 2.5 years of work experience. CAT20-VARC/DILR/QA/OA: 82/70/97/93.

    Want to score 99.5+ and convert IIT Bombay or MDI.

    Sir your blog was a constant source of insight and inspiration last year.

    Thank you


    • Hi Aditya,

      I think you have more or less nailed the issues that have prevented you from securing a call since being knowledgeable on GK/CA and in general about what is happening in the world around you means that you are placeable — when you attend GDs on campus and face interview panels you will not be tongue-tied or come across as ignorant.

      Having said that you have taken your plans to the other extreme where the focus is on impressing the panel with tons of things and all you are going to get is overwhelmed and demotivated.

      1. Focus solely on the things you do know about — for example, there is no point watching a video on relative sped if you know what relative speed is! It is not about sincerity and school-style of prep; so make a list of the topics/areas you are not confident about — say Logs or Modern Math and then work on becoming a champ at; what you know you know and will be taken care of in mocks.

      2. From your comments it is clear, that your written English is definitely above-average(I have read enough comments and WATs over the years). I do not think there will be any incremental advantage over the others that you will get by doing the Cambridge courses. If the issue seems to conversational English and there is no way the plan you have outlined will work. How did you learn your mother tongue? Did anyone teach you Grammar? Did you mug up a wordlist? The best thing would be to watch English movies that have a lot of dialogue — movies involving Tom Cruise (not the MI series), Julia Roberts, and/or George Clooney — one movie a week.

      3. I do not know how three will help in any way in the interview it is not linked or tied to anything in any way — it might help in terms of your employability since recruiters look at the quality of social media presence. You will be better off working on this after you get into a b-school so that the quality of what you put up goes up.

      4. Do it!

      5 Cover only the most important subjects, I think you should start this as late as possible so that you give yourself a chance to remember.

      6. Do courses that genuinely interests you not to make up a number of 5-6

      7. Given your profile you should be targeting either Operations or General Management; for both domains, you will be taking up a few — two or three — of the many Finance subjects on offer after completing the compulsory Finance courses that everyone does in the first year, which in itself will clarify many things.

      And yeah, the most important thing — make it a habit to read an Indian newspaper every single day and catch up on an Indian magazine and an International newspaper and business magazine over the weekend.

      This will be a more sustainable preparation plan.

      Glad to know the blog was helpful over the course of last year.

      All the best!


      • aditya says

        Thank you so much sir 🙂

        After your GMAT post I am wondering whether GMAT route make more sense to for me. Right now I have 31 months of experience and next year I will gain 40+ months of work experience. I have 2 year masters degree as well. I haven’t gone through course and fee structure of international universities, I assume they are costly and I can barely afford doing MBA from IIMs.

        I am thinking of doing 2 year MBA as it will give me wider career options. Or is that a wrong assumption and my career options are already limited with masters degree and 3+ year of work experience.

        And sir should I quit my job around 36 months mark otherwise I will start to lose valuable profile points and risk not getting selected or shortlisted. I have 7/7/7 academic profile. Leaving job will be a risky decision for me financially.


      • Hi Aditya,

        You should take a shot at both GMAT and CAT if you can, get admits and choose between the best 1-year and 2-year program later.

        Your work-ex is right on the edge; hence I said both.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  7. Soham Janve says

    Hi Tony Sir,
    My details are
    10 – 84%
    Diploma in Civil – 86%
    BE in Civil – 8.44
    Passed out in 2020 but because of covid exams got postponed till November. I gave CAT, XAT, IIFT this year and screwed it. In CAT it VARC went well, but after DILR my mind got blank. It felt like it went to shut down mode and was working just mechanically. I took care of my mind in XAT but in VARC over attempted it and did decent in DM – 86%ile, QA- 85%ile. I did get calls from IMT Nagpur, Hyderabad, KJ Somaiya, GIM BDA, and planning to give CMAT and CET as well. According to mks in mocks in CMAT little sure of getting call from GIM as well.
    I think I deserve more than this and wanting to give 1 more chance to me by planning next year’s attempt.
    My concern is after my final year exam because of all exams coming on the way, I decided to use that time for exams. So whether I should take up a job and prepare, or what else will you suggest? Also, how can cover this 4-5 months GAP as well? And whether I should give GMAT too, along with CAT and other exams? If you can guide me on this and also give me a path to follow, it will be very helpful.
    Thanking you in advance!


    • Hi Soham,

      For starters (just so that you do not make the same mistake elsewhere) it is screwed up and not screwed it — the former is something one wanted to avoid but could not, the latter is deliberate 🙂

      I’ll polish off the easiest question first — there is no point in freshers taking the GMAT since there are very few good options in India that you cannot get with the CAT and need to spend $250 on. It is best for those with 3 or more years of work-ex looking at 1-year programs in India and programs abroad.

      As far as taking up a job goes, it completely depends on your prep needs — unless you clearly need a whole day to prep only for CAT for the next 8 months, I would suggest taking up a job and preparing for CAT simultaneously.

      You do not need to worry about the current gap — lack of good openings given COVID is something that you can use.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  8. Amit Rathore says

    Hlow Sir,
    My details are
    10th- 7.6 cgpa(CBSE)
    12th- 69%(CBSE)
    B.Sc-57.6%(M.J.P.Rohilkhand University Bareilly)
    Work Ex-1 year approx till now
    This was my second attempt at CAT. But because of sectional cutoff, i was not able to crack this time. But I genuinely believe that I can do this much better in upcoming exam. But there are some issues which I am facing:
    1- I start reading newspaper. But after 3 or 4 days, I may not able to read that because of disinterest or any other reason. I know this is bad for me. But I am not getting any clue to come over this habbit.
    2-I don’t have much extra-curricular activities in my resume except IIM Bangalore Vista( I participated in case study competitions and awarded as in top 50).
    3- Not very excellent language skills.
    Want to score as higher as I can and convert IIM Lucknow or other IIMs only.

    Sir please help me in this. I am in a very great dilemma. No body is mentoring me like how can i make it or what strategies should I use. I am messaging lots of mentors and in groups but no body is giving any proper suggestions.
    I took IMS last year for mock test and there I saw your videos. I really want your insight on this.
    Please help……
    Thank you


    • Hi Amit,

      From what you what written it does not seem like you have taken formal coaching for CAT and have been trying on your own (I may be wrong but that is my gut-feeling)

      Given the academic profile — 70-60-50 — you will have a tough time getting calls from the old IIMs even if you clear the cut-offs since you will not score enough marks in the weightage given to academics (there are tons of people with a 90-90-80).

      So I would definitely suggest relooking at both the exams and the colleges you are targeting and widening both to take exams other than the CAT and apply to more colleges — that is the first step, otherwise, you will be wasting another year of prep (I have had students get a 99.91 and not get an IIM-A call only since their grad is below 80

      It is impossible to reply in a comment or What’s App message and cover how one should prepare for the CAT.

      I suggest you go through the following video and post to get a hang of the skills you need to develop and how to develop them and profile-building.

      There are three posts on how to prepare for a retake coming up soon. As far as techniques, strategies and other things for prep go, they will be coming up on the blog at the right time.

      As far as wanting to do things to crack the CAT — such as reading the newspaper — and not actually doing it, well it is something that everyone goes through; for some, it is CAT prep for others it is fitness or some other thing.

      The thing no one, no motivator can influence us to do anything that we do not like doing or rather anything that we do not enjoy doing. People usually do things only if they like it or if they have no other option; most people changing only when they hit rock bottom — start working out or even walking only when they get diabetes or get a heart attack — similarly you can wait till your career hits rock bottom before you take your prep seriously.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!



    Hello sir
    I am 20 years old and in my 6th sem of bcom from symbiosis
    My details are 10/12/current cgpa- 90/73/8.5
    I have cleared A2 level in German and worked for ngo’s . I dropped CA almost 1.5 yrs ago and joined ims last year honestly started my prep late last year from June but wasn’t expecting this bad score .A month before cat got COVID and lost a family member due to that And wasted almost 3 weeks before cat but still gave cat and scored just 79. I was really good in VA but did the worst in it. I took 5-6 mins to solve the same sum I could solve within 3 mins on the exam day and hardly attempted anything.
    I want to re attempt the exam this year, please help me with a few questions..
    1-Should I give b1 exam it is the next level of German(I couldn’t give it last year ) , would it really help me in the long run ?
    2- is Giving the exam again an option ?
    3-what courses can I do to make my profile strong for pursuing mba in finance or marketing ?


    • Hi Aashi,

      You seem to have had a rough last year but hope everything is behind you.

      It is good that you are asking all of these questions early.

      Firstly, the German will be an addition but will remain a small part of your resume so doing additional levels will not necessarily do anything great — it can be a good conversation point in an interview. do it if you enjoy it but not for the resume point.

      Secondly, you should give the exam again and prep for it; very few students clear it on their first attempt (I bombed as well)

      Thirdly, you cannot say Finance & Marketing since they are as different as chalk and cheese. You have go through both parts of this webinar, figure out which domain you want to work in, and then take up profile-building activities —

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  10. yamanagrawal says

    Sir pls help

    10th 75.33
    12th 85.20
    Bcom 61.61
    CAT 2019 44%ile ( Self Study)
    CAT 2020 91%ile With DILR 98.4%ile (IMS Online)
    NMAT 2021 251 Call From NMIMS
    SNAP 2020/21 98.6 call from SIBM Pune
    XAT 2021 93.7% ile
    IIFT 2021 88%ile
    Currently pursuing MA Economics from University of Rajasthan.
    Is it Safe to re-take CAT2021 To go for Higher Pecentile
    Getting admission Into SIBM OR NMIMS, If Converted.
    Can provide guidance in this regards.


    • Hi Yamana,

      Good job with the NM and SIBM calls.

      Honestly, given the X, XII, and Grad Marks, it is not going to be easy for you to convert old IIMs(90-90-80). So the retake would mean a shot at new and baby IIMs and schools such as MDI & SPJIMR and tests such as XAT for XL.

      These are the only options with a retake and the new and baby IIMs are not all above NM and SIBM.

      So, my advice would be to join if you convert either of these and get going with your MBA, both these schools will give you very good career breaks.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  11. Priyesh Walunj says

    Hello Sir,

    Hope you’re fine & doing well!

    I have given my second serious attempt at CAT in 2020 but didn’t score well enough to get any call. I feel like I can give one more shot towards CAT this year but it would be my last attempt. I’m not sure how mentally I can be prepared for this because in my last attempt just before one month I gave up on a hope that I will be able to crack it.

    Since I have been working in IT with the technical profile I got bored with it so planing to switch to the analytics domain & learn about data analytics & get a job that will eventually help in the future after MBA also is what I feel. I

    I don’t have any hobby as such till now so trying to self explore & indulge in kind of Art & sports that I always wanted to perceive.

    Here are my profile details:

    CAT 2019 attempt: Overall 50 %ile
    CAT 2020 attempt: Overall 71.15 %ile

    10th – 72.73% (MSBSHSE)
    12th – 60% (MSBSHSE)
    B.E CS – 6.97 CGPI (Mumbai Unv. 2017 pass out)
    Work Exp: 2.6 yrs (Front End Developer in a startup)
    (I have been working in one of the firms after my BE for 10th months but absconded due to some reasons so haven’t considered the overall experience.)

    Along with my average academic & profile can I think of getting a good B school for operations as I’m more inclined towards it? How can I improve from here ongoing for the CAT 2021?


    • Hi Priyesh,

      You can easily get Operations roles in IT and e-Commerce with your experience but to get Ops in core industries will be difficult since the experience is not related.

      You can take up certification courses in Analytics to improve your profile.

      All the best!


  12. Piyusha says

    Hello Sir,
    I have given CAT 2020 and scored 93 percentile. This was my 2nd attempt ( CAT 2019 scored 60percentile) and I have 11 months of work ex but I left my job in July 2019 to prepare for CAT.
    Now I have 2 years of gap , 10th score 96% 12th score 81% and graduation 75%. If I retake CAT, there will be gap of 3years which will definitely affect but I am confident that I will score more if I attempt CAT 2021.
    I have got a call from K J Somaiya. should I go for it ? or retake CAT?
    There are few students from average B schools getting 20lac+ package. So should I consider this positive thought and get admission at average B school ??? I am totally confused with this, can you provide guidance in this regard ?
    Thank you


    • Hi Venkat,

      Depends on which domain you want to work in post-MBA.

      For IT/Technology/e-Commerce/Analytics, Great Lakes; for Marketing/Finance, KJ.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


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