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 the popularity of the question, I think a post on the same is more than par for the course.

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 — OA—VA-RC—DI-LR—QA


















































The shortlisting criteria of various IIMs for a first call

By now you would know that getting a shortlist from your dream IIM 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
  • CAT Score
  • 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 weight in percentage given to different components of your profile.

X Marks 10 20 10 NA 34 25
XII Marks 10 10 15 10 40 15
Grad Marks 10 20 15 10 NA NA
CAT Score 65 40 56 60 20 45
Work Experience 5 8 NA 10 NA 5
Gender Diversity NA 2 4 5 6 10
Education Diversity Yes NA NA 5 NA 10

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 does not compete with the best engineer. 

So if 9000 people belonging to a particular stream appear for the CAT, then the top 90 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-A keeps varying it’s stance on work-ex, as if it were an on & off relationship, it is back on now.

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

  • The weightage of 8 for work experience is calculated as follows:
    • The marks for work experience = 8*(number of months of work experience)/36.
    • If you have more than 36 months you will get 8 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.

Of all the schools, IIM-B’s criteria and interview process have been most consistent and nuanced over the years.

For example, while they marks to work-experience, they do not want candidates with work-ex to have an undue or rather unearned advantage over promising freshers.

So, during the interview process they evaluate the quality of work-ex on a 5-point scale — 0.25 – 0.5 – 1 – 1.5 – 2

They multiply the marks you got for work-ex by this factor. So, if you got 8 marks just by the dint of accumulating run of the mill work-ex, which they feel does not rate more than a .25, then it will become 8*.25 or 2. In the final total this would drastically the reduce the advantage that this particular candidate got during the work-ex.

Similarly it can also help candidate offset a poor CAT score, a student of mine got a call at around 96 percentile owing to 4-plus years of work-ex and gender diversity. The quality of her work-ex though was standout and she would have got a 2 for sure, making her work-ex marks post the interview 16 and fetching her a final call despite the low CAT percentile (please note that IIM-B uses gender diversity only for first call and not the final call).

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
Only God knows why they give maximum weightage to XII marks and what uniqueness this brings to the kind of batch they put together! A particular kind of superhero team, may be — those who ace XII in India despite or without focussing on JEE and/or other entrance exams!

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.This happened in the first year they gave weightage to both and the batch had about 52% women! (Even our elite management schools learn by trial and error)

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?

Each one has their own sweet process and trying to decode that doing that Math is possibly the biggest waste of time. Your job is to get the best score you can, let them do the Math! 

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 weight 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%!

Almost all colleges barring IIM-L, which gives no weightage to X marks, give weightage to X and XII marks.

Each IIM has 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 the 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 is most definitely possible 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 calls you can expect for most of the typical 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.

In case 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, C and I have no weightage for work-ex, only A, B, L & K give 5, 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 A, B, L, and K 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, provided they score in excess of 99.50 (GEM).

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.

Later this year, the IIMs will announce their criteria for the next 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. 2,00, 000 and average salary in excess of Rs.25,00,000 — that has close to 85% weightage for CAT score both for the first call and the final call. The only scores that matters for FMS are the CAT Score and WAT-PI Scores.

So do not waste your time and mine asking me about whether you will get a call from the old IIMs. It changes nothing in terms of prep plan and application strategy (if you have to ask me whether you will get calls then it means that you have to apply to good schools other than the IIMs).

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 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 (he said he gets tense when he is unable to solve a QA problem and I had sorted out the issue for him)

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 his career plans, I asked him which college he was studying in and he replied that he was from IIT-Madras!

Given the stereotypes surrounding IITians’ ability 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, SSN, or SRM (the biggest colleges other than IIT-M in Chennai)

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



  1. Amber keshari says

    Hi Sir,
    you have an a mis-calculation in the IIMK section the over all total has to be 100 but there is an a written overall 110,my kindly request to you is that please gaze on that particular area.


    • Hi Amber,

      As I mentioned in the paragraph related to IIM-K, they award 10% to either gender or educational diversity and not 10% for each, making the total 100.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  2. Saurav Kumar Jha says

    Hi sir,

    Perhaps there is some gap in IIM-C’s selection criteria in the blog. In the table it shows that the weightage for Grad scores is 15%, whereas a little below that in the article, it’s mentioned that the same does not have any weightage. Could you please clarify?


    • Sahil navkhandewala says

      Hello Tony sir,
      Chances of getting into new iims like Ranchi,rohtak, shillong?


      • Hi Sahil,

        You stand a decent chance of getting a call from the new and baby IIMs.

        As I always tell my students, leave Math of the admissions to the colleges and just focus on getting the best percentile possible while applying to not just the IIMs and taking not just the CAT but other exams as well.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  3. Arshdeeep says

    Hello Tony sir,
    I have X/XII/Grad as 66.5/68.4/65.3, and as per mocks, I’m expecting 97-98 %ile in CAT. Can I expect a call from any IIMS ?


    • Hi Arshdeep,

      Given the marks, it is tough to get calls from the old and new IIMs but maybe the baby IIMs are definitely possible.

      I would suggest applying to a good set of colleges including MDI and others so that you can make the most of your ability.

      Think career and firms and do not get too attached to a handful of colleges.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


    • Sahil navkhandewala says

      Hello Tony sir,
      What are my chances of getting into new iims like shillong,Ranchi if;
      will I get the calls from new iims and my low grad will affect me anywhere like in interview?


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