CAT Eligibility Criteria

by | Oct 31, 2021 | 0 comments

CAT is the Common Admission Test. It is one of the most competitive and popular tests among the students who want to seek admission into 160 b-schools in India. It consists of three sections – Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DLIR), and Quantitative Ability (QA) and it is offered once a year, usually in the month of November/December. CAT is established and organized by the Indian Institute of Management (IIMs) for admitting students for their MBA or PGDM. One of the IIMs conducts or manages the CAT every year as maintained by the policy of rotation. 

CAT is a national-level test. There are around 244,000 annual test-takers of CAT. The duration of the test is 3 hours, 1 hour for each section. The candidates must make a note that CAT has a sectional cut-off. One must secure a minimum score to clear that particular section and hence the overall CAT. The candidates who achieve the sectional cut-off, as well as the overall cut-off, are further selected for the Group Discussion (GD) or Personal Interview (PI) by the IIMs.

There are thousands of students that appear for various entrance tests like CAT, XAT, IIFT, SNAP, etc. Among these, CAT happens to be one of the toughest entrance tests in India as it is the initial step to seek admissions into one of the IIMs and also other prestigious B-schools in India. Last year, there were around 2,04,267 students who appeared for this test and competed for 1550+ seats thus making it the most competitive exam in the country. CAT is the first step towards the affirmation of a splendid career in the corporate sector. Along with financial remittance, the students acquire skills in management, develop leadership qualities, and also enhance their confidence while working in top multinational companies. Thus, CAT is the most highly regarded and desired entrance test and allures graduates from all streams.

However, the students who wish to appear for CAT have to fulfill the CAT eligibility criteria. 

Overview of CAT Exam eligibility

The eligibility of CAT has been straightforward and has remained unchanged for the past many years. It is very important for the candidates to check the eligibility criteria before starting with the preparation of CAT to make sure whether they are eligible for the entrance test or not. 

  • There is no age limit for appearing for the CAT examination. This is a benefit for the working professionals. They can take up this test even after completing their college and during their respective jobs. This is also an advantage for the individuals who realize later to change their career path and opt for a postgraduate degree
  • However, it is important for the candidates to be graduated from an esteemed university.
  • The candidates must also acquire a minimum of 50% marks in their graduation. If they have acquired CGPA, they must convert it into an equivalent percentage. The reserved category students need to secure 45% marks in their graduation to be eligible for the test
  • It is not mandatory for the students to have work experience in order to appear for CAT. Hence, the students who have just completed their graduation or the students who are in their final year of graduation can undertake CAT provided they score 50% marks here. 

Let us discuss the detailed eligibility for CAT as there are specific points related to the eligibility criteria that should be properly known to the candidates. 

Academic Qualification criteria for CAT Exam

The academic qualification criteria are mentioned by the respective IIM that is conducting the CAT and the minimum marks the candidate needs to secure so that he/she is able to give the entrance test. 

  • It is mandatory for the candidate to acquire a Bachelor’s degree from any University/ Institute. This University/ Institute must be recognized by the UGC (University Grants Commission). The students who belong to the open category are required to secure a minimum of 50% marks in their graduation whereas the Reserved category students (SC/ ST/ PwD) have to score 45% of aggregate marks to be able to appear for the CAT.
  • The students with an Engineering degree (B.Tech/ B.E. from any University/ Institute) must also secure 50% aggregate marks and students belonging to the reserved category must acquire 45% aggregate marks. This Engineering University/ Institute must be recognized by MHRD/ AICTE.
  • The students who wish to appear for CAT in their final year of degree examination must also have their University/ Institute recognized by MHRD/ AICTE/ UGC and they should also score 50% aggregate marks. However, it is mandatory for the students who are giving CAT in their final year of degree examination to submit the certificate from the Registrar/ Principal of their respective institution or university stating that they have met all the requirements for equivalent qualification on the date the certificate is issued. 

Reservation Criteria for CAT Exam

There are some reservations offered by the IIMs for different categories of students who are applying for different business management programs. 

CategoryReserved percentage
NC-OBC (Non-Creamy Other Backward Class)27%
SC(Scheduled Caste)15%
ST(Schedules Tribe)7.5%
PwD(Person with disability)5%

This means that the general category candidates have 54% seats. There are about 4000 total seats available in various IIMs. Because of the reservation level, the number of seats available for the general category students is over 1900. 

Reservation Policy for Person with Disability

It is compulsory for the PwD category candidates to bring a PwD certificate issued by an adequate authority. They will be able to fulfill the eligibility criteria for CAT only after submitting this certificate. The PwD category includes individuals with various types of disabilities:

  • Low vision/ blind candidates.
  • Candidates with hearing disablement.
  • Candidates with a locomotive ailment or cerebral palsy.

Registration with Backlogs

This is the commonly asked question among the candidates whether the students having any academic backlogs in their graduate program is can apply for the CAT 2022 exam or not. It must be elucidated that the students who have backlogs in their graduate program and wish to apply for the CAT can register for the same without any issue. There were many questions received by IIM Indore during the registration process of CAT 2020 regarding the registration of students with backlogs. However, they are eligible to apply for CAT 2022, and the candidates who are appearing for supplementary re-exams are also eligible for the same. 

These candidates must select “yes” to the question “Are you in the final year of Bachelor’s Degree?” while filling the CAT 2022 registration form. Since the graduation of these candidates is incomplete, they are required to submit a certificate that must be issued by the registrar or the principal. This certificate should mention that candidates have appeared for supplementary re-examination and are awaiting results.

Work Experience Requirements for CAT Exam

There is no compulsion for the candidates to have any prior work experience. Though the CAT Application Form 2021 asks for it, there is no essential condition to fulfill it. The candidates must make a note that some weightage is given to work experience by the IIMs during the final examination. However, the IIMs have never revealed the exact weightage and it varies from one IIM to another IIM. 

IIM Eligibility Vs CAT Eligibility

When the IIMs hold CAT, the eligibility criteria are not exactly the same. There are some minor differences in it that should be known to a candidate who aspires to study at IIM. There is no age limit for CAT qualification as well as IIM qualification. However, the two-year bachelor’s degree is accepted by the CAT exam qualification criteria whereas the IIM qualification criteria do not accept it and require a three-year bachelor’s degree.

The students who aim to pursue a postgraduate management degree from the IIMs or the top B-schools of India must fulfill these eligibility criteria in order to be able to appear for one of the most competitive entrance tests in India, the Common Admission Test.

Importance of CAT Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for the CAT, it is tremendously important for the candidates to be thoroughly familiarized with the eligibility criteria of this entrance test. During the registration process, the candidates are asked to fill in their required details and also submit their respective documents on the portal. If any disagreement or inconsistency is found later, the candidature of the candidate can be canceled without even giving any prior notice. Also, the candidates should make a note that even if they are eligible for CAT, it does not guarantee them admission into the IIMs or other top b-schools. The candidates who acquire the required cut-off marks along with fulfilling the eligibility criteria are further shortlisted for the GD/PI rounds. 

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