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IIM Selection and Admission Criteria for 2021-2023 Session

The first step towards getting into the IIMs is taking the CAT exam. The CAT 2020 will be conducted on November 29 and the result will be announced in the second week of January 2021. The IIM admission process for 2021-2023 MBA/PGP batch will begin soon with shortlisting of candidates for Written Ability Test (WAT), Group Discussion (GD) and Personal Interview (PI) rounds.

Every year, over two lakh MBA aspirants take the CAT for admission to a total of about 5,000 MBA seats across the 20 campuses of the IIMs.  In 2020, about 2.30 lakh candidates applied for the exam and 1.90 lakh candidates appeared for it. In CAT 2019, the total number of applications received was 2.44 lakh while over 2.09 lakh candidates took the exam.

The IIM admission criteria and selection process not only includes choosing candidates based on of their CAT percentile but also on the basis of WAT/GD and PI performance, academic history, academic diversity, gender diversity and work experience. Due to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak many IIMs scrapped WAT and GD, and conducted PI via video calls for admission to 2020 MBA batch. For the 2021 batch, IIMs are expected to conduct the admission process like earlier, i.e. in person WAT/GD and PI.

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The admission criteria and selection process of each IIM is announced beforehand for the candidates to know the shortlist cut off, selection criteria, Group Discussion (GD), Written Ability Test (WAT), Personal Interview (PI) process and calculation of CAT scores/percentiles.

Once the CAT result is declared, the 20 IIM campuses screen the test takers on the basis of their respective CAT scores and academic record (performance in Class 10, Class 12 and graduation). CAT cut off percentiles are fixed for each IIM, section wise and category wise. Cut off percentiles and weight allotted to CAT (and other parameters) to get shortlisted for the WAT/GD-PI round varies for each IIM.


Stages of IIM Admission and Selection Process

IIM admission process is divided into three stages. Given below is an overview of the three stages of IIM admission:

Stage 1: Shortlisting of candidates on the basis of their CAT exam score

Once the CAT result is announced, the candidates are invited to apply for WAT/GD-PI round by each IIM through official notification on its official website. Candidates who meet the shortlist cut off have to login through their CAT IDs to submit their name and CAT score.

Stage 2: Screening of candidates for WAT/GD-PI

In the second stage, the candidates who applied for WAT/GD-PI are shortlisted on the basis of their CAT score and academic record after which interview letters are sent to selected candidates.

Stage 3: Calculation of Composite Score and Final Selection

In the third stage, the composite score of each candidate is calculated on the basis of various parameters to finalise his/her selection. The final selection process of IIM admission includes assessing a candidate on certain parameters and calculating his/her composite score. Given below is the list of eight main parameters and their definitions:

Parameter What It Means?
CAT score Overall percentile score obtained in CAT exam.
Graduation Score The aggregate percentage obtained in a three-year degree course or equivalent.
Class 12 Score The aggregate percentage scored in Class 12 or equivalent.
Class 10 Score The aggregate percentage scored in Class 10 or equivalent.
WAT/GD-PI Each candidate's performance in WAT/GD-PI is assessed and marks are allotted accordingly.
Academic Diversity Candidates from non-engineering background are given extra points to ensure fair representation of students from other streams. The points for academic diversity vary for each campus.
Gender Diversity The IIMs give extra points to female/transgender candidates to encourage fair representation of each gender. The points for gender diversity vary for each campus.
Work Experience Extra points (from 1-5) are given to candidates having prior work experience. For this, a range is defined from lowest to highest. The points for work experience vary for each campus.
*The weights allotted to each of the above-mentioned parameters varies for each IIM and the composite score is also calculated by each IIM individually.

What is CAT Composite Score?

The composite score refers to the total score (out of 100) a candidate obtains during the final selection process, calculated on the basis of the abovementioned parameters. For weightage of parameters and calculation of composite score of each IIM campus, refer to the table of campus-wise IIM admission and selection criteria at the bottom.

Also Read: CAT score vs CAT percentile: Understand the difference

IIM Eligibility Criteria

IIM eligibility criteria is same as CAT eligibility criteria, i.e. minimum 50 per cent aggregate marks in graduation. Those who are eligible to appear in CAT are also eligible for admission to the IIMs. However, they have to meet a few other requirements for selection. Take a look at the IIM eligibility criteria below:

  • The basic IIM eligibility criteria is graduation with minimum 50 per cent aggregate marks or equivalent CGPA (45 per cent for SC, ST and PWD/DA category)
  • Candidates appearing for the final year of bachelor's degree/equivalent qualification exam or awaiting their results, are also eligible to apply
  • To be eligible for IIM interview call, the candidates must meet the IIM shortlist/qualifying cut off
  • To expect interview call and participate in WAT/GD-PI, the candidates must meet the minimum IIM call cut off

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Candidates who make it to the final selection list are intimated through email. The most important aspect of IIM admission criteria is "confirmation of admission". Selected candidates are required to confirm their admission by filling up the offer acceptance form and paying the requisite admission acceptance fee (adjustable in the first installment of tuition fee). In case any candidate fails to submit the offer acceptance form and pay the fees within the given time duration, his/her seat will be offered to the next best candidate.

IIMs also have a provision to defer admission. Under this provision, candidates who wish to earn some work experience before pursuing the PGP course are allowed to postpone their admission for up to a maximum of two years. This system was introduced in 2015 and around 10 per cent of seats are kept aside for such candidates.

IIM Admission Process: Important Points to Remember
  • Candidates selected for the second phase of admission process, i.e. WAT/GD-PI will be informed by the institute through email post the declaration of CAT result.
  • The shortlisting is done through an online process wherein the candidates have to apply for the interview call. If selected, the institutes will reach out to them through email.
  • The candidates are required to participate in the WAT/GD-PI to be eligible for the final phase of admission, i.e. calculation of the composite score for final selection.