What are the immediate next steps to be followed after CAT Exam?

Author: Nomi | Published on: December 21, 2020, 4:45 P.M. (IST)

In your opinion. what is to be done after CAT 2021? Ideally, once the exam is completed, most candidates, especially candidates who are not working, are slightly confused regarding what after CAT 2021. The CAT 2021 Preparation becomes such an integral part of the daily routine that there is a void in the day without it. Most candidates take this as an opportunity to relax until the CAT Result declaration. However, this is not a very effective use of the time which can cost you a seat in your dream B-School if you are not careful. Some candidates enroll themselves in a short-term certification program or look out for short term internships to utilize their time, while candidates not confident enough with their CAT attempt, start preparing for CAT all over again. Students should be very cautious during this time as there are several formalities that have to be completed by a serious MBA aspirant, post CAT result. Here is a list of necessary steps about what after CAT 2021:

CAT Answer Key

The CAT Answer Key is released within 1-2 days of CAT exams. Using that, you will be able to roughly predict your CAT percentile and decide what is to be done accordingly. The CAT Result is usually declared in the month of January. Deciding what to do after that is purely subjective for candidates who perform well or for candidates who are unable to meet their hopes of clearing CAT. If you have done well in the exam, the next step automatically becomes WAT Preparation and GD-PI. All the best b-schools in the country conduct these rounds for MBA admissions. These rounds are extremely challenging in nature. Keeping in mind the number of shortlisted students, all b-schools are extra cautious in sifting out the best candidates for themselves. Career Launcher presents a list of what are the next steps after CAT for your better understanding and acknowledgement.

CAT 2020 latest Updates

The CAT 2020 was conducted on Sunday, 29th November 2020 by IIM Indore. The notification was released on 29th July 2020 by IIM Indore which stated that CAT 2020 Registration would commence on 5th August 2020. The CAT Exam 2021 date has not been divulged by iimcat.com. Here are the important dates pertaining to CAT 2021: 

CAT 2021-Related Events

Important Dates (tentative)

Launch of iimcat.ac.in (official website)

Last week of July 2021

Internet release and official announcement

Last week of July 2021

Newspaper release

First week of August 2021

CAT 2021 Application start date

First week of August 2021 (10:00 AM)

CAT 2021 Application deadline

Second or third week of September 2021 

Hall ticket availability (start date)
Hall ticket availability (end date)

Last week of October 2021
On the day of CAT exam

CAT 2021 Exam Date

Last week of November 2021

CAT 2021 Answer Key release

First week of December 2021

Declaration of Result

First week of January 2021

What after CAT 2021: Know the MBA Selection Rounds

There is a very common belief that several candidates share is that getting a high percentile is a guarantee to get into the best of the B-Schools. As you might have gathered by now, this is quite far from the truth.

It is important to understand that the WAT (Written Ability Test), Group Discussion and Personal Interview is equally important for the B-School Admission and in some cases even more important. Different IIMs have different selection procedures. The nine newly found IIMs have a centralized admission process (CAP) to select students for the MBA program which only consists of 2 rounds I.e. WAT and PI. Owing to this fact, one may even argue that understanding how to prepare for WAT and further rounds demands vehement dedication and more effort than the actual CAT 2021 exam preparation. Therefore, it would be wise to start the WAT preparation as soon as possible because the phrase 'time is of the essence' has never been truer for CAT candidates. Let us understand MBA selection rounds in detail:

1. WAT (Written Ability Test)

WAT is conducted to evaluate your article/essay writing skills along with your acquired education. This exam is an essential step for selection in many premier b-schools as a replacement of the GD (Group Discussion) round. The exam portion of WAT consists of current affairs with a few general awareness topics. To enhance your chances of passing WAT in one go, make sure you do not quit your reading habit after CAT 2021 examination. WAT plays a crucial role in your overall selection.

Read different newspaper, periodicals, magazines etc. wherein you can take cut-outs on current affairs and learn about the global happenings. Also, pick up a random topic based on cultural event, socio economic event, political event etc. and practice your written skills to improve readability and fluency. Everything that you do in this exam is time-restricted. Hence, it is important to time yourself while practicing for WAT.

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2. GD (Group Discussion)

There is a very common belief that several candidates share is that getting a high percentile is a guarantee to get into the best of the B-Schools. As you might have gathered by now, this is quite far from the truth.

GD is one of the essential shortlisting rounds for pursuing MBA from the top institutes of the country. After the declaration CAT 2021 result, you would have to undergo the GD round conducted by management institutes on priority. GD is typically the second last round of selection, before the final PI) Personal Interview) call.

It is important to understand that the Group Discussion and Personal Interview is equally important for the B-School Admission and in some cases even more important. Owing to this fact, one may even argue that understanding how to prepare for group discussion and further rounds demands vehement dedication and more effort than the actual CAT 2021 exam preparation.

Therefore, it would be wise to start the GD preparation as soon as possible because the phrase 'time is of the essence' has never been truer for CAT candidates. Walk proud that you excellently cleared the CAT 2021

Therefore, it would be wise to start the GD preparation as soon as possible because the phrase 'time is of the essence' has never been truer for CAT candidates. Walk proud that you excellently cleared the CAT exam, please do, but to dodge being a fool's gold, a solid marriage between you and full-on soft skill preparation must happen. Today's hard work is tomorrow's victory, and it's better to cry happy tears and then sad ones.

Starting the GD Preparation is not very difficult as long as you follow a few basic steps:

  1. Compile a list of probable group discussion topics. This is the first step in understanding how to prepare for group discussions. There can be several different types of Group Discussion topics.
  2. In the initial phase, go through the current affairs topics, especially related to management or economics.
  3. Build points and counterpoints to boost your critical thinking abilities and get yourself used to breaking down and analyzing an argument.
  4. Join a good GD Preparation class. It is important to remember that while self-preparation can take you part of the way, the true GD Preparation with other candidates is a necessity for you to succeed.

An early start is the best way to ensure that the competition does not catch up to you. It is also a confidence booster since the GD Preparation ensures that you are always working towards something and not aimlessly looking for what to do.

Click here to read more about Group Discussion

3. PI (Personal Interview)

Personal Interview (PI) is an inseparable component for MBA Admissions process. This is the last step before declaring the final list of selected candidates. It includes your one-to-one interaction with the admission panel who assess your caliber in terms of your communication skills, body language and confidence. Being confident does not mean that you will be overconfident. There are some academic related as well as personal questions that can be asked from the candidate. It may involve questions like -why do you want to pursue MBA from our college? How would you describe yourself? Describe a challenging life situation that you faced. Where do you see yourself in the coming year? What is meant by success? What makes you different from other candidates?

Click here to read more about Personal Interview

Steps After CAT 2021: 4 preparation tips for GD-PI

Below mentioned are a few crucial steps that you should immediately follow after CAT 2021:

1. Right mentor to sharpen your soft skills

One of the most significant factors during the WAT-GD-PI Preparation is the role of the mentor. Even legendary bands like "The Beatles" had their personal mentor and Guru, Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to guide and hold their hands throughout their iconic journey.

The importance of finding the right mentor to sharpen your soft skills as part of your post CAT 2021 preparation is extremely crucial in understanding how to prepare for WAT-GD-PI. You can always have a nice conversation with your reflection in the mirror, but when stakes are really high, i.e. your entire career, professional aid should not and cannot be optional. Seek guidance, be it an institute, be it a friend, uncle,

father, mother, brother, sister, doesn't matter, if they are in the ground of the professionalism you seek, you must reach out and get the extra professional push you need to ace WAT-GD-PI round.

The ways in which the right mentor can help you are:

  • Help you with their experiences and knowledge.
  • Help you weave a story about yourself to best accentuate your personality.
  • Support you through the grueling MBA Admission season.

These are just a few ways in which the right mentor could help you in how to prepare for Group Discussions and Personal Interviews.

2. Stay immune to biased choices

You're not wrong for eying the shiniest apple on the tree. Hey, we all want the best in life, and it's completely fine to have such sentiments running beneath our skin. Now, what isn't attractive is marrying to one corner, sitting resistant to a change of heart or mind because of your initial thoughts and genesis plans. After all, a healthy change of mind is but a sign of growth.

The absolute perk of having a brilliant percentile score is getting calls from top b-schools like the IIMs, IIFT, XLRI, and more. Yes, there's always that one school which continues to be the eye candy, but are you naive enough to limit your chances to just one? There's no damage in going for different institutes' interviews. As a matter of fact, you're only sharpening your intellectual blade. Keep wishing, on your knees praying, to get into your dream school but leave the optional gates open just enough for your plan-B to fall through, heaven forbid, should plan-A crumble.

Each B-School has something unique to offer and the best match for you may not be the best of the best (MICA for Marketing Aspirants). However, if the B-School matches your personality, you are much more likely to prosper. Therefore, it would be wise for you to ensure that your WAT, GD and PI Preparation covers a vast number of B-Schools.

3. Do not give up on reading habit

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. Reading is a boon which will support you at various stages in your life. For e.g., it will help to prepare for WAT, GD and PI all in one go.

When it is about MBA, every newspaper, magazine and editorials would be important. You must scan whatever you read to pay attention to grammar, style of writing and introduction of new words. Make it a part of your morning routine to widen your information sandbox. Try to go for newspapers which have a unique style. Every newspaper breeds a different tale. Here are the set of viable newspapers you can go through

  • The Economic Times
  • The Hindu
  • The Tribune
  • Live Mint
  • The Indian Express

You can also install various news apps on your gadget and read the newspaper at your own comfort, whenever free.

4. Attend Speaking Events or Seminars

You should take WAT, GD and PI preparation seriously to match with the fellow aspirants during the actual selection. If you did not take initiative to prepare for the exam, you might lose your marks. Attend as many speaking events as possible. If you want to take your practice to the next level, enroll for interactive workshops. You can also download our customized content for WAT-GD-PI preparation. What you are going to be instructed during your actual WAT-GD-PI requires erstwhile professional guidance. Do not blow away your chances of clearing WAT-GD-PI in a cloud of smoke made up of over confidence.

Steps After CAT 2021: Registering for admission to B-Schools

Most of the B-School coin their admission process before the CAT 2021 result is declared. After taking CAT 2020, you will be having more than enough time in hand to go through the application schedules of your preferred b-schools, check their expected cut off and cut off trends and make a list of the same. It is also suggested to check the fee structure and necessary documents that you will require during submitting your applications. After your checklist is ready, apply to the b school.

Here is a list of top 10 IIM and non-IIM B-Schools and their cut offs:

Top 10 IIMs and their cut off score

Name of IIMs

Minimum Cut-off needed

IIM Ahmedabad


IIM Bangalore


IIM Calcutta


IIM Lucknow


IIM Indore


IIM Kozhikode


IIM Shillong


IIM Raipur


IIM Ranchi


IIM Rohtak


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Top 10 Non-IIMs and their cut off score

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Steps After CAT 2021: Pursuing Online Certifications/Internships

Also, this would be the appropriate time for you to better your CV. You must show yourself in the best light by pursuing online certification/internship programmes. Do not go overboard though. Pursue whatever you think would be of shorter time duration and adhering to your targeted program to give character to your current resume. Associate yourself with a good institute and work towards honing your skills for MBA.

Steps after CAT : Filling out other MBA Exams

While you may be reluctant to sit for other MBA exams, it is a doable option as you are already prepared for it anyway. It would be wise for you to keep a backup. Below are some of the exams that you can go for other than CAT:

Click here to read and understand in detail all about major MBA entrance examinations you should appear for other than CAT 2021.

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CAT 2021 Score Vs Percentile

After taking CAT 2020, a candidate needs to calculate their estimated CAT percentile using a specific call predictor, to be fairly certain about cracking CAT 2021 successfully. This is one of the most important steps which a candidate should follow in order to assess his CAT performance. The reason why is that this particular step will help him/her conclude whether he/she succeeded in hitting the targeted CAT 2021 percentile or not. This conclusion would help them decide their next steps accordingly which include either shortlisting b-schools for further selection rounds or preparing for CAT 2021 all over again.

CAT percentile evaluation is a step-by-step process. A candidate's CAT scores go through numerous stages of evaluation. This entire process is overlooked by the convening IIM (IIM Indore for CAT 2020) and takes several months. This is where CAT Score Vs Percentile comes into picture.

CAT, unlike other largely conducted tests, uses many forms or versions of the test. The difficulty level varies from form to form but all the forms are cautiously assembled to ensure the content can be compared. The results of all the forms are analyzed in an accurate manner



CAT Percentile

To ease the process, forms consist of equating blocks with a pre-declared number of statistically portrayed questions chosen from a huge item bank. By comparing your answers to these blocks, your ability can be assessed. The achieved raw score is then shifted according to other parameters through a process known as equating. The scores are then kept on a usual metric or scale to ensure correct interpretation of scores. This is known as scaling of the score.

Normalization is a customary process used to compare your CAT scores across multiple forms and it resembles the GATE scoring system. For normalization, percentile equivalent is used. This process remodels itself according to location or scale difference of score distributions for multiple forms. After this, scores are again normalized across different sections of CAT (VARC, DILR and QA) and then converted into percentile.

A percentile rank is the percentage of marks that come below the given marks. E.G 90%ile would mean that your achieved CAT score is greater than 90% of the test takers.

Read in detail: CAT Score vs Percentile


The journey after CAT 2021 is just as arduous as the CAT 2021 Preparation (in some cases, even more difficult). The WAT, GD and PI Preparation has to begin as soon as possible to ensure that you have the best chance of getting into your favored B-School. The GD Preparation requires a huge amount of practice just like the CAT 2021 Preparation although the skill sets that are tested are quite different.

Candidates are only shortlisted based on their CAT 2021 scores and the institute's CAT cut off. After the CAT 2021 Exam, the candidate has to start working on their knowledge base, communication skills and ability to think on their feet. The candidates who qualify for further shortlisting rounds I.e., WAT, GD and PI should prepare themselves thoroughly for the same, especially GD. The GD Preparation should help you show the colleges that you appear for why you are a good prospect. The selection rounds conducted by top six IIMs (IIM BLACKI) are known as CAP (Common Admission Process). Based on the performance of candidates in these rounds, IIMs roll out their merit lists. The final admission is provided on several grounds I.e., CAT 2021 score, WAT score, GD and PI score, Academic Diversity, Gender Diversity and Work Experience (Optional). However, some baby IIMs like IIM Jammu and IIM Sirmaur do not organize any WAT and PI rounds, only the group discussion round.

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