Whether CAT actually tests your managerial aptitude ?


  • Content & PR team - MBAtious


    Arun Jagannathan is the founder of CrackVerbal, India’s fastest growing GMAT and GRE training institute. Arun has 99th percentile on the GMAT and over the past decade has worn multiple hats as tutor, entrepreneur and a technology manager. He has taught and mentored over 4000 students, teaching topics ranging from hard-skills such as software engineering to soft-skills such as time-management.

    Have you ever wondered – What is the deal with CAT ? Firstly, you have hundreds of thousands of aspirants vying for a few hundred seats. Heck! It is easier to get into a 7pm Virar Fast than make it to the top IIMs (Mumbaikars will know what I am saying! :)). Add to it the “normalization” bit that has a logic which confounds even the wisest economists. And 10th & 12th standard marks? I was all of 16 for Heaven’s sake! Don’t use such a Freudian weapon against me. All of this, and we haven’t even touched all the testing-day anomalies. Then why the hell do IIMs use the CAT scores for admission to their hallowed portals? The moot point is whether CAT *actually* tests your managerial aptitude or is it just there to serve as a good sieve to filter out people.

    For that let us revisit a little bit about the usefulness of standardized tests. A quick background – to establish my “credentials” – before I started teaching GMAT at CrackVerbal, I spent many years sharpening my tools at various coaching institutes teaching the CAT.

    Let me tell you that tests to measure intelligence (and intelligence in itself) has been a topic of interest for me. There are as many as 27 different forms of intelligence, which have been seen in humans. Tendulkar can flick a ball over the ropes off a Shoaib Akhthar (the reaction time required is something like 0.6s). You need to be a genius to do that. Beethoven was deaf yet composed some of the greatest pieces of music ever to be heard by the human ear (he could differentiate between 1/10th of a note). The kind of aura Rajneesh had around him was supposed to make the most ardent of non-believers spell-bound (he was once listed on the Guinness book of world records for having a record 27 limousines – the most for anyone on the planets AND all gifts by his followers). Maradona many followers of the game say, has to be the greatest wizard with the ball and put him even above Pele (his 1986 World-Cup goal where he dribbled right up from the ‘D’ stands testimony to this judgement)

    You need to be a genius to do ALL of the above. But would they clear CAT? So the IIMs figured that you don’t need to flick Shoaib for a 6 outside off-stump or compose the 9th symphony or give discourses on world-peace & sex to be a manager.You need to know how far the shadow the dad will cast and use basic trigonometry to solve. You need to know based on a 2para passage, which of the given options most weaken your assumption about decent of Tsavo lions. You need to know based on a esoteric matrix, who won the second round match against Spain, especially if that team lost the first round match against Argentina. This is what it takes to be a manager is what the IIMs feel!

    Truth be told – CAT is not to make your life easier. It is also designed to make the life of someone at the IIMs easier!

    I think at the end of the day it is important to realize that there has to be SOME way to assess intelligence and aptitude in potential managers. The IIMs have chosen CAT to decipher that. Assume you were IIM-A and you had 2 lakh people screaming & knocking at your door, ala MTV Roadies, wanting to get in. What would you do? Get a large iron door to keep the riffraff away – even if it means a few “good” people get compromised because of this system.

    It is like renting out houses only to vegetarians. It is unfair but the prerogative of the landlords. You might get mad at them for discriminating but they are not going to care. Same for the IIMs – you might rave & rant all you want on your FB wall & tweet out to your heart’s content but it is going to fall on deaf ears.

    I for one, disagree. I feel I would have more value-addition in a course where I am surrounded by the Tendulkars, the Beethovens, the Oshos and the Maradonas than the ones who were good at cracking the “aptitude” test. This is where the US Bschools (in general MBA programs in the Western World) are different. I mean, think about it – they invented the MBA! Google says “Although institutions of higher education around the world now offer MBA programs, this degree is American born and bred. The first graduate school of management, the Tuck School of Business, was founded in 1900 at Dartmouth College.” The first MBA degree was awarded by Harvard a few years later. To give you a reference of the period – Harvard was granting MBAs when Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of India, had the brilliant idea to move the capital from Calcutta to Delhi!

    They look at a variety of different things and the standardized test (GMAT in this case) is just 1 among the many different inputs they take to qualify/understand who you are as a person.


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