CAT Preparation Industry Trends – The Future Is Online


  • Director, 2IIM Online CAT Preparation | IIT Madras | IIM Bangalore | CAT 100th percentile - CAT 2011, 2012 and 2014.


    We had compiled a previous post (here) on the trends seen in the CAT Preparation industry over the past 20 years. But as the old saying goes, past is prologue (With William S’s birthday just gone by, it is probably a great time to quote the bard as well). What we are interested in is the present, and more importantly the future.

    Where crystal-ball gazing is involved, the caveats cannot be far behind. Bear in mind that all the predictions are based on thought experiments and discussions with members from the industry. We can say with a 100% certainty that the predictions we give may or may not happen.

    The future is bright, future is online.

    If we had to compile this entire piece into a single sentence, it is this. The future is online. The online model first broke through at a significant level with CAT 2014. Over the past 2 years, the number of players has shot up and a number of variants have sprouted. We will be writing an article on the different variants available in the industry shortly.

    We have given a broad outline of estimates of number of students preparing online. Please note that only complete online courses have been accounted for. A clutch of players have rebranded their test series as online courses by adding a few PDFs here and there. We have not counted these as online products.

    Online courses have been used as a stand-alone product and as a supplement to a classroom course. We have tried to guesstimate this ratio as well. It goes without saying that this number can be no better than an educated guess.

    The years mentioned in the chart refer to the people preparing for CAT in that year. We estimate that around 40% of the students preparing for CAT 2018 will be preparing for it online. Since the price point for online is lesser than for a classroom based course, the revenue share might be lower. But even so, online learning will play a significant role in CAT preparation.

    Two years ago, online learning was a new thing to try out. A year from now perhaps more than half the aspirants would have heard about online learning and thought about trying an online option. That is a rapid change in a short span of time.

    Online learning is way more impactful

    There is absolutely no doubt remaining on this. Motivated students can learn way more online that through any classroom variant. You can learn anytime, anywhere and at your own pace. The teachers are better, the pedagogy is better, and the testing and analytics are better.

    The gaps are with connectivity and motivation. Online providers are improving on this front as well. With mobile apps filling the connectivity gap and facebook groups providing the high-energy boost, online providers are building a compelling value proposition.

    If you have not tried an online course yet, then you are doing yourself a disservice.

    Classroom coaching industry is struggling

    The mandarins running classroom coaching have struggled to get good teachers ever since 2010 or so. Travel times are horrendous, batches are smaller, class attendances are poorer – these three factors put together have lowered enthusiasm levels of teachers sharply. The first generation of MBA graduates who built classroom businesses have all gone on to bigger challenges. It is not a great time to be part of the CAT classroom coaching industry.

    Try an online course, give yourself a chance to be pleasantly surprised

    There is no good reason to not try an online course. When we at 2IIM started off with an online course for CAT two years ago, we were sceptical about the impact this would have. Now, there is little doubt in our mind that online learning is the future.

    My only advice to CAT aspirants would be to definitely try out an online course this year.  There is a decent chance that you might come off pleasantly surprised.

    Best wishes for your CAT Preparation.


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