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Criteria for IIMs July 27, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in education, india, reminisces-1990s.

I like it when an independent body or the judiciary is able to arm twist a government body into doing what it would otherwise have never done. Here is an example

But how well you do in CAT — after you have been shortlisted which means you have made it to at least the top 10% of all applicants — makes up only a fifth of your final score when it comes to securing an IIM admission. In fact, it’s your Class X and Class XII results that account for more — 25% of the final score; your Bachelor’s degree 15%. The factor with the maximum weightage is your performance in group discussion (GD), GD summary and personal interview — 35%. The balance 5% depends on work experience and whether you have taken a “professional course”.

Such details have been revealed for the first time by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore which conducted the CAT last year after it was forced by the Central Information Commission to do so last fortnight. This direction came after 22-year-old visually challenged woman Vaishnavi Kasturi, was first refused information by IIMB. The institute declined to give details until the CIC intervened.

What are the possible reasons for not having done this earlier ? Or more generally under what circumstances should an education institution not lay down the criterion on which they admit students ? It would make sense if it is possible to ‘game’ the system by doing well on their criterion and nothing else.

For example, the IITs have been forced to change their exam patterns over the years because they believed that coaching is playing too much of a role and that selection procedure does not throw up the right pool of candidates. For the record, I have not followed this issue well enough to say if the current pattern has gone any distance towards solving the problem.

But in this particular case, it is unforgivable that they were not willing to reveal even the various factors that do matter. (perhaps even without stating the relative importance of each – much like US college/grad school admissions). This matters if a candidate who for some reason did not do well in Class X wants to improve his chances by focusing his energies accordingly. I know one might argue that a good candidate is good anyday and so one must always try to do his/her best irrespective of which factor is more important. But that would only be an artificial system because in the real world we are always faced with having to prioritize and fill gaps when we encounter them. By the way, I now have a feeling this might even deter some who did not do well in X, XII and their Bachelors to not even attempt the CAT ( with an eye on the IIMs at least).

I remember preparing for the IITJEE in the late 90s and not ever knowing what was the likely cut off – what mattered, what did not, whether one of the papers was more important, whether the number of attempts were a factor, there was no information about what branches you are likely to get at what rank and which IIT. Thinking back it might seem silly and its always silly for us ‘somewhat’ grown ups to sermonize on how one must not study with the end in mind and just enjoy the process. It is also not funny for 17 year old planning out his time it really is not. And this only encouraged rumors and these rumor-monger flourished.

Also I don’t think its fair to weigh one’s Class X marks on similar footing as Bachelor’s degree scores. Further, how do they reconcile the not-so-standard grading systems across different colleges/schools/levels ?

Of course, I don’t want the IIT/IIM system to end up like this. Not everything should be laid out to such level of detail that you can game the system. But I am glad we are seeing what we are.

P.S : Prof. Abinandanan, a faculty member at IISc has been covering these and other higher education related issues on nanopolitan. I would be keen to hear his views on this.


1. Loknath - July 28, 2007

Sharath, I always maintained in many such casual discussions that education should not become a privilege to a select few intelligentia. Education is something that everybody needs thoughout his life. Its not about being FOCUSSED and MERTIED alone. Unfortunately our system of education and educational insitutes and audience still are pretty BRAHMINIACAL in every sense. The way brahmins started it all. Sirf hum brahman Ved padenge aur tum Jhadoo lagao aur bandook chalao. Who the fuck from the middle class backgrounds have even a iota of congizance about what his APTITUDES are to begin with. We assoles have been told to read and score good marks so that we have good jobs. Thats all to it. Lets not talk of exceptions where wards of well to do families have the right set of motivations, reasons and inspirations and pedigree to go ahead and actually make an INFORMED CHOICE. Hence its good that criteria is laid out as discretely as possible to begin with, in fact by all the institutes (of course discretion can be exercised to an extent). This partially solves the problem of mass and mad competition to get some coveted degree. IIT/IIM’s have become some kind of novelty because these guys have never actually served the broader objectives of the society at large i,e imparting education to who NEEDS it the most. Atleast there is a great degree of reluctance and high-headedness to do it. These institutes could easily reach to scores of inidividuals (thru IT) who otherwise can’t afford to be admitted or do not But these intelligentsia continue to live in their secured coveted coocons of intellect, read and write about whats happening in america, wait for some choot amercian to send them a visa so that they finally can go and find their intelligent brothers there and live and work with them. Now that these guys are opening up their butts out of necessity and to preserve the long held novelty, as they can no longer get the sanctions of government funds easily. they are trying to reach out and be as open as possible. This is one such small step. Theres nothing wrong in atleast mentioning the expectations and not just the eligibilities to get the admission. These are all simple steps towards the attitudes that needed for a developed society.

2. Sharath Rao - July 28, 2007

Yes Loknath you have raised a valid issue as well. Since this information is available now everybody ( rather than a privileged few ) ..maybe it can help at least reduce some of the biases in the selection procedure.

3. Loknath - July 30, 2007

Hi Sharath,

May be the same set of people get selected and as such i don’t see any biases to beign with. What would probably change with expectations being set right is bringing out the more complete picture and potential of the candidate rather than just a plain simle mad race. As i said and would like to repeat, this is all about setting the expectations and not just the eligibility. Thats precisely the reason american univerisities have a bare minimum eligibility requirement but a lot of expectations that have been more or less made public.

4. Assorted links again « Epistles - August 31, 2007

[…] call from IIMB (not from L, K or I either). Not very surprising, now that we know that while IIMB does use Class X/XII criterion, IIMA does not. Well, we would of course to hear from the other 4 IIMs to be sure, but this puzzle […]

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