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CAT Exam 2021: Registration, Exam Dates, Eligibility, Updated Exam Pattern & Syllabus

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Urvashi Singhal

Exams Prep Master | Updated On - Oct 29, 2021

Test test Common Admission Test (CAT) is an entrance exam to get into 2 year MBA programs at 20 IIMs in India. CAT 2021 is scheduled in November 2021 and the registration process will begin in July. The eligibility for taking CAT exam is 50% marks in graduation, for reserved categories the qualifying marks are relaxed up to 5% check CAT 2021 eligibility & reservation criteria.

Test test test Every year CAT exam is conducted by one of the IIMs for over 2 lakh candidates to offer admission in 5000+ seats. CAT Application fees for general & male candidates is INR 2000 + Bank Processing Charge & for other candidates is INR 1000 + Bank Processing Charge. Know More

Test Test Test CAT Latest Updates:

  • April 21: CAT aspirants can download section wise CAT Previous Years Question Papers to boost preparation. Click Here
  • April 15: IIM-R Director has suggested the formation of ‘CAT Corporation’ to conduct CAT in multiple languages & attempts. Read More

CAT 2020 has been conducted successfully and IIMs have released CAT shortlisted candidates and have begun with their admission cycle. Know More IIM Common Application Process (IIM CAP). IIM Ahmedabad has decreased the weightage of CAT exam this year from 80% to 65%. This increases the chance of candidates from diverse background to sit for the selection process. IIM Ahmedabad Selection Process

The Average Cut Off to get into top IIMs this year is 94 percentile, map your score to percentile. Check Score vs Percentile mapper.

Test Common Admission Test Highlights

Particulars Details
CAT 2021 Conducting Body To be announced (Conducted by 1st Generation IIM on rotational basis )
CAT Official Website
Duration 2 Hours
Number of Sections 3 (Quantitative Ability-34, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension-34, and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning-32)
CAT 2021 Application Mode Online
Medium of Exam English (Exam is conducted in CBT mode)
CAT Helpdesk; 1800-2090-830
CAT 2021 Exam Pattern

CAT 2021 Exam Pattern & Syllabus

CAT 2021 pattern is likely to change because CAT 2020 was trimmed to 76 questions from 100 due to COVID-19. The CAT test duration was also trimmed to 120 minutes from 180 minutes which is likely to be restored for CAT 2021 (final notification awaited). CAT consists three sections of Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension(VARC) & Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DI & LR). As per trends, CAT Syllabus is derived from 10th -12th standard chapters and largely remains undefined. IIMs releases a CAT Mock Test every year which highlights question types and syllabus. Check Complete details at CAT Exam Pattern

CAT Exam pattern 2021
CAT 2021 Important Dates

CAT 2021 Important Dates (Tentative)

The exam dates for CAT 2021 are tentative and will likely be finalized with the release of notification in July 2021. The conducting IIM for CAT 2021 will be confirmed by April or May 2021. Bookmark this page & keep visiting to get fastest update on CAT Exam Schedule & Dates

Events Dates
Issue of notification Last week of July 2021
Starting of registration process 1st week of August 2021 (In online mode only at
Last date for registration 4th week of September 2021 (Form Correction facility available for image correction)
Admit card release October 2021 (In Online mode only)
Date of exam November 2021
Answer key release date December 2021 (Separate release of Provisional and Final answer Keys)
Result declaration January 2022

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Why to take CAT

Why to take CAT Exam?

CAT exam is the only gateway to get into IIMs. IIMs offers education from the best-qualified faculty and a chance to study with top-class students of India.  IIMs offer a considerable rise in paycheque and can offer up to 100% hike in the average pay. Internships and placements are offered by top firms like Goldman Sachs, TAS, JP Morgan, etc. Check out IIM Ahmedabad placement report to get an insight. if you have doubt about why to do an MBA then visit this page

Changes in CAT Exam

  • The application fee for CAT exam was increased from INR 1,900 to 2,000 for General category students and from INR 950 to 1,000 for SC/ST/PwD candidates.
  • Candidates can now select up to six cities for CAT Exam center choice. 
  • Also total CAT Exam slots were increased from 2 to 3 i.e. Slot 1- 8:30 AM to 10:30 PM, slot 2 - 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM, slot 3 - 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.
  • Last year the time duration of CAT exam was reduced to 120 minutes from 180 minutes i.e. 40 minutes for each section. 

CAT 2021 Preparation

CAT 2021 Coaching & Preparation

CAT Coaching is offered in both the modes online + classroom. Many toppers have taken coaching of the entire CAT syllabus or single section depending upon the preparation level. Before shortlisting any coaching institute make sure you take a mock test using CAT Previous Year papers to get an idea of which part of the syllabus should be focussed. You should also ask for a demo class from the institute to get a feel of actual course delivery.

CAT Preparation

CAT Preparation should constitute over 50% of time spent on solving mock papers and practice papers. To get previous year papers in PDFs click here The weak areas needs to be addressed with the help of self study or some mentor or coaching institutes. CAT Exam is considered as one of the most competitive exams in our country which is given by lakhs of candidates each year to get selected in 21 IIMs located across the country. With the number of applicants increases each year, the exam is getting tougher day by day.

CAT Preparation Books

Ekansh Agrawal (CAT 2020 99.98 Percentile) solved 60% of the book Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma. There are many books that can be preferred while preparing for CAT. Checkout Important Books for CAT.

Name of Books Author
How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT Arun Sharma (8th Edition)
Quantitative Aptitude Quantum Sarvesh Kumar (2018)
Quantitative Aptitude for CAT Nishit Sinha (2016)
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension for CAT Meenakshi Upadhyay and Arun Sharma (8th Edition)
The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT Nishit Sinha (2016)
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis (2019)

CAT Preparation time for an average candidate varies between 8-10 months. Many toppers have suggested solving mock papers for at least 6 months to get a hold over the exam. Read preparation strategy for all the sections

Key Takeaways from CAT 2020 for CAT 2021 Aspirants- CAT exam pattern is slowly moving towards an IQ-based Test rather than a Knowledge-based test. The test that earlier gave an upper hand to engineering students is now touching the level of GMAT.

Sections like Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension is becoming a major hurdle. Conceptual questions are becoming less intensive with more occurrence of IQ based questions in every section.

CAT 2021 Registration

CAT 2021 Registration, Eligibility & Reservation

CAT Application Form

CAT Registration can be made online at the official website once the link gets activated. Students need to pick the preferred IIMs while filling the application form along with four exam centers. The allocation of CAT exam centers is done as per the availability and preference. It is advised to fill all the four exam center preferences carefully, though authorities may provide a small window for CAT form correction around September 2021.

CAT Application fees as discussed in the opening lines is 2000 for general candidates and 50% rebate is offered for female and reserved quota candidates. The payment can be made online only.

CAT Eligibility

CAT Eligibility is 50% in graduation for general candidates and CA, CS, ICWA degrees are also eligible to take the exam. There is no limit to take the CAT exam. CAT 2021 Eligibility

Reservation in the CAT exam is offered to the reserved quota students as per the GOI guidelines. There is a 5% relaxation in qualifying percentage and also the qualifying percentile is subsidized for such candidates. Check More about CAT Reservation details

CAT 2021 Admit Card & Exam Centers

CAT Registration is followed by the release of CAT Admit Card 2021 which can be downloaded from the CAT website from October 2021. The CAT Hall Ticket will be released in fourth week of October 2021. Check the details around CAT 2021 Admit Card

CAT 2021 will be conducted in 425 test centers across 156 exam cities in the nation. The probability of conducting CAT in 2 slots rather than in 3 slots like that of CAT 2020 is high. Check CAT 2021 Exam Centers

CAT 2021 Marking Scheme

CAT Marking Scheme & Percentile

CAT score is the total marks obtained by a candidate in the entrance exam. Conventionally CAT is a 300 marks exam scored from 100 questions i.e. 3 marks per question and one negative marks for a wrong answer. Score is not widely circulated data for CAT but percentile. Many IIMs also consider sectional cut off for ex IIM Trichy sectional cut off is 80, 80 and 95 for QA, VARC & DILR respectively overall it is 94. Percentile can be mapped with the score on the basis of this score vs percentile mapper.

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CAT 2021 Cut Off

CAT 2021 Cut Off & Selection Process

Selection process of IIMs do not consider CAT Cut off as only qualifying criteria instead they test students on further rounds of Written Aptitude Test (WAT) or Group Discussion (GD), followed by a personal interview round. A certain weightage from CAT Exam, GD/WAT, PI and performance in graduation, 10th and 10+2 exam is considered to decide the selection. Checkout IIM Ahmedabad selection process in this snapshot.

IIM Selection process

Check out this answer on Collegedunia Q&A Platform around CAT Interview at IIM Calcutta

What was Your IIM Calcutta Interview Experience like?

Approx. CAT Cut-Off Percentiles (General Category) Institutes
 CAT Percentile 94.5+ IIT-C, IIT-KH, IIT-KN, IIT-R, IISc-B, IIM-A (ABM), IIM-Asr, IIM-BG, IIM-L (ABM), IIM-N, IIM-Sam, IIM-Srm, IIM-V, MDI-M
CAT Percentile 85+ AJKMCRC, BIMTECH-Retail/Insurance, IIFM, ISBM-P, IIMC (Mass Com Delhi), MISB, MBE-DU, WIMDR-B

Certain key changes have been observed in IIM Selection Process for 2021-23 admission process-

  • CAT 2020 cut off has been reduced for 1st stag of shortlisting.
  • Certain IIMs like IIM Rohtak are not considering sectional CAT cut offs. Instead it would shortlist candidates on the basis of overall CAT score.
  • Allotted weightage to CAT 2020 exam has been reduced. More weigtage has been given to academic performance and diversity.
  • Female candidates will be awarded bonus marks in IIM Admission process.
  • Many IIMs will not conduct WAT and will organize PI online.

MBA College Accepting CAT Score (Above 90 Percentile)

College Total Fees (Approx) Average Placement Packages
Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM) Rs. 13,75,000 10 LPA
Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kgp Rs. 7,36,000 16.50 LPA
University Business School (UBS) Rs. 32,874 9.5 LPA
MICA Rs. 18,50,000 12.8 LPA
Delhi School of Management (DSM) Rs. 1,58,000 7.5 LPA
Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) Rs. 11,50,000 10.95 LPA
Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research Rs. 11,00,000 11 LPA
Institute for Financial Management and Research Rs 12,00,000 9 LPA
SP Jain Institute of Management and Research Rs. 16,25,000 22 LPA
Institute of Management Studies, Banaras Hindu University Rs. 98,888 9 LPA
Institute of Finance and International Management Rs. 11,00,000 19 LPA
Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education Rs. 1,36,000-1,53,000 10.43 LPA
Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra Rs. 4,77,00 11.76 LPA
Institute of Public Enterprise Rs. 8,00,000 6.09 LPA
Balaji Institute of Modern Management Rs. 6,60,000 6 LPA
SCMS Cochin School of Business Rs.. 7,50,000 5 LPA
Department of Management Sciences, University of Pune Rs. 1,32,000 6.43 LPA
Woxsen School of Business Rs. 34,60,000 8.1 LPA
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Usha and Lakshmi Mittal Institute of Management Rs. 12,25,000 4.5 LPA
DoMS, IISc Rs. 70,000 24.5 LPA
K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research Rs. 11,93,000 5 LPA
Indian Institute of Forest Management Rs. 4,80,000 7.5 LPA
Indian Institute of Management Visakhapatnam Rs. 9,00,000 13.08 LPA
Trinity College for Management and Technology RS. 2,12,000 3 LPA
MNNIT Rs.1,01,902 7.82 LPA

MBA College Accepting CAT Score (80-90 Percentile)

College 80-90 Percentile College Above 85 Percentile
Fore School of Management Rs 15.98 lakh IMI, Delhi Rs 16.95 lakh
Goa Institute of Management Rs 16.98 lakh Institute of Management Technology, Nagpur Rs 12.05 lakh
International Management Institute, Delhi Rs 17.68 lakh Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirapalli Rs 13.75 lakh
S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research Rs 17.50 lakh Delhi School of Management-DTU Rs 3.17 lakh
Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai Rs 15.26 lakh KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai Rs 7.08 lakh
Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management Rs 15.29 lakh Department of Management Sciences, Pune University Rs 1.33 lakh
T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal Rs 14.60 lakh Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur Rs 7.36 lakh
Prin. L. N. Welingkar Institute of Management development & Research, Bangalore Rs 11 lakh Department of Management Studies, IIM Madras Rs 7 lakh
Amity University, Gurgaon Rs 8.20 lakh Department of Management Studies, IIT Roorkee Rs 8 lakh
Amity University, Gwalior Rs 8.20 lakh School of Management, Manipal University Rs 6.86 lakh

MBA College Accepting CAT Score (60-80 Percentile)

With preparation for one of the most favored management entrance tests in the nation CAT, aspirants also are in search of colleges that will grant admission at specified scores. Top scorers are usually aware of which college they will get a seat in, but students with a relatively low score are unaware of where to head forward. So here’s a list of colleges divided between different CAT Percentile Range where students can seek admission with designated scores along with their fee structure for the degree program.

Candidates should not get confused about the colleges accepting low percentile not accepting higher CAT percentile. Seats will be granted on the basis of higher scores between two candidates.

The list below marks ten colleges in each percentile range, but does not follow any rank preference.

College 60-70 Percentile College 70-80 Percentile
Christ University Institute of Management, Bangalore Rs 17.87 lakh Alliance School of Business - Alliance University, Bangalore Rs 13.50 lakh
IILM Institute for Higher Education, Delhi Rs 12.90 lakh Amity Business School, Noida Rs 12.80 lakh
Institute of Management, Nirma University, Ahmedabad Rs 10.04 lakh Birla Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida Rs 12 lakh
Amrita School of Business - Bangalore Rs 10 lakh Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon Rs 11.76 lakh
Acharya Bangalore B-School Rs 8.10 lakh Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, (XIME Bangalore), Hosur Road, Bangalore Rs 10 lakh
International School of Business & Media, Pune Rs 8.90 lakh Amity University, Mumbai Rs 10.00 lakh
AIMS Institutes (AIMS), Bangalore Rs 8.10 lakh CMS Business School, J.P. Nagar, Bangalore Rs 9.90 lakh
Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani Rs 8.04 lakh RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University, Noida Rs 9.5 lakh
School of Petroleum Management-PDPU, Ahmedabad Rs 8.20 lakh Asia-Pacific Institute of Management (AIM, Delhi) Rs 9.65 lakh
New Delhi Institute of Management Rs 7.25 lakh Universal Business School, Sion, Mumbai Rs 8.78 lakh
CAT 2021 FAQ

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CAT Exam 2021 FAQs

Ques. When can I apply for CAT Exam 2021? 

Ans. The application procedure for CAT 2021 begins from the first week of August, 2021. The CAT application process will only be done online, and the application procedure will close in the fourth week of September, 2021. Candidates will get a small window for correction of their application in the last week of September, 2021. 

Ques. Will CAT 2021 be postponed? 

Ans. Various reports indicate that the CAT 2021 exam will not be postponed. As per the CAT 2020 convener, Harshal Lowalekar, there is very little chance that the CAT exam will be postponed or cancelled. However, considering the COVID-19 pandemic and other pertinent situations such as Government Directives at the time, there may be some changes to this. 

Ques. Is 6 Months enough for CAT Preparation? 

Ans. A time of 6 months is largely enough to prepare for the CAT exam. Preparation largely consists of practicing questions and topics of the different questions. If done diligently, six months is enough to clear the CAT Cut Offs of major colleges. 

Ques. Is CAT Score valid for 2 years? 

Ans. No, the CAT scores are valid for a period of 1 year only. Post 1 year, candidates have to re-attempt CAT and clear the Cut Off again to secure admission to their preferred college. 

Ques. Who will set CAT 2021? 

Ans. The CAT Exam is managed and conducted by the first generation IIMs on a rotational basis, which includes the release of notifications, setting the CAT question paper, managing Cut Off etc. The Exam Conduction is handled by Tata Consultation Services, or TCS since 2014. 

Ques. Is a Calculator allowed inside the CAT Exam Center? 

Ans. No, a calculator will not be permitted inside the CAT Exam Center. You will be frisked outside most exam centers and will be asked to keep the calculator inside your bag if you are carrying one. However, an onscreen calculator will be available on the computer you will be attempting the exam on. The calculator can perform most basic calculations. 

Ques. What is the difficulty level of CAT Exam? 

Ans. The CAT exam is generally considered to be tough. The Quantitative Aptitude Section is considered to be the most difficult section followed by the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section. 

Ques. Can a Third Year student apply for CAT 2021? 

Ans. Yes, third year students can apply for CAT, i.e. candidates in the final year of graduation can apply for CAT. However, admission is subject to the candidates providing the proof of graduation such as mark sheets etc. to the college that they have been admitted to. 

Ques. Which is the best institute for CAT Preparation? 

Ans. Here are some of the best institutes for CAT Preparation - 

  • Career Launcher.
  • IMS
  • Triumphant Institute of Management
  • PT Education
  • Bulls Eye

Ques. Can an academically weak student clear the CAT Cut Offs? 

Ans. Yes, academically weak students can crack the CAT exam if they prepare for the exam properly and properly work on their weak points. However, candidates have to keep in mind that many IIMs have a certain minimum academic criteria for admission. 

Ques. Is GK asked in CAT? 

Ans. No, GK is not asked in the CAT exam. However, other management exams such as XAT ask questions based on Current Affairs and General Knowledge.

Ques. What is the best way to prepare for CAT 2021?

Ans. CAT examination is a tough nut to crack and in order to qualify the examination, a year long rigorous practice is required. Candidates who will be appearing in CAT 2021 can refer to CAT Preparation Tips (Hashlink) for better guidance.

Ques. Do I need to submit the overall percentage of marks as that in bachelor’s degree while applying for CAT 2021?

Ans. In order to fulfill that CAT 2021 Eligibility Criteria, you need to provide your overall percentage marks as per university norms.

Ques. I have changed my name after completing my Bachelor’s. Which name should I enter in my CAT application form? The previous one or the new one?

Ans. You may enter the changed name while filling up the CAT application form. However you should also provide supporting documents to your changed name at the time of examination, interview, and admission process.

Ques. Can I appear for CAT 2021 from my personal desktop?

Ans. A candidate should appear for the examination at the prescribed date and exam center mentioned in CAT 2021 admit card. Attempting paper from workstations other than the mentioned ones will not be considered.

Ques. Is CAT score the sole criteria for getting admission into IIMs?

Ans. No, CAT score helps in shortlisting of candidates. The final admission list is declared on the basis of the marks scored in all rounds.

Ques. I have completed a dual degree program i.e. Bachelor’s and Master’s. Which course marks should I enter in CAT Registration?

Ans. You need to enter the aggregate marks of Bachelor degree under the bachelor’s score section and the same process should be repeated for Masters.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College.


rahul bareja
test 1
I have a startup which is 3 years old, and a job experience of 1+ years and have scored 7.6 cgpa in 10th and 60% 12th,I am have less then 50% marks in graduation as I was more focused in startup so I was keen to know what exam should I prepare for to get in best MBA collage?
manika gupta

Hi Ali, Looking at your qualification and in order to get best MBA College, You can prepare for CAT Examination which is conducted for admission in top MBA Colleges in India. For more information, please refer to the following link, CAT 2021.

Can I get admission in UBS Chandigarh with a score of 85 percentile score (open category) in CAT?
manika gupta

Hi Utkarsha, The overall cut off required for UBS Chandigarh Admission by a general category student is expected to be around 90 to 92 percentile. For more information, please refer to the following link, UBS Chandigarh.

What is the best executive course after CAT?
manika gupta

Hi Vanshika, For information on Best Exective MBA Course, please refer to the following link, Executive MBA.

What is the reservation quota for someone belonging to the OBC category?
manika gupta

Hi Yash, Each IIM has a reservation policy as per norms issued by the government and 64.5% of the total seats at IIMs are reserved. 27%, 15%, 10%, 7.5% and 5% of the seats are reserved for OBC, SC, EWS, ST and PwD candidates respectively. For more information, please refer to the following link, CAT.

What is the minimum time required for the CAT prepration?
manika gupta

Hi Riya, Six months' time, is considered ideal for preparation for CAT exam. As experts and qualified students claim, to qualify CAT you need to do smart and targeted preparation.

Which IIM give preference to the applicants from non-engineering background.
manika gupta

Hi Hussain, This depends on the profile of the candidates. For more information, please refer to the following link, CAT Selection process.

Which has lower cutoff scores, IIM Indore or IIM Kolkata?
manika gupta

Hi Shubham, This depends on various actors like number of seats, number of students appearing for the examination, difficulty level of the paper, etc.

Who conducts the counselling for IIMs?
manika gupta

Hi Ananya, There is no provision for common counselling, admission to IIMs and other top B schools accepting CAT score is done through Written ability test, group discussion and personal interview. IIMs release individually CAT Cutoff, other participating institutes issue their own schedule and selection criteria. 

Which is tougher in terms of english comprehension: CAT or GMAT?
manika gupta

Hi Sunny, The Quantitative Ability section in CAT is quite a bit tougher than the Quantitative section in the GMAT exam. ... The Verbal section has approximately the same time per question but the number of Reading Comprehension passages are lower for GMAT than for CAT.

Do I need a CAT for a one year executive program?
manika gupta

Hi Sheetal, Yes, CAT score is valid for admission to Executive MBA courses of IIMs. For more information, please click on the following link, Eligibilty Criteria for Eexecutive MBA- CAT.

I am from an engineering background. Is it true that in the name of diversity, IIMs are preferring non-engineers?
manika gupta

Hi Vikram, Yes, IIMs do prefer diversity but it doesn’t mean that they prefer non- engineers. The selection process is completely unbiased and is completely on the basis of a candidate’s profile.

Can we switch between the sections during the CAT exam?
manika gupta

Hi Suraj, CAT has a sectional time limit, which means each section needs to be completed in 60 minutes. Due to sectional time limit candidates cannot switch to the other section.

Will JNU only accept CAT scores for admission to the MBA program?
abhishek upadhyay

Yes Suraj, CAT score is mandatory for the eligibility in JNU for the MBA program.

If the number of test-takers reduces due to the pandemic, how will that effect the cut-off?
abhishek upadhyay

Hi Karan, if the number of candidates appearing for the examination are less, there is a chance that the cut-off might be less as compared to the previous years for the CAT exam.

What is the best strategy for preparing for CAT while working from home?
abhishek upadhyay

Click here for comprehensive information about preparation strategies for CAT, study pattern, and course materials.

Which exam centers have been eliminated due to the ongoing pandemic?
abhishek upadhyay

Hi Himani, click here for the updated state-wise list of the CAT examination centres.

Due to this corona pandemic, are there any changes in the expected cut-off of the colleges?
abhishek upadhyay

Hi Mansi, the cut-offs for various colleges will be released once the results for the CAT exam are declared. Hence, there is no concrete information that suggests if the cut-offs will be high or low for this session.

Where can I find the CAT mock test?
Is it compulsory to have a work experience to get selected in the top IIMs?
shekhar suman

Hi Nikkil, it is not a compulsion to have a work experience for admission in any of the IIM. You can get admission on the basis of your score in CAT and performance in GD & PI. However, having a work experience adds a lot to your candidature and it may compensate if you perform less in other phases.