Cracks in CAT

Cracks in CAT

Getting straight to it, I absolutely abhor Mathematics. I had quite an enriching relationship with the subject till class 10, and when I could let it go, I did, for happier things to come. It is not just me, we are a family of committed Math Haters.

Now just because I was quite terrible at Math did not mean I did not enjoy studying at all, I love reading Economics, Psychology, Business Studies, Branding, Strategy, among others on an a rather exhaustive list. In a swayed generation that studies because that is what they are meant to do, I studied because I liked to and wanted to.

But, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because I can’t do Math.

Excelling at school in class and outside, being in the best undergraduate business course of the country, I hoped to continue what I loved, academia. The next best, most logical step, was to be in the best postgraduate business course of the country. And so began my journey of cracking (spoiler – I didn’t) the CAT, XAT, SNAP, NMAT, MAT, etc. I began this journey rather enthusiastically, beginning preparation much in advance knowing my tryst with the most important subject ever.

I am not about to narrate a a woeful tale of ambition, hardwork, failure, blah blah, rather the dismal yet funny situation I found myself, a lot of my friends, and the country in.

Having given a bunch of MBA entrance exams, I am well versed with the content of the examinations. Math plays a lead role in these exams; verbal and logical ability play supporting roles and GK makes a special appearance. Unfortunately, none of the subjects on my exhaustive list made it to the cast. I got excellent scores in English across exams and lousy ones in Math (surprise surprise), because of which I now find myself without a worthwhile university.

I am sure there are hundreds across the country, but I can personally vouch for people with excellent business sense, with the brightest ideas, extraordinary creativity, diligent planners, exceptional leaders, people that could shape the business scenario of India; all these people, without university because… You know why.

I find it difficult to understand, that the best professors, best course structure, best curriculum is accessible only to students who manage to pull of advanced Mathematics, and the rest of us finding other routes to hop onto the corporate ladder.

An MBA is not rocket-science. It is not a course that will require library hours, burning the midnight oil, and other things one might stereotype with an Engineering course (sorry). An MBA is a taster of the business world, and for that it requires selection and development a multitude of skills, people management, risk taking, crisis management, change management, product planning, public relations, social responsibility, etc.

Surely, the CAT isn’t testing all of this!

This brings me to the Crack in the CAT (and others), and Indian Higher Education at large.

Isn’t it time?

Time for some change.

To maybe consider a more holistic approach to development of our student community, to make a system that requires abilities more than finding solutions to complex mathematical equations.

A change to realize and consider that a business has dynamic growing needs, needs that requires niche talent, where being just OKAY at Maths is acceptable.

A change to revolutionize (better late than never) admission processes that look into a student’s personality, their merit, their business acumen, aspirations, and ideas about the world; where a student is selected on basis of factors that move beyond the fences of three subjects.

A change where diverse educational backgrounds and aptitudes are effectively put to use in the business world and not rejected for poor mathematical abilities.

This isn’t some sort of Utopian situation. It is not difficult to make an admission procedure that will get the right talent to the right colleges, and from there to the right organizations. However, it does require a paradigm shift in how we test our students, and what we deem important.

It bothers me when I think of the number of students that leave India to pursue careers abroad for this same reason. And then we wonder why all headlines read “Indian-origin man becomes CEO of American company”.

(If someone important with authority to bring about some sort of change in these celebrated institutions is reading this, I would love to get in touch for a thorough list of suggestions :P)


– A 21 year old, without an MBA, but with perhaps lot more.

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