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Hi friends, I'm a 1st yr student at IIM-A and have finished my PCC/articleship(CA Final sometime in the future.  At the outset, let me clarify that this is NOT a CA v/s MBA debate, neither is this an engineer v/s CA debate. The point of this article is that if anyone wants to do both CA+MBA, aspiring for the IIMs(specifically IIM-A) is not that far fetched, specially for those coming from the CPT-PCC/IPCC course. The timing of this post is just aimed at those CA aspirants who are considering non top institues because they feel IIMs are out of their league.

It is perceived that CAT is a very difficult exam. It is difficult-but not standard wise but because of the competition. Even a slip of 1 question may cost you that precious percentile points needed to convert the call. My section wise analysis of the CAT sections vis-a-vis CA core competence skills are:-

  • Verbal Ability:- This does not give any particular stream an advantage. Have your grammar basics and good reading speed, and this should be doable
  • Quantitative Ability:- Though limited to Std 10 maths(with some probabiltity thrown in), it is applied and sometimes tricky. Coaching and intensive practice should give good marks.
  • Data Interpretation: Years of poring through those financial statements, tax returns etc should pay good dividends here. In fact, this is the section where there may be an edge for CAs.We CAs are known to be numbercrunchers so data interpretation should not pose difficult

95%+ of the batch at premier IIMs(A/C) are engineers(the ratio is slightly better at IIM-B and much better at IIM-K/IIM-L etc). This year, IIM-A changed its post CAT shortlisting criteria(http://www.iimahd.ernet.in/users/admission/files/Shorcriteria11-13.pdf). The Std 12/Graduation scores are kept lower for Arts/Commerce graduates. The caveat still is that among all those who qualify that criteria, the top 540(by total CAT score) are shortlisted. So while the CAT hurdle still remains, the post CAT stage becomes easier.

From personal experience, I've noticed that the awareness of most laypersons about CAs is limited(except about the low pass rate/tough curriculum). There is also some more respect since you would be a rare breed on campus. But be warned-unless you are through with your course material, you may be setting up yourself for failure when people's expectations are not met(eg-A-Z knowledge on accounting, tax, financial management!).

Once a CA is shortlisted, my personal view is that the interview stage is easier because

  • IIMs need diversity in class for in-class case discussions
  • It is hard to compare across CAs(due to lesser numbers) but engineers can be ruthlessly filtered across college, GPA, extra curricular activities) etc.
  • The knowledge/experience base is generally sounder than the average engineer-no CA denigrates his qualification like some engineers do theirs.

Bottomline:- CAT is somewhat of a gamble-specially under the online system where scores are scaled-read more about the scaling system here(http://www.catiim.in/dev_scorind_equityprocess.html).But once you are past that stage, the results may even surprise you.

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(Bharti Airtel)
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