With Low Academics, Can You Still Crack An IIM?

Academic Eligibility for IIMs

The criteria for admission to IIMs is segmented across various parameters. Each parameter is assigned a specific weight by each IIM while analysing the profile of a candidate. The parameters taken into consideration by the different IIMs can be different and here we have considered IIM Bangalore for reference. We will look at the weights assigned each of the parameters in the following two table.

At Stage 1:

CAT Score40%
Graduation Marks20%
Class 12th Marks10%
Class 10th Marks20%
Gender Diversity Factor2%
Work Experience8%

After clearing stage 1, the candidate moves to stage 2 of the admission process, where the weights are rearranged as follows based on other parameters added.

At Stage 2:

WAT Score10%
PI Score30%
Graduation Marks10%
Class 125%
Class 1010%
Work experience10%

How to strengthen the profile with low academics?

Since the profile shortlisting is divided across many parameters, and the weights assigned differ, it is challenging but not impossible to get admission to IIMs with a low academic score. A student can get into the IIMs if he has a strong overall profile. This can be done if the candidate has worked to improve other aspects of his resume which includes:

  • Certifications –If a candidate has done a certification, especially in the field that is relevant to his PGDM major preference, that will give him an edge over other candidates. That will also give him relevant content to speak about in the PI round with the interviewers. At the same time, the candidate should keep in mind the relevance of the certification to the field of PGDM otherwise the candidate may appear as confused

Below are the few certifications that a candidate can take up if he is interested in taking up the field of finance:

  1. Certified financial planner certification
  2. Financial markets
  3. Security markets
  • Candidates who are willing to take Marketing as a major in PGDM can pursue the digital marketing course (DMC). This course helps the students to learn the basic concepts of marketing and as an additional benefit, also helps them to understand the concepts through their application in a live project. Additionally, the Coursera platform presents to the student ample courses relevant to the field that they can take up including Google analytics, search engine marketing, Hubspot Inbound, Facebook Blueprint etc.
  • Candidates willing to take up operations management can pursue certifications like APICS certification. This certification is recognised globally and covers four different courses which essentially are- Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P), Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD) and Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
  • For students, who would like to pursue HR as a major in PGDM, can strengthen their profile by doing certifications in courses like HR analytics offered by Coursera, Udemy etc.
  • Internship –We are reiterating the relevance of the internship here as it is of prime importance. If your internship is in a field that is not relevant to the field you aspire to do PGDM in, it might be less beneficial. Internshala is a platform that might help a student to find the internship

Start-up internship– Interning with a start-up holds several benefits that are up for grabs. Start-ups provide hands-on experience and inculcate values like responsibility for your actions. The candidate gets to own the work that he does and implementation of ideas usually takes up less time in a start-up

Internship at a big firm or an MNC – Having interned at an MNC will hold many advantages as the brand name adds value to your resume. Also, working in an MNC helps you learn values like professionalism, time management amongst many others

MBA Marketing aspirants should look out for companies like ITC, HUL, Pepsico, Britannia etc.

MBA Finance aspirants can opt for companies like Mc. Kinsey, Goldman Sachs etc.

If you want to take up Human Resource (HR) as a major, working in policy and planning department for MNCs like Deloitte, Flipkart will help you get the desired experience

For candidates looking to pursue Operations major, working in the supply chain, procurement and logistics department in different MNCs should work out well

  • Community Work– Having worked at a Non-governmental organisation gives the candidate an upper age as apart from providing work experience it also provides a good reputation to the student’s profile. If in your experience with the NGO, you worked on certain campaigns and that made a significant difference in the society, it will be well received in the PI rounds and will give you an added benefit that will separate you from the different candidates. If the candidate is thinking of taking a gap year before giving the CAT exam, they can opt for working with an NGO
  • Work Experience in the Same Profile- Some people have done under graduation in engineering or economics honours or a course that might not relate directly to PGDM and now want to pursue PGDM. The questions posed to them in the interview rounds are mostly surrounding the change that they are seeking in the role through PGDM. To answer this, try and wrap the description of your key responsibilities at the workplace around the degree that you are trying to get
  • Make the profile interesting –Standing out in the crowd is what will help you nail the personal interview. The best way to build an interesting profile taking up relevant activities that you are interested in and bringing them up in an interview. For example: If you are a movie buff, you can bring up the recent superhit movie you watched in current events and talk about the revenue it earned at the box office, production cost, promotion cost, divisional structure, profit made etc.
  • Ranks in Sports – We have come across people who have converted the calls through their merits earned in different sports. This can turn things around for you as well. If you hold such a rank, do highlight
  • Know the latest happenings–Lookout for trends in the industries that you are interested in. Reading Business news and business magazines for this purpose might help you more than you can imagine

Colleges accepting low academic background

When compared to the older IIMs, the newer IIMs give some relaxation in the academic background. While one may require moderate academics to get into old IIMs, having low scores in 10TH and 12TH standard may not be a cause to worry if the candidates want to get into IIM Kozhikode, IIM Shillong and the new IIMs. Most of the new IIMs consider work experience along with profile traits like Gender diversity.

Below are the colleges listed that consider low academic score:

CollegeScore AcceptedLocation

Success Story:

A student from IIM-B writes that despite scoring low in his academics (below 70% in 12th and mere 80% in his 10th), he was able to crack CAT and also get a call from IIMs. The student did not score well in Graduation as well. He completed his graduation from a regional college (got in through JEE mains). He managed to score an average of 60% marks in all semesters but volunteered at every event and took part in every possible competition. This mixed with a gazillion mocks that he gave, which strengthened his CAT score, helped him get a call from IIM. He was able to convert the IIM-B call based on his strong resume. He pursued his PGDM from IIM-B in a batch of 2018-2020. This success story is proof that with determination and the right planning anyone can nail IIMs.

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