There are a number of myths with respect to the amount of work experience optimum for CAT. But while answering this we also have to take into account, the quality, the relevance and the uniqueness of the work experience.
Most of the students with high work experience think that they are not eligible for the exam. There is a difference between being at a disadvantage and not being eligible.
CAT does not have any eligibility criteria with respect to work experience. You are free to fill the form and write the exam even if you have 20 years of work experience.
The question is whether a very high amount of work experience will fetch you calls from good IIMs, provided you have a good CAT score.
A blunt answer to this question is that yes if you have more than 5 years of work experience, you may have difficulty getting calls; and even if you get calls, you will have difficulty converting that call.
And, even if you convert the call and secure a seat in a good IIM, a good summer internship may not easily come your way; and finally, in the final placements you may have to wait a little longer for the right company.
Again, if you work experience is relevant and unique, it might help you in getting a PPO.
But as far as getting calls is concerned, a high amount of work experience (more than 3 but less than 5) may not be serious threat because all the old IIMs give you calls based on your composite score.
Here you must remember two things:
1The components of the composite score may not be the same for all colleges, for instance IIM Lucknow in its composite score includes: CAT score, Graduation score, 12th score, Work Experience, Academic Diversity and Gender Diversity.
But IIM Indore in its composite score includes: 10th score, 12th score, CAT score and Diversity factor. It does not give any weightage to Graduation performance and to work experience
2The second thing is that amount of weightage given to each component also varies. For instance, IIM Lucknow gives 60 percent weightage to CAT score, whereas IIM Indore gives only 20 percent weightage to CAT score. There is formula for calculating that weightage.
You can visit the college websites to have look at the formula used by the college to calculate the composite score.
The work experience weightage follows a bell curve, it is low at the start, then peaks, and again after that goes down. So after a certain figure, the higher the work experience number the greater the disadvantage.
On a personal note, I would suggest that if your work experience is more than 5 years, you should think of some good executive MBA program either from the IIMs or from some top global B-school of Europe, USA, Singapore, Canada or Australia.
The executive program of the IIMs and other top college such as ISB and SP Jain are just as good. If MBA is on your mind, then doing it from a college that gives you a placement advantage is better than doing it from a college that gives you a disadvantage.
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