EDUCATION

Significance of management entrance exams in India

Each year, roughly half a million students in India prepare for the many management entrance exams. Some of the most sought after exams are GMAT, GRE, CAT, XAT, NMAT etc. Specialized Management Schools like IRMA, MICA, TISS also conduct entrance exams specific to their schools’ requirements. These exams are designed with help of Management Professors to map the interest and skills of students.

Nowadays, most of these exams are computer- adaptive while there still remain some exams which follow the traditional paper-based pattern. While CAT, XAT & GMAT is accepted by most Business Schools in India; students intending to study abroad are expected to prepare for the GMAT or Graduate Record Examination(GRE). These exams are highly competitive as the ratio of seats available to applicants is very low. Students aim to score higher percentile score, so as to get initiated with the Selection Processes of Top Business Schools.

Considering the high stakes, training for these entrance exams has spawned an entire industry of coaching classes. Taking a year off only to study for these exams has become an unfortunate following. However, most students approach these exams with the sole intention of gaining a seat in a prestigious school, often overlooking the underlying benefits of preparing for these tests.

Assessment

The entrance tests are considered as the first round of shortlisting by most business schools. As the end result is to pursue a career in management post completion of studies, these exams are all about measuring pre- requisite skills of these future managers. While under- graduate academic studies prepare students for an entry level career within relevant fields of studies, the training for entrance exams is more generic in nature. Abilities like decision making, problem solving, critical & logical reasoning are all tested within such entrance exams. Some exams will test a student’s analytical writing skills while specialized colleges like to test the student’s interest in their niche fields. It is imperative for such schools to ensure only like-minded students clear this process. Whereas, students should know the subtle reasoning behind being tested on such topics.

Time Factor

There is an old adage on the floors of coaching classes – If provided enough time, every student can score full marks in the entrance exams! The challenge comes when one adds time factor along with the much dreaded negative marking scheme to the final scoring pattern. These two rules single-handedly bring down the overall scores of top 5 percentile students to an estimate of 30 percentage. As a manager, making decisions involves going through complex contrasting factors in a time-bound manner. Thus, the tests measure not only the speed of thought but also the student’s ability to ensure effective performance. In short, one should not only be battle-ready but should also know which battles to fight. The pressure of attempting the exam in an unfamiliar location ensures that the mental strength of the students is put to test. Level-headedness & calm composure i.e. Conduct of students during the test is the ultimate sign of being ready for a career of management.

Ease of Admissions

For business schools, introducing a cut-off score for entrance exams is a quick and rational way of separating their potential admits from the crowd. The higher the cut-off score, higher is the prestige in joining that business school. Ideally, most business schools keep a minimum cut-off to optimize time management – both at the student as well as the school’s end. It also bodes well to draw a level playing field, since every student studying in a school would have undergone the same set of challenges to prove their worth. At EDHEC Business School, we observe different levels of minimum cut-offs for different courses.

Having discussed the main factors related to need for entrance exams, students should take note that their performance in the entrance exam is the only aspect in their applications that can be changed for better. Some tests like GMAT & GRE allow the student to retake the exams after a span of fifteen days. Thus, entrance exams are now testing the grit of the students to undergo the grueling schedule for a want of a better rank.

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