Getting Into IIMs as an Average Student:
Tips & Insights

The dream of joining the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) does not have to remain just a dream, even for those who see themselves as average students. You might think, Can I get into IIMs being an average student? Well, achieving success at IIM is as much about your unique experiences and earnest preparation as it is about academics. With focused guidance and actionable strategies, even an average student can navigate the path toward admission into these esteemed institutions.

Grades are just a part of your story, and the IIMs are known for looking beyond mere numbers. Average student admission to IIM is not just a possibility; it’s a reality for those willing to dedicate themselves to a holistic approach to showcasing their potential. Through measured steps and a commitment to personal development, an average academic background can transform into exceptional success at IIM. In this exploration, we will delve into how you can level the playing field and turn your IIM aspirations into accomplishments.


Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding that an “average” academic record does not close the doors to IIM.
  • Emphasizing the importance of a holistic profile for average student success at IIM.
  • Highlighting the significance of strategic preparation and the right mindset.
  • Offering insights into the IIM selection criteria that extend beyond grades.
  • Providing tips for enhancing one’s chance for average student admission to IIM.
  • Inspiring actionable steps for average students to stand out in the competitive IIM admission process.
  • Reaffirming the notion that with determination and guidance, achieving entry into IIM is within reach.

Understanding IIM Admission Criteria for All Candidates

To simplify the path into India’s top B-schools, a deep dive into the IIM admission criteria is required. Let’s understand what it takes to swing the odds in your favor, especially if you identify as an ‘average’ student harboring aspirations of getting into IIM.

What makes you an 'Average' Student in the Context of IIM?

At the outset, labeling oneself as ‘average’ can be subjective and misleading

  • Whose academic achievements may not stand out or have fluctuated over time
  • But it’s essential to remember that the IIM entrance requirements are designed to identify potential beyond grades

They look for a combination of intellectual capability, leadership competence, ethical caliber, and a passion for making an impact.

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The Role of CAT Scores in IIM Selection

One cannot overstate the significance of the CAT (Common Admission Test) scores in the IIM selection process.


CAT Percentile Cutoff to get a call

Additional Criteria

IIM Ahmedabad


80+ percentage in 10th, 12th, and bachelors

IIM Bangalore


80+ percentage in 10th, 12th, and graduation

IIM Calcutta


99.5+ percentile and 80+ in 10th and 12th

IIM Lucknow


IIM Indore


IIM Kozhikode


IIM Amritsar


IIM Nagpur


IIM Sambalpur


IIM Tiruchirapalli


IIM Raipur


IIM Ranchi


IIM Kashipur


IIM Visakhapatnam


IIM Udaipur


IIM Bodh Gaya


IIM Shillong


IIM Sirmaur


IIM Jammu


IIM Rohtak


Additional Factors Influencing Admission Decisions

While the CAT score is a fundamental filter, the IIMs holistically appraise each profile. Let’s break it down:

  • Academic Diversity: IIMs value varied academic backgrounds to enrich classroom discussions and peer learning. An applicant from a non-engineering background, for instance, could potentially bring a fresh perspective.
  • Work Experience: Pragmatic knowledge gained through professional stints can compensate for a lack of extraordinary academic records. Quality trumps quantity here; impactful, relevant experience is a strong suit.
  • Personal Interviews (PI): This is where personalities unfold. PIs allow candidates to showcase communication skills, clarity of thought, and maturity – factors crucial for those focusing on getting into IIM as an average student.
  • Written Ability Test (WAT): Here, clarity of expression, coherence, and critical thinking are on trial. A sharp pen can build a compelling narrative around an average profile.

Through various lenses, the IIM selection committee seeks qualities that might predict a candidate’s success and contribution to the IIM community, overriding conventional metrics of academic performance. Hence, understanding these dimensions can alter an average student’s approach and increase their chances within the fiercely competitive journey of IIM admissions.

Strategic Preparation for IIM Entrance Requirements

For average students concerned about their academic record, a strategic plan tailored for the IIM selection process for average students is crucial. Preparing for the IIM entrance exams requires not just hard work but also smart work. Let’s dissect the components of these exams and propose methods to devise an effective study scheme.

Developing a Study Plan that Works

Creating a study plan is not just about allocating time; it’s about understanding your capabilities and constraints. Here’s a comprehensive approach to forming a personalized plan:

  • Self-Assessment: Begin by identifying your strong and weak areas across all subjects included in the CAT exam.
  • Target Setting: Assign realistic targets for each study session. Focusing on incremental improvement can yield substantial gains over time.
  • Resources: Choose study materials that are in line with the latest exam pattern and have proven to aid students in clearing the IIM selection process.
  • Practice: Regular mock tests are non-negotiable. They track progress and assist in acclimatizing to the exam’s time constraints.
  • Review: It’s not enough to solve questions; analyzing mistakes to understand gaps in knowledge or application is vital.
  • Time Management: Distribute your preparation time wisely, giving proportionate attention to all sections while leaving room for revision.

Here are some resources to look forward to:

Quant + DILR + VARC Video lectures: 

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An effective study plan accounts for individual differences, adapting to one’s unique learning pace and style.

Can I get into IIM's being an average student?

The question weighing on many aspirants’ minds is, “what are the chances for average students at IIM?” You do not need to be extremely exceptional but yes, you need basic communication skills, problem-solving, and the right to detailing (All this can be accumulated once you start exploring new areas of profile building)

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  • Grades aren’t the be-all and end-all of your business school application. 
  • If your grades are not sky-high, focus on maximizing your CAT score. But the journey doesn’t end with a good CAT score; your next steps are equally crucial.

To enhance the chances for average students at IIM, developing a well-rounded profile is key. Look at your application as a narrative of your potential.

Here are some actionable suggestions to improve your profile:

  • Acquire professional experience that speaks to your managerial and leadership qualities.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities that demonstrate your diverse interests and team spirit.
  • Participate in social initiatives to show empathy and social consciousness.
  • You can also build your own personal brand.


  • Sports Team Captain: Demonstrates teamwork, perseverance, and the ability to handle pressure-cooker situations.
  • Student Council Membership: Shows governance abilities, problem-solving skills, and a knack for public speaking.
  • Cultural Fest Organizer: Reflects event management skills, creativity, and organizational competencies.
  • Volunteer Work: Depicts social responsibility, leadership in community projects, and a willingness to take initiative.

How IIMs Evaluate Academic Diversity

Admission Criteria


Impact on Average Students

CAT Scores

Ascertains analytical and quantitative skills

Opportunity to highlight strengths despite past academic performances

Academic Credentials

Consideration of undergraduate coursework difficulty and grades

Chances to explain inconsistencies and emphasize learning curves

Work Experience

Appraisal of professional journey and industry exposure

Focus shifts to practical insights and professional milestones achieved

Extracurricular Involvement

Evaluation of leadership roles and team contributions

A platform to showcase well-rounded personality and initiative

Personal Interview

Assessment of communication skills, clarity of thought, and ambitions

Pivotal moment for candidates to make a lasting impression with their vision and resilience

Written Ability Test (WAT)

Examination of comprehension, expression, and critical thought

Ability to engage with complex ideas and articulate opinions effectively

Explore our extensive courses, that teach you all about CAT from scratch

IIM Selection Process for Average Students: A Deeper Dive

Understanding the IIM selection process for average students requires an in-depth look at the nuances that influence a candidate’s acceptance. While stellar academic records might open doors more easily, average students possess a plethora of other strengths they can play to their advantage. Let’s dissect two critical components of the selection process that allow average students to leave a strong impression: the personal interview and the recommendation letters.

The Interview: Showcasing Personal Strengths and Goals

During the personal interview, an average student has the unique opportunity to articulate their personal and professional journey, underlining strengths and lessons learned from various life experiences. It is a strategic opportunity to discuss goals and aspirations and to demonstrate personal traits like resilience, leadership, and a problem-solving mindset that are highly prized by the IIMs. Candidates can leverage this platform to steer the conversation towards instances where they overcame challenges, showcasing a growth-oriented attitude which is often seen as a predictor of future success.

Recommendation Letters: Leveraging Your Professional Network

Another element wherein the IIM entrance requirements allow for some flexibility is the submission of recommendation letters. These letters serve as a professional endorsement of a candidate’s capabilities and are a testament to their potential. Average students must ensure that these letters are requested from credible sources such as former employers or faculty who can vouch for their professional acumen, leadership potential, and work ethic. A well-crafted recommendation letter can provide depth to the application by highlighting personal qualities and achievements that grades alone cannot represent.

In conclusion, the personal attributes and professional endorsements captured in the personal interview and recommendation letters are crucial for average students looking to bolster their profiles. By adeptly navigating through these avenues, candidates can enhance their appeal to the admissions committee and optimize their odds of making it into the IIMs.


If you’re journeying towards this goal, hold onto the hope that countless students with similar profiles have made it before you. Each section of the admission process, from CAT to Personal Interview, offers a stage to illustrate your worth. Perseverance, planning, and self-belief are your allies. So, step forward with confidence, optimize your opportunity, and remember that the IIMs may very well be within your reach.


Can I get into IIMs being an average student?

Yes, you can get into IIMs even if you are an average student. While academic performance is a criterion, IIMs also evaluate candidates based on CAT scores, work experience, personal interviews, and written ability tests. A strong profile with extracurricular achievements and leadership roles can also enhance your chances.

What defines an 'average' student in the context of IIM?

In the context of IIM admissions, an ‘average’ student might refer to someone with an average academic record, typically pertaining to grades that are not exceptionally high. However, this doesn’t imply a lack of potential or capability to succeed in the rigorous academic environment of IIMs.

What role do CAT scores play in IIM selection?

CAT scores play a pivotal role in the IIM selection process as they are a primary method to evaluate a candidate’s aptitude and ability to handle the program’s demanding nature. A high CAT score can significantly offset an average academic record and increase admission chances.

What are other factors influencing IIM admission decisions?

Besides academic records and CAT scores, IIM admission decisions are influenced by factors like professional work experience, performance in personal interviews and written ability tests, extracurricular activities, and the overall personal profile of the candidate.

How can I improve my chances for admission to IIM as an average student?

To improve your admission chances to IIM, focus on achieving a high CAT score, build a distinctive personal profile, acquire valuable work experience, engage in extracurricular activities, and prepare thoroughly for personal interviews and written assessments.

Are there any real stories of average students who made it to IIM?

Certainly, many students with average academic backgrounds have succeeded in getting admission to IIMs. They often demonstrate exceptional dedication, strategic preparation, and have compelling personal narratives that showcase their potential beyond academics.

How do IIMs evaluate academic diversity?

IIMs value academic diversity and seek candidates with unique perspectives and experiences, recognizing that learning is enriched when students come from various backgrounds. The admission committees look for well-rounded individuals who can contribute to the IIM community in multiple ways.

During the IIM interview process, how can I showcase my personal strengths and goals?

In the IIM interview process, articulate your personal strengths by discussing your experiences, achievements, and how they align with the qualities IIMs are looking for. Clearly convey your goals, demonstrating how an IIM education will facilitate your career aspirations and personal growth.

How important are recommendation letters in the IIM selection process for an average student?

Recommendation letters can be very important as they provide insight into your professional capabilities and personal characteristics. A strong recommendation from someone who can vouch for your potential can help balance an average academic record in the IIM selection process.

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