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Fighting the Indian Engineering Obligation - ft. Rachit Agrawal

What if you know that you want to do an MBA but didn’t want to take the traditional path of doing engineering followed by sitting for the CAT?

What if you wanted to skip CAT altogether and still join one of the top IIMs right after high school?

What if you have a variety of interests and you want to do a course that allows you to satiate all your curiosities ?

The Unconventional MBA introduces you to Integrated Program in Management, a.k.a IPM. It is a 3 years of B.A in Foundations of Management and 2 years of MBA combined together. It was first offered by IIM Indore, a decade ago, and recently commenced by IIM Rohtak.

News Alert: Former IIM-I and now IIM-B Director Prof. Rishikesha Krishnan, gave an interview to Bangalore Mirror, in which he talked about the possibility of rolling out undergraduate courses at the new IIM-Bangalore campus at Anekal, currently under construction.

We reached out to Rachit Agrawal, a final year undergrad at IPM, IIM Indore to offer us insight on his admission process. Aside from being AIR 30 in IPMAT, Rachit has worked as a Financial Analyst and Market Research Analyst Intern at Legal Edge and K-Flex Gulf Manufacturing. He also worked as a Business Strategist at NK Skin Care and as a Research Associate at CIIE.CO. Being an avid debater and a book enthusiast, he is the panel member of Retorica (Debating Society of IPM) and Literar-i (The literature society of IPM).

Read on to find his thoughts and tips on how he cracked the IPM admission process.

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Rachit’s Background:

10th - 95.6% | 12th - 94.4%


I was in standard 11, grinding day in and day out to grab a coveted seat in an IIT when I first heard about IPMAT. A senior who was also a JEE aspirant had just given the IPMAT as a “fall back option.”

I never really wanted to do engineering because frankly, I never understood physics. I was fairly confident of my soft skills and I enjoyed mathematics, and thus I decided to sit for the IPM Aptitude Test.

To be completely honest, I never really prepared for IPMAT. I never had to. For me IPM could not be the career choice because I was supposed to finish my engineering before I went for an MBA.

Later I realized that many of my fellow aspirants actually prepared for the exam, and while I am in no way disregarding their hard work, I feel that if one is fairly fluent with basic English and comfortable with Standard 12 mathematics, cracking the written exam is not that difficult

The Exam

I was comfortable with the digital mode of examination, having sat through multiple mock tests for JEE (as the JEE Advanced examination had been moved to a completely virtual medium for the first time that year, and therefore, coaching institutes across the country were trying to adapt to it). The examination center was jam packed with aspirants, something that I had not really expected.

My tip to the aspirants attempting IPMAT, is to be conscious of the clock. Answering questions correctly should take precedence over attempting all the questions as the questions contain equal weightage. Moreover, there are sectional cut-offs and sectional time-limits, which means it’s necessary for you to be quick on your feet.

I attempted the quantitative ability – multiple choice questions first and then went for the verbal ability multiple choice questions, keeping the Quantitative Ability- Short Answer Questions for the last because I personally find MCQs easier.

Understanding the Course

The IPMAT result was announced on the same day as the board examinations, and although everyone was happy at home that I had cracked the examination, they saw it as a testimony to my abilities, rather than a serious career option. However, this was my exit from engineering, which I never wanted to study, so I started researching on the course. As I read d more and more about it, especially on social media handles, the IIM-I website, and several reviews across platforms, I was thrilled by the amazing opportunities that the course offered.

The first 3 years which are basically the Bachelor of Arts in Foundations of Management comprise of a liberal arts course designed in a manner where I could explore my interests, from Political science to Statistical Regression, with a bunch of programming courses thrown in. It also includes electives like drama, dance and even foreign languages. It seemed like a perfect fit for me and I started considering it seriously.

I still had the interview and WAT pending, when the most awaited moment in my admission process, my JEE results, came. I cracked Mains with a respectable rank and had gotten into some of the top engineering colleges in the country. What was more, my JEE Advanced results were good enough to give me an opportunity to study in some of the best IITs.

Despite my good rank, I was sure that I did not want to study engineering, because I could never really understand anything, and I knew I would make a bad engineer. I also appeared for the National Aptitude Test in Architecture and scored enough to ensure myself a seat in Sir JJ College of Architecture or CEPT University. Thrilled by my academic successes, my parents really wanted me to choose a conventional career choice, instead of going for a relatively newer course. I still decided to take my chances and sit for the interview and WAT.

WAT & Interview

My interview and WAT were scheduled at Kolkata, and I was quite nervous about it. Personally, I found the topic of WAT to be a simple one, and I scribbled my points, trying to put up a consistent argument with the structure of claim, evidence, impact.

The interview part was quite different though. I waited for what seemed like a long time, in the lobby of Kenilworth Hotel, along with other nervous aspirants like me, discussing their career choices. I mostly tried to keep to myself as I was quite nervous about facing a panel of IIM Professors. Mine was one of the last interviews conducted that day and I watched as people went in and came out 40 to 45 mins later, with a smile on their face. When I was called into the interview, I felt like my legs had turned into jelly.

Slowly entering the room, I wished the panel a good afternoon and waited for them to ask me to sit. There were three professors on the panel. The interview began by asking me why I chose IPM when I was a science student, and did not pursue JEE. I answered truthfully, saying that even though I was offered admission into some of the best colleges, I had no interest in pursuing engineering.

Initially, they threw some mathematical questions at me, which which were all easy and I managed to solve them in a couple of minutes. I stumbled on a question based on the Binomial theorem, as I had forgotten the expansion formula. The panel offered me a minute to calm my nerves and I resumed, this time, solving those questions.

Now began the part that everyone talks about. One of the professors asked me about my favorite subject and I, with confidence answered History. This started a rapid-fire round, with questions being fired at me left, right and center. One of the panelists was a professor of humanities(I guess), and he questioned me on the Russian Revolutions. I tried answering as best as I could, but post the 18th or 19th question, I was exhausted, so I had to say, “Sir I am sorry, but I don’t know the answer to that question”. This suddenly brought the end of my interview. I shuffled out of the room, looking at my watch. It had barely lasted 20 mins and I did not have a smile on my face. I was sure that I had messed up the interview and that I would not make it through.

Yet, a few days later, my result came through and I was AIR 30. I convinced my parents to skip IITs as I believed that I could not make it through engineering. I put the facts in front of them and, when they did not agree, withdrew from the seat allocation system. This finally made them realize that I had made up my mind and could not be talked out of it.

It has been a fantastic two years since, and I have been exploring my interests studying one of the most coveted and futuristic looking courses in the country, which is now being adopted in colleges across the country( IIM Rohtak and Manipal University). I have never been happier with my decision.


NOTE: In light of current circumstances surrounding the Pandemic, IIM Indore has scrapped the traditional

PI-WAT format and have introduced a new component called 'Video Assessment' as part of the new selection procedure. To find more details, click here.


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Interested in learning about how to approach the CAT? Check out our Strategize the CAT series here!

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