CAT Score Vs Percentile

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CAT Score Vs Percentile

CAT percentile and CAT score are one of the important factors which matter a lot in the screening of candidates for the first round of admissions at the Top B-schools including IIM’s.  One of the most common question that CAT aspirants ask, is the difference between CAT score and CAT percentile; and which is more important? The answer is that the CAT score and CAT percentile are two different scores and they are both of equal importance because they directly influence your chances of being admitted into IIMs and other top B schools.

The CAT percentile is a measure of categorizing a candidate on the basis of other candidates scoring less than him/her, relative scoring. This relative score is obtained by analyzing the scores obtained on the CAT exam along with some other parameters.

The process of obtaining a high percentile score at a moderate raw score of 100 which is scaled to 160 and then again converted to percentile score of 85 to 90+ in CAT 2018 exam will go through different stages. However, the key process is detailed as follows:

  • Your Raw sectional and overall score obtained in CAT 2018 exam.
  • This raw CAT score 2018 is converted into a scaled score
  • The scaled CAT score is converted to a percentile score.

Read more- CAT 2018 Percentile Predictor | CAT 2018 Score Predictor 

CAT 2018 scoring pattern
CAT scores are sub normalized based on three parts of the exam- quantitative reasoning, data interpretation, logical reasoning, and verbal and reading comprehension. The CAT exam score, valid for one year only, is converted into percentile form and the best scorer is highlighted at the top to increase the level of competitiveness. The chances of increasing the percentile in CAT 2018 have improved with the introduction of 25% Non-MCQ’s. Here is the scoring model in CAT 2018:

  • Maximum score 300
  • A candidate is awarded 3 points for each correct answer for both multiple choice and Non-MCQ’s
  • It also applies a negative marking, one point is deducted for each wrong answer for the multiple choice questions
  • No deduction for an incorrect answer to Non-MCQ’s

Read more- PGDM vs MBA

What is CAT score?

Let's start by understanding the CAT marking process. According to the official CAT exam model, the question paper includes 100 questions: quantitative ability-34 questions, verbal ability and reading comprehension-34 questions and logical reasoning and data interpretation-32 questions. The total points for the CAT question paper is 300. For each correct answer, 3 points are awarded and for each wrong question, one point is deducted. The CAT score of any candidate is the total score he/she gets in the paper. The Sectional scores are summed and sorted to obtain the total CAT score.

Read more- What do students need to carry to the CAT 2018 examination venue?

What is CAT Percentile?

The CAT percentile is referred by the total percentage of candidates who scored below or equal to a particular candidate. For example, if the CAT’s percentile of a candidate is 99, this means that his or her performance was better than 99%of the total CAT test takers that year. Or we can say that candidates with a score above 90 percentile would be the top 10% of the best students that year.

Thus, the CAT percentile does not refer to the actual performance in the CAT exam but refers to the performance of a particular candidate in relation to all the candidates.

Read more- GD/PI Tips for MBA colleges in India 

What is scaled score in CAT?

The CAT exam always takes place in two sessions, the forenoon session from 9 am to 12 pm and the afternoon session from 2 pm to 5 pm. The question papers for both sessions are slightly different from each other. Therefore, to ensure fairness in performance comparison, a scaled score is calculated through the normalization process. This scaled score may be higher or lower than the raw score. See the table below to better understand the difference between the CAT score and the percentile:


CAT scaled score

CAT percentile














*The above figures are an estimation, not an actual representation 

What is Normalization of CAT score?

The CAT normalization process is based on GATE scoring, where the normalization is based on the assumption that the distribution of abilities of candidates is the same across all the sessions. The calculations are based on statistical equations.

In GATE, normalization takes into account all variations in the difficulty levels of the question papers during the different session.

How is overall CAT percentile calculated?

The CAT percentile is mapped against the scaled score of each of the three sections and the overall scaled score. All six of these measures are taken into account for reporting purpose, i.e. the result of each candidate.

It must be noted that, even though the CAT percentile is a popular term and indicates the candidate’s performance as against the rest, it is the CAT score (scaled) that is used to calculate the composite score for shortlisting candidates for the WAT-PI round of IIMs.

The composite score of each candidate is obtained at by calculating their score under certain aspects.

These include:

  • CAT score (scaled)
  • Class 12 marks
  • Class 10 marks
  • Graduation score
  • Work Experience
  • Diversity (Gender)
  • Diversity (Academic)

CAT composite score

CAT 2018 is scheduled to be held on November 25, 2018. Here’s the list of CAT cutoffs of previous years for candidates to take note of and prepare for the exam accordingly.

CAT 2017 and 2016 percentile cutoffs for WAT/PI round:

IIM Campus

CAT 2017 cut off

CAT 2016 cut off

IIM Ahmedabad



IIM Bangalore



IIM Kozhikode



IIM Indore 



IIM Trichy



IIM Raipur 



IIM Rohtak



IIM Udaipur



IIM Sirmaur



IIM Nagpur



IIM Vishakhapatnam



IIM Amritsar



IIM Sambalpur



Hope this article has been useful in Calculating the CAT score. CAT 2018 will be held in November 2018 and the result will be realized in January 2019. Wish you good luck!!

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