CAT Score Vs CAT Percentile - Get Clear of Your Confusion Forever

By Sarada Rath

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most popular entrance exams for getting admission into an MBA college in India. Every year almost 2 lakh candidates appear for this exam. The result will be published on the official website by conducting authorities. The score of CAT determines the admission into all the 13 IIMS present in the country and several other B-Schools. 

The marking system and scoring format of CAT are very confusing. The scoring of the CAT is based on 3 patterns:

  • Raw CAT mark
  • Scaled or normalized mark
  • CAT percentile

1. Raw CAT Mark

CAT consists of a total of 100 questions:
  • Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) - 34 question
  • Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR) - 32 question
  • Quantitative Ability (QA) - 34 question

The CAT exam consists of both MCQs and Non-MCQs type of question. Each correct answer is awarded by 3 marks and each incorrect answer results in the deduction of 1 mark. So the total mark for the 100 questions is 300. The raw Cat mark is referred to the total mark score from a total of 300 marks.

2. Scaled or normalized mark 

The raw mark is then converted into scaled or normalized marks. The CAT normalization process ensures fairness and equality in performance comparison across sessions. This process is also used by GATE. Various factors are taken into consideration while converting raw marks into scaled marks like, no. of. candidates appearing in the exam in the given year, the difficulty level of the exam, the slot number the candidate is appearing, etc. This scaled mark is then converted into a percentile.

The formula for obtaining the scaled mark of a candidate is:

S =  (Ar-G)*(A1-G1) / (Am1-G1) + G where,

a. S= Scaled Mark

b. R = Actual or raw marks obtained by the candidate

c. Ar = average mark obtained of the top 0.1% candidates in both slots

d. G = Sum of the mean and standard deviation of marks of all candidates in both slots

e. Am1 = Average mark of top 0.1% candidates in ith slot

f. G1 = Sum of mean and deviation mark of all the candidates in ith slot


Total Slots = 2


Total test-takers = 2,00,000

Candidates in each slot = 1,00,000 (O.1% = 100)

R = 170 out 0f 300

Ar = (195 + 190)/2 = 192, (where 195 and 190 are average mark of top 100 candidates in slot 1 and 2 respectively)

G = 112

Am1 = 190 (let consider 1st slot)

G1 = 110

So Scaled Mark S = (192-112)*(170-110) / (190-110) + 112 = 172

3. CAT Percentile

The CAT percentile is referred to as the total percentage of candidates who scored less than or equal to a particular candidate. Which means if a candidate scores 99 percentile, then his/hers' performance was better than 99% of the total candidate that appeared CAT that particular year. To clear this confusion, Cat percentile is not referred to the actual mark obtained by the candidate but it refers to the candidate's performance in comparison to the rest of the CAT aspirants.

Scaled Mark Percentile
More than 250  100
158 - 190 99
142 - 157 98
121 - 141 95 - 98
102 - 121

90 - 95

79 - 100 80 - 90

CAT mark and CAT percentile are two very different things. The candidate should understand that the CAT percentile doesn't represent the actual mark he/she scored in the exam, rather it is the performance of the candidate in comparison to other candidates. To get into IIM you must at least score 90+ to get into good B-School and 95+ to get into IIM.

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