CAT Marks vs Percentile: Detailed Guide to Comparison Process

  • By Kirti Yadav
  • 6 January 2020
CAT marks vs percentile

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The CAT 2020 results are out! Download your scorecard here. The Common Aptitude Test(CAT), one of the most popular management entrance tests was conducted by IIM Khozikhode in 2020 on November 29th.

For more information, you can also visit the official CAT 2020 link. CAT is a national level exam with lakhs of aspirants appearing year after year. Therefore, one is bound to think about the relationship of CAT score vs CAT percentile when the candidate receives both on the day of the result. The relationship between CAT scores vs CAT percentile is not only complex but also difficult to calculate. 

You will be able to check your CAT percentile using our CAT percentile predictor.

CAT Exam Pattern

Though CAT is a management entrance exam conducted by IIM, other top B schools also accept CAT scores. Getting a good CAT percentile is one of the main factors of getting into a good B school. CAT percentile is what is taken into consideration when one goes through the admission process. 

With the CAT 2020 done and dusted with, all students just have to do is to wait for the CAT results to be out. However, a lot of students are under the misconception that the CAT score and CAT percentile are the same. In this blog, we will help you understand all you need to know about CAT marks vs CAT percentile.  

Read more about the CAT 2020 result here

Cat Score vs Percentile: detailed analysis

Before discussing the topic of CAT marks vs CAT percentile, let us first understand what type of exam CAT is and what these two mean on their own. Let us begin with understanding what the CAT Score means. 

What is the CAT Score?

Talking about the marking scheme of the CAT exam, ‘The CAT score’ includes a total of 100 questions, a cumulative of all three sections. For every correct answer, a total of +3 marks are awarded and for every wrong chosen option -1 mark is deducted. An unanswered question is not allotted any marks. The final CAT score you have obtained is out of a total of 300. The CAT score and CAT marks are the same. 

How to calculate CAT score?

Therefore, the CAT score represents the marks obtained by the candidate out of a total of 300 in the exam. 



Total marks

Quantitative Ability 34 102
Verbal and Reading Ability 34 102
Logical reasoning and Data Interpretation     32 96

What is CAT Scaled Score?

As we know the CAT exam is conducted in 2 slots. Each test's scores are 'raw scores'. Therefore to assess all students at the same level, IIM's perform 'equalizing' calculations on your scores. The score obtained after combining both the scores is what is called the scaled score. The scaled score is what you see on your CAT scorecard. This process is also called the "Normalization Process" and we do talk about it in detail later in the article.

How is the CAT Scaled Score Calculated?

The below-mentioned steps will be followed by IIM in CAT result 2021, to calculate the scaled score of each section. Let us look at an example of how the scaled score will be calculated for CAT.

Step 1: First the mean & standard deviation (SD) will be calculated of the raw scores in the DILR section for all candidates who will appear on the morning shift

  • Let Mean = M1
  • Let SD = S1
  • Hence, G1 = M1 + S1

Step 2: Similarly, the mean and the standard deviation (SD) of the candidates who will appear in the afternoon shift will be calculated from the raw scores in the same DILR section for all candidates.

  • Let Mean = M2
  • Let SD = S2
  • Hence, G2 = M2 + S2

Step 3: Now, calculate the mean and the standard deviation (SD) of the raw scores in the DILR section for all candidates who will appear in both morning and afternoon shifts.

  • Let Mean be M
  • Standard Deviation be S
  • Therefore, G = M + S

Step 4: Calculate the mean raw score in the DILR section of the top 0.1% of candidates who will appear in the first-morning shift. Denote the same by 𝑀1 0.1

Step 5: Similarly, For the top 0.1% candidates of the afternoon shift, calculate the mean raw score in the DILR section. Denote it by 𝑀2 0.1

Step 6: Now For the top 0.1% of candidates who will appear in CAT for both morning and afternoon shifts, calculate the mean raw score in the DILR section. Denote the same by 𝑀0.1.


A similar technique will be followed to calculate the scaled score of all three sections. i.e. Total scaled score = Sum of scaled scores of DILR, VARC, QA.

CAT 2020 Score vs Percentile: Section-Wise

Following is the section-wise analysis of CAT 2020 score vs percentile:

Quantitative Analysis Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning Verbal Ability Overall Estimated CAT Percentile
55-57 48-51 67-70 155-165 99+
40-54 40--47 59-66 127-154 95-98
31-39 34-39 52-58 107-126 90-94
27-30 29-33 45-51 81-100 85-89

How Is CAT Composite Score Calculated?

A composite score shall be computed giving weightage of 30%, 30%, and 40% to the scores of QA, DI-LR, and VRC sections respectively as provided by the CAT Centre.

What Is CAT Percentile?

A percentile is a reflection of how you have performed in an exam with respect to the other takers of the exam. For e.g., you have scored a 97 percentile in your CAT, which means you have scored better than 97 per cent of the total test takers and only 3% scored more than you. But the confusion of CAT score vs CAT percentile begins when the candidate receives both. Hence, the CAT percentile is not a depiction of the performance of the candidate but it refers to how the candidate has performed in comparison to the other test-takers. 

How Is The CAT Percentile Calculated? 

It is important for all of you to understand that there is no method or formula to ensure achieving a high percentile in CAT. The question papers given to the students in the morning and afternoon sessions have different questions. This ensures equality and fairness among all the students. The percentile is evaluated keeping the difficulty level of the exam in mind, which is never constant. This results in changes in the percentile evaluation of each candidate.

To help you solve the mystery of CAT score vs CAT percentile, calculate the CAT percentile using the following method. 

Step 1: Total number of students who appeared for the exam (N). 

Add the number of students that sat for both the morning and afternoon sessions. Say that number is ‘N’.

Step 2: Assign a rank to the candidates based on the scaled score

After the normalization process, you will be assigned a specific rank (r) based on the scaled score obtained.

Step 3: Calculate your CAT percentile

Apply the following formula to calculate your CAT percentile using N and r. 

P= [( N – r )/ N] x 100, where P is CAT Percentile, N is the Total Number of Candidates who Appeared for CAT Exam and r is the Rank of the Candidate

What is the Normalization Method?

 The IIM’s earlier conducted two sessions of assessment with a gap of 20 days. We now have these sessions as the morning and afternoon sessions of the CAT exam. The IIM to ensure fairness and equality to such a large number of aspirants came up with the ‘Normalization method’. This method is also followed by other national-level exams like the GATE. Since the CAT is the most popular management exam and is conducted across the country, to ensure fairness, a scaled score is applied that takes into account the difficulty level and the candidate's performance across the sessions. 

The simple assumption of ‘the distribution of abilities in the candidate will be equally distributed between all the sessions’  is what the normalization method is based on. This means that the candidate will perform in both sessions in a similar manner, as his/her abilities will remain the same. Some argue that the effect of the normalization process on the CAT score vs CAT percentile is minimal as now the CAT  sessions are conducted on the same day.  

CAT Score vs CAT Percentile

After obtaining an estimate of what your CAT percentile could be, the reality of CAT score vs CAT percentile. 'What CAT score will get me a 99 percentile?’ common question asked by all those aiming for a 99 percentile.  The table below would provide you with a better understanding of the CAT score vs CAT percentile. 

CAT score vs CAT percentile
*The above figures are an estimation, not an actual representation.

The next rounds of selection would be the group discussion and Personal Interview. It definitely is an important factor in selection and holds the power to get you rejected. Therefore,  you should not take the interview rounds lightly.

Read the Secret to crack GD/PI. 

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