How is the CAT Score Calculated?

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How is the CAT score calculated? Four factors determine your score. Photo by FilmBee.

How is the CAT score calculated? In short, your score on the Common Admission Test (CAT) is affected by four factors: how many questions you get right, how many you get wrong, how many you leave blank, and how the test is normalized. Scores on the CAT range up to 300, with marks allotted to each of three categories:

  • Verbal and Reading Comprehension (34 questions)
  • Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (32 questions)
  • Quantitative Ability (34 questions)

You can find out more about the kinds of questions in these categories on the Magoosh blog. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with them, come back and we can talk about:

Earned Points and How They Affect CAT Score Calculations

Each question is worth a potential three marks, meaning that if you answered all 100 questions correctly in the three hours provided, you would score a perfect 300. This is true for all questions. For example, even though there are fewer questions in the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning section, each question there is worth three points, just as in the other sections. The basis for your score, then, is the number of questions you answered correctly, multiplied by three.

Lost Points and How They Affect CAT Score Calculations

Unfortunately, the calculations don’t stop there. Once you have the score from your correct answers, you must then subtract one point per incorrect answer. For example, if you answered 75 questions correctly and 25 incorrectly, your score would be (75*3) – 25, or 200 (rather than 225). On the other hand, you lose no points for leaving a question blank. Therefore, if you’d left the hypothetical 25 questions you answered incorrectly blank, rather than attempting to answer them, your score would simply be (75*3), or 225.

Non-MCQs and How They Affect CAT Score Calculations

If you’ve taken the CAT before, or taken the 2016 mock test offered by the IIM, you’ll have noticed that there are a number of non-multiple-choice questions. These questions ask you to type in an answer, rather than choosing from multiple choices. While they seem more naturally fitted to quantitative problems, you’ll find these non-multiple-choice questions in each section.

There’s good news, though—you won’t lose points for wrong answers on these questions. So if you’re only partly sure that you’ve arrived at the right answer, go ahead and key it in! Even if you have no idea what the correct answer is, just pick your favorite number and go with it. Unlike with the multiple-choice questions, guessing on the non-multiple-choice questions won’t hurt your score.

Normalization and How It Affects CAT Score Calculations

Finally, there are two sessions of CAT testing: morning and afternoon. The IIMs put out a statement that they “normalize” scores between the two sessions. What does this mean for you? According to the statement issued by the IIMs, this primarily has to do with percentiles used for shortlisting candidates. A percentile tells you how well you did compared to other candidates. Scoring in the 50th percentile, for example, means that you scored better than 50% of the candidates taking the exam. Normalization of the percentiles is a process that takes the different groups and tests into consideration, and is a regular part of many standardized tests. The good news is that the process won’t affect how many questions you got right or wrong, only where you stand in the general pool of applicants.

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