What is a Good CAT Score?

What is a Good CAT Score?
What is a good CAT score? It’s the score that gets you into the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) of your dreams. In more concrete terms, the score will vary from person to person, precisely because not everyone wants to attend the same school.

Rumors often circulate that IIMs only accept students with scores in the 99 percentile. However, those who study the test have found this to be untrue. IIM admission depends on a variety of factors, from gender to background to academic and employment history. Nevertheless, scores above the 95 percentile are considered very competitive, while scores in the 99 percentile are outstanding. Let’s take a look at what scores might get you to these goals.

Percentiles: What is a Good CAT Score?

A percentile is the percentage of students who scored less than you on a given test. Most people will agree that percentiles above 90 (meaning that you scored better than 90% of test-takers) are admirable. However, different schools have different standards for admission, so make sure to check out the standards for your ideal institutions.

Composite Scores: What is a Good CAT Score?

Some experts claim that you’ll need to answer between 55 and 60 questions correctly on the CAT to score in the 99 percentile. This would give you an overall score of between 165 and 180—if you answered every question you attempted correctly, and only attempted those 55-60 questions. If you answer 80% of questions correctly, you’d want to attempt to answer at least 69 questions overall.

In-Section Scores: What is a Good CAT Score?

Researchers have found that IIMs look favorably upon test-takers with relatively even scores across all three sections. To get a score in the 99 percentile, you’d need to answer between 55-60% of questions correctly, attempting around 69% of all questions. By section, that would break down to answering between 28-30 questions in Verbal and Reading Comprehension and answering 80% of them correctly. In Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning, this would mean answering between 24 and 26 questions at 90% accuracy. Finally, in Quantitative Ability, this would break down to around 32 questions at 90% accuracy. (All numbers based on the 2015 test, the most recent test for which scores and percentiles are available.)

For a closer look, review the chart below, based on 2015 estimates:

 IIM Minimum Cut-Offs95%99%+
Composite ScoreWill Vary by School140+150-170+
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Questions Attempted17-18 at 80% accuracy23-24 at 80% accuracy28-30 at 80% accuracy
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Questions Attempted10-11 at 90% accuracy16-17 at 90% accuracy24-26 at 90% accuracy
Quantitative Ability Questions Attempted14-15 at 85% accuracy19-20 at 85% accuracy32 at 90% accuracy

In the End…

It’s impossible to go into an exam with the goal of scoring in a particular percentile. You can’t control how other test-takers perform; you can only control your own performance. The scores we’re working with in this post are necessarily from previous tests. Not even we can predict how future test-takers will perform! So work with your own skills and abilities to prepare the best knowledge base for the CAT that you possibly can, and be clever about which questions you answer and how. Remember: In the end, the best CAT score for you is the one that gets you where you want to go!

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