How Many CAT Questions Should I Attempt to Score Within the 95 Percentile?

How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 95 percentile -magoosh

One question many test-takers ask about the CAT is “How many CAT questions should I attempt to score within the 95 percentile?” Scoring in the 95 percentile on the Common Admission Test will put you in a good position for admission to competitive Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). You might think that you would need to answer 95 percent of questions correctly to score within the 95 percentile. However, the reality is more complex than that. The short answer is between 58 and 61 questions, though various factors will affect your percentile.

CAT Questions and Scoring

To understand how many CAT questions you should attempt to score within the 95 percentile, you first need to understand CAT scoring. The CAT has three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension; Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning; and Quantitative Ability. Previous exams have had 100 questions. This breaks down to 34 in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Ability and 32 in Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning. You’ll get three points for each question you answer correctly. For each multiple-choice question you answer incorrectly, you lose a point.

Finally, neither incorrect answers on “type in the answer” questions nor any questions you leave blank will affect your score. Therefore, the number of questions you should attempt should be based on the percentage of questions you anticipate getting correct. This is a great reason to take more than one CAT mock exam before test day!

CAT Percentiles

When we talk about a percentile on an exam, we’re referring to the percentage of test-takers who scored lower than you. Scoring in the 95 percentile on the CAT means that you’ve scored better than 95 percent of test-takers.

You will also achieve a particular percentile within each section, as well as on the exam as a whole. While IIMs may not be as concerned with the in-section percentiles, it’s a good idea to have relatively even percentiles over the entire exam. This shows the schools that you have a well-rounded knowledge base compared to other applications.

Because we don’t yet know how aspirants will perform on future exams, it’s impossible to say precisely how many questions you’ll need to achieve this percentile. However, previous years’ exam information gives us a sense of the range of scores required to reach the 95 percentile. Different experts provide different ranges, but some predictions are more reliable than others.

Reaching the 95 Percentile

India Today estimated that the following scenarios would put students within the 95 percentile on the 2015 CAT.

 Number of Questions to AttemptTotal Number of QuestionsPercent of Questions Attempted that You Answer Correctly
Verbal and Reading Comprehension23-243480%
Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning16-173290%
Quantitative Ability19-203485%

This adds up to between 58 and 61 questions attempted on the entire exam, out of 100. Some experts, taking into account prior years’ exams, have estimated that answering 55 to 60 questions correctly would put you in the 99 percentile. The number of questions you should attempt therefore has a lot to do with how well you’re answering them!

Keep in Mind…

By preparing early and well for the CAT, you’ll have a better idea of how to personalize the number of attempted questions you should attempt. If you have a higher accuracy score in any of the above sections on your practice CATs, you may not need to attempt so many questions. If you have a lower accuracy score, you’ll need to attempt more. In the end, though, let common sense guide you. You should attempt to answer as many questions as you can with reasonable certainty that you are correct. After all, you may end up scoring higher than the 95 percentile!

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